Eleven games into the Alabama basketball season, Nate Oats may need to make some changes. At 9-2, against an extremely demanding schedule, the Tide’s results have been excellent. If the Tide handles a good but not great Davidson team and gets to 10-2 before the SEC schedule, almost every realistic early-season goal will have been achieved.
However, there are recent indications Nate Oats might have to revamp some of his offensive plans. For the season, the Crimson Tide has averaged 83 points per game. In the first eight games, the average was 86 points. In the last three games, the scoring average was 75 points per game.
Three games is a small sample to define as a trend. But last season, all but one of the Tide’s seven losses came when it failed to score 75 points in a game. Last season’s scoring average was 79.7 points per game. Without a Herbert Jones defender this season, another strong season may require a scoring average above 80 points.
Why is Alabama Basketball suddenly scoring less?
There are multiple reasons and they vary from game to game. A current three-game ‘mini-trend’ causes some concern. Through the win over Gonzaga, Jaden Shackelford was taking 9-plus threes per game. In the three games since, that average has declined to five per game.
Against Gonzaga and Houston, Shackelford was outstanding outside the arc, making threes at 75 percent and 71.4 percent. He is making threes at a pace of 42 percent this season. So what could be wrong with that? Only this – against Memphis and Jacksonville State, in 39 minutes of play, Shack put up a total of nine threes. Some of that is due to a slower pace from Jacksonville State. Also, teams are putting added emphasis on doubling Shack or running him off the line. Forcing him into tough, dribble-drive shots is one way to hold down the Tide’s scoring.
What would otherwise be considered a blip, could be ignored if Jahvon Quinerly was picking up any three-point production slack. Quinerly shot 43.3 percent from outside the arc last season. This season he is at 27.9 percent.
Shack had 18 points in the win over Houston, while Quinerly scored 17. Without Juwan Gary’s 19 points, the Tide would not have beaten the Cougars. Against Jacksonville State, Keon Ellis led the way with 20 points, followed by Quinerly with 15 and Darius Miles with 10 points. Against the Gamecocks, Shack did not score.
Even the best long-range shooters are affected by extra defensive pressure. Shooting rhythm is important and even small amounts of added pressure can be hard to overcome. Does Nate Oats need to make some adjustments? We’ll find out very quickly when the SEC season begins on Dec. 29. Three of the Tide’s first four conference games are against Tennessee, Florida and Auburn.
If Alabama Basketball has an emerging scoring problem, it will likely not be obvious against Davidson. The Wildcats are No. 215 among the 350 Division One teams, in three-point defense.