Alabama Basketball must refocus ahead of another tough week

Alabama v Auburn
Alabama v Auburn / Michael Chang/GettyImages

According to Coach Nate Oats, Alabama Basketball has some changes to make if it wants to repeat as SEC Champions. 

This has been another successful season for the Tide, who has posted an 11-3 conference record and is just one game out of first place in the league. However, Bama just took its third SEC loss of 18 points or more.

Sure, it hasn’t lost any other games and has generally looked the part of a contender. Still, when Bama has taken the court against a fellow top-15 caliber team in a road environment, it hasn’t even been competitive. 

Things won’t get much easier for the Tide, who travels to Ole Miss on Wednesday before hosting Tennessee on Saturday. Coming off what will undoubtedly be an emotional rivalry matchup, Bama must then travel to Gainesville to take on a Florida team that just took the Tide to overtime in Coleman.

The Tennessee rematch will be one of the biggest regular season basketball games in school history. The Vols are the new leader in the conference standings, so Alabama will have an opportunity to earn its spot back. The Crimson Tide has played very well at home, and will be tough to beat in Coleman Coliseum.

This game won’t matter quite as much if Bama drops another road game in Oxford, so it is critical to beat Chris Beard’s Rebels. 

Alabama Basketball has a clear deficiency 

An Alabama team that already has plenty of shot-making would love to get Latrell Wrightsell Jr. back on the court. His presence appears to space the floor to an even greater degree and allows the Bama offense to run more smoothly. Perhaps more importantly, the Tide needs improved defensive effort across the board. 

While the 2022-23 team was potent offensively, led by Brandon Miller and a collection of sharpshooting guards, it could also buckle down and defend when it needed to. That grit was the factor that made it a truly elite team and the top overall seed in the 2023 NCAA Tournament. The current Bama Hoops squad lacked that trait back in December, and still does not appear to have found it. 

With the calendar turning to March this week, it is too late to expect sizable, fundamental changes from this Alabama Basketball team. While fans will be quick to point out that the Tide’s absence of defensive fortitude is unacceptable, they should also acknowledge that Bama is still well-positioned to win the SEC even in spite of this glaring deficiency. This is a testament to the work Coach Nate Oats has done to raise the floor of the program. 

Coach Oats has changed the standard in Tuscaloosa. His teams compete for championships, and that is now the expectation. If the Crimson Tide does not win the SEC this year, it will not change the fact that Coach Oats has done a tremendous job and has probably overachieved with this group. It will, however, elicit disappointment from the Bama fan base, which has now come to expect titles.

This may not be fair, but it is the price of success in high-level college athletics.