STS: Alabama sits at 5-2 while Tigers are 6-2. What that doesn't tell you is that Bama has already played four KenPom Top 50 teams (Dayton, Xavier, Wichita St., Notre Dame) while Clemson has yet to play one in the top 100. After wins against both Wichita St. and Notre Dame, how optimistic are you about this squad?
BH: I am more optimistic than I was a couple of weeks ago, but I still think making any postseason tournament would be a great accomplishment for this team. We have little offensive presence in the post, and our perimeter shooting is inconsistent at best. We play at a very fast pace and generally take the first decent shot we see in each possession. This leads to more possessions in a game which is likely to get us blown out against good competition (see Xavier and Dayton). On the other hand, against teams that lack the depth to run with us, if we have a decent shooting game, we are capable of pulling some unlikely upsets(see Notre Dame).
STS: Although this year may turn out to be the exception, Clemson is typically a defense first team. Alabama has done a good job creating turnovers and is inside the top 50 in defensive efficiency. They held Wichita State to just 60 points. What makes this defense so good?
BH: First of all, I think our defensive statistics are a little misleading. The aforementioned pace of play, meaning more possessions leads to more turnovers. Keep in mind we played a very beat up Wichita State team, they were missing their best player and starting point guard in Van Fleet, plus they had a couple of other key injuries. We've also played Kennesaw State and Southern Miss, and with all due respect to those programs, they simply aren't very good right now. We gave up 93 to a decent Louisiana-Lafayette team, so defense has been feast or famine.
All of that being said, we have great length and athleticism in the backcourt. Dazon Ingram is a 6'5" true freshman point guard to go along with the senior leadership of Retin Obasohan, who is much smaller but incredibly quick and athletic, both average over a steal per game. While the front court has not produced much offensively, Jimmie Taylor and true freshman Donta Hall are both excellent at defending the rim, both averaging 1.7 blocks per game. We go 10 deep, so being able to stay somewhat fresh in the faster style of play also contributes to our defensive success.
STS: What is more likely, a Bama football National Championship or a Bama basketball NCAA tourney berth?
BH: An Alabama football national championship, by far. If we make the NCAA tournament coach Johnson should win coach of the year. I think the future is very bright for Bama basketball, we've already signed a couple of 4 star recruits and we have a 5 star committed, but right now Johnson is trying to run a system that is not well suited for the current players on the roster. As for football, I think we matchup fairly well with Michigan State. If we can get past them, both Oklahoma and Clemson will present a lot of matchup problems for us, but I still see those as being close to 50/50 games. Incidentally, I'm hoping our teams meet up in Arizona. I think I can speak for all Bama fans when I say I'm happy to see Dabo having a lot of success there.
STS: What one offensive player should Tiger fans lookout for?
BH: Retin Obasohan. He's a 6'1 208 lb senior from Belgium who mostly plays the 2 guard. He doesn't have the best shot, but I've noticed he seems to make his jumpers a little more consistently from certain spots on the floor. He's incredibly quick and can jump out of the gym. He's great on the dribble drive and finds creative ways to finish at the basket. He's averaging 12.9 ppg. Also, Shannon Hale is probably the key to our team having success. When he is motivated, he's clearly our best offensive player. He's more of a 3 or a stretch 4, but he has the ability to play inside or out and probably has the most offensive weapons. The problem is he will score 25 one night and 4 the next.