Expectations have been raised for an Alabama team that has appeared in just two of the last 13 NCAA Tournaments.
After posting a passing grade in the season opener, the Crimson Tide look for a more complete effort on Monday night when they face Stanford in the Maui Invitational, though the eventis being held in Asheville, N.C.
Alabama (1-0) benefited from a pronounced run midway through the second half en route to an 81-57 victory over Jacksonville State on Wednesday in Tuscaloosa, Ala. The 21-4 spurt notwithstanding for his charges, Crimson Tide coach Nate Oats saw room for improvement from a squad that he feels should be in contention for the Southeastern Conference regular-season title.
"Our flow on offense wasn't where we needed it to be," Oats said. "Our pace wasn't where we wanted it to be. We'll get better at that. We'll play a little faster."
Jaden Shackelford notched his first career double-double with 18 points and a personal-best 11 rebounds, while fellow guard Jahvon Quinerly added 18 points as well.
John Petty Jr. scored 14 points and Herbert Jones added 12 to go along with 12 rebounds for his fourth career double-double.
"Herb Jones led the team, taking charges and getting deflections were key. I thought our energy on that side of the ball was good and we were not letting them score off of second chances," Oats said. "... Thought there were many good things to look at, but we'll get the offense ready for Monday."
Stanford has yet to play a game this season. Its contest versus Utah Valley on Wednesday was canceled due to a positive COVID-19 test, and subsequent contact tracing, within the Wolverines' program.
Expectations are also high for the Cardinal, who return five of their top six scorers from last season and boast an impressive freshman class that includes 6-foot-8 forward Ziaire Williams.
Oscar da Silva averaged team-leading totals in points (15.7) and rebounds (6.4) last season, though the German forward said earlier this month that he expects the infusion of young talent to be a boon for his game.
"I'm sure it will take some attention away from me, which I think is going to be helpful for me, too," da Silva said.
Stanford hopes to repeat the strong start of last season, during which it won its first seven games and 15 of 17 overall. The Cardinal reached the 20-win mark for the first time since 2014-15 after posting a 20-12 mark.
This year's club, however, will be without Tyrell Terry, who averaged 14.6 points and 4.5 rebounds in 2019-20, as he was taken in the second round of the NBA draft by the Dallas Mavericks.
Stanford and Alabama will return to action on Tuesday against either North Carolina or UNLV. The winner of the Cardinal-Crimson Tide clash will face the victor of the Tar Heels-Runnin' Rebels encounter on Tuesday, while the losers of the matchups squaring off later that night.
--Field Level Media