Some Alabama basketball fans hold a wary attitude about Crimson Tide basketball. The somewhat ingrained skepticism is not without good reasons.
Unlike rooting for Alabama Football, Crimson Tide hoops’ dreams can be fragile. In Alabama basketball history, there are many examples of high hopes crashing to disappointment. Whether a Tide basketball fan remembers back to C.M. Newton or Wimp; Mark Gottfried or Anthony Grant, we all share the knowledge that no matter how close it may get, Crimson Tide basketball has never gained a lasting reputation as a national power.
Qualifying for the NCAA Tournament three times in 15 seasons has fueled much doubt. So when Nate Oats arrived from Buffalo and immediately started talking about the Crimson Tide and Final Fours, many of us appreciated his boldness. but were doubters. Recently, on Senior Day when the Tide’s 2002 team was honored, Oats commented on the 2002 team and the Tide’s future.
"We’re trying to get it back to where they had it and then progress it a little bit further. Let’s make a run to the Final Four and let’s put this program on a national stage. They had it on a national stage pretty good, but we’re trying to make it go just a little bit farther."
Few Crimson Tide fans believe such a milestone will happen this season. But it is a mistake to ignore how much progress Oats has made.
Before Nate Oats, Crimson Tide fans were regularly fearful of the team wilting in the heat of February play. February failures started being a problem back in Mark Gottfried’s 2007 season. Counting the regular-season games in February and March, the 2007 Crimson Tide was 4-5, followed by an opening game loss in the SEC Tournament and an opening loss in the NIT.
Alabama Basketball February and Early March Finishes
Going back to Anthony Grant’s first season in 2010, the Crimson Tide has failed to have a winning, February and early March record, six times. In the 2014- 2020 seasons, the Tide’s regular season closes were 4-7; 5-5; 6-4; 4-6; 3-6; 4-7 and 3-7.
This season February started with back-to-back losses to Auburn and Kentucky. Two weeks later, when the Tide lost to the Cats again, some fans feared another February collapse. That was an over-reaction. With two games to go in the regular season, the Tide is 5-3.
More importantly, Alabama is a solid 5-seed and possible 4-seed in the NCAA Tournament. Nate Oats has discarded the Crimson Tide’s ‘Bubble Team’ history, as the Tide will have its first back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearance since its run of Big Dance trips from 2002 through 2006.
It is a big jump from where the Tide is today to become a Final Four team. Given how much progress Nate Oats has made and how quickly he has done it, talking about making Final Fours is plausible.