First: An operational announcement. Owing to the inclement weather which will make travel difficult or impossible for many, the Student section has been expanded this evening. At the 16:00 mark, all students are urged to move towards the floor and occupy empty seats. Let’s get loud, kiddos.
That, and more, is to be found here:
Now that football has ended, and conference play has begun in hoops, it’s time to more fully turn our attention to Nate Oats’ crew and take our weekly appraisal of the state of ‘Bama basketball.
To say that this season has not gone as planned would be a bit of an understatement. It began with losing Wooden finalist Brandon Miller, the post engine Noah Clowney and a host of depth players. Then SEC reigning 6th Man of the Year, Jahvon Quinerly, left the Tide late, and did so with very poor grace. Then the Crimson Tide literally lost all three assistant coaches to other programs, where they now carry the whistle.
Much of that seemed weatherable. But, then Charles Bediako peaced out on the team late, well after the recruiting plan had been made for the 2024 season. That left the Tide with frankly a strange roster mix: no true impact center, a lot of swings and stretches on the depth chart, nine new players, a ton of youth, a tough schedule, and a completely rebuilt coaching staff.
And then the Tide has suffered injury after injury to the post players that it does possess.
That the Crimson Tide presently sit at 11-5 and are undefeated in the SEC is a testament to how great of a job Nate Oats is doing this year — much less, staring at a great seed-line.
This season could very well have looked like 2022, where the Tide muddled their way to .500 relevancy, and looked disinterested or lost much of the time. But these iteration scraps, they hustle...and sometimes they win, and sometimes they implode down the stretch with a trifecta of maddening errors that just won’t wash out: ill-timed turnovers, lack of effective rebounding, and poor defense in spates. And the power forwards have struggled, for sure. Jarin Stephenson reclassified, and for much of the season has looked like a high school senior. Grant Nelson has found the adjustment to major league hoops trying, particularly on the offensive end. And I don’t think anyone expected Nick Pringle to have actually regressed as he has.
But that is offset by a few positives: a very deep bench of shooters, for a start. Led by Wooden midseason watch-list PG Mark Sears. But he’s not alone. The Tide also brought in Estrada and Wrightsell, and it’s rare for both of those guys to have an off-night. Rylen Griffen has ably filled in at the 2, with sharpshooting Sam Walters coming off the bench, and he has improved tremendously too.
Most Improved CBB Players Since Preseason— Evan Miyakawa (@EvanMiya) January 10, 2024
This table shows the players at https://t.co/cegyfz96ax who have improved their BPR the most since the preseason (must be inside the top 300 currently) pic.twitter.com/84SbMCcPFq
The Wooden Award Midseason Top 25 Watchlist: pic.twitter.com/GD3rQLMKE8— CBB Analytics (@CBBAnalytics) January 11, 2024
That simply is the DNA of this team. They can compete with almost anyone, and unfortunately lose to almost anyone as well. Every game will come down to whether the Tide can do just enough on the glass to stay competitive, minimize turnovers just enough, and knock down just enough shots for its lethal offense to overcome its deficiencies.
So far so good? Probably not. There’s a lot of room for improvement. But this team is an analytical sweetheart for a reason, and they do fight for all forty minutes. “Just enough” ought to be the motto, and goal, for the 2024 Crimson Tide.
Given the many barriers to success ‘Bama has faced already, they’ve done just enough for me.
We’ll have some expanded stats for you next week. This week, we’re going to ease into this with some baseline performance metrics for you.
AP Ranking: Others receiving votes
CBS Coaches: Others receiving votes
Evan Miyakawa: 4th
Bar Torvik: 4th
Ken Pom: 6th
Offense: KenPom 1st; EM 1st; Torvik 1st
Defense: KenPom 58th; EM 43rd; Torvik 46th
NET Ranking: 4th
Q1 / Q2 Record: 4-5
Vs. Sagarin Top 50: 6-4
Given the heaps of adversity this team has faced in 2023-2024, how are you feeling about the season so far?
This poll is closed
It was a bumpy start, with a schedule that was harder than it seemed, but I think the team has grown and is ready to compete in the SEC.
I’m tickled. Given all of the losses, injuries, and setbacks, this is some of CNO’s best coaching
I’m still really hesitant to buy-in. There are a lot of structural issues with this squad, and we have seen far too often what happens when the offense evaporates.
Personally? I think we probably suck. The losses to Clemson, Ohio State etc. are a better barometer of this team’s ceiling than the early 3-0 SEC start.
Undecided / Conflicted