Alabama Basketball: Nate Oats optimistic Tide can be a contender

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

Alabama football dominates attention but Alabama basketball is also creating a buzz.

It is wrong to suggest Alabama basketball coach, Nate Oats is quietly optimistic. He is enthusiastically optimistic. The quiet part is many Crimson Tide fans are so focused on football, Nate’s enthusiasm is going little noticed.

Before fall ends in the state of Alabama, both Alabama football and Alabama basketball will be on the minds of fans. The NCAA has decided college basketball games can begin Nov. 25. The Alabama Crimson Tide is waiting on guidance from the SEC about its non-conference schedule.

Nate Oats has two reasons for optimism about his team’s 2020-21 chances. They are talent and depth. The Alabama basketball program has struggled to have enough of either for too many seasons. Oats has quickly built a deep roster with the skills needed for his style of play.

A few days ago, Nate Oats was not shy,

"I think we should be competing for championships — SEC championships, [SEC] tournament championship, making a run in the NCAA tournament. I think we’ve got the talent.We’ve got high expectations. We’re not going to shy away from them."

Alabama basketball fans hear ‘Big Dance’ music in Oats’ words. It is not often a team returning from a previous season, 16-15 record, can realistically aim for championships. Especially a team that faltered late, as did the Crimson Tide last season.

High expectations will not be Nate Oats’ greatest challenge. Greater will be learning how to utilize his new bevy of talent. He uber, up-tempo style requires 10 or so guys whose rotation does not diminish team productivity.

As reported by AL.coma few days ago, Oats said he would consider,

"at least eight or nine players starting this season, but has told his players he “rarely” starts his five best players. “I think you have to have punch off the bench. If you put your five best scorers on the floor to start the game, that doesn’t always work the best.”"

It will be great fun to watch as this team develops. It will also take some patience from Alabama basketball fans. A polished product cannot be expected at the start.

There is little question John Petty and Herbert Jones will lead the team. Jahvon Quinerly will provide lead guard leadership. Transfer center, Jordan Bruner offers the entire package required by Oats’ system. Newcomers, Josh Primo and Keon Ellis are expected to make an early impact. Sophomore Jaden Shackelford is one of the top scoring threats in the SEC. The now healthy pair of James Rojas and Alex Reese will have meaningful roles. Another newcomer, Keon Ambrose-Hylton has a chance to be in the regular rotation. Freshmen, Alex Tchikou and Darius Miles could play their way into the rotation. Juwan Gary may need several more weeks for recovery from his knee injury.

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So far, COVID has had minimal impact on the Crimson Tide basketball program. Full preseason practices will begin on Oct. 14.