Alabama vs. Penn Preview
The Nate Oats era will officially begin in Coleman Coliseum on November 5th. Usually a coach will schedule a bottom dweller school to get an easy first win at their new job, but Coach Oats isn’t your average coach. He decided to go with the Penn Quakers who had a decent year last year finishing at 19-12 (7-7) and 4th in their conference. Head Coach Steve Donahue already has one conference title under his belt at Penn and will return 2 double digit scorers and some more key players from last year’s team, so I expect they’ll be just as good or maybe better this season. Now onto some statistics about Penn and how they play. Penn was ranked 156th overall in possessions per game last year (71.5). In comparison, Alabama was ranked 4 spots better last year with 71.6 possessions per game. So basically Penn and Alabama were identical when it came to that area. I don’t expect Penn will change that but Alabama should drastically change in that area. Nate Oats’ former team, Buffalo, was ranked 13th overall last season in this statistic. That’s what Oats wants Bama to be. Now I don’t think we’ll be 13th overall this year in possessions per game, but I expect a dramatic improvement. In other words, Alabama should play at a much faster pace than Penn, and I think that should favor Bama with the athletes we have. But then again, if Penn slows the game down and we can’t play at the pace Oats wants, we better make sure we take care of the ball and hit our shots. That killed Alabama last year but I don’t expect it’ll be a huge problem under the new staff. Taking care of the ball is going to be a major factor in this game if Penn tries to slow the game down. Alabama’s assist to turnover ratio was ranked #263 last season while Penn was ranked #96. Penn was also ranked 194th overall in PPG while Buffalo was 5th overall with Oats and Co. That’s the key for this game......can Penn slow Alabama down enough? Buffalo scored almost 13 more points a game (84.2) than Penn did (71.3) last season. Penn’s only chance, in my opinion, is keep Alabama under 75 points.
What Penn returns:
-G Devon Goodman (13.9 PPG)
-G Bryce Washington (7.5 PPG, 3.0 RPG)
-F Michael Wang (8.5 PPG, 3.6 RPG)
-F AJ Brodeur (17.6 PPG, 8.3 RPG)
Way-Too-Early Prediction: Alabama has the shooters this season to play exactly how Nate Oats’ wants, and they’ll be able to play at a much faster pace thanks to new S&C coach Mike Snowden. I think Penn will give Alabama some trouble early due to their slower pace, but Alabama will pull away in the second half behind a good shooting effort.