Alabama Basketball: What To Watch For, Oregon State


March 7, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Washington State Cougars forward Brock Motum (12) defends a shot by Oregon State Beavers guard Ahmad Starks (3) during the second half of the game of the first round of the 2012 Pac 12 Tournament at the Staples Center. Oregon State won 69-64. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE

As Jay-Z and Alicia Keys would say, those who visit the Big Apple inherit the Empire State of Mind while in one of the five boroughs.

The Crimson Tide will try to shake off the bright lights to focus on its participation in the 2K Sports Classic tournament hosted by Madison Square Garden in New York City. Alabama will face Oregon State tonight with the potential of meeting Villanova or Purdue for the championship.

“The thing we try to stress to the guys is every court we play on will be 94×50, the rim 10 feet,” Alabama head coach Anthony Grant said. “We need to focus on what we can control and doing the things we need to do to give our team a chance to win.”

Ahmad getting attention

Oregon State’s Ahmad Starks has had a hot start to the season, including a 33-point outburst against New Mexico State in which he made over half of his shots and made nine free throws.

“He’s been rebounding the ball well, starts the break for them,” Grant said. “He’s another veteran guy for their team. We obviously have to do a very good job of knowing where he is and try to prevent him. The way he’s started his season has been very impressive.”

However, Starks may be just one of many for the Beavers, who have two seniors and six juniors on the team, and all but three are playing more than 10 minutes per game for the Beavers.

“They’re returning the majority of their guys from last year and I think they have a lot of weapons,” Grant said.

Another weapon for the Beavers will be Eric Moreland, who is one rebound and one point away from averaging a double-double in the first two games of the season, with 9 points per game and 9.5 rebounds per game. Moreland is also contributing four blocks per game and is shooting 75 percent from the floor.

The Huntsville Hotshot

After his game-winning three-pointer against South Dakota State followed by a 23 point, three rebound, four assist and three steal performance against West Alabama, sophomore guard Trevor Lacey is showing why he was so highly heralded out of Butler High School, including seeing attention from Kentucky.

“He’s been great,” redshirt senior guard Andrew Steele said. “Last year, I don’t think he was as healthy as he is now.

Although the hot start came as a pleasant surprise to Alabama basketball fans who were craving an outside shooter, Lacey’s early season heroics are not unexpected in the eyes of his teammates.

Seeing him play for the last two years, I’m not surprised at all,” Steele said. “He’s playing with so much confidence. He’s a great playmaker and he’s got a feel for making the right play, whether it’s making the right pass or the right shot.

“Our coaches and team have total confidence in him to make the plays when we need him to.”