In the fall of 2020, the University of Alabama installed the Noah Basketball system in both Coleman Coliseum and their practice facilities, complete with the very first Automatic Shooter Identification in the SEC. Since Coach Oats joined the Tide, the team has seen much improvement and the signs for lasting success.
Just this weekend, the team accomplished something the university hasn’t done since 1991: winning the SEC Men’s Basketball tournament. Head coach Nate Oats’ team dominated the conference all season long, losing only two games in conference play. Herb Jones won conference Player of the Year, and his supporting cast is as good as any in the nation. Without doubt the team’s shooting has largely contributed to their success. Alabama finished the regular season with the highest mark in the SEC from three-point range at 35.3 percent, which was an improvement from last season. The team also set the program and conference record with 23 made 3-pointers against LSU earlier this year. During the SEC Tournament, the team shot 43.1 percent from the floor, 32 percent from behind the arc, and 81.3 percent from the charity stripe. On the flip side, Alabama held their opponents to 37.2 percent, 26.9 percent and 72.1 percent, respectively, and allowed 48 (Mississippi State), 68 (Tennessee), and 79 (LSU) points in each game.
The Crimson Tide are primed for a nice run at the championship in Indianapolis, as they enter the NCAA Tournament as a two-seed, their highest spot since the 2001-02 season. Data-driven programming has been key to Alabama’s success this year. The team is taking more shots and adjusting to defensive threats really well. Nate Oats’ team has the green light whenever they touch the floor. He has a level of trust and confidence with his players that has been built over the past couple years, both relationally and statistically. In the month of January, the Crimson Tide shot 41.8 percent from three, the highest in the conference. They went 8-1 during that span, with their only loss coming on the road to Oklahoma. You’d expect that their red hot January would have bled into February, however, teams began game planning for the Tide differently. In an effort to take away Alabama’s biggest strength, teams defended the three hard, forcing them to drive and take mid-range shots. Their overall shooting percentages dipped slightly in their 7-2 month, as they shot 34.4 percent from behind the arc. Yet, Nate Oats’ squad was able to overcome anything that was thrown their way during conference play, as they waltzed into the tournament with a 16-2 conference record, firmly in control of the number one seed. As the top three-point shooting team in the SEC and a team that has shown that data-driven adjustments can work, Alabama is a heavy favorite headed to Indiana this coming weekend.
This year Alabama is executing at a much better rate than in Nate Oats’ inaugural season as head coach. With the addition of Noah Basketball and analytically minded Nate Oats, the Crimson Tide are in a prime position to establish consistent success for the program.