Wednesday night's season-opening 81-57 win over Jacksonville State saw many University of Alabama players make their long-awaited debuts, including point guard Jahvon Quinerly, and forwards James Rojas and Jordan Bruner.
Quinerly, the former five-star recruit and Villanova transfer, poured in 18 points on 7-of-12 shooting, three assists, and one steal against the Gamecocks. It had been nearly two years since he played in a game, and on top of that, it was his birthday.
"The best birthday in my 22 years of life, for sure," Quinerly said postgame.
He also had the second-highest plus/minus of the night at 25.
As a whole, the offensive efficiency wasn't there with the Crimson Tide only shooting 39 percent from the field and 22 percent from three-point range, but that more than likely had to do with rust and the long-layoff.
Last night, Quinerly showed he can be the motor that runs this up-tempo offense in year two under coach Nate Oats.
"I think he’s gonna end up with a lot more assists," Oats said. "Our flow on offense wasn’t where we needed it to be. Our pace wasn’t where we wanted it to be. We’ll get better at that. We’ll play a little faster. We’ll get our flow a lot better. But as far as what he gave us -- shoot, in the first half, we had a hard time scoring and he kept us in there. I was really happy with what he gave us."
Off the bench, forward James Rojas, who missed all of last year due to an ACL tear, looked 100 percent, dropping eight points, seven rebounds, and one assist. The big man even showed off his range knocking down one of his two three-point attempts.
"The biggest thing he provides is toughness," Oats said. "That's the best thing he does -- play tough, rebounds, drives the ball hard, and gives us some physicality... He's going to be a guy for us that might not show up in the box score every night but it's more blue-collar work. It's a mindset he brings to the team.
"I love Rojas. I love his toughness. He's going to bring a lot to us this year."
Forward Jordan Bruner didn't light up the scoresheet as the grad transfer from Yale only had four points and four rebounds, but he might have made the most defining play of the game.
With a little over four minutes remaining and the Crimson Tide leading by 27, Bruner dove on the floor and fought for a loose ball, eventually kicking it out to guard John Petty Jr. who nailed a three-pointer putting the exclamation point on the win.
Diving on the floor up 27 points? That's exactly the hustle, attitude, and leadership Oats has been looking for since he arrived at the Capstone. That play right there shows how good of a fit Bruner is going to be for the Crimson Tide moving forward.
His efforts went a long way in being the reason that Alabama recorded 151.5 blue-collar, or hustle, points that Oats values. That is a school-record and it's only been one game into the second year of Oats tenure.
"We hit it out of the park with the loose balls, charges, blocks, and that stuff," Oats said. "Our goal is normally 120 blue-collar points ... But those blue-collar moments really turned into offense for us."
BamaCentral's Tyler Martin breaks it all down in this week's Talk of the Tide.