The University of Alabama will begin postseason play on Thursday, facing South Carolina in the opening round of the SEC Tournament. On Monday's SEC teleconference, coaches from both schools talked about the challenges ahead.
Anthony Grant, Alabama
On facing South Carolina: "They pose us some problems with their variety of defenses they throw at you. They play really hard. They have the ability to make shots at multiple positions. They're a very athletic team. We understand we have a very challenging game ahead of us."
On what it would take to beat Kentucky: "It's tough to say. Obviously they're 16-0 so none of us have figured that out to this point. Kentucky, I think from a defensive standpoint, is one of the better teams in the country. You combine that with the offense they have, the variety of guys they have at several different positions, they're capable of leading them. They have a very good team, a very balanced team."
On the number of teams in the SEC worthy of making the NCAA Tournament: "The number I'd throw out is about six. I think we have several teams. You look at what we were able to accomplish either during non-conference play and into the SEC and the surge that some teams had during SEC play. I think our league has is very strong."
On what he can do to generate more offense: "For us, it's always been about our defense trying to create offense for us, getting the game to a pace that favors us. At the end of the day, if you're speaking specifically for us, we've managed to have a chance in every game we've played in spite of some deficiencies we've had as a team."
On what he thinks of merging the two divisions into one this year: "As coaches, we were unified in the decision to go as one group. I think it's played itself out in terms of what we see and what we have now. ... At the end of the day, it was good. Certainly any time you have a chance to reward the teams that have had the most success in league competition, I'm in favor of that."
Darrin Horn, South Carolina
On facing the Crimson Tide: "We've got an Alabama team that's had a season where I think early had some struggles, lost three or four in a row and had the well-documented changes to the roster but has played very well as of late. Obviously, JaMychal Green is as good as there is in our league for what he does at his position. I think Trevor Releford does a great job at the point guard and the young guys have really developed. (Levi) Randolph, Trevor Lacey, those guys have really developed. Nick Jacobs is going to be a terrific player in this league. They're a team that's playing well right now and for us we have to come out and make sure we match their intensity and understand what they're playing for."
On Alabama's development since the suspensions: "I think Anthony's done a very good job of what we all have to do in those situations, which is figuring out what I have and how I best make it effective. They've won a lot of games so you have to give him credit for that. They're doing some different things. They're pressing a little bit more, of course. They're playing a little more zone. They're playing small more with Green or Jacobs on the floor. He's made some adjustments to best take advantage of the talent he has and the situation they're in with who's available. It's hard to argue how they've finished on the whole."
On whether he's focused on Green as the No. 1 option or if the younger guys are stepping up: "I think the younger guys are doing really well. ... Nick Jacobs is going to be a terrific post scorer in our league. Those guys are doing a great job. Releford is huge key to their team. Obviously, he started last year and has more than normal sophomore experience. Green is obviously a senior and a guy that's so talented and capable of so much that he is first on your board but that doesn't mean the other guys aren't important."