Alabama Awaits Tough Opener Against Morehead State: Tuscaloosa, Ala. – The No. 24 Alabama Crimson Tide anticipates a challenging road to replicate last season’s historic success. The 2023-24 campaign kicks off with a home matchup against Morehead State on a Monday night, setting the stage for a gripping season ahead.
Head coach Nate Oats, the architect behind Alabama’s basketball powerhouse, has raised expectations following a remarkable 2022-23 season. Concluding with a stellar 31-6 overall record, a dominant 16-2 mark in the SEC, and claiming the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament, the Crimson Tide faced disappointment in the Sweet 16 against No. 5 seed San Diego State.
Despite the setback, Alabama underwent a significant transformation in the offseason. The roster, a blend of seasoned veterans and promising newcomers, is poised for a fresh start. Guard Mark Sears, an All-SEC second team awardee, leads the returning players alongside contributors Rylan Griffen and Nick Pringle.
New additions, including transfers Aaron Estrada and Latrell Wrightsell Jr., add depth to the backcourt. The versatile Grant Nelson, a North Dakota State transfer, brings a formidable presence in the paint. True freshmen Sam Walters and Jarin Stevenson, impressing in preseason, are expected to play pivotal roles.
In their final preseason exhibition against Wake Forest, Alabama faced an 88-80 loss. Despite challenges, players like Estrada, Nelson, Pringle, and Walters showcased their potential by scoring in double digits. Coach Oats expressed disappointment in the result, emphasizing the need for improvement before the season opener against Morehead State.
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On the opposing side, Morehead State enters the season as the reigning Ohio Valley Conference regular-season champions. However, their journey is marred by the absence of guard Mark Freeman, the preseason OVC Player of the Year, due to a wrist injury.
While Freeman’s loss is a significant blow, Morehead State relies on returning guard Drew Thelwell, a consistent performer averaging 11.1 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 2.8 assists per game last season. Thelwell, named to the preseason All-OVC team, remains optimistic despite uncertainties in the backcourt, emphasizing the team’s commitment to giving their all on the court.
As the 2023-24 season unfolds, Alabama prepares for a tough opener against Morehead State, determined to build on past successes and face the challenges ahead.