When I was writing yesterday about Friday’s loss to San Diego State for Alabama, it was hard not to use the word disappointment in the larger context of the season. We can acknowledge that fact. This team was capable of so much more, and instead they suffered a fate that eight other Alabama teams in school history have suffered, made even worse by the fact that this team was a heck of a lot more talented than any of the other eight.
So it’s okay to be disappointed. Accept and embrace the feeling. That all being said, don’t lose sight of what Nate Oats has done already for this program, the groundwork that has been laid, how far it already has come, and how far it has the potential to go. To a certain degree, I understand the feeling of “if it couldn’t happen this year, then it will never happen!” That seems to be the general pessimistic sentiment from listeners so far this week.
But I ask you to recognize these facts. When Nate Oats took over for Avery Johnson, the team was fresh off a first-round NIT exit at home to Norfolk State. In the four years since then, Oats has led the program to 4 SEC titles (2 doubles in the last 3 years), three straight NCAA Tournament appearances, and two Sweet 16 appearances. Alabama’s record of 31-6 this season was the best in school history, and the program is set up to compete in a deep SEC for years to come.
If I told you all of that on the day Nate Oats was hired, how disappointed would you be? You would be ecstatic. Alabama had a historically outstanding 2023 season, and this is due to the foundation Nate Oats is laying in Tuscaloosa. Yes, it ended earlier than anyone wanted it to. And Oats should not be absolved of blame for that. But have some perspective on where the program has been for much of its existence and where it is now.
Nate Oats has turned Alabama into a perennial SEC powerhouse, a fact that seemed unfathomable four years ago. So while the way the season ended was gut-wrenching and painful and you’re allowed to be disappointed by that, don’t forget to be grateful as well.