Alabama Is Wanting Like An SEC Powerhouse … In Basketball

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The all-consuming wave of the Alabama Crimson Tide was speculated to dissipate in January after Nick Saban claimed his seventh nationwide title. As an alternative, it seems to have swelled and swallowed the SEC once more, this time on a special area of play.

Shortly after capping its finest season in program historical past on the gridiron, Alabama is within the midst of its finest season in program historical past on the hardwood. The Alabama males’s basketball workforce went from unranked in the AP preseason poll to the highest 10 and figures to snap a 15-season streak of failing to seem within the AP postseason ballot.

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In lower than two seasons as head coach, Nate Oats has already been awarded an almost $1 million-per-year pay increase and an extension through 2026-27. He turned an SEC afterthought into the convention customary bearer, with a vice grip on the standings. Out of the blue and surprisingly, a workforce that was picked to finish fifth within the SEC standings now has a 30.1 percent chance of coming into the NCAA Event as a No. 1 seed for the first time.

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So how did Oats do it?

When he arrived in Tuscaloosa along with his tradition of “selfless love,” Oats introduced with him the breakneck ethos he long-established in Buffalo, the place he introduced the Bulls to 3 NCAA Event appearances and two first-round wins over four seasons. Oats has ratcheted up the tempo to a brand new stage for the Tide.

Stated then-junior John Petty Jr. after one among his first practices under Oats, “It’s onerous to only stand round out right here.”

Underneath former head coach Avery Johnson, Alabama twice completed within the backside 50 nationally in adjusted tempo. Underneath Oats, the workforce is on observe to complete within the prime 10 for the second consecutive season, a feat that Bama had by no means completed in the KenPom era. Solely Coppin State averages quicker offensive possessions than the 14.1 seconds averaged by the Tide.

Alabama quickly grew to become an offensive juggernaut in its first season below Oats, throughout which it led the SEC in scoring, 3-point taking pictures share and 3-pointers made per contest. That hasn’t modified this yr. Bama put up 115 points on Georgia earlier this month, turning into the primary SEC workforce to attain that a lot in a convention matchup since Rick Pitino’s title-winning Kentucky Wildcats in 1996.

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The Tide have continued to chuck a bunch of threes: Earlier this season, the workforce broke an SEC record by hitting 23 of them towards LSU. In Jahvon Quinerly and Joshua Primo, Oats has two of the highest six 3-point marksmen in the SEC. In Petty, Oats has the participant accountable for the most made threes (56) within the convention. And in Herbert Jones, he has one of five players to be named to midseason lists for each the Defensive Participant of the 12 months and the general Participant of the 12 months.

However whereas offense has been its hallmark, the important thing evolution for the workforce was made on the defensive finish.

Alabama permits greater than 70 factors per recreation, which ranks 190th nationally and near the bottom of the SEC. However the tempo at which Oats’s workforce operates signifies that its opponents may also get extra probabilities to attain. By adjusted defensive efficiency, which weights the variety of factors allowed per 100 possessions by the standard of offense confronted, Alabama permits 88.2 factors, the second-best rate in the country and a gargantuan enchancment from the 99.5 allowed by a season in the past, which ranked 114th.

The Tide power opponents into taking photographs away from the rim nearly one-third of the time, they usually maintain opponents to an efficient field-goal share of 45.4 percent, the Sixteenth-best fee within the nation and the fourth-lowest allowed by an Alabama protection within the past 23 seasons. Opponents are taking pictures an SEC-worst 29.2 percent from past the arc towards the Tide and aiding on an SEC-low 42.5 percent of made area objectives.

Alabama has had a successful report six seasons running, nevertheless it’s obtained just one event look to point out for it. In brief order, Oats has his workforce on its approach to Alabama’s first SEC regular-season title since 2002. His could be the 11th team to go from unranked within the preseason to a prime seed within the event, however as Ken Pomeroy noted final yr, these groups traditionally don’t advance that far into the event. Which may be how the Tide’s season ends, however for now, Oats and his gamers have desires of a nationwide championship, identical to their gridiron brethren.

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