Alabama Basketball: Donta Hall is a much-improved player


Alabama basketball climbed to 8-3 after beating Penn State. The much-improved Donta Hall and Kira Lewis sealed the deal for the Tide.

Part of being an Alabama basketball fan is coping with frustration. Recent examples were the back-to-back losses to UCF and Georgia State. After that pair of games, it was hard to see the 2018-19 Crimson Tide being good enough for a repeat trip to the Big Dance.

Alabama basketball coach, Avery Johnson was taking heat from an old complaint the Tide coaching staff does little to develop its players. Following a three-game winning streak, the prospects for the Crimson Tide look less bleak. A win over Stephen F. Austin on Dec. 30 and the Tide would be at 9-3 going into the SEC schedule. The Lumberjacks may not be the threat they have been in recent seasons. They are 7-4 but some of the wins came against some weak foes – their latest is a 97-47 win over the Arlington Baptist Patriots. We are not entirely sure the Baptist Patriots are not a church-league team.

Counter to the claim the Alabama basketball staff is weak at player development is this season’s performance by Donta Hall. Donta’s all-around game has improved. He is more of a scoring threat than just a dunk-monster. He is rebounding more consistently. Most of all, an unexpected improvement has made him one of the team’s most consistent free throw shooters.

Hall is not the only player who has improved. Both Alex Reese and John Petty are better players this season. It is true others seem to be stuck just where the end of last season left them. Since is the Holiday season, we’ll be charitable and not mention names.

On Friday, Alabama basketball won over a team it should have beaten. Penn State was 6-5 going into the game but three of the five losses were by a total of five points. The Crimson Tide characteristically started slowly, falling behind by 23-9 in the first half. Credit the team and the coaches with a 24-0 run, that gave the Tide a halftime lead of 33-27.

Penn State did not fold and regained the lead at just under nine minutes left in the game. In the four-or-so minutes following the PSU lead, Donta Hall and Kira Lewis took charge for the Tide. Hall poured in 10 of his 17 total points. Kira Lewis scored all of his seven total points during the interval. The senior and the freshman assured a Crimson Tide victory. Donta was also strong on the glass with 11 boards.

Avery Johnson was quick to acknowledge the 18-minute contribution of Riley Norris. Norris is not blessed with as much raw ability as many of his teammates, but he battles every second he is on the court. His tone-setting role can make a difference for the team.

Next. Sooners offense will sputter!. dark

During annual CFB Playoff frenzy, it is hard to devote much attention to Alabama basketball. We’ll all get a reality check on Jan. 5 against the Kentucky Wildcats. The Cats may only be the third best team in the SEC this season, but the game is always a valuable measurement of the Alabama basketball program.