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October 26, 2012HOOVER | University of Alabama women's basketball coach Wendell Hudson wasn't sure whether to chastise the reporters at the Southeastern Conference Media Days, or thank them.
The Crimson Tide (12-19, 2-14 SEC last season) were picked to finish 14th in a 14-team league in media voting, prompting Hudson to say that "some people aren't keeping up with women's basketball, because they don't know the players that we had sitting out due to transfer or injury."
At the same time, Hudson said, the low expectations will serve as motivation for the 2012-2013 Crimson Tide.
"I talked to our team about it yesterday," Hudson said on Thursday. "I told them we had been picked last but that you've got to earn, earn your respect. But you can bet that is going on our bulletin board."
Hudson, entering his fifth year at Alabama, noted that his teams had made steady progress until last season when star sophomore Kaneisha Horn (8.6 ppg, 5.8 rpg in 2011) missed the season after an ACL tear and No. 2 scorer Erica Russell missed 12 games late in the year.
"There are no excuses in athletics, but that hurt us," Hudson said.
His higher hopes for this season are based on the return of Horn and leading scorer Jasmine Robinson (11.4 ppg) and an influx of newcomers including three Division I transfers.
"Daisha Simmons (a transfer from Rutgers) coming in means that for the first time, we will have a true point guard, one who understands the position. She'll be a big-time scorer at times, but the main thing our players have to learn is to be ready because if you are open, she will get you the basketball."
In addition to Simmons, Briana Hutchen also transferred from Rutgers, with forward Brittany Jack coming to UA from Samford. The Crimson Tide also signed three freshmen.
"The surprise of that group so far has been Emily (Davis) from Enterprise," Hudson said. "She is as thin as she can be, so she doesn't pass the look test, but she passes the player test. She is a 6-2 two-guard and our players have learned to get her the ball because right now in practice, she is shooting better than anyone on the team.
"The best thing, though, is that we have 14 players, all healthy, and really good competition."
Alabama will open its season Nov. 11, hosting Jacksonville State at Foster Auditorium.
Reach Cecil Hurt at email@example.com or 205-722-0225.