Pickett, Torrance shine at the point
TUSCALOOSA - Mark Gottfried views the point guard position as a combination, rather than a competition. So when the University of Alabama coach assessed how his team is battling to replace All-American Ronald Steele, he did so as if the contributions came from only one player.
"Sixteen assists out of that position," said Gottfried after the Crimson Tide's 99-71 exhibition win over Division II North Alabama Monday night. "That's pretty good."
Freshman Rico Pickett, a Decatur native, had 11 assists to go with 13 points against six turnovers.
Sophomore Mikhail Torrance, the Eight Mile native, added eight points and five assists with one turnover.
With Ronald Steele sitting out the season to allow his surgically repaired knees to heal, the spotlight will continue to shine on the players, inexperienced or not.
"I felt comfortable," Pickett said. "I need to slow down a little bit, get everybody into the offense. But for the most part, I felt comfortable."
All-SEC forward Richard Hendrix led the team with 18 points, while he and sophomore forward Demetrius Jemison each had 10 rebounds. After a sloppy first half that ended with 10 turnovers against 10 assists - and just a one-point lead - the Tide settled in.
Out of the locker room, the defense held the Lions scoreless for eight minutes, 52 seconds while building a 27-point lead.
By the time UNA's Quinn Beckwith hit a 3-pointer from the wing with 11:08 left to make it 69-45, the Tide had put it away.
"We focused on defense," said Hendrix, who scored 13 points in the first eight minutes of the final half, "and defense led to offense."
Alabama, which finished 20-12 last season with a loss in the NIT, begins the season Friday at 7 p.m. against Troy.