Alabama Basketball: What Nate Oats must do and quickly

Mandatory Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports /

Nate Oats must quickly shape up the Alabama basketball team. What he must do is clear but difficult.

Alabama basketball is on the verge of trouble. A knee-jerk, ‘this team is terrible’ is not warranted, though team weaknesses were disturbingly obvious against Clemson. It is too early in the season to conclude those weaknesses cannot be rectified.

To some Alabama basketball fans, the problems are deeper than certain components of performance. There are doubts about the current roster’s ability to play the style of basketball Nate Oats demands. More troubling, there are a few doubts about the viability of the Oats systems against talented teams who excel on defense.

After the loss to Clemson, Nate Oats appeared alarmed. He had good reason to be. One Crimson Tide game stat is beyond troubling.

  • Alabama basketball missed 39 shots in the game
  • The Crimson Tide got eight offensive rebounds while losing the rebounding battle 43-28
  • Clemson scored 15 second-chance points. The Crimson Tide scored ZERO.

What Nate Oats said about the above results should alarm all Alabama basketball fans.

"I think rebounding is an effort stat. I didn’t think we gave enough effort to win."

More than shooting 3-for-22 outside the arc against Clemson, Nate Oats admitted a bigger problem. His roster was not tough enough, mentally or physically, to win the game. Clemson is a strong defensive team, but on offense the Tigers are weak. In year two Oats was expected to have a roster in place to make a strong run. So far, the roster has not come together and Oats needs a quick remedy.

The system of play Oats brought to Tuscaloosa offered confidence offensive production could produce consistent wins. Not being able to overpower one of the least productive offenses in college basketball is a danger sign.

Nate Oats probably does not share concern over his system of play. When clicking, the Oats system gives any opponent fits. It is not obvious, but Nate Oats may share with Alabama basketball fans doubts about his roster. The Alabama Crimson Tide has a deep roster, filled with talent. That depth was expected to ensure every player would push hard for precious minutes in games. That response has not occurred. Oats must re-think the use of his roster. Most alarming, it appears he does not have a big man who is a complete player.

Whether it is lack of skill, effort or basketball knowledge, Jordan Bruner, James Rojas and Alex Reese are not getting it done. In 49 minutes of play against Clemson, the trio produced a combined, 11 points, 11, rebounds, three assists, one block and four turnovers. Combined they shot 31 percent and missed six three-pointers. The best production by the group was five steals by Bruner and five boards by Reese.

Playing time determined by effort, basketball IQ and results appears to be the best course of action for Oats. Playing a seven-man rotation rather than 10 might be the most immediate remedy. With fewer minutes available for the bench, surely an eighth or later a ninth Crimson Tide player will step up.

dark. Next. John Metchie plays with heart

Until then, most games will be a challenge, including the 5-1, Furman Paladins on Tuesday night. Furman has had only one tough game. In it, a loss, Cincinnati beat them by just five points.