Everything Nate Oats said after Alabama's 109-92 win at LSU

On3 imageby:Charlie Potter02/10/24

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The Alabama men’s basketball team defeated the LSU Tigers, 109-92, on Saturday in Baton Rouge, La. After the 16th-ranked Crimson Tide bounced back in the win column, head coach Nate Oats spoke to reporters. Below is everything he said after improving to 17-7.

Oats’ opening statement…

“This was a big road win that we needed to get if we’re going to stay in the hunt to win the league. I thought LSU came ready to go. We had no answer for (Will) Baker in the first half. Then they made their run, went up one or two there in the second half at just under 10 to go, if I remember right. And then kind of the way we play, we got a barrage of threes, opened it up and then that was kind of it. But I thought LSU did a really good job being ready to go on their offensive end, kind of attacking some weaknesses on us. 

“I thought we made some decent adjustments. Our guards started helping our bigs a little bit more on Baker, turning him over a little bit more. We ended up with 23 points off turnovers. We thought we needed to try to turn them over a little more. We only got 12 turnovers, but we were able to score on most of them. And then I thought the job Nick Pringle did in the second half was really good on Baker. And then our guards rebounded. We ended up out-rebounding them by 12, which we knew we needed to do playing a small lineup.

“(Latrell Wrightsell Jr.) ended up with 10 with a double-double for the first time this year. He’s been close. He played great. He shot 6-of-9 from three. I keep trying to tell him you can’t turn down open threes. He shoots it way too well. I still think he turned some open ones down tonight. He was great. But he had 10 rebounds. (Mark) Sears had eight rebounds. I thought Sears played a great game. He ended up with five assists, two turnovers. Rylan (Griffen): six assists, zero turnovers. Trelly: four assists, zero turnovers. (Aaron) Estrada: seven assists, one turnover. So if you add that up, that’s 22 assists to three turnovers. That’s pretty impressive from those four guards that started.

“We’ve been on these guys about rebounding, turnovers, defensive intensity. We’ve got to get our frontcourt to guard a little bit better, but I thought our backcourt was pretty good about everything we’ve been on them about. And it was big to get a win. LSU is a markedly improved team. They blew out Arkansas at home recently. They play a lot better at home. We haven’t played great on the road. So I thought to kind of be able to blow this thing open at the end was big on a number of fronts.”

Oats on if the number of possessions matters…

“It does matter. We want to play fast. Ever since I was a high school coach, my philosophy has kind of gone back to we’re going to get in the gym and player development has been our biggest thing on offense since, shoot, for the last 25 years I’ve been coaching. So we’re gonna spend a lot of time in the gym making players into really good players. And we want to open the floor up and let them make plays. They’re a lot more motivated to get in the gym to work on their game if you let them actually play their game. The best way to do that is to play fast, and as we’ve been doing it since – shoot, my first year at Romulus was ‘02-03, so 20 years – we’ve been playing pretty fast ever since then.

“But the game is starting to evolve. The NBA is playing way faster. I think with the analytics and the floor being spread, I think if you can create an advantage in the first six seconds of the clock and just continue to keep the advantage through the whole opposition, I feel like we can get the shots we want. So yeah, we’re trying to attack early. We’re not doing it necessarily to play fast. I tell the guys all the time, we’re gonna be one of the fastest teams in the country, not just to play fast, because our goal is to be the most efficient. 

“This is the first year we’ve been able to be – and I don’t know where we’ll end up after today – but we’ve been back and forth with Purdue between one and two in most efficient offense in the country. They obviously do in a lot differently with (Zach) Edey. So for playing open, modern style basketball … that’s why we play fast, to be most efficient, but we definitely are trying to push the ball up the floor and attack them before they ever get set up.”

Oats on his message at the half about guarding Will Baker…

“I was more of a message to Grant Nelson because I thought he was the one that was getting killed the most by Baker. Like, ‘Grant, we’ve got to man up and guard him here in the second half.’ And I thought the first possession of the second half, Grant did a much better job. He forced him to go to his right hand instead of giving him his left. We made an adjustment to kind of have Rylan go help. Rylan comes over, he’s got to go to his right hand, Rylan comes over. But yeah, to give up 22 points in the first half to a big that, one, we’re letting him catch it too easy. The guards aren’t helping enough. 

