Alabama Basketball getting quality bench contributions

Grand Canyon v Alabama
Grand Canyon v Alabama / Steph Chambers/GettyImages

In its first two wins in the 2024 NCAA Tournament, Alabama Basketball benefited from useful contributions from its bench. All year, Bama’s bench has been fairly young, consisting of three true freshmen that play significant minutes.

Those three freshmen have stepped up in a major way on college basketball’s biggest stage. In the Tide’s first round game against College of Charleston, freshmen forwards Jarin Stevenson and Sam Walters made an impact from the perimeter. The pair combined for 16 points and went 3-5 from three-point range, continuing an offensive onslaught that the starters had gotten rolling. Stevenson, one of the most versatile youngsters in the sport, added a team-high two blocks to his stat line. 

In addition to the duo of Walters and Stevenson, Bama got quality minutes from veteran bigs Nick Pringle and Mo Wague, who combined for 11 points and six rebounds while going 4-4 from the field.

A third freshman forward was able to make his presence felt as well. Mo Dioubate was very active, recording six points, four rebounds, and two steals. Though he went just 2-6 from the free throw line and left some points on the table, his energy level was contagious. This performance was ultimately a sign of things to come, as Dioubate would turn in arguably his best game yet in the second round.

In total, the Alabama bench shot a blistering 11-16 from the field against Charleston to help the team shoot 60 percent for the game. 

Things went very differently for the Tide against Grand Canyon, particularly on offense. Bama shot under 37 percent for the game, including just 7-17 from its bench players. Sam Walters and Jarin Stevenson, the duo that lit it up in the first round, looked more like freshmen against the Lopes. They went just 2-9 from the field, 1-7 from three, and Stevenson fouled out in just 13 minutes of action. 

Though Alabama had serious offensive struggles, Nick Pringle and Mo Dioubate were able to match Grand Canyon’s physicality in the paint and proved to be instrumental in the win. Pringle had six points, nine rebounds, and a pair of blocks while going 2-2 from the field. The senior, who shot nearly 85 percent from the field last season, has yet to miss a shot in the 2024 NCAA Tournament. 

Dioubate may have had the most impressive showing of the day. The true freshman looked like anything but, giving the Tide nine points, five rebounds, two blocks, and electric energy that went far beyond the box score. He was effective on both ends of the floor, and was a monster on the offensive glass where he grabbed all five of his boards. Additionally, Dioubate was money from the free throw line in the biggest game of his young career. Just two days after going 2-6, he did not let the previous game affect his confidence and knocked down all three of his attempts against GCU.

Against North Carolina and in every game going forward, Alabama will continue to need its bench to step up. The first two rounds should have given this group plenty of validation regarding their value to the team.