Alabama Basketball to possess high-level defensive versatility

NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament - Final Four
NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament - Final Four / Mitchell Layton/GettyImages

Heading into the 2024-25 season, Alabama Basketball will have a lot of hype to live up to. After a Final Four run and a highly successful offseason, expectations are sky high for Nate Oats’ Crimson Tide squad.

Oats’ teams in Tuscaloosa have mostly played good complementary basketball, combining stingy defense with offensive efficiency. Last season, however, the defense struggled. Opponents scored on the Tide almost at will, which meant Alabama’s performance against quality teams suffered. Despite having the best offense in the country, the team was underwhelming and even disappointing for large stretches of the season.

Bama was somehow able to flip a switch in the NCAA Tournament and play better defense, but it will have to be even better in 2024-25. 

The most critical offseason addition for Alabama on the defensive end of the floor was clearly Cliff Omoruyi. The Rutgers transfer has 221 blocks in 121 career games and will be the anchor the Tide defense needs. Between Omoruyi and Grant Nelson, who led Alabama with 1.6 blocks per game and has 173 career rejections in his own right, Alabama should have much improved rim protection going forward.

The Alabama frontcourt is not just long and athletic, but it is also mobile. Headlined by Omoruyi and Nelson but also featuring sophomore Jarin Stevenson and freshman Aiden Sherrell, Bama’s bigs are mostly switchable pieces that will be difficult to take advantage of on the perimeter.

The Crimson Tide could have a lot of defensive potential on the wing as well. Alabama lost some key defensive pieces to the transfer portal this offseason: 6'6" wing Rylan Griffen was a proven commodity on defense, at times locking down opposing guards, while 6'9" redshirt forward Kris Parker never played for the Tide but had a lot of promise defensively. Coach Oats did a really good job of replacing this length and versatility.

Sophomore forward Mo Dioubate and freshmen Naas Cunningham and Derrion Reid give the Tide a lot of flexibility on the perimeter. All three of these young forwards are active defenders who can guard from the perimeter down to the block. While the freshmen will have to prove themselves, Dioubate has already shown he is tough enough to guard opposing centers in a pinch. 

On the perimeter, Alabama should also get solid ball pressure from guards like Aden Holloway, Latrell Wrightsell Jr., and Chris Youngblood.

Alabama has a lot of shot-making potential on its 2024-25 roster, but its newfound defensive versatility is what will make this team a championship contender.