Alabama Basketball: Tide can beat Va. Tech without Donta Hall

EUGENE, OR - DECEMBER 11: Donta Hall
EUGENE, OR - DECEMBER 11: Donta Hall /

Alabama basketball may or may not have the services of Donta Hall on Thursday night in the NCAA Tournament. He is a key player but the Tide can win without him.

The prevailing opinion of Alabama basketball fans is the Tide cannot win without Donta Hall. Against most NCAA Tournament teams that perspective would be valid. But that does not mean all NCAA Tournament teams. The Virginia Tech Hokies are a very good team. Good enough to have beaten Duke, North Carolina and Virginia this season. But they are beatable and the Tide can beat them without the dominant inside presence of Donta Hall.

Alabama basketball is not as good without Hall on the court. The Tide needs his scoring and his rim protection. His rebounding will also be missed if he cannot play Thursday night.

However, there is reason for optimism even without Donta Hall. The Hokies only have one regular contributor taller than 6-feet-6; 6-feet-10 and 260 pounds, Kerry Blackshear Jr. Although he is a part of the Hokies balanced scoring, their staple is perimeter shooting.

Virginia Tech has shot 727 threes this season. The team three-point make average is 38.5 percent. The main takers of threes for the Hokies shoot better. The four other starters shoot the long ball at 39, 39, 40 and 41 percent. In fact, the only Hokies regular besides Blackshear Jr. who has limited three-point accuracy is Devin Wilson. Wilson is considered the best defender away from the basket and may get extra minutes trying to shut down Collin Sexton.

Defending the Hokies outside the arc

More important than having Donta inside will be the Tide closing down shooters outside the arc. A good comparison to Virginia Tech is having Auburn’s perimeter game, plus a legit low post player. The Hokies are good at ball distribution and spacing very much like Auburn and Tennessee and Arkansas when the Hogs’ shooters are hot.

Donta Hall does not help much defending the long ball. Unfortunately, neither do Galin Smith or Alex Reese. Daniel Gettins is even weaker guarding outside the paint. The defense and rebounding of Braxton Key, Dazon Ingram, John Petty and Herbert Jones could make up for no Donta Hall in the lineup.

It does not need saying but without Hall, Sexton cannot have any offensive lulls. Sexton will have to pour in the points. Petty, Key, Ingram and Jones should not have to suddenly shoot a high percentage, but they must be effective and minimize turnovers.

It will be interesting to see if Avery chooses to go inside to Giddens and Smith frequently, trying to get Blackshear Jr. in foul trouble. More interesting is whether Giddens or Smith are up to the task.

The big question to be answered on Tuesday is how much if any, Hall was able to practice. After practice, the Tide flies to Pittsburgh. Avery Johnson is expected to update Hall’s status Tuesday night or Wednesday morning.

Next: 'Never too early' 2018 Offense Depth Chart

With or without Donta Hall, Alabama basketball must value every possession in the NCAA Tournament. The Tide is not good enough offensively to overcome many bad decisions and unforced errors, with or without the ball.