TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — A revamped Alabama basketball roster will make its debut Monday night as it hosts Longwood for its season opener at 7:30 inside Coleman Coliseum.
After slumping to a 19-14 record with a first-round loss in the NCAA Tournament last season, the Crimson Tide should have the talent to make a deeper run this year. First up on the schedule is a Longwood team that returns nine letterwinners from last season when it posted a 26-7 record en route to winning the Big South Conference and advancing to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history.
Here’s everything you need to know about the game.
How to watch
Who: No. 20 Alabama vs. Longwood
When: 7:30 pm CT, Monday, Nov. 7
Where: Coleman Coliseum
Watch: SEC Network+ (play-by-play: Roger Hoover; analyst: Richard Hendrix)
Listen: Crimson Tide Sports Network (play-by-play: Chris Stewart; analyst: Bryan Passink; engineer Tom Stipe)
Alabama’s projected lineup
Mark Sears: 6-foot-1, 185 pounds, junior
2021/22 stats: 19.6 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 4.1 apg, 44.4% FG, 40.8% 3-pt
Dom Welch: 6-foot-5, 205 pounds, graduate
2021/22 stats: 12.3 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 1.6 apg, 41.4% FG, 37.4% 3-pt
Brandon Miller: 6-foot-9, 200 pounds, freshman
2021/22 stats: N/A
Noah Gurley: 6-foot-8, 215 pounds, graduate
2021/22 stats: 6.8 ppg, 3.5, rpg, 0.6 apg, 48.3% FG, 25.4% 3-pt
Charles Bediako: 7-foot, 225 pounds, freshman
2021/22 stats: 6.7 ppg, 4.3, rpg, 0.7 apg, 69.2% FG
Longwood’s projected lineup
Isaiah Wilkins: 6-foot-4, 220 pounds, graduate
2021/22 stats: 12.7 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 2.0 apg, 46.9% FG, 39.4% 3-pt
DeShaun Wade: 6-foot-2, 200 pounds, graduate
2021/22 stats: 11.8 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 1.0 apg, 44.8% FG, 44.6% 3-pt
Jesper Granlund: 6-foot-6, 210 pounds, junior
2021/22 stats: 4.1 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 1.0 apg, 39.0% FG, 38.7% 3-pt
Zac Watson: 6-foot-7, 215 pounds, graduate
2021/22 stats: 7.7 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 0.8 apg, 56.1% FG
Leslie Nkeruwem: 6-foot-7, 225 pounds, senior
2021/22 stats: 8.7 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 0.4 apg, 55.2% FG
Nate Oats enters his fourth season with his ideal roster
Make no mistake, this is a Nate Oats team. Entering his fourth season at Alabama, the head coach will have a roster entirely made up of players he recruited.
The Crimson Tide brings back a handful of players from last year’s team in starters Charles Bediako, Noah Gurley and Jahvon Quinerly as well as backup Darius Miles and Texas Tech transfer Nimari Burnett, who sat out last season with a knee injury. It also welcomes in the nation’s No. 4 recruiting classes, including McDonald’s All-Americans Brandon Miller and Jaden Bradley as well as four-star prospects Rylan Griffin and Noah Clowney. In addition to the freshmen newcomers, Alabama added a trio of transfers in Ohio guard Mark Sears, St. Bonaventure guard Dom Welch and junior college forward Nick Pringle.
While Oats has had several players who have fit his playing style over his first three seasons at Alabama, this year’s might be the best constructed to take on his high-intensity, blue-collar approach.
“I hope this group turns out to be that gritty and tough and team-oriented,” Oats said Friday. “With the length, to be switchable and interchangeable on offense with the shooting that I think we can put out there everywhere, with the athleticism and toughness, this roster is starting to look the way that we wanted it to look. I like our group a lot. I think we’ve got a lot of versatility and we can go a lot of different ways with the lineups we put out there.”
Alabama is hoping to be close to full strength for the opener
After missing a few players due to injury during its charity exhibition against Southern Illinois, Alabama’s roster appears to be on the mend. Friday, Oats provided a positive update, stating that Bediako and Miles are progressing well from their undisclosed injuries and are expected to be available for the season opener.
Alabama will also see Burnett make his regular-season debut. The Texas Tech transfer was said to be on a minutes restriction during the exhibition but ended up playing 23 minutes. Friday, Oats said Burnett has been looking good during practice.
Quinerly will sit out the beginning of the season as he continues to recover from a torn ACL he suffered during Alabama’s NCAA Tournament loss to Notre Dame on March 18. Last month, Oats said the senior guard is progressing well and could return as soon as earlier next month.
— Longwood was picked No. 1 in the Big South Preseason poll. The Lancers are one of four non-conference opponents Alabama will play who are expected to win their conference.
— Alabama starts the season as the No. 20 teams in the Associated Press Preseason Top 25. This marks the second straight year the Crimson Tide was included in the preseason poll after checking in at No. 14 last year.
– After boasting the No. 1 strength of schedule last season, Alabama will once again challenge itself. The Crimson Tide’s non-conference slate features nine teams that played in last year’s NCAA Tournament. In all, the Tide will face 10 teams that are either ranked or receiving votes in the preseason top-25 poll.
— Longwood guards Isaiah Wilkins and DeShaun Wade earned spots on the Big South Preseason All-Conference Teams. Wilkins was named to the first team while Wade was named to the second team, marking the first time the team has had two preseason all-conference selections.