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Jumbo Package: Hoops season is just around the corner

And Nate Oats still has the coolest jacket in all of Alabama’s athletic department

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NCAA Basketball: 2024 SEC Basketball Tipoff Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports

Big news first: We finally get our first early teaser for basketball season as Nate Oats gave a 20-minute press conference at SEC Media Days:

If you don’t want to watch a video that long, Sports Illustrated was nice enough to give us a full transcription of the press conference:

As always, there were plenty of good quotes and nuggets from Oats, who generally doesn’t filter his opinions too often.

NATE OATS: Yeah, I think it will be one of our tallest overall. We had some size last year starting with Brandon Miller, 6’8” at the three, could play him at the two, played some one even. I think we can do that with Grant Nelson, play him all over. 6’11”. Jarin Stevenson can play a similar role at 6’10”, 6’11”, as what Noah Clowney played. Pringle, Wague inside there. We got some longer guards. Sam Walters can play 2-3 at 6’9”. Rylan has grown, he’s 6’6”.

Yeah, we have some length. Will it change how we play? We’re always tweaking things a little bit. There’s going to be no significant changes. We’re going to play fast. We’re going to keep the floor spread. We’re going to take a lot of threes. It’s going to be open, modern offense. Maybe we’ll post up some mismatches a little bit more with Grant Nelson. He’s comfortable in there. But we’re going to have him playing a lot more on the perimeter than what he’s done in the past.

Oats has been perennially chasing his ideal of a team built fully of positionless 6’8” players, and he’s getting REALLY close this year.

The turnover hasn’t affected the team’s perception, Alabama was pegged to finish fifth in the SEC preseason media poll, the same spot as last season before the championship run. The element of consistent roster turnover has made it increasingly more difficult to project teams’ success, though, and Alabama’s identity will likely evolve throughout the season. This year is another benchmark test in Oats’s quest to build a consistent power.

“Would I like to be picked fifth and finish first again? Yes, I would,” Oats said. “That’s our goal. But I think that’s 14 teams’ goal to finish first. We ended up out-performing.

“When they picked us a little higher (in 2021-22), we performed less than what they thought. What matters is how we play when the ball tips up here in three weeks and how you play in SEC games. That’s what we’re concerned with, getting better every day.”

He got some jabs in about the media picking Alabama 5th in the SEC every single year. And he talked quite a bit about all of the new assistant coaches coming to the team as well as all of the new transfers they went out and got.

He also gave us good news that two of the new players coming in with injuries are on track to be fully ready to play by game one:

Alabama basketball is dealing with injuries, but according to head coach Nate Oats, those should be alleviated before the Crimson Tide opens the season vs. Morehead State on Nov. 6.

Oats gave an update on the statuses of Mo Wague and Mouhamed Dioubate while speaking at SEC Media Days in Mountain Brook on Wednesday.

“The both of them are on pace to be able to play in game one,” Oats said. “Both of them, the time frame was to get them healthy just in time for game one. We think they’ll both be there for game one.”

Moving on to football, here’s Nick Saban’s presser from yesterday:

Nick didn’t give us a whole lot to really talk about it this one, but here’s a recap:

—Saban said Malachi Moore and CJ Dippre have both practiced this week after either missing the Arkansas game entirely or leaving it early. Alabama is optimistic that both can continue to progress, but Saban said its too early in the week to determine game status.

—Saban said that Alabama’s offseason fourth-quarter training program can add a mental benefit to pushing through the second halves of games. Alabama is in the grinding portion of the season, Saban noted, and the team has been slightly worn down with eight straight weeks of games.

—Offensive lineman Terrence Ferguson is “closer to 100%” after suffering a high-ankle sprain earlier this season.

—Saban was asked about offenses turning to tempo to establish a rhythm and Saban said while that’s suitable, that doesn’t prevent the need to focus on details.

—Saban is asked about a comment from Terrion Arnold that said freshman safety Caleb Downs shares a couple of personality traits with Saban.

“Well, you can ask Terrion what his opinion is about a lot of things. I like Terrion, he’s got a great personality. I don’t evaluate the personalities of the players in the room,” Saban joked before again commending Downs’ preparation and impact.

Malachi Moore, CJ Dippre, and TJ Ferguson still are unknowns. They may play. May not. Who knows.

As a side tangent, Saban was asked about up-tempo getting an offense into a rhythm, and in typical coach-speak, he mentioned it’s only good when the team is actually getting successful plays.

I’ve seen this same argument play out among fans of other teams at multiple levels of the sport, and it’s always the same: Our offense always seems to do so well in 2-minute hurry-up right before the end of a half, why can’t they just do it all the time? Well, here’s my theory:

I think that a lot of QBs tend to perform better in a hurry up offense because they know they HAVE to get the ball out quickly and decisively to stop the clock. I think the #1 detriment to most offenses in football is indecisiveness by the QB, and when they are forced to eliminate that and just get the ball out, good things tend to start happening more often.

So it’s not necessarily the tempo that helps the offense, but the pressure of the situation... And that’s why it never winds up working when a team tries to do it “all game.”

The rush to eulogize the program came quickly after Texas and USF, and since then public acceptance of this Alabama team has been gradual. But after five straight wins, an air of belief has taken root among players. The defense is playing as well as it has in years, especially the front seven, which has turned up the pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Meanwhile, Milroe has settled in after being named the starter — still shaky in the short-to-intermediate passing game, but incredibly effective at pushing the ball downfield.

After a closer-than-expected win at home against Arkansas on Saturday, Alabama sits at No. 11 in the AP poll ahead of back-to-back games against Tennessee and LSU — the most pivotal stretch of the season.

Each game will be a reminder of the team’s two losses last season — the enduring images of fans rushing the field in Knoxville and Baton Rouge, celebrating the downfall of a rival that had tormented them for the better part of a decade. After Tennessee won, it rubbed salt in the wound by playing Alabama favorite “Dixieland Delight” over the loudspeakers inside Neyland Stadium.

This is a really well-written long form piece from ESPN that you should absolutely give a read. I won’t add much commentary... just go read it.

Finally, Julio Jones is BACK!

Former Alabama wide receiver Julio Jones became the latest name to join a lengthy list of Crimson Tide players to sign onto the Philadelphia Eagles roster.

Jones did not sign to a team in free agency after playing 10 games with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last season, accumulating 299 receiving yards and two touchdowns in that time. While he has not found the same success he had during his first 10 seasons as an Atlanta Falcon, Jones showed he still had some juice left in his NFL career.

I’m not really sure how Philly plans to fit him into the roster, but the Eagles now have 7 former Alabama players on the team, tops in the league. Roll Eagles Roll!