TUSCALOOSA _ If University of Alabama men's basketball coach Anthony Grant was to grade his team's half-court offense like he was teaching a class, his players might be looking at summer school.
"D to an F," he said Monday afternoon. "We're not a very good half-court team right now. I think we're at our best when we're in transition when we get into half-court situations. I don't think it's any secret we aren't shooting the ball well at all."
Grant said he's been pretty pleased with the overall shot selection and the looks the players are getting. However, during the last four losses away from Coleman Coliseum the Crimson Tide's best field-goal percentage was .418 against Providence, and overall it was 8 of 49 (.163) from 3-point range.
"We do have a lot to work on with the half-court," junior forward JaMychal Green admitted.
Alabama only has five more games, including Wednesday night against visiting Southeastern Louisiana (8 p.m., CSS) before Southeastern Conference play begins, but is struggling as the season midpoint approaches.
If the 19-3 run Providence made in the second half Saturday wasn't indicative enough, Alabama (4-5) is winless on the road including to St. Peter's of the Metro Atlantic Athletic (MAAC), and has averaged 18 turnovers during the past seven games.
When asked if they're "possibly" a problem, Grant replied: "I don't think the word possibly should be in that sentence. It's a problem. What's the saying I heard on TV, do it once it's an aberration, do it twice it's maybe a coincidence, three times it's a pattern. We've established a pattern.
"It's a message that hasn't gotten through clearly enough yet and I have to find a way to make sure that we understand that."
Steele has surgery again
Grant revealed that redshirt sophomore guard Andrew Steele recently had surgery on both knees.
"I had surgery about a week and a half ago," the coach said. "He had basically both knees scoped just to see if there was anything in there that wasn't showing up the normal X-rays and MRIs. I think it turned out that it was pretty good, maybe some things got cleaned up a little bit, nothing major."
There's no timetable for his return. Steele started the first six games of last season before being sidelined with a stress fracture in his left ankle that ultimately required season-ending surgery.
Knee surgeries are also a concern for the Steele family. His brother Ron, a first two-time "Mr. Basketball" in the State of Alabama, had arthroscopic knee surgery on both knees on April 3, 2007 and after follow-up procedure on the left knee on August 23, 2007 ended up redshirting the whole season.
Green meets with media
Green sat down with reporters for the first time since being reinstated by the coaching staff before the Providence game, where he recorded his first double-double of the season with 15 points and 11 rebounds off the bench.
"It felt good to be out there on the floor," he said. "You can't take this for granted."
"I thought JaMychal came in and gave us some good minutes," Grant said. "I thought he played well in the game."
The preseason All-SEC selection is averaging 13.3 points and 6.0 rebounds, second for the team lead in both categories to sophomore forward Tony Mitchell (14.6 and 8.8).
Green was suspended for three gamed due to conduct detrimental to the team. He declined to talk specifically about the suspension, but said that he and Grant had a long conversation about where he fits in.
"I feel like it's in the past," he said. "I'm just looking forward to getting better, helping my team get better and just win.
"I feel like the lesson was learned. It was a humbling experience."
However, Green did admit that the team has had a lack of leadership, something that he hopes to add the rest of this season.
"I'll say togetherness and just go out there and have fun," he said is needed. "I feel like when we have fun we go out and win. Just play together and stay focused."
The men's team practiced at Foster Auditorium one day last week while Coleman Coliseum was preoccupied with graduation. "I was impressed," Grant said. "Obviously first time on the court there. There's a lot of history in the building, I thought they did a very good job with the upgrades." As for the bouncy floor: "Yeah, fortunately I'm not at the age I'm spending too much time bouncing up and down on it."
Grant isn't blaming the aggressive style of play for the team's foul troubles. "I don't think the style of play has anything to do with it," he said. "We have to do a much better job of defending. You look at Providence, going into the game I think they had made more free throws than their opponents had attempted. We knew that, we made a point (of telling the players) that they had taken almost a hundred more free throws than their opponent and we had to do a good job defending and we didn't do that."
Freshman point guard Trevor Releford is averaging 29.8 minutes per season, which is just about where Grant wants to keep him this season (27-32 range). "For a freshman to log those minutes it's dangerous, it's a lot of minutes, but I think he has the maturity to do it," he said. Releford is averaging 10.0 points and 3.6 assists.