| NEWS Alabama Basketball's Nate Oats Emphasizes Chemistry Between Returners and New Players - SI


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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — When it comes to the sport of men’s basketball, Alabama coach Nate Oats has always emphasized that chemistry and effort are two of the cornerstones of success.

Just under three weeks out from the season-opener in Coleman Coliseum against Jacksonville State, Oats and his Crimson Tide have been hard at work preparing for the season in practice. Alabama returns just four starters from last season, those starters being senior guard John Petty Jr., senior wing Herbert Jones, senior forward Alex Reese and sophomore guard Jaden Shackelford. All other players are either new to the program or didn’t see action on the court due to injury or, in sophomore guard Jahvon Quinerly’s case, due to waiver issues.

While the team has only been conducting preseason practices for a couple of weeks now, Oats reminded the media on Thursday afternoon that his squad has been working out together for long before that.

“We’ve been working out since June,” Oats said. “We had that one kind of week there around the Fourth of July where we kind of shut some workouts down due to COVID. Other than that we haven’t had any full shutdowns so we’ve been able to work kinda since the middle of July on outside of some time we gave them off so we’ve had a lot of time with the guys.”

JUCO-transfer guard Keon Ellis, who joined the team this past summer after joining Alabama from Florida Southwestern State, believes that so far the chemistry is being developed very well in Tuscaloosa.

“I think the chemistry between our teammates is real good,” Ellis said. “We hang out with each other off the court, on the court we help each other. Even though it’s real competitive in practice, like, you may see somebody on the [crimson] team help somebody on white after a turnover or something like telling them ‘Hey, the read was to the corner instead of the wing’ or something like that. I think we’re all buying in, trying to help everybody get better as a team so I think that’s going a long way. I think we’ll be really good this year because of that.”

Evidenced by Ellis’ statement, it’s clear that Oats’ emphasis on team chemistry is rubbing off on the players.

With the team seemingly meshing well and with three weeks left before the season starts, there’s still plenty of time to get lineups and sets established before the season. Due to COVID-19, teams are more limited in their interactions on the court, but that hasn’t stopped Oats from organizing his practices and switching up lineups on a more frequent basis to ensure that all players see action together and form bonds with each other.

According to Oats, switching up the lineups has caused the new guys to mesh well with the four returning starters.

“I think them playing together as much as they have has helped the chemistry,” Oats said. “Obviously we’re getting to a point where we’re sick of playing against each other — we’d like to play somebody else — but I think we’ve had a lot of time to develop some chemistry. Play different guys with different guys all the time in practice and we switch it up so I like where that’s at. I think the new guys are meshing well with the returners.

Oats then proceeded to name individuals that are beginning to mesh well despite their limited time on the court together.

“I think [Alex] Reese is a lot better with his hip after his hip surgery,” Oats said. “He’s got a lot healthier. We’ve been putting him and [Jordan] Bruner together some. I think they got good chemistry. They pass well. [James] Rojas has played well with either Reese or Bruner in there. [Jahvon] Quinerly’s figuring out how to play with the guards. [Joshua] Primo’s starting to figure that out; he’s a real smart, bright kid that’s very talented and skilled.

“I like our group, our depth’s going to be a lot better if we can get through these next three weeks without any injuries we should have really good depth heading into Game 1.”
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