CRIMSON TIDE MEN’S WHEELCHAIR BASKETBALL SHOWS PROGRESS IN ILLINOIS | Benjamin Clark

This past weekend, the University of Alabama’s Men’s wheelchair basketball team travelled to Champaign, Illinois, to compete in a tournament hosted by the University of Illinois. Alabama (13-6) split the weekend series, 2-2. While the results may not be exactly what the Crimson Tide wanted, they did see some positives moving forward.
“We found our edge this weekend,” Freshman Michael Auprince said. “As a team, we found us as a whole, rather than worry about the external factors. We got back to the basics and played Alabama basketball. We put ourselves in a great position for success moving forward…….and other teams should be scared.”
On day one, Alabama started off the tournament with a win, defeating Edinboro 51-34. After falling behind at the very beginning, the Crimson Tide recovered, scoring eight straight points and taking the lead with 16:11 left in the first half. After that mark, they never lost the lead again. Alabama outrebounded the Fighting Scots 32-19, which played a huge factor in the win.
However, game two played out differently this time in the rematch from one match ago against Missouri. The Tigers defeated the Crimson Tide 45-39, led by Marshall Lindsay’s 14 points. For Alabama, the loss did have a bright spot. Junior DQ Robinson led the team with 15 points, after missing the previous weekends games due to illness. Along with Robinson, Auprince added 10 points.
The weekend did show a different side of the team that was promising, according to Senior Jannik Blair.
“The difference this weekend from the two previous weekends is that we lacked confidence and the ability to finish, overall not looking like ourselves,” Blair said. “This weekend, those moments were few and far between and we in large replaced that with how we play basketball, which we know is good enough to beat anyone in the division.”
The “Alabama” style of play was evident in game three on Saturday, as
Alabama defeated Illinois 54-37 in a rematch of their two point loss from January. Fully healed Robinson led all scorers with 18 points, followed closely behind with Auprince’s 15 points. The Illini kept it close at the half, only down 16-22, but the second half established the team that Blair spoke of.
However, Wisconsin Whitewater proved again to be the permanent thorn in Alabama’s side. The Crimson Tide wrapped up their trip to Illinois with a 52-72 loss to the Warhawks. The Auprince (30 points) led attack gave the Crimson Tide a lot to be excited for, while the defense came up just a little short trying to stop Bisnett (25 points) and Fischbach. (18 points)
Despite the finish, Coach Ford Burttram found a lot of positives looking forward to their next tournament, which Alabama will host in Foster Auditorium on February 26.
“As a team, we are in a good place mentally,” Burttram said. “We’ve made it through the real grinding part of the season with a chance to get everyone healthy. A few weeks at home will be nice before hitting the road to Nationals to end the season on a positive note.”

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