Alabama Basketball: Oats must find shooters or change offensive scheme

Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports
Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports /

Nate Oats and Bruce Pearl appear to share one perspective on offensive basketball. Both coaches know that an open three may not always be a good shot, but their players pump away anyway, seemingly unfazed by lack of success.

It happened to Auburn in the NCAA Tournament loss to Miami. Auburn guards were 2-for-14 outside the arc. Auburn’s freshman, and soon to be NBA player, Jabari Smith was 1-for-8. The Tigers were not sizzling on their 43 other shots in the game but 19.2% from three was a lethal blow.

Auburn also had a problem finishing at the rim. That problem has plagued the Crimson Tide as well. A bad shot attempt is a waste, wherever it is taken on the court.

Missing a contested shot is one thing. Missing a wide-open one is a different matter entirely. Some things never change in basketball. When a team leaves opposing shooters open, there is often a reason. They have the scouting report and there are hoping, even expecting certain players to miss.

Alabama does not pass up many threes. Nate Oats does not want his team to be timid outside the arc. Although he said in recent weeks, that not all open shots are good shots, his statement appeared to have no impact on his players.

Alabama Basketball Nate Oats System

The Oats’ five-out system spreads the floor to create driving lanes. If the paint is clogged with bodies, the system will not work. There is another advantage in missed threes, over missed twos – the often long rebounds can be gained by smaller, quicker players.

The system is not flawed. But like any offensive system in basketball, it requires making shots. Volume shooting, as a derivative of fast tempo, cannot erase serious shooting deficiencies.

Last season, Alabama made 35.2% of its three-point attempts. This season the average dipped to 30.9%. Last season in 33 games the Tide shot 989 threes. In the same number of games this season, the Tide shot 987 threes. Why did a team, so well taught through analytics, not make an adjustment? Less success appeared to change nothing in game planning.

The Oats’ system will flourish with good shooters and solid defense, even with above-average turnovers. In too many games this season, those components were deficient.

Noah Gurley, Darius Miles, Juwan Gary, James Rojas and Jusaun Holt shot a combined 242 threes. The highest made percentage in the group was Miles at 29.4%. Collectively, the group made 24.8% of their threes.

If the Crimson Tide is going to continue such a rate of three-point attempts, Oats must have better shooters. In data collated from stats provided by CBS, the top 108, three-point shooters in the NCAA Tournament had full-season, three-point percentages from 28.1% to 47%. Jahvon Quinerly was the one at 28.1%. Jaden Shackelford was No. 78 at 35.1% and Keon Ellis was No. 64 at 36.6%.

Note: Other data in this post compliments of and ESPN.

Next. What happened to the SEC in the NCAA Tournament?. dark

In the 2022-23 season, Nate Oats must upgrade his players or change his system. Hopefully, by adding transfers, along with the incoming class, plus Nimari Burnett, the Tide will be able to shoot well enough, the system does not need changing.