October 30, 2007

Riley shines in Crimson-White scrimmage

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - The Crimson Tide basketball team's lone senior was its biggest star Tuesday night as Mykal Riley exploded for 38 points leading the Crimson team to a 104-82 victory over the White team in Alabama's intrasquad Crimson and White scrimmage.

Riley's performance included 5-of-11 from three point range and 5-of-5 from the free throw line along with 9 rebounds and 5 assists leading some to postulate that the junior college transfer could turn out to be the Tide's key player this season with point guard Ronald Steele sitting out the season.

"I think he's ready to have a great senior year," said head coach Mark Gottfried of Riley. "The White team didn't do a very good job guarding him but he did a lot of things well on the offensive end."

Riley showed his ability to pose a threat on the offensive end last season for the Tide scoring 20 points four times in his junior season including a season-high 24 in the final game of the year against UMass. But Riley's dominant effort in the Tide's scrimmage illustrates what could be a change in philosophy and playing style for the Tide this season.

"I think we're going to be more of a running team than we were before," Riley said. "We're definitely moving the ball up and down the floor better."

Gottfried said the Tide's newfound emphasis on running the floor has given Riley a more prominant role in the Alabama offense.

"He's come in this season in unbelievable condition," said Gottfried. "He's running and he never gets tired. A lot of our junior college guys that have come in here in the past kind of feel their way through that first year and then by the second year it's a different story. I think that's what you're seeing with Riley."

Riley's teammate on the Crimson team, junior forward Richard Hendrix, has also made changes in the offseason to keep up with the Tide's new faster pace dropping 20 pounds since the end of his sophomore season.

"Richard's in so much better shape than he's been," said Gottfried. "His conditioning is much better and I think it's going to help his game. Tonight he played a lot of minutes and held up well."

In 34 minutes of play Hendrix racked up 25 points, 12 rebounds and 2 steals while working against true freshman Justin Knox.

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