Alabama Will Never Forget Tragic Incident, But Nate Oats’ Team ‘Having A Blast’ During Unprecedented NCAA Run

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LOUISVILLE- Can Alabama finish the job? This is the question that is hovering over a basketball program that are heroes to those in the state, while villains to those outside. For a group of players in Tuscaloosa, somehow they’ve stuck together through the worst of times.

For the past two months, the eye of the college basketball world have been glued to every game or press conference Alabama participates in. It’s way past the point of crazy, we’ve reached a new level of attention for a basketball team. There is a strong contingent of basketball fans around the country that would love to see Alabama beaten on Friday night, or not make the Final Four.

It’s not the name on their jerseys. It centers around how Alabama has handled the Brandon Miller situation. Like it or not, there is a group of people that are waiting to see the Tide sent home, not because they are the #1 overall seed.

But if you think Alabama is not enjoying every minute of this run, you’d be sorely mistaken.

Alabama's Brandon Miller
Brandon Miller #24 of the Alabama Crimson Tide looks on against the Texas A&M Aggies during the first half in the SEC Basketball Tournament Championship game at Bridgestone Arena on March 12, 2023 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Nate Oats made it a point to say that the tragic incident will never be lost on the program, but this team has earned the right to celebrate its season so far. I find it hard to disagree with Oats, it’s not as if every Tide player was at the scene that night. It’s also not fair for the players to put it all on them. So when the Alabama head coach was asked if his team was enjoying this moment, he didn’t shy away from the question.

“We’re having a blast. We’re winning games. We know who we are. We’ve got a great group of guys that lean on each other, that have become close. We never lost sight of the fact that we have a heartbreaking situation surrounding the program.

“The fact that we have such a good group of guys enables them to keep that, as they should, be a serious matter, and it has been, but, you know, you play basketball from the time you were young to get to these moments, and we’re going to enjoy these moments. They’ve earned the right to enjoy the moment they’re in, and I think our guys are having a lot of fun.”

The problem is, this situation is not gong away any time soon, especially when this run comes to an end, either in Houston or Louisville. You can put together a bunch of quotes detailing how these kids have earned it, but the same time realizing that some players might not deserve to be on the court.

This is where I think Nate Oats gets lost in the whole situation, but he’s not backing down from his stance any time soon. Whether you agree or not, this isn’t the end of the story.

I can promise you that the Alabama athletic department did not expect this quick of a jump to the top. Most thought this would be a longer process, but this team had other plans. Alabama basketball has caused the biggest uproar of the season in college athletics.

The World Is Waiting For Alabama To Lose, But The Team Marches On

We love a comeback story, but we will easily destroy someone based off little information. This is where we sit at the moment with this Alabama basketball team. As they prepare to take the court on Friday night, it’s them against the world while San Diego State looks to play spoiler.

Select Alabama players walked into the press conference room on Thursday afternoon with Oats and Miller included. They looked out upon a group of reporters who have documented every moment of their chaotic season off the court, prepared to answer another set of questions. The latest twist was Nick Saban using the phrase ‘Wrong Place, Wrong Time’, which setoff a firestorm of tweets on Tuesday night, proclaiming Saban was taking a shot at Oats.

Alabama HC Nate Oats and Brandon Miller
NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE – MARCH 11: Brandon Miller #24 of the Alabama Crimson Tide talks with head coach Nate Oats during the second half against the Missouri Tigers during the SEC Basketball Tournament Semifinals at Bridgestone Arena on March 11, 2023 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

What did Alabama do about this? Nick Saban walked over to the basketball facility and talked with the basketball team and Oats, while the Alabama social media account used the photos to calm the situation regarding the pair.

“Yeah, so he and I talked that night. I didn’t take it that way at all. I got a ton of respect for Coach,” Oats noted.

Whether or not this was a fantastic photo opportunity will be up for debate, but the timing couldn’t have been better for the basketball program.

“He and I have got a great relationship, and I’m really thankful for the support that he has given us and continues to give us with the basketball program at Alabama,” Oats repeated on Thursday.

Just another instance of the story taking over the college basketball world. But its not something that will ever just go away, nor should it. We’re living in a world where everyone has an opinion to share and a quick way to put it out for the world to see.

As Alabama takes the court on Friday night, there will be a number of fans tuning in to see Alabama fail.

I don’t think any person associated with the basketball program cares. The hate hasn’t penetrated through the Alabama locker room, so they continue to block the noise.

This team has made it this far, there’s no sense this train is slowing down any time soon.

Written by Trey Wallace

Trey Wallace is the host of The Trey Wallace Podcast that focuses on a mixture of sports, culture, entertainment along with his perspective on everything from College Football to the College World Series.

Wallace has been covering college sports for 15 years, starting off while attending the University of South Alabama. He’s broken some of the biggest college stories including the Florida football “Credit Card Scandal” along with the firing of Jim McElwin and Kevin Sumlin. Wallace also broke one of the biggest stories in college football in 2020 around the NCAA investigation into recruiting violations against Tennessee football head coach Jeremy Pruitt.

Wallace also appears on radio across seven different states breaking down that latest news in college sports.

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