By Chris DePew
March 5, 2016
Where to watch: Alabama (17-12, 8-9 SEC) at Georgia (16-12, 9-8) – 3 p.m. Central today, Stegeman Coliseum, ESPN2
Who to watch: Donta Hall. While coach Avery Johnson isn’t giving up on this season, it’s only natural to look ahead to next winter after a late swoon has effectively killed off Bama’s NCAA at large chances. Out of the Crimson Tide players who will take the floor today and are expected back for 2016-17, the freshman center from Luverne has the brightest future, averaging 4.2 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game despite just averaging 12 minutes a night. But it is worth noting that he signed with Alabama before Johnson became coach, and it still isn’t entirely clear how well he fits with the uptempo style Johnson wants to use but had to mothball early in this campaign. The offseason will be critical as Hall seeks to shed some bad habits (foul trouble, atrocious free throw shooting) that have plagued the man he’ll seek to displace in next year’s starting five, Jimmie Taylor. Hall’s minutes have increased lately and it will interesting to look for clues today as to how he fits into the future.
What to watch for: Junior achievement. Alabama will miss Retin Obasohan’s scoring, defense and ball-handling ability next year, but most of all it will miss his leadership. The Crimson Tide has three juniors playing right now, but none seem ready to step up and take charge. Taylor has mostly failed to develop this season and often finds himself riding the bench at crunch time. Shannon Hale can score big or disappear on any given night but has been pointedly left out of the starting lineup long after health and conditioning ceased to be concerns. Michael Kessens has picked up the starts Hale has missed and never lacks for effort but doesn’t have the talent to be an average SEC player, much less a leader others can rally around. Whether any of the three can step up in the final few games may determine whether Johnson feels the need to go after another graduate transfer in the mold of Arthur Edwards.
Follow Chris DePew on Twitter @TideFansChris
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