The Alabama Crimson Tide (16-8) will take on the South Carolina Gamecocks (12-12) today at Coleman Coleseum at 4pm ET on ESPN3. Alabama is coming off a 52-45 win against the red hot Georgia Bulldogs earlier this week. It was another ugly win for the Tide, but a win on the road in SEC play is never easy to come by. While Bama’s stat sheet isn’t any prettier than in previous games, defense continues to be the Tide’s calling card, as they only give up 57.7 points per game, which ranks 13th overall in the country.
I enjoy looking at statistics. I like being able to discern something from our team statistics in relation to Alabama’s play on the court. Sometimes it can help clarify problems a team is having. For example, Alabama is a poor rebounding team. This is not an opinion but a fact, based on where we are ranked in this statistical category in our conference (14th), as well as where we rank in the country (281st).
Statistics can tell you a lot, but it is important to remember that they don’t necessarily tell you everything. The sum of a team is often greater than its parts, and this is true of a single player in relation to his own individual statistics. For example, our starting center Moussa Gueye averages 1.4 points and 4.4 rebounds.
These are not impressive numbers, and at first look you might say Gueye has only minimal value to the team. But Gueye’s presence on the court alone is inherently valuable in a way that cannot be quantified. Playing against a seven-footer can have a psychological effect on a player that leaves him second guessing his individual attack strategies. We can say that Moussa averages 1.8 blocks per game, but how many more shots did he affect? How many aggressive drives to the basket did he deter? This is an example of how numbers can tell you the truth, but not the whole truth.
But then there are times where a statistic can tell you the entire story. We know that Alabama is a bad offensive team. We know the Tide often struggles to score, but until I ran across a very troubling statistic, I did not truly realize the depth of our offensive ineptitude. Alabama averages only 51.3 shot attempts a game. We are ranked 303rd in major college basketball in this category.
Not only are we a poor scoring team (61.3 ppg), and not only do we shoot a poor percentage from the field (42.9 percent), but our offense is so terribly clumsy and lethargic we are not even able to take enough shots over the course of a 40-minute game. It never occurred to me that the actual volume of shots Alabama is taking could be part of the problem.
The best and most direct way to increase shot attempts is to be aggressive on the offensive glass. Alabama really needs to create more stickback opportunities. Over the course of several games this year, I have noticed a trend in our player’s offensive rebounding tendencies. When someone takes a shot or drives a lane, if they are away from the basket and are not in position to rebound, they will concede the possession, either by not diving towards the basket and trying to box out, or simply floating back on defense.
There is not an overwhelming effort to be good on the offensive boards, and so we fumble through our offensive sets until the shot clock forces us to shoot, and seldom bother with trying to actually getting the ball back and taking another shot. This has to change for Alabama to make any kind of run this year.
Of all of our disturbing offensive statistics, our attempted field goal average is maybe the most troubling. We have to take more than 51 shots in a basketball game. The Tide needs to create more scoring opportunities for themselves, and that means creating more possessions. While limiting turnovers and bad possessions is always important, offensive rebounding has to become a bigger priority for the Crimson Tide.
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