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Alabama Basketball Sweet 16 Practice Report

By Blake Byler,


A breakdown of Alabama basketball's open practice availability before the Crimson Tide's regional semifinal against San Diego State.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — No. 1 overall seed Alabama basketball arrived in Louisville on Wednesday for the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament. On Thursday, the Crimson Tide spoke to the media and practiced in the KFC Yum! Center prior to Friday's game against San Diego State.

The first 15 minutes of Alabama's practice was open for media viewing.

The first and most obvious thing to note was the high energy that the Alabama players brought to practice from the very beginning. While Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Sweet Home Alabama" serenaded the court during warmups, Nick Pringle, Brandon Miller and Noah Gurley were exceptionally talkative with their teammates.

Miller even poked fun at Gurley for being the only teammate wearing a black undershirt, which Gurley responded to by lifting his practice jersey and revealing an SEC logo.

"It just means more," Gurley yelled, citing the conference's motto.

After strength coach Henry Barrera took the team through stretches, they immediately went into a team shooting drill that doubled as a competition.

The team was divided into two squads, each one shooting from one of the five primary 3-point spots on the floor. Once one squad made a certain number of threes, they swapped side of the floor and continued shooting.

Miller, who has been dealing with a groin injury suffered in the SEC Tournament championship game, said before the practice that he felt "100 percent." Practice backed that up, as he looked in no way limited for the entirety of the media viewing period.

Shooting was a primary focus of practice, to the surprise of no one. Shooting drills continued after the initial competition, and each drill was done efficiently while players moved with a purpose.

Every few minutes, head coach Nate Oats blew a whistle and players switched goals, ensuring that players got shots up on both sides of the arena. The efficiency of the practice was impressive, with players knowing exactly when and where to go with every whistle.

After team shooting work concluded, the guards went to one end of the floor and the bigs went to another. Guards worked on navigating screens, passing with accuracy and of course, more shooting. The bigs, working with assistant coach Bryan Hodgson, worked on inside finishing, footwork and pick-and-roll scenarios.

As the media availability for practice wound down, the team divided into work against scout team offense and scout team defense. Assistant coach Charlie Henry worked with the defense, while Oats and assistant coach Antione Pettway worked with the offense.

Perhaps the most notable thing from practice was the attitudes of the players. Everyone was focused, but enjoying themselves and seeming to have a good time. They all seem to enjoy their time together and enjoy what they do on the floor, which has become more and more evident on the court during games as the season has gone on.

With its final practice out of the way before the weekend, the next time the Crimson Tide takes the KFC Yum! Center floor will be to shootaround before tomorrow's South Regional Semifinal.

Tipoff between Alabama and San Diego State is set for 5:30 p.m. CT, and will be aired on TBS.

See also:

Nick Saban Addresses "Wrong Place, Wrong Time" Comments

Previewing Alabama Basketball and the South Regional Sweet 16

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