“And (Trae) Hannibal is a really good player, but he doesn’t want to shoot. So you’ve got a non-shooter in the starting lineup, and we’re not giving enough help off it. There was lots of adjustments. We didn’t do a very good job at the beginning, really the whole first half, of doing what I thought we – started helping a little bit more off Hannibal, making his catches tougher. I thought Pringle really did a great job. Grant was better in the second half. (Mo) Dioubate gave us some good minutes in there, too.”

Oats on Alabama continuing to keep its foot on the gas…

“I didn’t realize that we took 81 shots. That’s a lot of shots. When you don’t turn the ball over and you get 19 O boards, you’re gonna have a lot of shot attempts. Now, they had more free-throw attempts, but it wasn’t by a huge margin. They only out-scored us by four at the line. To have 21 more field-goal attempts, it’s gonna be hard for them to win the game doing that. I thought we did a really good job on the offensive glass. Wrightsell is a guard and ends up with five O boards. 

“Nick Pringle had four O boards in 15 and a half minutes. I thought Pringle’s energy in the minutes he gave us was huge. Before the game, everybody was like, ‘Man, Pringle is ready to go.’ I told the guys after the game, there’s a way you get yourself mentally ready to play, and Nick was ready to play before the game. It’s an 11 o’clock tip, you’ve got to get yourself mentally ready to go. Some of the guys did not do a great job, and Nick obviously did. Hopefully he can use this as a springboard to really start playing some great basketball for us.

“But to have five guys in double figures and 19 O boards, I thought the ball was moving well. We were getting on the glass, taking care of it. It was one of better offensive nights. Shoot, I believe our analytics guys had us at a 1.43 on offense. That’s pretty elite.”

Oats on what led to the separation from LSU…

“I think they were up one with nine and a half to go, and then I think we hit five straight three. So we’ve got a lot of offensive firepower. We’re liable to explode at any point. If we can get our defense better, we could be a pretty dominant team. So I think if you start missing as fast as we play – I think they had to call timeout. We went on an 8-0 run in about a minute, they called timeout and then it’s kind of over at that point. We came out of the timeout, hit a few more, opened it up. So we’re explosive offensively. I think we had a few big runs in both these games to kind of open it up, and we were able to take it home from there.”

Oats on Latrell Wrightsell Jr….

“Trelly hits big baskets. It’s why I get irritated with him when he passes up open shots. He’s such a good shooter. It’s like every time he shoots, it pretty much counts three points, in my head. If he misses, I’m shocked. He hit that big one. And again, we got a lot in transition. We got them scrambling, cross-matched in transition. He hit the big three. … I know he hit some big ones in that run we made there.

“And then the double-double, it was kind of the guys. Like everybody knew. I put guys at the table, and they came over, ‘Coach, let Trelly get one more rebound.’ So I turned to the five going in, and all over them are like, ‘Coach, don’t put me in. Let him stay for me.’ I was like let’s let Mo Dioubate come out because he’s gonna gobble up every rebound if he stays in because he plays hard and goes and gets rebounds. They were all volunteering to sit out so that Trelly could get one more rebound. Double-doubles, triple-doubles, they’re not easy to get. So when you’re one rebound away, and shoot, that one kind of fell in his lap. He challenged the shot, ran back in and it worked out perfect and then we got him out of the game.”

Oats on Nick Pringle…

“I’m so happy for Nick. He’s been up and down and in and out of the lineup and playing no minutes, some minutes. His attitude has been great all week. His effort in practice has been great all week. I think he’s at the place where he needs to be mentally, emotionally. He’s here to do whatever it takes to help the team win. His teammates, the Mudita that we talk about that Coach (Patrick Murphy) talked to the team about, they were so happy for him.

“He got the T. He’s emotional, and he was really fighting Baker down there, so I didn’t want to leave him in and have him get a quick foul again. I took him out and everybody was like, ‘Leave him in, leave him in.’ So I think I only had him out for about 30 seconds or so to let them calm down. … Went over to him like, ‘Nick, we calmed down? We good?’ So I put him back in. But all his teammates were super happy for him. I’m super happy for him. I couldn’t be more proud of Nick today.”

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