Alabama freshman Brandon Miller, a potential first-team All-American and the NBA’s top draft prospect in college basketball, didn’t play the part in the win. opening of Tide’s NCAA Tournament against Texas A&M Corpus Christi. Here’s what you need to know:
- Miller had 19 scoreless minutes with five missed shots and three turnovers.
- With just under 15 minutes remaining in the second half, Bama coach Nate Oats pulled Miller off following a turnover and a foul and held the 6ft 8in star off alignment for the rest of the course. Oats said afterwards: “He has a groin injury which he has been nursing since Sunday.”
- Miller’s absence didn’t matter much as top-seeded Alabama took a blowout 96-75 victory. But when it comes to Tide’s national title goals, his status is paramount.
What’s up on Miller?
Oats met with reporters Friday, saying, “Knowing Brandon, knowing how strong he is mentally and physically, I think he’ll be ready to go.”
Miller was in uniform for a team practice Friday. “I’m always going to tell you that I’m 100%,” Miller said. “So I’m 100 percent.”
Talk to Athleticism, when asked if there were any concerns about how he would feel in pre-game warm-ups on Saturday and determining his status for the board, Miller said: “No, I think that I can control how I feel, starting today. This is how you prepare your body for a match like this.
Miller said the injury occurred during a move in the SEC title game against Texas A&M. He didn’t realize it at the time.
“I felt it after the game,” he said. “I think the adrenaline took over during the match.”
Miller’s decision not to return to Thursday’s game was made by Oats, who told his star he was shutting him down early in the second half. Off the court, Miller has also come under increased scrutiny in recent weeks due to his alleged connection to a fatal January 15 shooting involving former teammate Darius Miles, who has been charged with capital murder. Miller is accompanied by an armed security guard because of the messages he received, Oats said ahead of the tournament.
As for Saturday against Maryland, “Hopefully he’s healthy enough to play, and from the work that he and (head athletic trainer Clarke Holter) are doing, I think he’s got it. will be,” Oats said. “But (if Miller isn’t 100%) it will definitely limit us. Shoot, he might be the best player in the country. It would be nice if we had it.
Back to Miller’s game in the first round
Miller clearly didn’t look like himself on Thursday. There were moments of hesitation and apparent discomfort. He missed a rabbit at close range. He missed three deep 3s that had no chance. He committed a turnover by dribbling over the top of the sideline and then threw a ball away.
It was a shocking change from what had been seen lately.
Miller was SEC Tournament MVP, averaging 20.3 points, 11.0 rebounds and 4.7 assists in three games in Nashville.
Can Maryland Cling to the Tide?
Unless Maryland is controlling the tempo, doing 3s and Jahmir Young delivering some sort of Kemba-esque performance, Miller’s status might not matter one way or another. Even though Miller has sat out entirely, Alabama has size and talent advantages in almost every place. From Mark Sears and Jahvon Quinerly to Noah Clowney and Charles Bediako, the tide can outrun Terps on one side and smother them on the other.
Is there a recipe that might work? Of course. Judging by Alabama’s few losses this year, Maryland can potentially stick around if they push the Tide into an extended, low-possession game and limit Alabama’s score early in the shot clock. . It’s a tough question, all around. Alabama is the No. 1 seed for a reason and that game is being played in their backyard.
(Photo: Marvin Gentry/USA Today)