Alabama Basketball: ‘Herb-less’ Tide fights slide into ‘bubble zone’

Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports
Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports /

Crimson Tide fans want to know what is wrong with Alabama Basketball. With 11 regular-season games remaining, plus the SEC and NCAA tournaments, it is too early to predict how the season will end. But many Tide fans are seeking answers for what has gone wrong. Others, in dismay and disgust, are checking out on the season already.

After the Georgia loss, Nate Oats offered an explanation for the Tide’s recent problems.

"We’ve got large stretches of the (Georgia) game where we’re a really good defensive team …There’s things that we do at a pretty high level or pretty good and then we just, as the game moves on later in the game, we start to lose our focus, lose our attention to detail and we get bad. And two of the worst that we do defensively is we foul too much and we give up too many O boards.… we had 19 turnovers at Georgia, and they only had five or six steals. Most of them are unforced turnovers."

Few basketball fans need help from Nate Oats to know when a team makes bad fouls, gives up frequent offensive boards, and is prone to unforced turnovers – effective shooting will not be enough to win. For the Crimson Tide, shooting has not been good either.

In SEC play the Tide is making threes on 26.9% of its attempts. That performance is No. 13 in the SEC. Even with that horrid stat, the Crimson Tide is losing games more from defensive issues rather than offense.

A deep dive into the numbers from the current 5-6 run (and 2-4 in the last six games) elaborates the deficiencies. But, a deep stat dive is not needed to understand the core problem. The 2022 roster does not have the physical and mental skills of last season’s team.

It really is that simple. The losses of Herbert Jones, John Petty Jr. and Josh Primo have not been replaced. Jones was the best defensive player in the SEC and one of the best in college basketball. How well he is doing in the NBA should surprise no one. Petty could be a streaky scorer, but, especially in his final season, he was a tenacious defender. By the time of last season’s SEC Tournament, Primo was a solid defender with good size.

Alabama Basketball Lacking Player Leadership

Perhaps Nimari Burnett could have matched the contribution of Petty or Primo. The healthy Crimson Tide roster does not come close to matching the attributes of Jones, Petty and Primo.  Darius Miles has played well at times. James Rojas’s effort has been a boost. But the Tide roster is filled with more disappointments than contributors. Even with the Tide’s most talented players, the kind of leadership Herbert Jones provided is lacking.

Credit is fairly given to Britton Johnson for effort and determination. But how bad is a roster when an at-best, scrapper of a player, is needed for a boost? Without using names, three, four, maybe five guys simply do not measure up. Another, Charles Bediako may become an outstanding player, but his game (and body) needs considerable development.

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The longer team outlook for Alabama Basketball is very good. And this season, even if the next three games result in losses, the Tide’s outstanding strength of schedule should keep it from being an NCAA Tournament ‘bubble’ team.