With the Alabama basketball season over, it’s time to look back at the season that was in Tuscaloosa. For starters, we are going to review each player, and for the ones coming back, we’re going to let you know what they need to improve on in 2013-14 in order for the Crimson Tide to live up to their potential next season. We are going by class, so we’ll start with the freshman, then the sophomores, juniors, and then finish it up with the lone senior.
Here’s the schedule:
4/3: Rodney Cooper
4/4: Trevor Lacey
4/5: Nick Jacobs
4/6: Levi Randolph
4/7: Carl Engstrom
4/8: Moussa Gueye
4/9: Trevor Releford
4/10: Andrew Steele
Expectations were high entering the season for Rodney Cooper. A lot more was also needed of the sophomore from Phenix City with no JaMychal Green or Tony Mitchell for the Crimson Tide. Cooper saw his minutes spike from 17 per game a year ago to nearly 29 a night this year.
His numbers went up because of it, but it was still a bit of a disappointing second season in Tuscaloosa for the former four star recruit.
28.8 MPG, 10.2 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 0.9 APG, 40 FG%, 30 3P%
He was the team’s third leading scorer at 10.2 points per game behind Trevor Releford and Trevor Lacey, and he was the team’s leading rebounder at 4.5 boards per night. The fact that Cooper was the team’s leading rebounder highlighted a consistent problem for the Tide all season long.
Of course, that’s not taking anything from Cooper, but a guard shouldn’t be your team’s leading rebounder. That’s a big reason for Alabama ranking 258th in the nation in rebounding.
A lack of size plagued the team all year long; and even though Cooper is a natural guard, he was constantly having to play out of position this year. Night in and night out he was forced to guard players much bigger and stronger than him.
Cooper got off to a hot start in 2012 scoring in double figures in the first five games. He also had a stretch in SEC play where he scored in double figures in six consecutive games, but he fizzled down the stretch and scored in double figures in only two of the final nine games of the season.
Cooper’s best game came in a February win over Mississippi State at Coleman Coliseum where he recorded his first career double-double of 20 points and 10 rebounds. It was a flat effort for the Crimson Tide as a whole, but Cooper came to play and led the Crimson Tide to victory.
The biggest issue with Cooper has been his inability to hit shots from the outside. He was billed as a shooter coming out of high school, but he has been anything but in his first two years at the Capstone.
After shooting 29% from beyond the arc during his freshman season, his three point percentage only went up to 30% this year. Even more alarming, Cooper’s free throw percentage dropped from 84% as a freshman to 64% as a sophomore.
Cooper is one of the guys who needs to take a drastic step forward next season if the Crimson Tide want to move on to bigger and better things.
Must Improve: Shooting
It’s simple; Cooper needs to become the shooter he was billed to be coming into college. Alabama’s offense sorely needs a dead-eye three point shooter to strike fear into opponents, and to hopefully force the opposition out of zone defenses that has given Alabama problems the last couple of years.
A deadly three point shooter would add a dimension to Alabama’s offense that hasn’t been there since Charvez Davis left Tuscaloosa. Collectively, the Crimson Tide shot much better from three this season than last, but they still didn’t have that one guy who scared opponents from the outside.
Cooper has the potential to be that guy; and needs to be that guy if Alabama wants to take that next step in 2013-14. Hopefully, the addition of some more size next season will prevent Cooper from having to play out of position all the time. He should be able to log some minutes playing the two or the three instead of being forced to play the four in Alabama’s small lineup.
Cooper has shown his potential many times over his two years in Tuscaloosa, but he has to become more consistent in all facets of his game. Cooper’s progression over the summer will be vital for next year’s team.
Follow John on Twitter.