Skip to content

Trevor Releford helps teammates learn by coming off the bench

Nov 16, 2012, 2:11 AM EDT

Oregon State Beavers v Alabama Crimson Tide Getty Images

NEW YORK – Last season, Alabama had plenty of preseason expectation.

There weren’t exactly picked to run through the SEC — that won’t happen for anyone as long as Coach Cal is stockpiling first round picks up in Lexington — but the Crimson Tide were a trendy pick to finish second in the conference in 2011-2012. That didn’t happen, however, as Alabama watched their star upperclassmen manage to get themselves suspended in the middle of conference play. Tony Mitchell went so far as to get himself kicked ou of the program.

As a result, the Tide floundered, limping into and out of the NCAA tournament with an opening round loss to Creighton. With a very young team returning for this season — the core of Anthony Grant’s team are freshmen and sophomores, with the exception of junior point guard Trevor Releford — the tidal wave of hype hitting the gridiron this season did not find its way into Coleman Coliseum.

But after starting the season 3-0, including last-second wins over South Dakota State and Oregon State, all of a sudden the Crimson Tide look like a group that might be able to make a run at an at-large bid. And their doing it while bringing arguably their most important player off of the bench.

“I just felt like it’s the right thing for our team right now,” Grant said of bring Releford off the bench. “He understands what we’re trying to do and I think he’s been really, really good for us, if you look at the numbers he’s putting up, the leadership he provides, the spark that he gives us. I think it’s good for our team.”

Releford certainly is putting up numbers. In the two games against Division I competition, Releford is averaging 16.0 points while shooting 12-23 (52.2%) from the floor and handing out seven assists to just a single turnover. More importantly, however, when Releford is on the floor, Alabama’s offense simply runs more smoothly. He’s a point guard. He’s a facilitator. He gets the Tide into their offensive sets and he breaks down the defense if that doesn’t work.

I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that Alabama’s sixth-man has been their MVP through the first week of the season.

“He’s a good kid and I think he understands what we’re doing and why we’re doing it,” Grant said. “He understands the bottom line is that he’s going to be out there and have an opportunity to make plays. If you look the games we’ve played, he’s out there. I think too much is made sometimes of whether or not a kid’s starting or not.”

Grant’s thinking is that early in the season, he needs to start developing his younger and more inexperienced players. He needs to build a rotation and develop a bench. He needs to get the guys that are going to be counted on in March into games early and allow them to get a sense of what it means to play basketball at this level.

“For us to be where we want to be, we have to build confidence in our young guys. We have an extremely young team,” Grant said, and Thursday’s 65-62 win over Oregon State was the perfect example in his eyes. After extending the lead to as much as 15 points on the Beavers, Alabama allowed them to claw their way back into the game. This is how close the Beavers were to coming all the way back — Ahmad Starks hit a three that would have tied the game with just a couple ticks left on the clock if his head coach hadn’t called a timeout a second before he released the shot.

“The mark of a young team, we thought “clock run out” as opposed to going and finishing the game,” Grant said. “The thing I told our guys is we gotta learn from this game how to stay aggressive and compete and do the things that allows us to build the lead from an offensive and a defensive standpoint, and we kind of got away from that.”

Alabama has some pieces this year. In addition to Releford, sophomores Trevor Lacey, Levi Randolph and Rodney Cooper join freshman Devonta Pollard to give Grant a talented perimeter rotation loaded with potential. Throw in a trio of big bodies in the paint and senior swingman Andrew Steele, and this is a group that can ruffle some feathers in a top-heavy SEC if they can manage continuing to learn how.

“I think it’s an opportunity to learn, and I think the best way to do that is to win,” Grant said. “I’d rather learn through winning than learn through losing and have to take some heartbreaking losses to clear things out.”

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

Latest Posts
  1. Report: UTEP head coach Tim Floyd emerges as a candidate for Missouri job

    Apr 22, 2014, 11:08 PM EDT

    AP AP

    The UTEP coach is now a candidate to replace Frank Haith at Missouri.

  2. Former Marquette commit Marial Shayok picks Virginia

    Apr 22, 2014, 10:10 PM EDT

    AP AP

    Virginia got its fourth commit on Tuesday night.

  3. UConn’s journey to the 2014 National Title (VIDEO)

    Apr 22, 2014, 9:09 PM EDT

    UConn AP

    A look back on UConn’s second title in four years.

  4. Southern and head coach Roman Banks agree to new deal

    Apr 22, 2014, 8:05 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    The Southern coach is receiving a contract extension.

  5. Oregon point guard Johnathan Loyd practices with football team

    Apr 22, 2014, 7:15 PM EDT

    AP AP

    Loyd is converting from point guard to wide receiver.

  6. John Egbunu becomes fifth player to transfer from South Florida

    Apr 22, 2014, 6:30 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    The Bulls announced the fifth departure this spring.

  7. Andrew Wiggins is the most searched athlete in Kansas … and Kentucky

    Apr 22, 2014, 5:00 PM EDT

    AP AP

    Andrew Wiggins is the most searched athlete in two states, according to a recent study.

  8. Auburn will not appeal Bruce Pearl’s show-cause penalty

    Apr 22, 2014, 2:43 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    Auburn will accept the punishment that has been given to Pearl by the NCAA.

  9. Kentucky freshman Julius Randle has formally declared for the NBA Draft

    Apr 22, 2014, 1:57 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    Kentucky is still waiting for a decision from four players.

  10. Report: Illinois forward Darius Paul arrested

    Apr 22, 2014, 1:18 PM EDT

    ILLINOIS_WALLMARX_LOGO-220x300

    Darius is the younger brother of former Illini guard Brandon Paul.

  11. ACC’s league schedule highlights the flaws of massive power conferences

    Apr 22, 2014, 11:52 AM EDT

    spt-110919-acc-logo

    The ACC schedule is what happens when leagues get too big.

  12. Mixtape for Ivan Rabb, the No. 2 recruit in the country (VIDEO)

    Apr 22, 2014, 10:55 AM EDT

    Ivan Rabb is the best big man in a loaded class of bigs, according to Rivals.

  13. Report: Clemson’s K.J McDaniels to enter the 2014 NBA Draft

    Apr 22, 2014, 9:53 AM EDT

    K.J. McDaniels AP

    K.J. McDaniels might win an NBA dunk contest one day.

  14. Willie Cauley-Stein has surgery, gets a new on-campus vehicle?

    Apr 22, 2014, 9:40 AM EDT

    Cauley-Stein will be out for a couple of months.

  15. Report: Indiana assistant coach Kenny Johnson moves on to Louisville

    Apr 21, 2014, 11:54 PM EDT

    Indianapolis Star Indianapolis Star

    Indiana assistant coach and recruiting coordinator Kenny Johnson is moving on to Louisville.

  16. Report: Tennessee hires Southern Miss coach Donnie Tyndall

    Apr 21, 2014, 10:33 PM EDT

    Donnie Tyndall AP

    Tennessee found its man on Monday night as the Vols hired Southern Miss coach Donnie Tyndall.

  17. Reports: LSU freshman Jordan Mickey still undecided on 2014 NBA Draft

    Apr 21, 2014, 9:46 PM EDT

    jordan mickey AP

    LSU freshman forward Jordan Mickey is still deciding whether or not to enter the 2014 NBA Draft.

  18. Rice transfer Sean Obi commits to Duke

    Apr 21, 2014, 8:53 PM EDT

    Mike Krzyzewski AP

    Duke landed an impact transfer on Monday with Rice big man Sean Obi.

Featured video

Derrick Gordon says 'Why not me?'