Alabama Basketball: How quickly the change for Tide and Auburn hoops


Alabama Basketball remains on the minds of Crimson Tide fans holding on to the enthusiasm of Nate Oats’ second season in Tuscaloosa. Message boards populated by Crimson Tide fans have nearly as much chatter about basketball as there is about football. What a difference a season makes!

Nationally there is a new level of respect for Alabama Basketball. Many ‘too-early’ projections are predicting next season’s Tide will be a Top 10 or Top 5 team. With so many college basketball experts praising the Crimson Tide, there is reason for optimism the Tide will make another strong NCAA Tournament run next season.

The situation is markedly different ‘down on the Plains.’ Bruce Pearl’s program is a hot mess. As he has shown at Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Tennessee and Auburn, coaching the game of basketball is not the problem. Bruce Pearl can coach.

Three seasons past, he led the Tigers to the Final Four, losing a one-point heartbreaker to Virginia. That Pearl team finished 30-10. The following season the Tigers were 25-6 before the season was cut short by the pandemic.

In Tuscaloosa in those 2018-19 and 2019-20 seasons, the Alabama Crimson Tide went 18-16 and 16-15. In January of 2020, Alabama Basketball beat Auburn in Tuscaloosa. Even so, when the season shut down in March, Auburn was a top-tier SEC team and the Crimson Tide was barely mid-tier. Nate Oats’ 2020 team closed the season losing eight of its last 12 games.

In the eternal battle between the two programs, the Crimson Tide was only faintly visible in the Aubie rear-view mirror.

Everything changed for Alabama Basketball and Auburn

Then it all changed for the Tide and the Tigers. The bill became due for Auburn putting its program in Pearl’s hands. While the Tigers were self-destructing, Nate Oats was hard at work, building a winner. Auburn was only one of several SEC teams the Crimson Tide swept in the 2020-21 season.

With a self-imposed ban on 2021 postseason play and far greater sanctions expected from the NCAA, Pearl’s program has taken a dive. Super freshman, Sharife Cooper exited for the NBA. One of the Tigers’ two most promising returning players, Justin Powell left for the Tennessee Vols. Others chose to leave, including Buck Johnson’s son, Jamal.

In the ‘Portal’ world, there are always players available. So far Auburn has come up short trying to land any of the big names. On Thursday, Nimari Burnett chose Alabama Basketball. Penn State transfer, Myreon Jones picked the Florida Gators. On Sunday evening, Noah Gurley shunning the Tigers in favor of the Crimson Tide would be another blow for the Aubies.

Whether Gurley does or not, Alabama Basketball is zooming up while the Auburn Tigers are spiraling down.

Next. Transfer Portal not what NCAA intended. dark

Another tip of the hat to Nate Oats is deserved. Bruce Pearl and Auburn deserve what they are getting as well.