"We’ve got the talent to win. We’ve just got to keep the chemistry, the camaraderie, the leadership. Our leadership has got to be good.”
“We really got to make sure that everybody is bought into whatever they can do to help the team win,” Oats said, repeating a theme he raised in May. “I think we got a little off track with that last year. I think we had some guys really concerned about their personal, individual stats, goals. I think they could see the year before when everybody just cared about the team, the individual stuff got taken care of, as well.”
It was something Oats brought up at times last season, pointing out how players such as Herb Jones and Joshua Primo were not necessarily stat-sheet stars during Alabama’s Sweet Sixteen run a season prior but both benefited from the team winning. Primo became the No. 12 overall pick in the 2021 NBA draft, while Jones was a second-round pick who quickly blossomed into one of the league’s best rookies.
“When your team wins, your individual stuff gets taken care of,” Oats continued Thursday. “When you’re worried about your individual stats and the team doesn’t do as well.”
“Some of these guys got parents that are [involved],” he said. “Which is great, we’ve got really good parents. But parents tend to want to be about their own kid, not the team. Let’s make sure that we’re -- our uncle, cousin, sister, brother, parents -- that’s great, I love their support -- but let’s make sure if they’re not telling you what’s appropriate for the team to be great, let’s be sure we’re listening to the right things. I think that’s the big focus.
“Because we’ve got the talent to win. We’ve just got to keep the chemistry, the camaraderie, the leadership. Our leadership has got to be good.”
Defense was an area where Oats wanted to see his team continue to improve into the fall. The coach has cited a lack of size last season as one reason for its KenPom defensive efficiency slipping from third in the country in 2020-21 to 92nd.
“We’re gonna be a better defensive team than we were last year,” he said. “We can be a lot bigger but our defensive chemistry just has to continue to get better and we’ve got to figure that out.”
Oats reiterated Thursday that junior forward Darius Miles has emerged as a “vocal leader” but he would like to see others step up this season, too.
“Let’s get some other guys -- Noah Gurley,” Oats said. “Can we get Brandon [Miller], even though he’s a freshman? Can we get our point guards, Sears and Jaden, being a little bit more leaders? We’ve got to get some better leadership and just get our chemistry right.”
Alabama has not yet released its full non-conference schedule that will begin in November, but some of its confirmed games are against Gonzaga, Memphis, at Houston, and against Michigan State in a Thanksgiving-week tournament.