Alabama Basketball: What did the ’17-18 season portend for ’18-19?

ST LOUIS, MO - MARCH 08: Avery Johnson the head coach of the Alabama Crimson Tide gives instructions to John Petty
ST LOUIS, MO - MARCH 08: Avery Johnson the head coach of the Alabama Crimson Tide gives instructions to John Petty /

Should Alabama fans be content the season is over so more focus can return to football or should Alabama basketball fans dream bigger dreams for next season?

It took several hours but the temperature in Pittsburgh’s PPG Arena eventually returned to normal. The scorching long bombs from the Villanova Wildcats scorched the place Saturday and torched the NCAA dreams of Alabama basketball. Now the arena can return to normal and prepare for the Penguins to take on the Canadiens on a normal NHL Wednesday night.

After some time to lick our wounds, Alabama basketball fans can consider how to define the 2017-18 season. It was as Cecil Hurt of the Tuscaloosa News said, both “magical” and “maddening.” What did this season portend for the next season? We will offer our perspective but not before the thoughts of others.

Across the board, Alabama basketball players were vocally positive about the season’s results. John Petty made a strong statement that indirectly reinforced his commitment to the team.

"It shows a lot about our character and what our coaching staff has instilled in us. No one even thought we’d be here. We came into the SEC Tournament as an underdog, we came into this game as an underdog. So I’m proud of what we did so far."

Avery Johnson stated 20 wins, a strong SEC Tournament performance and a NCAA Tournament victory are proof of the program’s “growth.”

"I know sometimes (it looked like) we were down and out. We were down, but never out. So I’m proud of our team. At Alabama, we believe in winning championships, but I’m awfully proud of our guys."

Avery added that as far as winning championships, “we are not there yet” but he believes the season was a “step in the right direction.”

What about next season?

Before the ice was fully uncovered in the Pittsburgh arena, debate began over whether the Tide will be improved without Collin Sexton. One argument is the Tide played better as a team when Collin was not in the game. The counter-argument was how can a team be better without its best player. Both claims have merit. What does not have merit is any suggestion Alabama basketball would have been better this season without Collin Sexton.

This tweet, not from Athletic Director Greg Byrne, is a good summary of what Sexton meant to Alabama basketball.

Because of Collin Sexton, Avery Johnson can compete in the recruitment of top players. Avery can have another great recruiting class in 2019. Collin Sexton is not solely responsible for that but more than anyone he was the difference maker.

Our take is Alabama basketball can be better next season despite the loss of Collin Sexton. That belief carries with it a few ‘ifs.’ If Jared Butler quickly becomes the point-guard starter. If Tevin Mack is the scorer many expect him to be. And the most important if; if an on-court leader emerges, combining a commitment to team goals with consistent individual performance. We believe John Petty can become that leader.

Next: Time to give Avery his Due

In case you missed it, the University of Alabama men’s wheelchair basketball team won a national championship. it was the second national championship for the program. The women’s wheelchair basketball team came up just short of repeating as national champion.