Tide Takes: Alabama Improving, but Not Quite There

Every Monday right here you can read Tide Takes, where we’ll get into a different topic on the Crimson Tide, break down the previous game, preview the upcoming game, and everything in between.

In this week’s edition, let’s talk some Tide Hoops! Alabama is off to a 6-4 start after last year’s historic 31-win season and an offseason full of turnover. With a brutal non-conference schedule, the team has improved, but is still struggling to get in the win column against some of the best teams in the country:

Let’s start this by saying that this scheduling was some nasty work by Nate Oats and company. The three game gauntlet of Purdue in Toronto, a true road game at Creighton, and Arizona in Phoenix is as tough a set as any team in the country will face all season long.

Two games into it, Alabama is 0-2 with two close losses that went similarly. The big men of both Purdue and Creighton gave Alabama trouble, the Tide got into foul trouble, the opponents made free throws at a high rate, and both games ultimately ended the same way.

While still boasting one of the best offenses in the nation, Alabama is struggling on the defensive end, something that was a staple of last year’s team. The loss of Charles Bediako to the NBA has decimated the perimeter defense and the Tide to this point have not been able to replace him.

The bright side for Alabama is that the offense is good enough to keep them in it against anyone in the nation. Mark Sears has taken a leap this season and is coming off 35 and 19 point efforts against Purdue and Creighton. His buzzer beater attempt was just inches from falling and sending the matchup against Creighton to overtime, but the game ended with a similar theme.

Close but no cigar.

Next up for Alabama is a date with the No. 4 team in the country in Arizona right in the Wildcats’ backyard in Phoenix late Wednesday night. Arizona lost to Purdue over the weekend for their first loss of the season.

Alabama has shown some improvement on the defensive end since losses to Ohio State and Clemson, but they are far from a finished product.

It’s a long season, and with still over two weeks to go until conference play begins, Nate Oats will continue to tune things up. In the long run, the difficult non-conference games are meant to make the team better, but Alabama must improve on the defensive end if it wants to compete in the SEC.