Oats Still Trying To Fix Tide Hoops
Those of us who have spent years in radio remember vinyl records well. Alabama basketball 2023-24 is like a broken record.
Here's what coach Nate Oats had to say after yet another tough loss to a top 10 team, after losing 87-74 to No. 4 Arizona in Phoneix.
“Another good game against a quality team that we just weren’t quite good enough. I thought the first half, we played pretty well. Big points of emphasis were keeping them off the free-throw line and winning the rebounding battle. First half, we were pretty good at both. Second half, they shoot 27 free throws and we shoot eight. So we didn’t do a very good job keeping them off the free-throw line in the second half. We didn’t do a great job on a glass. We end up losing the glass by 10 points. And obviously, it didn’t help that we didn’t shoot it particularly well and we turned the ball too much.
“I thought their physicality bothered us. They’re a tough, physical, hard-playing group. They turned us over. After we built the lead there in the second half, they called the timeout. They came out. We turned it over again. They got some buckets. We lost our momentum there and never really gained it back. So we’ve got to be a little bit more mentally tough when stuff is not going our way and we’re missing shots, we’re turning it over. We’ve got to get back and get some stops on defense.”
On where things stand after the tough 3-game gauntlet
“We know we can play with the better teams in the country. We didn’t shoot it well tonight. We were right with these guys. We were up on them with 16 minutes to go. So we can play with them. We’ve got to do a better job playing for 40, and we’ve got to do a better job with kind of the margin things – free throws, rebounds, turnovers, points off turnovers. So we’ve got some stuff we can clean up, and I think we can play with just about anybody in the country.”
On Grant Nelson
“He wasn’t making shots in the first half. Just told him to keep shooting. Told him and Jarin (Stevenson) both. We didn’t think they were going to play them on the perimeter. They haven’t really guarded a four [power forward] that don’t shoot it particularly well in the past, and they didn’t. We didn’t want him hesitating. I don’t think he hesitated. He hit those threes in the second half that kind of got us going, got us the lead. But I think he can be a better shooter than what he’s currently shooting.
“We’re going to try to keep pumping him full of confidence. Same with Jarin. The two of them combined to go 3-for-20. That obviously didn’t help, but I think Jarin can really shoot, and Grant can be a good shooter, too. Really the only guy that shot it particularly well for us tonight was Sam (Walters). We needed a spark, tried to get him a few more minutes. Defensively, he’s got to get a little bit better for us, but he gave us a spark on offense.”
On dealing with Arizona’s physicality
“(Oumar) Ballo is in there, protects the rim pretty well. They do a good job protecting the lane. I thought we missed some stuff at the rim, too, to be honest. We need to convert. But their physicality bothered us. We couldn’t get downhill. Their guards did a good job keeping us out of the lane, and I thought they did a pretty good job keeping us out of the lane. But they will give up threes, and shoot, we got 40 of them. We’ve got to do a better job making them.”
On what it will take to limit fouls, especially for the big men
“They’re going to have to be more disciplined, keep their hands off people, move their feet. I think they’re picking some unnecessary ones up that they don’t need to get. We’ve also played three of the best bigs in the country the last three games. (Zach) Edey and Ballo are really good. (Ryan) Kalkbrenner is a good rim protector. They don’t punch it to him as much. But the Creighton game, Pringle fouls out and he doesn’t have one foul Kalkbrenner. He’s got three on (Baylor) Scheierman.
On Sam Walters
“I don’t think any of that stuff bothers me. He’s kind of a kid that he’s going to come in, he’s going to shoot open shots. He’s 6-9 with some length and can shoot over people. Shoot, if he’s open, everybody on the team thinks that ball is going in. We’re going to keep pumping him full of confidence. We just got to get him better on defense.”
On his impression of Arizona
“They’re one of the best teams in the country on both sides of the ball. I mean, their physicality on defense, they’ve got rim protection in Ballo. (Keshad) Johnson rebounds it. We have him as the best rebounder in the country for a kid that’s 6-7 and under. So on the defensive side, they’re good. I mean, we came in having the best offense in the country and they bottled us up pretty good in the second half. On the offensive side, they do a good job getting downhill, getting to the free-throw line. They don’t shoot it as much or as well as us, but tonight, they shot better than us.
“They’ve got other tools where they can punch it in. Ballo’s got some strength, and they can really kind of punish you in the lane a lot. To me, they’re the best team in the Pac-12. They’re one of the best teams in the country. In these three games, we got them all coming off a loss. Purdue comes off Northwestern, so they’re going to be ready to play. Creighton’s coming off a loss at UNLV, they’re ready to play. Arizona is coming off a loss to Purdue, they’re ready to play. Which I don’t mind. I don’t mind playing these non-conference games while they’re playing their best basketball.
“Point is to get some quality wins. We didn’t get them. It’s also to get us ready for conference play. So we’ve just got to use it as learning tools and get ready for conference play. I think losing exposes a lot. Losing exposes a lot about your character. How tough are your guys? Can they come back and continue to learn? So we’ve just got to regather. We’ve got two non-conference games before we hit SEC play. We’ve got a tough league, but I think we can compete for an SEC championship and that’s our goal right now.”
Highest Rated Recruits in Bama Hoops History
Gallery Credit: Jacob Harrison