Alabama Basketball: Crimson Tide opens the 2018-19 season


Alabama basketball opens a new season Tuesday night in Tuscaloosa against Avery Johnson’s Alma Mater, Southern University.

It is B-ball time in T-Town on Tuesday night as Alabama basketball opens the regular season against Southern University. In his fourth season as Crimson Tide head coach, Avery Johnson will look to notch win No. 1 in the new season against the school he played for as a collegian.

Avery still holds the NCAA Assists-per-game, career and single-season records at 12 assists average for his career and 13.3 average assists in the 1987-88 season at Southern. The 2018-19 Southern Jaguars are not expected to provide tough opposition to the Crimson Tide. The Jaguars are preseason picks as the sixth best team in the Southwestern Atlantic conference.

The All-SEC Coaches preseason teams were announced on Tuesday. Alabama basketball was represented by two players on the second team. Tide players chosen were Donta Hall and Herbert Jones.

After a long wait for Tide fans, Avery Johnson led the Crimson Tide to a return to the NCAA Tournament last season. Most Alabama basketball fans think the Crimson Tide is in a rebuilding mode, following Collin Sexton’s one-and-done season.

In the way-too-early category of NCAA chances for 2018-19, ESPN’s Joe Lunardi has Alabama basketball slotted as a No. 11 seed in the Big Dance next spring. Lunardi projects other SEC schools to make the NCAA field will be Kentucky, Tennessee, Auburn, Mississippi State, LSU and Florida.

Avery Johnson guided the Crimson Tide to the NCAA Tournament last season by playing a tough schedule. He has the same plan for 2018-19. The Crimson Tide schedule could include 17 games against future NCAA Tournament teams. Beyond the tough SEC schedule of games, the Tide has a chance to play seven other likely NCAA Tourney teams, including Arizona, Virginia Tech and Purdue.

The big roster question for the new season surrounds the Tide’s point guard starter. The exhibition game win over Montevallo, introduced freshman, Kira Lewis. Lewis will be the second-youngest player in Division 1, college basketball this season. He will not turn 18, until April 2019. Lewis graduated from high school a year early to begin his college basketball career in Tuscaloosa.

Even at just 17, Lewis has a lot of game. He can shoot from the perimeter and get the ball to the rim. Early reviews are he is faster and a better passer than was Collin Sexton. Lewis is Avery’s best option at lead guard. It will be interesting how quickly Avery makes Kira the trigger of the Tide offense.

The Crimson Tide will be short-handed to open the season. True freshman big man, Javian Fleming and Dazon Ingram are injured and both are doubtful for Tuesday night. Tide journeyman, Riley Norris will not play. Norris was recently discovered to have an irregular heart rhythm. He was treated with a cardiac ablation procedure that corrected the rhythm problem. His status is week-to-week.

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After Southern, next up for the Tide is Appalachian State, followed by the Charleston Classic. The Tide will open the Classic against a good Northeastern team. Depending on how the brackets play out, other tournament opponents will come from a group including Wichita State, Virginia Tech, Purdue and Davidson.