After making a Final Four Nate Oats is the best-ever Alabama basketball coach

Finally is a word to describe the long wait Alabama basketball fans have had for the Crimson Tide's first Final Four.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

There is no reason for debate, Nate Oats is the best-ever Alabama basketball coach. With the Saturday night win over Clemson, Oats achieved what no Alabama coach had ever done before; making an NCAA Tournament Final Four.

The Alabama Crimson Tide basketball program has had some great coaches. Johnny Dee was the first and later C.M. Newton, followed by Wimp Sanderson. Alabama also had some impressive seasons with Mark Gottfried's coaching, including an Elite Eight appearance. What Nate Oats accomplished over the last nine days surpasses what the others have done.

What Alabama Basketball gets from a Final Four appearance is more important than winning a big game. What Alabama gains is belief in a future filled with winning championships, including an NCAA Tournament Championship.

Nate Oats came to Tuscaloosa five seasons ago with an offensive style few college teams could execute. It was certainly a style that no past Alabama team had ever attempted. That style of threes, rims, and frees was proven right in the 2024 Western Region Final. The doubters who questioned Oats had dwindled in recent seasons. There should be none now.

Against Clemson, Mark Sears, Jarin Stevenson and Nick Pringle had big games. The trio led the Crimson Tide with a combined 58 points, 21 rebounds and five assists. Rylan Griffen and Aaron Estrada combined to produce 23 points, 12 rebounds and 13 assists. The outcome was a team win and the MVP was Nate Oats. After the game, former Villanova coach Jay Wright pointed out Alabama won by exactly following Nate Oats' offensive system.

It took Alabama almost three minutes to score its first points in the game. With just under eight minutes left in the first half, Alabama trailed by 13 points. Nate Oats never blinked. His players not only did not panic, they never backed down. The result was Alabama led 35-32 at the break.

In the first half, Alabama made only 6-of-21 threes. In the second half, the Crimson Tide was a sensational 10-of-15 from outside the arc, making the full game accuracy 44.4%. Against a Clemson team that was physically stronger, Alabama gained a 44-33 rebound advantage. A well-coached, deep, and talented Clemson roster played tough and smart, but it was not enough. Finally, in an Elite Eight game, Alabama was the better team.

Several post-game stories suggested getting to a Final Four must feel to Oats as a vindication of his system of play. A different take is Nate Oats so steadfastly believes in his system, no vindication is necessary. Almost no one will pick the Crimson Tide to beat UConn. But Nate Oats, his players and his staff will be confident that they can.

Note: Game and player stats from the NCAA and ESPN.