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Easter weekend provides blessings for Alabama Athletics

Alabama football didn’t end the month of March on a solid note, but Easter weekend provided three blessings to Alabama’s athletic department as a whole. Head coach Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide took to Bryant-Denny Stadium last week for its first spring scrimmage. Junior running back Derrick Henry performed well, and senior linebacker Reggie Ragland excelled in coverage.

Alabama gymnastics head coach Dana Duckworth guided the Crimson Tide to its ninth Southeastern Conference title and an appearance in the NCAA Auburn Regional. With a score of 197.525, Alabama captured its 30th NCAA Regional title. It looks to earn a national title at the NCAA Championships in Fort Worth, Texas from April 17-19.

Alabama fans were fed up with former men’s basketball head coach Anthony Grant after six seasons and one NCAA Tournament appearance (2012). He was fired on Mar. 15, 2015, leaving behind a 117-85 record. Its first choice to replace Grant was Wichita State’s head coach Gregg Marshall, but the attempt failed.

Alabama’s athletic director Bill Battle then went after former NBA head coach Avery Johnson. News broke on Sunday that Johnson verbally agreed to be Alabama next basketball coach. Monday witnessed the University of Alabama officially announce the hire of Johnson. He plans to arrive in Tuscaloosa tonight at 5:30 p.m. via Tuscaloosa Regional Airport. Touchdown Alabama Magazine writer Stephen M. Smith has a breakdown below, analyzing the good fortune of Alabama’s athletics over the Easter holiday.


Alabama football: Spring scrimmage
Top performers Position Stats
Derrick Henry Running Back 12 carries, 112 yards, 1 TD
Raheem Falkins Wide Receiver 5 catches, 88 yards
ArDarius Stewart Wide Receiver 3 catches, 65 yards, 1 TD
Robert Foster Wide Receiver 3 catches, 52 yards, 1 TD
Reggie Ragland Inside Linebacker 5 TKLS, 3 PBUs, 1 FR
A’Shawn Robinson Defensive Tackle 3 TKLS, 1 INT (TD)


Alabama Gymnastics: NCAA Regional (Auburn)
Event Score
Vault 49.425
Uneven Bars 49.350
Balance Beam 49.500
Floor Exercise 49.3

Junior Carley Sims posted a 9.9 on the floor (seventh on the season). Sophomore Aja Sims recorded two 9.9s on the balance beam and uneven bars. Alabama’s score of 49.500 on the beam was its second highest on the season.

Alabama basketball strikes gold in its hire of Avery Johnson. He spent six years in the National Basketball Association, after exiting Southern University undrafted (1986-88). Johnson led the NCAA in assists twice in 1987-1988.

He won an NBA title as a point guard with the San Antonio Spurs in 1999. Johnson played with the Spurs, Seattle SuperSonics, Denver Nuggets, Dallas Mavericks and Golden State Warriors. He became an assistant coach for the Dallas Mavericks in 2004. Johnson was promoted to head coach in 2005, and guided Dallas to the 2006 NBA Finals. His efforts won him the NBA Coach of the Year Award in 2006.

Avery, 50, was groomed by future NBA Hall of Fame coach Greg Popovich. San Antonio’s offense is based on ball movement, floor spacing and attacking the basket. Dallas’s scheme was set in the same format. Alabama basketball has its marquee name in Johnson. He can coach and recruit. His personality will energize fans, and if nothing else, Justin Coleman and Ricky Tarrant (guards) will benefit from his teachings.

Alabama football wants the injury bug to leave, but aside from that springtime has given Crimson Tide athletics something to cheer about.

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