Nate Oats looking for chemistry as Alabama basketball prepares for season

Cecil Hurt
The Tuscaloosa News
Alabama guard Jaden Shackelford (5) drives the ball against Alabama guard Beetle Bolden practice for the Alabama men's basketball team Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019. [Staff Photo/Gary Cosby Jr.]

University of Alabama men’s basketball coach Nate Oats said Friday that the Crimson Tide is in “a holding pattern” as far as scheduling goes but confirmed reports that the Maui Classic, which will not be held in Hawaii, will be in Asheville, N.C. The field includes North Carolina, Indiana, Providence and other high-level basketball programs as well as UA. 

”We’d prefer not to have games against those teams as our first games but we will see what happens,” Oats said. “I’ve heard Asheville is a great place, although it’s a little disappointing not to be in Maui, and hopefully we can get back into that event in the future.

"But as far as the schedule, we are just waiting to hear from the Southeastern Conference. There are a lot of variables involved.”

Oats, who participated in a Zoom call with media Friday, said Crimson Tide practice was “going well given all the restrictions” connected with coronavirus.

”We’ve got talented players,” he said. “Our five most talented guys may not be our five starters, but they will all get plenty of minutes. Plus it’s hard to define talent because there are different kinds — rebounding talent, defensive talent, leadership talent. 

”So we’ve had guys look great in practice, but there is a difference in a freshman looking great and John Petty looking great. He’s done it in (approximately 50) SEC games. ... He knows what it takes offensively and defensively. We are glad to have him back. He got some good advice (about entering the NBA Draft) and All-SEC second-team guys don’t just grow on trees.”

Oats was also asked about an ACC proposal that the 2021 NCAA Tournament include all of the eligible Division I teams (approximately 345 schools) and is not an advocate. 

“It’s ridiculous, to be honest,” Oats said. “The ACC has some smart coaches and I’m sure someone thought this was a good idea, but we already have that with the conference tournaments. Plus, how are they going to seed all those teams?

“I coached in high school and everybody made the tournament. But this isn’t high school. This is big-boy Division I basketball.”

Reach Cecil Hurt at cecil@tidesports.com or via Twitter @cecilhurt