TUSCALOOSA, Ala. —
Friday night probably did not go the way Devonta Pollard had always dreamed it would.
Pollard, the former Kemper County High School standout and reigning Mr. Basketball for the state of Mississippi, struggled in the first start of his college career, failing to score or claim a rebound as his Crimson Tide held of a feisty South Dakota State team to take a 70-67 in the Tide's season opener.
While Pollard was obviously dejected and disappointed as he walked away from Coleman Coliseum on Friday night, his coach wasn't worried about his freshman phenom. Not at all.
"He's going to be terrific," said University of Alabama head coach Anthony Grant in the press conference following Friday night's game. "He is going to be just fine. He is going to give us some good minutes and will improve. There is no substitute for experience."
Grant noted that the Tide was playing an experience South Dakota State team that runs a complex offense, as well as playing smart on defense.
"That was a heck of a first game for a freshman to come into against a veteran team like that," Grant said. "Everything they do offensively is off random actions. For a freshman to walk in and have to deal with that isn't easy."
Pollard got the start in the game, and logged 14 minutes. He led the team in blocked shots, but was 0-for-3 from the floor and failed to get a rebound.
None of that worried Grant in the least.
"We know what we have (in Pollard)," Grant said. "He's going to get better and better."
Pollard got the start on Sunday in 'Bama's second game of the year. This time he scored nine points, pulled down four rebounds dished out three assists and once again had a team high two blocked shots as the Crimson Tide took an 80-49 home win over the University of West Alabama.
Next up for Pollard and the Tide is a trip to New York City where they will face Oregon State at Madison Square Garden on Thursday, and then take on either Purdue and Villanova the following night.
By Austin Bishop
Special to the Star