Bama Hoops Hype

Grading Tide’s defense from 2016-17 season

Alabama coach Avery Johnson coaching his team during a timeout in SEC Tournament game versus Mississippi State: Joseph Habshey - Bama Hoops Hype

It had more freedom offensively last season than in all six years under Anthony Grant, but Alabama men’s basketball head coach Avery Johnson remained intense on defense.

Part of the Crimson Tide’s success in being involved with NCAA Tournament talk, reaching the semifinals of the Southeastern Conference venue and making the National Invitation Tournament was its attention toward not letting opponents cross the 70-point too often.

Despite finishing at 19-15, Alabama allowed 70-plus points in eight of 34 meetings (23.5 percent). Failure to close out to three-point shooters is what led to its defeats against Arkansas and Auburn, and though it gave up 86 points to South Carolina – it found a way to win.

Being established as a strong rebounding team is the essence of good defense.

Behind the effort of forward Braxton Key (139 defensive rebounds), Alabama was third in the SEC with 39.2 boards a game. In its sweeps over LSU, Mississippi State, Missouri and South Carolina, the Tide was able to force steals. Redshirt freshman Dazon Ingram notched 30 of the group’s 200 steals, while sophomore forward Donta Hall accounted for 48 of its 141 blocks.

Frustration rested on the face of Tide fans during moments when its offense encountered scoring droughts. The defense did all it could to keep matchups within striking distance; however, the inability to score late in games and help its defense set up would hurt Alabama.

Regardless of the aim being offensive firepower for its 2017 class, disrupting the timing of other programs within the SEC will be important as the conference starts to rise. After seeing the Gamecocks (Final Four), Florida and Kentucky all make runs throughout March Madness, Alabama fans are expecting Johnson and company to do the same in years to come.

2016-17 Final Grade: A-

Stephen M. Smith covers Alabama men’s basketball for Bama Hoops Hype. You can like him on Facebook or follow him on Twitter, via @Smsmith_TDALMag.

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