This week at Alabama, most of the students are vacationing at the beach or other destinations for spring break.
But the Crimson Tide’s basketball team is hard at work after the Tide earned a fifth seed in the National Invitation Tournament and a matchup with Creighton today.
Alabama had hopes of making the NCAA tournament, but those fizzled out down the stretch of the season. Johnson called the meeting with Creighton, which tips at 8 p.m. CDT on ESPN, a “mental game.”
“I really want to know are we ready to go on spring break, or are we ready to play basketball for a long time,” Johnson said Monday. “I’m going to see that in our attitudes.”
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Johnson got a partial answer during Monday’s practice as a couple of players got into each other’s faces during the workout.
“We almost had a fight today for the first time this year,” Johnson said. “Most of our really good teams, you have about three or four fights a year. We got close to having our first one.”
Johnson wouldn’t reveal which players were involved in the skirmish, but added that he “enjoyed it.” Johnson, who helped separate everyone, said his biggest concern was not getting punched.
“If I would have went home today with a black eye, it wouldn’t have been nice,” Johnson said. “But it’s good. Guys were physical. It’s good stuff. I don’t want to divulge too much, but it’s good for you guys to know that. I like that kind of stuff. I like it. You go to some football practices, you always see guys getting tangled up. We need more of that.”
Johnson hopes that competitive spirit can carry over into the postseason and help the Tide play deep into the NIT.
The winner of today’s game will face the victor of Wednesday night’s game between No. 1 seed St. Bonaventure and No. 8 seed Wagner at a time and date to be determined.
For Tide seniors Retin Obasohan and Arthur Edwards, their college careers are winding down. Both are determined to make a deep run in the tournament and possibly earn a trip to Madison Square Garden for the finals. The road won’t be easy, but Alabama has fared better when playing as an underdog away from home this season.
“I’m playing under a great coach, and I want to continue that,” Edwards said. “I don’t want to lose. I’m not ready to take that next step in my career yet. I still kind of want to be a kid, and enjoy everything right now. I’m very motivated.”
Contact Anniston Star Sports Writer Marq Burnett at email@example.com. On Twitter: @Marq_Burnett.