Tuscaloosa, AL – This Saturday, the University of Alabama’s Men’s wheelchair basketball hosted a tournament against the Lakeshore Foundation of Birmingham and the Shepherd Center of Atlanta, both of which focus on mobility disabilities and rehabilitation. The Crimson Tide split the series, 1-1. The Tide men are now 13-6 on the Season and 11-4 in Conference.
Coach Ford Burttram has seen progress in the team, but Saturday seemed to take a step back in that progress.
“We are just going through a rough spot, and we just need to figure out our chemistry again, and find out what works,” Burttram said. “I think it is partially due to a missing of the details.”
The Crimson Tide (12-5) easily defeated Lakeshore in the first game on Saturday, 62-17. Alabama had previously defeated Lakeshore in the first game of the season, 79-28. In Saturday’s game, all nine active players recorded points, led by Ryan Morich and Michael Auprince, who both had 15. Jordan Bartley also added 10 to the flaming offense.
While the team spread the wealth, the same could not be said for Lakeshore. Senior Ryan Hynes scored all 17 of Lakeshore’s points, going 7-23 in field goals. The Crimson Tide started fast and never let up, including one run of 16 consecutive points.
However, in the second game of the tournament, the Crimson Tide had a much bigger fight that they ultimately lost, 51-59. Shepherd’s team pushed Alabama to the brink, striking fast and riding a 32-24 lead into the half. The Crimson Tide did not break, and fought back in the second, eventually tying it up late. Shepherd’s sharp shooting eventually became the difference, as they pulled away in the last two minutes.
Three Stealers (Poochie, Chandler, Rodriguez) all scored 13, followed closely behind with Cloy at 11 and Garlic with 9. UA’s Michael Auprince led all scorers with 27, while Jannick Blair followed with 8 and Morich added 7.
The games two very different results may be puzzling, but the two are very much connected, according to Junior Sean Burns.
“It might have hurts us, not being challenged in the first game,” Burns said. “ We weren’t playing our game, taking slow shots, and then we didn’t pull the trigger in the second game on open shots.”
On moving forward, ahead of the Crimson Tide’s next tournament in Champaign, Illinois on February 26, Burns has seen what needs to change.
“We need to start playing for each other, instead of whatever we are playing for right now,” Burns said.”