Success in sports is often going to mean loss in the way of assistant coaches. Just ask Nick Saban about that. But after a historic season for Alabama Basketball, Nate Oats is facing unprecedented turnover on his coaching staff this offseason. The Crimson Tide are having to replace all three of their assistant coaches, with Charlie Henry, Bryan Hodgson, and now Antoine Pettway all departing for head coaching jobs.
Alabama will face a lot of roster changes as well, but it now becomes even more difficult to recruit and build a roster along with replacing a staff as well. Nate Oats did make the first hire for the staff at the end of last week, bringing in now former Nicholls State HC Austin Claunch, who should be a fantastic addition. That being said, there is still much work left to do with two hires to be made and ideally, impact players to be added in the transfer portal.
This all coupled with the fact that the SEC is going to be significantly better next year than it was this past season. Kentucky has an all-time recruiting class coming in, as does Auburn along with the addition of FIU guard Denver Jones (an Alabama target). Arkansas, who has been doing a lot of work in the transfer portal, may look like the favorites in the conference right now.
This isn’t to say Alabama will be bad next year, but winning 31 games and a double-SEC title feels like an absolute pipe dream right now. A major regression and possibly a rebuilding season feel like they are on the horizon. Nate Oats has raised the standard on the basketball court in Tuscaloosa so much so that many fans would see that as a complete disaster, but it is simply all part of the process of building a winning program.
There is plenty of time in the off-season and Alabama can still set itself up to compete next season. But what happened last season is the exception, not the rule. If you go into next hoops season expecting similar results, you will likely be disappointed. But as we saw in this year’s Final Four, anything can happen if you put yourself in a spot to at least get in the tournament. As of right now, that should be the goal.