Nate Oats Vows To Play Best Defenders Going Forward
The Alabama Crimson Tide basketball team hits the road on Tuesday night against the Vanderbilt Commodores. The Tide is coming off a dreadful 90-81 loss at Kentucky and only has four games remaining to iron out its inconsistencies ahead of tournament time.
"We've got to figure out how to get the team playing the best that we can be playing over these last four games going into SEC Tournament play, and really all we can do is take one game at a time, control our preparation and our effort for that game and see what we can do," said head coach Nate Oats on Monday.
The Crimson Tide has one of the oddest resumes in college basketball this season thanks to quality wins over Gonzaga, Houston and Baylor but suffered some horrendous losses on the road to Missouri and Georgia.
The biggest difference between last season's conference winning play and this year's roller coaster of a ride has been the Alabama defense, or lack there of.
In 2020-21 the Crimson Tide boasted a top-10 mark in all of college basketball in defensive efficiency, largely thanks to SEC Player of the Year Herb Jones. The current iteration of the Crimson Tide is 81st in the nation in defensive efficiency and is allowing an average o 83.2 points in its 10 losses.
"Really, all I want to see is guys playing hard on the defensive end and buy in," said Oats. "We can go big, small, whatever we have to do but we need to find five guys that are bought into playing defense as hard as we can play and wanting to get stops, and really offense hasn't been our problem. Most of the year I think we're 10th or 11th in offensive efficiency and I think our defense, I think we dropped into the 80s at this point. Our defense is our problem. We're going to put guys into the game that are going to play defense. I don't really care how talented of an offensive player you are if you're not going to guard on the defensive end, you're not going to play from here on out."
The Crimson Tide shot above its average 3-point percentage in Lexington on Saturday but allowed the Wildcats to convert on 53% of its field goal attempts on its way to its highest offensive output in a month.
"It's definitely a challenge. We're not playing you if you don't play defense. Period. I don't care if we don't have a center on the floor, I don't care if we don't have a point guard on the floor, like, I really, we'll put five guys out there and figure the offense out, we've got enough talented offensive players, we'll figure the offense out. If you're not going to play defense at the level that we need you to play and you're capable of playing and you've shown us you're capable of playing in the past," continued Oats.
Because every guy that we've played in the rotation has shown us they're more than capable of being a great defender when they're locked in to that end of the floor. So if you're not going to do that, then we're not going to play you and that's just the bottom line. Kentucky played three guys 39 minutes, I don't have to find guys, we'll play some guys that we know are going to play hard most of the minutes in the game and that's what we're going to go with. It's definitely a challenge to the team. It's gotten to the point of, you're not going to play, it's a challenge to you individually if you want to get any minutes. If we put you in and you don't play hard on defense you're going to come right back out and sit there for a long time if not the rest of the game."
Alabama will take on Vanderbilt on Tuesday at 8:00 p.m. CT on SECNetwork. The game will also be broadcast live on Tide 100.9 FM and on 95.3 The Bear FM.
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