Alabama Basketball: A go or no-go for Brandon Miller

Gary Cosby Jr.-Tuscaloosa News
Gary Cosby Jr.-Tuscaloosa News /

On Thursday Alabama Basketball’s best player did not score. Against the Texas A&M – Corpus Christi Islanders, Brandon Miller’s lack of output did not matter. It could matter on Saturday night against Maryland.

Miller played just 19 minutes against the Islanders. Alabama was being careful with Miller because of what has been described as a minor groin strain in the Texas A&M game. There has been no mention of Miller aggravating the injury on Thursday. He was suffering discomfort on the bench, with heat being applied to his thigh. Hopefully, with additional treatment, he can be close to 80% or 90% against Maryland.

Gauging the risk of worsening a groin strain is imprecise. But at some level, playing Miller on Saturday may be a risk too great to take.

The Houston Cougars are a recent example of what can happen when a player with a groin injury returns to action too soon. Houston’s most important player, Marcus Sasser sustained a groin injury in an American Athletic Conference semi-final. He played Thursday night, as the Cougars, one of the favorites to win it all this season, took on 16-seed, Northern Kentucky.

Sasser left the game in the first half. He will not be available against Auburn on Saturday. If Houston advances, Sasser may miss additional games. USA Today was blunt in defining Kelvin Sampson’s decision to play Sasser against Northern Kentucky, calling Sampson’s decision “gobsmacking stupidity” that damaged Houston’s “title aspirations.”

Alabama Basketball and Risk

Are Nate Oats, Brandon Miller, and the Alabama basketball team potentially at similar risk? On Friday, Nate Oats said he is praying Miller is a go on Saturday night, but there is no guarantee.

Kelvin Sampson apparently left a decision up to Marcus Sasser. Should Nate Oats do the same with Miller? How many teams in the South Region can Alabama beat without Brandon Miller? Maryland might be one, but that too carries no guarantee.

In a Sweet 16 matchup, Alabama without Brandon Miller might be too good for San Diego State. What about later, potential opponents? Playing Baylor or Kansas or Texas without Brandon Miller is a troubling thought.

Commenting on a possible game-time decision, Nate Oats said,

"I think he’s (Miller) smart enough to know if he can go or not and help us. If he can’t, the good thing about our team is we’ve got a lot of depth. … we’ve got different options. Pray we don’t have to go to all those …"

In the Crimson Tide’s Friday practice, Miller only did shooting drills.

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Nate Oats and his staff face a tough decision. At some unknown level, playing Brandon Miller Saturday night is a risk. An aggravating injury, potentially knocking Miller out of the rest of the tournament, may be a greater risk than playing Maryland without him.