Alabama Basketball: Nate Oats has a challenge and offers one as well

Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports
Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports /

Alabama Basketball is 1-0, after winning its season opener Monday night over Morehead State, 105-73. Morehead was not an NCAA Tournament team last season but they won the OVC regular season last year and finished with 22 wins.

Not to disparage the 2023-24 Morehead State Eagles but they did not offer much of a challenge against the Alabama Crimson Tide.

Eleven Crimson Tide players gained 10 or more minutes of action on Monday night. It likely would have been 12, but freshman Kris Parker missed the opener due to what is believed to be a short-term injury.

Parker’s role is a bit of a question mark for the Crimson Tide. As a 4-Star recruit, he was defined as a 6’6″ small forward. Alabama now has him listed as a 6’9″ guard. Nate Oats has recently said he hopes Parker can develop into a strong defensive player with a skill set similar to Alabama basketball and now NBA star, Herb Jones. That is a tall order for any freshman.

Oats was pleased with most of what Alabama did on Monday night, but in his post-game review, he stressed the Crimson Tide has a long way to go defensively.

Oats was quite specific in his review.

"… we’ve got to get a lot better on defense, I’m just going to be honest with you. We weren’t where we need to be. We’re third in the country two out of the last three years. I’m looking at our defensive deal now. We gave up a 1.01. In conference play, we were low 0.9s in points per possession those years we were top three in the country in defense."

The 1.01 is of course points per possession. Nate Oats further explained,

"… if we’re going to try to be 0.92, 0.93 in SEC play, you can’t be giving up a 1.01 to Morehead State."

Alabama basketball fans were rightly excited about the Crimson Tide’s offensive explosion on Monday night. Senior transfer, Grant Nelson led the Crimson Tide in scoring with 24 points in 25 minutes of play. Aaron Estrada, Mark Sears and freshman Jarin Stevenson all scored in double-digits. Stevenson, who skipped a final season of high school ball to join the Crimson Tide, looked capable of potential equal to his advance billing as the Tide’s next Noah Clowney. Like many of his teammates, Oats is looking for defensive improvement from Stevenson.

Alabama vs. Morehead Stats

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Oats ended the post-game review with a direct message to his team. He was clear playing time against tougher opposition would be dependent on better defensive play.