PITTSBURGH — Alabama basketball assistant coach Antoine Pettway has a unique perspective of the Crimson Tide program.
Pettway began his own Alabama career as a walk-on with an academic scholarship before earning an athletic scholarship for his sophomore season. He was an integral part of Alabama’s NCAA run in 2004 that fell a game short of the Final Four, starting every game at point guard. That marked the third consecutive season in which he led the Tide to the NCAA Tournament.
During the 2004 postseason, Alabama squeaked by Southern Illinois before upsetting No. 1 Stanford. The Crimson Tide then knocked off Syracuse in the Sweet 16 before falling to UConn in the Elite Eight.
Pettway averaged 9.1 points, 3.7 rebounds and 3.5 assists as a senior that season.
Pettway recalled people counting out their team as something that helped drive the Elite Eight run. He sees some similarities in this Alabama team.
QUESTION: Last time Alabama made a deep run in the NCAA Tournament, you were on the court. Now that you’re on the sidelines, what are you telling the guys?
Pettway: That this is one of the best experiences of their lives. Getting a chance to play in the NCAA Tournament, there’s nothing like it. We’ve been talking about this as one of the goals since they came to Alabama. Seeing them be able to accomplish it and be in the tournament with a chance to make some noise, I’m happy to be a part of it.
Q: How does the coaching staff approach this with no one on the team having any real NCAA Tournament experience?
Pettway: It’s basketball. That’s what we’re telling them. At some point, you have to do it. You have to get experience by doing it. These guys are young and they’ve never done it before, but a lot of people who have done great things were doing it for the first time. That’s kind of the message we’ve given them. Just be ready to come in and make some noise. Our guys are excited, their heads are in the right place and we’re looking forward to the challenge.
Q: We see what Collin Sexton can do, but you guys are going to need more than him. What are you guys telling Dazon Ingram, Braxton Key, John Petty and some of the other scorers on this team about how they can step up?
Pettway: We’re telling them to just play ball. We’re not a one-man band. Collin’s special, but we have a bunch of good players on this team. They know that. They all have to come to play. When we all come to play, we’re a dangerous group. We’re just telling Braxton, Dazon, Donta (Hall), Herb(ert Jones), all the guys to just play basketball. Being yourself is good enough.
Q: What do you remember about that 2004 run?
Pettway: Just all the camaraderie the team had with each other and how we always had each other’s back. We were out there just giving it our all, man. A lot of people counted us out during that season. We had lost a few key players from the year before, and nobody gave us a chance to do anything so we had a chip on our shoulder. Lot of similarities with this team, been counted out and had to persevere to get to where we wanted to be.
Q: As an alum and former player, what does making the tournament this year with a chance to make a run mean to Alabama?
Pettway: I love Alabama, man. You’re dealing with a guy who was blessed enough to play and now coach for the school he grew up rooting for. It’s huge. I can’t count how many calls I got from my former teammates and older guys I watched play. Everybody is so proud of this bunch, and we’re excited about what we can do going forward. It’s been great for me. My mom called me as soon as we made it. We are an Alabama family. As soon as our name was announced on Monday, I had calls from my mom, dad, (former Alabama star) Mo (Williams) and everybody else. We’re all excited. We love the direction the program is going in right now.
Q: To that point, we’ve seen Avery Johnson make an effort to bring back a lot of the former players. We’ve seen Mo around, we’ve seen Gerald Wallace around. What has Avery meant to this program and how has he helped that brotherhood and camaraderie?
Pettway: He’s meant a lot to it with the excitement he brings and his coaching style. He’s definitely reached out to everyone. Those guys always want to be around the program and come back. It means a lot to our (current) guys to see some of those guys. … To have guys come back who have done it and went on to be successful after college, our guys definitely look up to those dudes.
The post Assistant coach says dangerous Alabama is more than ‘a one-man band’ appeared first on SEC Country.
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