Alabama basketball has an important game Saturday versus Arkansas. Nate Oats knows the Hogs are tough but he is more concerned about his team.
Alabama basketball coach, Nate Oats has been dissatisfied since the Tide’s sloppy win at Vanderbilt. Concerns about his first Crimson Tide team deepened last Saturday despite a win over Kansas State. Against the Wildcats, the Tide had a 22-3 deficit in offensive rebounds.
Then team leader, John Petty, failed to lead in practices going into the LSU game. Oats responded by not starting Petty in Baton Rouge. Petty played over 30 minutes against the Bengal Tigers but with limited offensive output. Oats admitted the benching Petty experiment was a failure.
More troubling to Oats than Petty’s funk was LSU dominated the backboards 49-31 and scored 20 second-chance points to the Tide’s five. Oats pulled no punches in commenting on the LSU game,
I was really upset with our effort at LSU. It’s just not who we’ve tried to be. I told our guys, ‘All this blue-collar mentality, the hard hat stuff, it’s all fake if this is the effort we’re going to get in the game. … and I don’t really want to be associated with a fake team.
Oats had more to say, calling out his team for a lack of toughness,
I’ve never had a team get outrebounded (like that for) two games in a row. It’s disastrous.
As a player, you create your own resume … there’s a few things you don’t want to be labeled as. One is lazy. That’s a label that’s hard to shake. Soft is another label that’s hard to shake. Selfish is hard to shake. If you’re out-rebounded (like that) in two games in a row, well, if you’re tough that doesn’t happen.
Arkansas at 15-5 is No. 39 in the NCAA Net, after a two-point home loss to South Carolina. The Razorbacks have lost four of their last seven, including a two-point loss to LSU and seven-point defeats by Kentucky and Mississippi State.
The Hogs are led by another big guard, 6-foot-5, Mason Jones. Jones at 19.2 points and 6.4 rebounds is one of the top players in the SEC. The Hogs push the pace though with not quite as much fervor as the Crimson Tide. Per teamrankings.com, Alabama basketball is No. 4 in Division One play at 80.3 possessions per game. Arkansas is No. 58 at 74.1 possessions.
Where the Hogs dominate is 3-point defense. Arkansas’ opponents convert just 24.6 percent, making the Hogs No. 1 in the nation in that team skill. A cool streak has the Crimson Tide down to 35.1 percent outside the arc. On the season, the Tide is still the SEC’s best 3-point, shooting team.
Both teams go into the game ailing. Beetle Bolden missed the LSU game with stomach problems. Herbert Jones is banged up. Arkansas has three key players at less than full speed.