Oats Harps on Alabama Defense
Never at a loss for words, Nate Oats had plenty to say after his Alabama basketball team fell 85-77 at home to Clemson, snapping a 19-game home winning streak. Here's a look along with some game photos:
“Disappointing home loss with a great crowd. I thought the student section was great. We make sure we thank them because we’d love to keep getting them out. Hopefully, we can play some better basketball for them. But I thought their physicality bothered us on both ends. On their offensive end, I thought they ducked us in and hurt us in the first half. Our bigs needed to do a better job. Our guards couldn’t get downhill. They were very physical on our drives, just couldn’t really get in the paint to create much. I think we 12-of-32 from two on the night, which we’ve been one of the best field goal percentage teams in the country. We had the No. 1 offense in the country on KenPom. A lot of it was able to get to the rim, finish at the rim. They didn’t have real rim protection, but they just didn’t let you get to the rim. They did a great job. We finished 10-of-24 at the rim, so we didn’t handle their physicality well. When you’re not getting downhill, creating help, your threes end up being tougher threes. We didn’t shoot as well from three. We’ve got to do a much better job.
“I thought defensively we were good. I think they were 0.92, if I remember right, in the first half, which again, that’s like top-three defense in the country. We did it for 20. Offense struggled, defense kept us in the game. Then the offense came alive in the second half. I think we had three straight threes, went on a 9-0 run to go up seven, they call timeout and then we don’t have enough defensive pride right now to get stops out of the timeout. I think they go on a run 16-2 run, I believe, out of the timeout. We’ve got to get some defensive pride about us, all of us. Those guards coming off of screens, we’re not into the ball enough, we’re not up into it. (Joseph) Girard is good. They have really good players. We’ve got to do a better job. That was multiple times where the other team’s best player or players go for more than their season average. PJ Hall had 21, Girad with 16 and Chase Hunter with 15. We’ve got to do a better job on guys that we know that they’re going to go to, particularly out of a timeout when we go on a run and get a lead.
“So we’ve got to get better on defense. We know what we’ve got to do. We’ve got to show some pride. I’ve got to do a better job coaching it. We’ve got to do a better job as a program getting our team better on defense.”
On his team's toughness
“Not where it needs to be. On the defensive end, we kept getting ducked in. The offensive end, you kind of look at it, I did think some guy showed some toughness. And I think different guys showed it at various times. Like some of our guys that we know can be tough had some plays where they’re not tough. So you’ve got to do it for 40 minutes. If you look at our at-the-rim finishing, we were 10-of-24. We didn’t finish at the rim. I thought their physicality kind of got to us a little bit. And on the defensive end, the duck-ins, (Ian) Schieffelin had 14 rebounds. Our bigs got to do a better job rebounding the ball. Grant (Nelson) ends up with eight. It definitely wasn’t one of his better night. He didn’t finish well. He’s our leading rebounder with eight. We’ve got to get some more guys to rebound the ball better. It ends up even on the glass; a lot of that’s because our guards rebounded the ball so well. We got pretty even rebounding, but they got a big that dominated the glass – two really 14 and eight between Schieffelin and Hall. We’re definitely not tough enough to be competing for an SEC championship right now, that’s for sure.”
On offensive issues
“There may be. Grant ends up with 14, but it took him 15 shots to get it. He’s got to be more efficient for us. Rylan (Griffen) is a better player than what he showed. Rylan can make shots. I need (Latrell Wrightsell) to get a little bit more aggressive. He plays 22 minutes, only shoots it four times. I think he’s passing up some open shots he’s got to take for us. We do need to get some more production from some of these other guys. If we Sam (Walters) a little bit better on the defensive end – he can really shoot it on offense – we can keep him in a little longer. I didn’t think our guards did a great job getting our bigs involved as much ball screens. (Nick) Pringle plays 21 minutes and only gets one shot attempt. He’s one of the best field goal percentage shooters. He takes shots you should make and he makes them. We’ve got to get him more shots, whether it’s ball screens. We got him the one, and he goes 1-for-1. We’ve got to do a better job doing what we should be doing offensively to get some other guys involved, for sure. And then some other guys just got to make shots at some point, too, to be honest with you.”
