Belief in Sears and Stevenson propelled Alabama Basketball into the Final Four

Alabama Basketball coach Nate Oats has a system based on efficiency. That system and Oats' belief in his players gained the Tide a trip to the Final Four.

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Before Saturday night in Los Angeles, an almost constant for Alabama Basketball had been Mark Sears. The Crimson Tide's undersized, not really a point guard had carried his team in almost every one of its 24 wins.

For more than 15 minutes of the first half against Clemson, Sears could not make a shot. After six misses, his first make came at the 4:05 mark. He finished the first half shooting 2-for-11 from the floor.

Despite his star's offensive struggles, Nate Oats was never going to waver in counting on Mark Sears. Oats' and Sears' belief in each other was the reason Mark Sears responded in the second half by making six of seven three-point shots.

Sears' second-half explosion might not have mattered, had it not been for another Alabama Crimson Tide player. Until Saturday, freshman Jarin Stevenson had been a player with unrealized potential. Quite a few Alabama fans had the opinion leaving high school early had been a mistake for Stevenson and the Crimson Tide. Nate Oats knew better. His belief in Stevenson was the main reason Alabama survived Mark Sears' first-half woes.

Stevenson came into the Clemson game at the 16:21 mark of the first half. At that point in Stevenson's college basketball career, his three-point shooting average was 29%. His first trey against Clemson was an air-ball. Nate Oats did not blink and Jarin Stevenson did not back down.

The result was in 24:50 minutes of play, Jarin Stevenson scored a career-high 19 points. He was 7-of-11 from the floor, including 5-of-8 from outside the arc. In addition, Stevenson made three rebounds, two blocks, and zero turnovers. Without Jarin Stevenson's performance, the Alabama Crimson Tide would not have made its first Final Four.

The Alabama Crimson Tide teenager is known as 'J-Smooth' by his teammates. Going forward, 'Big Shot Jarin' might be more fitting.

After the game, Nate Oats praised his now-star freshman. "Shoot, season high in the biggest game of his life, hit big shot after big shot, made tough play after tough play. He grew up tonight. ... 19 points on 11 shots is pretty efficient basketball. Super proud of Jarin.”

The genius of Nate Oats' coaching is belief. Nate's absolute belief in his system of play fuels belief in his players. Alabama made 10 of its 15 second-half threes. It is nearly impossible for any opponent to overcome such an onslaught. Stevenson was 3-for-3. Mark Sears was 6-for-7.

The Tide's second-half long-range explosion was built by belief, preparation, and determination. A Final Four berth was the result.

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