Alabama Basketball: Gonzaga schooled the Crimson Tide


The smart response to getting schooled in any situation is to identify weaknesses and correct them. That is where Alabama Basketball is after a Saturday afternoon loss to Gonzaga in Birmingham.

The final score of 100-90 is misleading. At no time in the second half did it look like the Crimson Tide would win. Seven minutes into the first half, Alabama Basketball held a nine-point lead. Roughly two and a half minutes later, Gonzaga led by a point. After another two and a half minutes, the Zags led by eight.

Alabama fought back for a long while, but at the 10:33 mark of the second half, Mark Few’s team was up by 10 and the game was basically over. To their credit, Crimson Tide players did not quit, but the ‘no quit’ was not enough.

Brandon Miller and Jaden Bradley were outstanding for the Crimson Tide. Miller scored 36 points, with six rebounds, an assist and a steal. Bradley had 18 points, with two rebounds, four assists and a block. Another Tide freshman, Noah Clowney had nine points, 13 rebounds and a block.

What the Tide did best as a team was make free throws, going 20-for-24 at the foul line. Miller and Bradley attempted six free throws each and made them all.

Why Alabama Basketball lost

Alabama did not lose because of too few points. It lost because it could not stop the Bulldogs. In earlier games this season, Gonzaga shot 41.8% against Michigan State, 49% against Texas, 40.3% against Purdue and 36.1% against Baylor. Against the Crimson Tide, the Bulldogs shot 57.1%, including 41.2% outside the arc.

Alabama, no matter the rotation of players, could not stop Gonzaga with any frequency. Mark Few’s plan was not complicated. Some would call it old-school. It was deceptively simple. Get the ball in a guard’s hand in the center of the court; set a high ball screen; drive to the lane or pick and roll the screener for a gimmie. If the first two options were thwarted, kick to an open three-shooter. The approach was numbingly effective.

After the game, Nate Oats said,

"If we want to make sure we don’t keep losing, we have to play harder"

Not to debate Coach Oats, but more important than playing harder is playing smarter. In the post-game, Oats also said,

"Defensively, some of this is on the plan. It’s tough to come up with a good plan. They kind of have good guards, Timme was great, we struggled with him. We didn’t plan on all their guards going off and Timme at the same time."

In his summary, the most important words came in the first sentence. The Tide’s plan was flawed and it was not sufficiently adjusted during the game. That has little or nothing to do with the players. Point a finger a Nate Oats, and an Alabama staff, that Mark Few out-coached.

Granted, Few is one of college basketball’s best coaches. But Alabama had the most talent in the game. No Gonzaga player is close to being as good as Brandon Miller. And all that talent wasn’t enough.

The Alabama Basketball team is young. It will learn and get better. The next time the Crimson Tide goes against a well-trained and disciplined team, hopefully, it will not get out-coached, as it did on Saturday.

Note: Gonzaga’s stats from

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One more point. Gonzaga is a good team. They are not as good as last season or the season before. They can win a couple of NCAA Tournament games. They are also a team that could lose by high, double-digits in a Sweet 16 game.