TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Alabama guard Jahvon Quinerly returned to the floor Tuesday night in the Crimson Tide’s road win over South Alabama. It marked the first game action for Quinerly since March 18, when he suffered a torn ACL in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
Quinerly entered the game when Alabama took a 20-point lead and only played four minutes in the eventual 65-55 victory. But with him now available after missing the foreign tour to Spain and France, the other preseason games and the first two regular-season games, what is the plan for Quinerly going forward? And how will it affect guards Mark Sears and Jaden Bradley?
“I’m not sure right now,” Oats said Friday. “Obviously, to start, we’ll bring Jahvon off the bench, and he’ll be on a minutes restriction Friday night. We were just trying to get his feet wet a little bit against South. We’re not gonna just throw him in there. He’s been cleared by the doctor for a couple weeks. His knee’s close to being 100 percent, but mentally, you’ve gotta be able to trust it, too. The mental side of the game is a big deal, particularly with him, so we wanna get him some confidence.
“He didn’t play particularly well, but I didn’t expect him to in his first game out against South. He’s gotta get back, he’s gotta get game reps back under him. I just wanted to get him some game reps and get him some feeling in a real game. We’ll do a little bit more than that Friday. Once he gets to where he’s back and he feels good, then we’re gonna have to figure that out. He played well off the bench, too. Shoot, that first year with us when we won the SEC and he was the tournament MVP, he came off the bench.
“We’ve got some quality guys off the bench. Noah Gurley’s coming off the bench right now. He’s a starter-minute type of guy. Dom Welch, we’ve gotta figure out with him, once he gets healthy, what’s gonna happen there. We’ve got plenty of options.”
Regardless of when and how much Quinerly plays, his teammates are happy to have him back.
“I can’t even put it in words,” Gurley said. “First off, because he’s a leader and then secondly, just because of how good of a player he is, talented. He’s the point guard. He’s a veteran. He knows how the offense works. But even since he’s been out, he’s still been vocal. But we’ve all been seeing him work so hard in his recovery on the daily, whether it’s the training room or in the weight room or even in practice. It was a blessing to see him out there.”
While Quinerly is back on the court, guard Dom Welch and forward Darius Miles have not been available for the last two games – Welch hasn’t played in any of the three regular-season games due to a lingering lower-body injury. There is a chance they could play against the Gamecocks on Friday night, but it’s more likely that they return to action next week in Portland.
“He’s probably doubtful for tomorrow, him and Darius both,” Oats said. “It’s probably looking more like trying to get him ready for (Phil Knight Invitational), but we’ll see. Neither one of them did any live drills in practice today. They’re just kind of day-to-day. They did a lot individually, just nothing live.
“So we’re gonna see how it feels in the morning. If they can make it through the game day shootaround playing full speed, we’ll see what they have for us. But they’re kind of day-to-day. Neither one of them are out for a long time, but we’re not gonna rush them back either.”
Alabama will play host to Jacksonville State on Friday, Nov. 18, at 8 pm CT (SEC Network).
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