I’m not one to overreact to bad results early on in the season, but last night was an unmitigated disaster for Alabama. The Maui Invitational invite, much like the Battle 4 Atlantis last year, was a golden opportunity to compete with some of the best in college basketball. Instead, the Tide crapped all over itself in the opener and will now play the UNLV Running Rebels in the loser’s bracket tonight. There’s really nothing to be gained playing these guys; even Montana State beat them by 13 points.
Instead, Alabama will be back to the drawing board after a horrific performance, once again, immediately reset expectations for the upcoming season. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
Again, I’m not going to quit on these guys after two games, especially considering how good Stanford is, but it is hard to find much to build off of after the first two performances. Surely, the shots will start falling, but will that make up for a complete lack of effort on the boards? Will that make up for the propensity to turn the ball over recklessly and not get back in transition? Will that make up for an inability to make the opposing team uncomfortable in any area of the game other than in-transition?
Live by the three, die by the three. That’s the old saying. And it is especially true if you don’t commit to doing the other parts of the game well. It becomes exponentially worse when you settle for the type of shots Alabama has settled for thus far in the Nate Oats era. When I watched film on Buffalo after the hire, there was constant movement on offense. Not just in the reckless up-and-down the court way Alabama has played with. It was designed. Controlled. Intentional. Point guard drives the lane, big man clears, wing cuts baseline, other guard replaces wing in the corner for an open three. The Tide just pass once and fire up a shot from NBA-range, nervous that Nate is going to chew them out for using an entire seven seconds on the shot clock.
UNLV is an experienced team with a junior guard in Bryce Hamilton who is currently playing better than anyone on the Tide’s roster. If Alabama can’t turn things around in less than 24 hours, they could lose this game. The Runnin’ Rebs also have a 6’6 freshman guard that played at IMG Academy that’s averaging 11.5 PPG on 58.3%/55.6%/100% shooting. They jumped out on North Carolina yesterday 13-0. Sure, they ended up getting outscored 78-38 the rest of the way, but the Tar Heels are a great team with an excellent coach who know who they are and who they want to be. The Rebels aren’t a good team, but they are capable. Would any Tide fan out there be comfortable if UNLV got out to a 13-0 lead tonight?
Ultimately, I want to see better effort across the board the next two days. We don’t seem committed to doing anything other than running and shooting threes.
This ended up being more of a stream of consciousness than a typical preview format, but after years of being subjected to this “same crap, different day” program, would any of you bothered reading 1,000 words of a vanilla preview?
Get it fixed, Nate. I’m still a big believer in you as our long-term coach, and it’s still extremely early in your tenure here, especially considering the disruptions from COVID. But after years of the same heartbreak over and over again, Alabama fans’ patience, much like your relationship with the shot-clock, is running short.