Alabama Basketball: What Crimson Tide needs to become great

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

For Alabama basketball fans looking for a measurement of how good the Crimson Tide has become, Tuesday night gave a good clue. After the game, Nate Oats said the win was “was not one of our better performances.”

Oats was right about the 91-88 win over Memphis. It was a quality win because the Tigers are a good team, but many better teams would have beaten the Crimson Tide on Tuesday night.

The best news from Tuesday is a young Alabama team showed resiliency and determination. The Tide again made too many unforced errors and had defensive lapses. On too many occasions, even after Tide, made baskets, the Tigers beat Alabama down the court. It was so glaring once that Nate Oats quickly subbed all five players.

In order to continue its success through the entire season, there are three areas in which Alabama must improve. Among 352 Division One basketball teams, Alabama Basketball is No. 347, at a rate of -4.6 per game. A fast-paced team will make a higher-than-average number of turnovers, but that does not excuse too many careless passes by the Crimson Tide.

Late in the game against Memphis and in an earlier game against North Carolina, Alabama had problems with in-bounds plays. Such a weakness in a close game could turn a win into a loss, especially against quick and aggressive defensive teams like Arkansas.

Alabama Basketball Player Concerns

The third area of concern involves multiple variables and multiple players. With the injury to Nimari Burnett expected to keep him out of action for 6-8 weeks, a much heavier defensive burden falls on Jaden Bradley. Given how important Bradley also is offensively he will have a heavy load for a freshman. Spelling him in the lineup will be Darius Miles and Rylan Griffen. Griffen is talented but does not have the same defensive skills. Miles can be a good defender and he made key plays against Memphis, but consistency has often been an issue for Miles.

Two more player variables are hard to predict. One is Jahvon Quinerly has not been on his game this season. After the Memphis game, Nate Oats said of Quinerly,

"I think he’s just got to get his confidence back."

Playing poorly and regaining confidence exist in opposition. When (if) Quinerly regains his confidence and stops trying too hard to force things on offense, he will give the team a boost. He hit two important threes against Memphis. He also had five assists to three turnovers in 23 minutes of play. Overall on Tuesday, Quinerly helped the team. Hopefully, he will soon help much more.

With a team assist-to-turnover number of .93, Alabama Basketball is No. 255 in Division One. Overall the team must improve and Quinerly can be a major contributor to improvement.

Alabama has done well despite these problems because it is an outstanding rebounding team, and with a few exceptions, a very good defensive team. The Tide also appears to have excellent player chemistry, which Oats has gratefully acknowledged.

The other player variable is when (if) Dom Welch can play. Expectations of Welch as an impact player were warranted by his four seasons at St. Bonaventure. But there is a nagging doubt about the transfer being able to play anytime soon.

Next. How Alabama overcame the Memphis Tigers. dark

A win over Gonzaga on Saturday and the Tide might have its best start to a season – ever. Alabama basketball fans have much to look forward to.