BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Alabama’s SEC Media Day set the stage for a season featuring a fresh team and yet another tough schedule, all while managing to set Twitter aflame before the season even began.
A New Alabama
Alabama fans were left with a bitter taste in their mouths after the way last season ended. Three straight losses to end the regular season and a first-round exit in the NCAA Tournament will do that to you.
Fortunately, the slate has effectively been wiped clean with this year’s group.
Only four players on the roster have ever suited up for the Crimson Tide. One of them, Jahvon Quinerly, will not be available until “at least SEC play” with an ACL injury.
With eight new faces on the roster, including four freshmen, Head Coach Nate Oates was quick to warn that it could take the Tide some time to get going.
“Need a lot of production out of the new faces, so I think you’ll see some — maybe at the beginning of the year, there may be some games we’re a little inconsistent,” said Oates.
“Might go through a few growing pains early. We’ve got a tough non-conference schedule to get us ready, but we’re looking forward to it.”
Hope You’re Ready, Nate Oates & Co.
A “tough-nonconference schedule” might be underselling it.
The Crimson Tide, who had the No. 1 strength of schedule in the nation last season, once again faces a treacherous path early in the year.
They’ll first head down to the Phil Knight Invitational, facing off against Michigan State before a potential matchup with either Oregon or UConn.
After that, they’ll face matchups with Houston and Memphis before taking on the juggernaut that is Gonzaga.
They’ll need to bring everything they’ve got, night in and night out, to match last season’s early successes.
But far too often last season, Alabama played to the level of their opponent. Winning games that on paper, they should’ve lost and losing games they should’ve won.
Coming into each game of their schedule, the Tide will have to bring the same intensity if they want to avoid a repeat of last season.
“I don’t think playing some tough games in the non-conference — to me, it’s not like you get X number of bullets to use up and you use them up,” said Oates.
“No, you should be getting better. You don’t get X number of bullets. You get what you deserve every night out.”
“When you bring it every night out, you’re going to play well. When you decide you don’t have to play very hard because you think you’re a lot better than this team, you end up doing what we did, and that’s why, in my opinion, we didn’t peak at the end.”
Calm Down, Twitter
Twitter was in an absolute firestorm Wednesday night after the public learned about a “players-only” meeting held by the Crimson Tide following their 30-point loss to TCU in a pre-season scrimmage.
The meeting, which Noah Gurley told reporters he and Nimari Burnett called, focused on the state of the team and goals moving forward.
Everyone on the internet was ready to fire up the ol’ tweeting machine and let loose on the Crimson Tide.
A players only meeting before the season starts. Excellent. https://t.co/zfqMk0GEss
— Auburn Einstein (@AuburnEinstein) October 19, 2022
— Big Cat (@BarstoolBigCat) October 19, 2022
Earliest players-only meeting in history? https://t.co/QKjmnX1baH
— Jeff Ermann (@Jeff_Ermann) October 20, 2022
But Alabama’s head coach didn’t seem too flustered by the early blowout and the ensuing meeting.
Oates defined the scrimmage as a sort of “welcome to the league” moment for his young team.
“The scrimmage with TCU, I believe they’ve got the most production back of any high major team in the country, so they had a couple of sixth-year guys and a lot of real veteran guys,” Oates said.
“So we had a lot of young guys. Charles and Nimari have some minor injuries, so we held them out of that scrimmage. They’ll be fine, though.”
“When you took those two out and Quinerly out, there’s three guys that potentially could be starters that didn’t play. So we’re playing a lot of really young players, and I think it was a welcome to high major basketball from some veteran guys.”
“We’ll be better for it, though. It was good for us.”
After all, the scrimmage certainly wasn’t complete bad news for the Crimson Tide. After all, the newly acquired Brandon Miller did drop thirty points.
We’ll get our first look at Alabama’s new roster on Oct. 29 when they host Southern Illinois for a charity exhibition. Tip is set for 2 p.m. CT.
After that, Alabama will begin their season at home against Longwood on Nov. 7. Tip is set for 7:30 p.m. CT.
Follow Nicholas Pursley on Twitter @nicholaspursley.
PHOTO CREDIT TO ALABAMA ATHLETICS.