Here's Alabama's Reggie King (above) bumping heads with Leon Douglas, formerly of the Crimson Tide and now of the Detroit Pistons. All summer they fight it out in 'Bama's Memorial Coliseum. Like Henry, the roughed-up recruit in the film One on One, King is learning some tough lessons. But unlike Henry, he is not coming out of the head-to-head games bruised, beaten and bewitched by some hatchet man.
What makes Reggie work? Surely his 1976-77 feats—leading 23-4 Alabama in scoring (18.1) and rebounding (10.9)—should have earned him the summer off. One reason he works is pride. For all his accomplishments, King needed to improve his quickness and shooting range. Another is the role he must play on this season's team. As Tide Coach C. M. Newton puts it, "Our weakness is our inside game. Except for Reginald, we're going with players up front who have no game experience." A third reason is the memory of last season. Alabama won nine straight in December but finished third in the SEC and ended the year ingloriously in the semifinals of the NIT, which these days stands for No Important Teams. The pressure will be on early this year. Alabama faces Purdue and Michigan and plays in two tough tournaments in December. A sixth straight season of 22 or more wins hinges on the start.
Thanks to Douglas, King should be ready. "He taught me the proper way to go to the basket," King says. "In the past I would always just back down to the goal. I wouldn't turn and drive straightaway. He showed me how to turn my feet and handle my fakes. We worked on my outside shooting, too. I also learned a lot about going to the basket after the shot."
At 6'6", Forward King has a pivotman's burden. Three regulars graduated, including four-year starter Rickey Brown at center. Sophomore Chris Bragwell is 6'9" and freshman Norman Anchrum is 6'10", but both are untested. The starting center could well be 6'9" William Henry, who has looked sharp in practice, but he missed all but 12 minutes of last season.
Thus it is up to King to handle the inside game, no small challenge even for a player who, says Newton, "explodes to the basketball." King may not have to explode too often from the outside, now that jump-shooting Guard Anthony Murray seems to have recovered from knee surgery. So the most important question for Alabama is how well Douglas taught King to cut, fake and drive close to the hoop. Better, 'Bama hopes, than the hatchet man taught Henry.