Where to watch: Coastal Carolina at Alabama – Today 8 p.m. Central, Coleman Coliseum, SEC Network Plus (online only)
Who to watch: Dazon Ingram. Still a freshman after a medical redshirt year, Ingram is fully healed from a broken foot. His 15 points and five rebounds in an exhibition win over Faulkner were certainly encouraging, but five turnovers and only three assists were not. How quickly he improves on last year’s seven-game showing and becomes a consistent floor general will determine whether Alabama can reach the NCAA tournament a year ahead of schedule.
What to watch for: Whether coach Avery Johnson puts his foot back on the gas pedal. Johnson promised a fast-paced style of play when he first arrived in Tuscaloosa and tried to deliver in his first few games. But the cold reality was that Bama didn’t have the talent or depth to keep it up, especially once Ingram was lost for the year. The Crimson Tide’s 68.2 possessions per game left it well outside the top 300 teams and it also was among the nation’s worst teams in scoring average (66.5 ppg, good for 304th nationally), assists (10.5, 331st) and rebounding margin (minus-3.6, 293rd). There’s been a talent upgrade, but there are still a lot of regulars better suited to a plodding half-court game. Johnson could face a season-long struggle between slowing things down to stay competitive and maximize this year’s win total versus pushing the tempo and hoping any short-term pain produces dividends later on and establishes a foundation for next season’s monster recruiting class.
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