Will Nate Oats’ public message resonate with his team?

Alabama v Auburn
Alabama v Auburn / Michael Chang/GettyImages

Alabama Basketball coach Nate Oats resorted to what some would call a bold tactic following his team’s 117-95 loss at Kentucky on Saturday afternoon. 

In the postgame press conference, Oats used some public messaging to call out his team’s lack of defensive effort in the embarrassing loss. In defense of Oats, I would say that when a team surrenders 117 points on over 63 percent shooting, that team should be disciplined and/or motivated by any means necessary. Additionally, Oats didn’t say anything out of line or inaccurate; he simply just stated what was made obvious throughout the course of the game, which is that Alabama doesn’t guard anyone

Coach Oats later said that he was “embarrassed” by the performance and challenged his team to do better.

This isn’t the first time we have seen a coach implement this approach, and it has been successful at different times in the past.

Just last week, St. John’s coach and Hall of Famer Rick Pitino called out his own team in a much more direct and borderline disrespectful fashion. Pitino doubled down on his comments before eventually apologizing, but it appears his team got the message. St. John’s has gone 2–0 since Pitino’s outburst, including an upset of Creighton in what is the signature win of the Red Storm’s season to this point. 

Another familiar face to Alabama fans, Coach Nick Saban, also frequently used a version of this strategy. While Saban was always respectful and protective of his players, he did not pass up an opportunity to send a message to his team through the media. Coach Saban’s messaging regularly resulted in improved effort and focus from his team. 

Alabama Basketball will have a chance to respond to Coach Oats’ comments with their play on Wednesday night. The Crimson Tide will take on Ole Miss in Oxford, needing a win to keep its SEC title odds intact.

It will be fascinating to see how the team defends in this game, and I expect the team’s overall energy levels to be some of the best we have seen this year.