TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - The Alabama men's basketball team will travel to Nashville, Tenn., Wednesday night for the 2013 Southeastern Conference Tournament, which will be held March 13-17 at Bridgestone Arena.
As the No. 4 overall seed, the Crimson Tide received a double-bye into the SEC quarterfinals where they will play on Friday at 2:30 p.m. CT (3:30 p.m. ET) on ESPNU against the winner of fifth-seeded Tennessee and either No. 12 seed South Carolina or No. 13 seed Mississippi State. The Gamecocks and Bulldogs will open the tournament on Wednesday night with the winner advancing to play the Volunteers on Thursday.
UA head coach Anthony Grant, along with guards Andrew Steele and Trevor Releford, met with members of the media on Wednesday to discuss the upcoming tournament.
Friday's contest can also be heard on the Crimson Tide Sports Network, with Chris Stewart and Bryan Passink on the call. Fans can follow the in-game action with live tweets on the team's official Twitter page @AlabamaMBB.
ALABAMA HEAD COACH Anthony Grant
"Well first of all, obviously, the regular season is finished. I'm proud of what our team was able to accomplish in SEC play, finishing tied for the second-best record in the league at 12-6 and getting a double bye in the SEC tournament, which led to us getting the No. 4 seed. I think for us, that is something that we wanted to accomplish over the course of the regular conference season. I'm very happy for Trevor Releford being named first team All-SEC by the coaches. I think that is an outstanding accomplishment for him and a testament to the work that he put in over the course of the season. I think he'd be the first to tell you that's the result of his teammates and the things that were able to happen over the course of the season. I'm looking forward to the SEC tournament. Obviously, we learned a lot about ourselves over the course of the SEC season. We learned things that allowed us to win and what we need to do better to put us in a position to win every night. We're looking forward to the challenge of whoever we play on Friday."
On what he's done to prepare for the tournament:
"Personally I've really just been watching film of our team. Just worried about us in terms of what we need to do and where we need to be going forward. My biggest thing right now, I feel like we gained a lot of experience over the course of this year. I told the team the other day, we've had 17 games out of 31 that we have played which have come down to the last four minutes, and the majority of them down to the last couple of possessions of the game. On one hand, you look and you say we've won 11 out of 17; we're 11-6 in those games which is a good thing. I think the experience you get in those games is invaluable for your team. On the other hand, you look and see some things that are repetitive in terms of things that we've done in November and December that are still kind of here in February and March. The thing I try and get across to them is we have to try and learn from those experiences or we're going to continue to repeat them. So let's figure out what we need to do to avoid some of the mistakes that we're making and repeat some of the things that allow us to be successful in those situations and let's learn from them. I think that becomes an individual thing - knowing you've got to step up. The freshmen are now sophomores, it's a new season, and sophomores are now juniors and so on. The expectation is that we learn from that. I think everybody on our team should be excited as we move forward and now lets' get better as a team."
Who are you looking to make big impact in the tournament:
Outside of Andrew [Steele] and Trevor Releford, it comes down to the younger guys really making that next step in terms of the confidence that they play with, their willingness to step into situations and make plays whether it be offensively or defensively, and it's about consistency. We have to get to the point where we are getting consistency. I think if you look at, just pointing Trevor out, the last several ball games, it's been the consistency. I think it has allowed him to be in the position that he's in. So that's what we've got to get, we have to get more consistency out of everyone on our team. Outside of that, whether it be from a defensive standpoint, coming up with a stop when we need a stop, being able to stop another teams run, being able to come up with a rebound that we need in a crucial situation, communication on the floor at the end of game situations where we don't have breakdowns that allow the other team to either build a lead or cut into our lead. Then being able to be efficient offensively, knowing how the play to our strengths, and how to compliment your teammates strengths and those types of things. That's what's going to be required. We've got a team that has had a lot of experience over the course of the season. We talked about this at the beginning of the year, you can't rush experience. I think we had a lot of guys that had to get experience. Well, we've gotten a lot in terms of 31 ball games and 17 of them have been extremely close. I think we're experienced, now we have to be able to respond. We've got to step up and do the things that it's going to take for us to win."
"It's been inconsistent. That's something that's plagued us really all year, and as we head into the post season I'm sure it'll be something that'll be critical for us. It's a situation where I think our guys understand what my expectations are in terms of our ability to block out. We're never going to be a team that's the biggest team or the most physical team, so we have to be able to do it by committing, we have to be able to do it by doing the little things. Most of it, when it really comes down to it, comes down to effort and fight and the will, and sometimes over the course of the year we've lacked that. That's something that kind of reared its head against Georgia, Lake Forest. It's reared its head in other games here recently, and it reared its head back in December and November. At some point, we have to be able to step up and do something about that. That has to happen for us if we're going to have an extended post season."
On if he wants the momentum from the Georgia game to carry over, or if he wants to treat upcoming games with a clean slate:
"I think these guys will tell you, for me, I'm really happy that he made the shot. But we have a seven point lead with under two minutes to play, and we have a defensive breakdown that gives them a wide open three. We're up five at the free throw line with a minute to play, and 15 seconds later it's a tied ball game. Those are things that, for me as a coach, we can control. So that part of the momentum, yeah I want to change that. I want to change that, and I think at this point in the season we have to be able to learn from those mistakes because you don't get a second chance in the post season. I don't know that all our guys really understand that. Sometimes as a player you look at the result, and the result the other day was a three point win and a lot of excitement because of a half-court shot that went in. But the process of getting us there, we have to do some things better if we're going to have an extended post-season. That's the message that I'm trying to get across to our guys. Hopefully we'll be mature enough to receive that and understand that as we move forward."
Junior Guard Trevor Releford
On playing on a neutral court:
"Neutral court or not, we have to worry about the five players on the court and going against the opponents and just take care of what we can control."
On how often he gets asked about his game-winning shot against Georgia:
"I've been asked about it every day. My phone blew up a little bit after the game. It was just family members and other friends saying `Congrats on the shot,' congratulating me and telling me what a great shot it was."
Senior Guard Andrew Steele
On playing on a neutral court:
"Playing on a neutral court, I think, it one of those things that once the game starts you block it out. There's so much other stuff that we have to control. We can't really control the atmosphere we're playing in or the crowd or where we're playing, but we can control the things we do on the court. We really don't think about things like that."