On ESPN's Jay Williams’ comments on the Coleman Coliseum crowd sounding like a tennis match
“At times, I’m sure it did. I mean, they called the time out. I heard the crowd was great at times, and then we’ve got to give them something to cheer about, to be honest with you. Come out and go on a 13-0 run and people are going to get quiet. We need the crowd to kind of cheer us on to some stops. We also need our players to make some plays to get the crowd into it sometimes, too. We made some of the first half. We had the play where Grant dives on the floor, kicks it up, ends up in Mo (Wague)’s hands. There’s hustles plays, blue-collar plays, toughness plays, and when you give up multiple offensive rebounds in one possession, it’s deflating. It’s deflating to the coaching staff, it’s deflating to the crowd. The crowd gets a little off upset with with a lack of effort, as they should, and we’ve got to do a better job making those tough effort plays that the crowd appreciates around here and I think the crowd will get into it a little bit more.”
On Mo Wague’s first start at center
“I love Mo. He plays hard. He’s about the right stuff. He’s always got a smile on his face. He’s studying it. He did good in his minutes. He’s a little foul-prone. We’ve got to get him to guard without fouling. We’ve got to get him to convert a little bit better from the field. He missed a few shots. But it’s his first year in the system. He missed the entire summer with a foot injury. So he really only started practicing full go really right before our first game. So he’s missed the entire offseason. Everything with Mo, you’ve got to take with a grain of salt because he didn’t get the reps he needed to all offseason because the surgery he had to have when he got here. But he’s a great kid with a lot of athleticism and he’s got the right heart, the right mindset. He’s going to give us some quality minutes throughout the year. I thought he did good in his minutes tonight.”
On Alabama’s offense/need for improvement
“We ended up with a 1.1. That’s average. It wasn’t elite like it’s been, it wasn’t No. 1 in the country like it’s been. The issue was when you prove for 20 minutes you can hold them to a 0.92 on defense like we did in the first half, turn around in the second half, we were 1.49. My guess would be he’s referring to that. Like our offense was good enough to win this game. If our defense – I mean, even if we were 1.1 in the second half, we almost give up 1.5, which would be the worst defense in the history college basketball. That’s where we were for 20 minutes. So I’m guessing he was just referring to the fact if we locked down, if we play anywhere close to like we did in the first half in the second half, our offense was good enough to win the game, which it was. Now, would we like to be better than a 1.1. Yeah, we would. But they’re good defensive team, and they had some physicality. We weren’t used to it. We’ve got to do a better job.
“It’s great, though, because in basketball, you don’t have to win every game to make the NCAA Tournament. Football, one loss is tough, football is tough. Four teams get in the playoffs right now and one loss can mess up the whole playoff run for you. In basketball, we can get our act together and make the NCAA Tournament, go on a run and play for a championship. We try to win SEC championships. They’re a big deal on around here. We try to win them. If we’re competing – some programs act like the SEC regular season, SEC Tournament don’t mean that much. They mean something to us. If we’re in something, we’re going to try to compete and win it. Winning the regular season and the tournament is big deal for us around here. We’re going to play tough, physical teams in the SEC like a Tennessee that’s going to do similar, like what happened to us tonight. We’ve got to be ready for.
“So playing a tough, physical team like Clemson with a lot of veteran guys that caused us problems on our offensive end, it’s good for us. So we’ve got to go to the drawing board. We’ve got to figure it out. We’ve got to come in. But I can assure you most of our time for the next, until we figure it out, practices, a week, two weeks, three weeks, four weeks it’s going to be about 90 percent of the defensive end. Our offense has enough firepower and we’ll make enough tweaks to get where our offense needs to be. But we’ve got to get some defensive-minded guys that can play for 40 minutes on the defensive end.”