TIDE NEEDS MORE THAN FLASH FROM COLLIN SEXTON
Bama freshman point guard Collin Sexton is more than living up to all the hype he creates for himself. The Crimson Tide hasn’t enjoyed anything near the flamboyant talent that Sexton is in a long time. He averages 20 points per game which leads the SEC. He’s a highlight waiting to happen, and he seems to just flat out LOVE playing the game. Which, in this day of the one-and-done in college hoops is mighty refreshing. However, this young basketball team needs more. It needs more than the flash from the almost certain NBA Lottery pick for next summer’s draft. This team needs Collin Sexton to be a leader. The Tide desperately needs a floor general. Especially, with the SEC conference opener against 5th-ranked Texas A&M coming up this afternoon.
Alabama (8-4) comes in to the game vs the Aggies (11-1) losers of three of their last five games to close out the pre-conference schedule. The last being a 66-50 loss in Birmingham to the Texas Longhorns. Bama had no answers for the zone defense deployed by Longhorns head coach Shaka Smart, or the defensive presence inside from Texas’ freshman center Mo Bamba.
With defenses attempting to keep Sexton out of the paint, teams are much more likely to play zone against Alabama. So far, when that’s happened this season, Bama’s offense has folded. It affects Sexton’s aggressiveness which is usually through the roof. Once, it hits Sexton, it quickly spreads throughout the rest of the team like the flu in the middle of the winter. That has to change, and that change starts with Sexton.
Sexton is already the emotional leader of this team. How he goes, so goes the Crimson Tide. It’s noticeable when things are going well. However, it’s even more noticeable, offensively and defensively, when things are not. The best example of that is the Texas game. A relatively close game for 35 minutes turned into a decisive Longhorns’ victory. Bama’s frustrations offensively, eventually led to easy buckets on the other end for Texas. That happens far too often with this team. It’s happened even in near buzzer-beating wins against Mercer, Louisiana Tech and others.
Attacking the middle of the zone and not just passing the ball around the perimeter of it is the key. A lot of college teams struggle with that. It’s probably one good reason that infamous 2-3 zone at Syracuse is always so effective. Lots of coaches would rather not play zone, because of how it limits defensive rebounding. But, with a guy like Sexton breaking down defenses, you really have no choice. That’s where Sexton has to make them pay. There’s too much talent on this Bama team for them to struggle offensively for long stretches of time.
Sexton has to control that. He has to get the ball in the right places at the right time. That has to be tough for a freshman point guard, but for Bama to be the team they’re expected to be, it’s an absolute must. Especially, with the lack of any other candidates that could step up into a leadership role.
It would be nice if Dazon Ingram or Braxton Key, two ‘veterans’ (only sophomores) that the offense can run through at times, could take on that leadership role. But, neither seem to have that mentality. Maybe, even a guy like Riley Norris, but he’s struggled to find much playing time this season. He’s also not a player Avery Johnson would probably want the offense running through anyway.
Now, with big man Tyler Davis and Texas A&M coming to town, the importance of finding that floor general and more consistent offense is critical. The Longhorns are pretty good, but the Aggies are on a completely different level. They’re clearly the SEC’s best team right now and a viable Final Four threat. Davis, could present some of the same problems Bamba presented for Bama’s offense. However, Collin Sexton is more than capable of leading this Bama offense and team, as a whole, to where it wants to be.