Avery Johnson Building On Solid Foundation


Last Tuesday, nearly 8,000 Alabama students, faculty and season ticket holders gathered to celebrate something fresh and new.

The first annual Tide Tipoff event was held at Coleman Coliseum by the Alabama men’s and women’s basketball teams signifying the start of the 2015–2016 basketball season.

New faces are nothing new in college basketball. Rosters can change dramatically from late March to early November, but it isn’t everyday that a program can welcome a new coach.

After failing to make the NCAA Tournament for the third-straight year, Anthony Grant was relieved of his duties in mid-March.

Nearly a month later, former NBA player and coach Avery Johnson was hired on at the Capstone.

Johnson’s hiring created some buzz around the basketball community, but many questioned his ability to transition to the college game and cited his lack of recruiting experience.

After being greeted by an enthused crowd at the Tuscaloosa airport, Johnson delivered an opening press conference to be remembered. The “Little General”, as he was known during his playing days, confidently proclaimed that Duke University is the gold standard – the goal for Alabama basketball.

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Since that day, Johnson seemingly hasn’t stopped working. He began by retaining assistant coach and former Alabama player, Antoine Pettway. Next, Johnson and Pettway sured up their 2015 recruiting class by signing four freshmen including highly touted in-state guard Dazon Ingram.

Johnson clearly understands the strengths of the university and what he has to build upon. Since Alabama’s return to football prominence, fans have constantly questioned the Crimson Tide’s mediocrity in basketball.

Avery Johnson and his staff have already made major strides in blending the two sports and feeding off the Crimson Tide’s success in football and other sports.

Johnson noted in his press conference last week that he and Nick Saban have become really good friends and he has already been utilizing their relationship.

Despite what some may say, Alabama will never be a basketball school. Bryant-Denny will always overshadow Coleman Coliseum, but the path to basketball greatness starts on the shoulders of the football program.

Avery Johnson and his staff have a long way to go. The growing pains will likely be tough in his first year at the helm. A complete system overhaul, including a fast-paced offensive attack, is still being installed, but fans have to like what they see.

“There’s no rest for the weary,” Johnson said. “This is a 24/7 gig. My coaches are working hard, but we have a lot of ground to make up. It’s not going to happen overnight.”

Almost seven months in, Avery Johnson and his staff have kept fans interested in their message, but soon their team will have to speak for itself.

Alabama opens up the season in an exhibition on Friday night at Coleman Coliseum against Trevecca Nazarene.

Next: VIDEO: Watch The Tide Tipoff Dunk Contest

Fans will get their first official look at what Avery Johnson is building. And while it may look a little unsteady, it’s built on a solid foundation.