In this week’s coaching conversation, University of Alabama head coach Nate Oats joins the Basketball Podcast to share insights into how they play and practice.
Nate Oats has a 157–79 record as a D-I head coach at Buffalo and now Alabama and has many accomplishments and honors to his name including
- 3 MAC Tournament (2016, 2018, 2019)
- 2 MAC regular season (2018, 2019)
- 2 MAC East Division (2018, 2019)
- SEC regular season (2021)
- SEC Tournament (2021)
- 2× MAC Coach of the Year
- SEC Coach of the Year ,
The immediate success became evident in his second year at the helm of the program as Oats guided the 2020-21 Crimson Tide to one of its best seasons in the program’s illustrious history. Alabama finished the year with a 26-7 overall mark, won 16 conference games (16-2), captured both the SEC regular season and tournament championships, and ended the year ranked No. 5 in the Associated Press’ final national rankings which matched the best end-of-season ranking in program history.
Nate Oats’ has revitalized an Alabama basketball fanbase and returned the Crimson Tide as one of the top collegiate basketball programs in the nation. An indicator of Alabama’s resurgence can be seen by looking at the last two NBA Drafts. As a coach who is known for developing talent, Oats has now had an Alabama player selected in the NBA Draft Lottery (top-14 pick) in back-to-back years – a first in program history.
Prior to arriving in Tuscaloosa, Oats spent four seasons at the helm of the University of Buffalo where he took the men’s basketball program to unprecedented heights. While there, Oats led the Bulls to a 96-43 (.691) record, three MAC tournament championships and three NCAA Tournament appearances, including reaching the round of 32 in 2018 and 2019. As a result, he was named the league’s coach of the year and National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) District 14 Coach of the Year in back-to-back seasons (2018 and 2019).
Prior to joining the Bulls, Oats spent 11 seasons as head coach at Romulus High School in Michigan, winning the school’s first state title in 27 years in 2012-13 and finishing the season at 27-1. He was named the 2013 Detroit News State Coach of the Year, the Detroit Free Press State Coach of the Year, and the BCAM State Coach of the Year.
All Access Alabama Practice with Nate Oats
Exclusive access to one of the best basketball minds in college basketball. Learn the methods that have produced one of the most entertaining styles of play in the game. Open the doors and get full access to three practices to get an inside look at how Nate Oats runs his practices and program. Learn more here All Access Alabama Practice with Nate Oats
Nate Oats Coach Quotes:
“Every year we’re going to be probably top 10, if not top five in threes taken per game with the way we play.”
“Fans are part of this. We’re in the entertainment business. It’s an entertaining style we play, so let’s let them know why we’re playing the style that we’re playing.”
“Every offseason, we do a breakdown on what we were good at, bad at, and what we can get better at . . and so the thing we picked up a lot on last offseason was we weren’t getting enough assists at the rim . . The highest percentage [shot] is an assisted at the rim shot. So how do you get more assists at the rim?”
“We tell our guys, ‘Anytime you see an opening between you and the rim, you’ve got to drive it. We chart paint touches and our efficiency is much higher when the ball hits the paint than when it doesn’t.”
“We want our guys playing with ultimate freedom within the context of structure, we’re not just rolling the balls out and hooping. We want our guys to have the freedom to, at any point they make a read, they can drive.”
“Our offense is very good for guards. And it’s great for a point guard. But we tell the point guard recruits, if you’re planning to play in the NBA . . you’ve got to learn to play off the ball, on the ball, all types of different positions. And that’s what they’re going to do in our system.”
“We’ve talked about this [in the] offseason, we need to clean up our terminology. The longer you go, every few years, we just sit down [and ask], ‘Does it make sense to call this [action] this? Would it make more sense now that we’ve got this in . . to clean up our terminology?’”
“If you care about winning and playing time and everything else, you’re going to learn what we’re doing. If you’re constantly getting low scores on a quiz, you probably don’t care that much about what we’re doing. And it’s hard for me to play guys that don’t care because it’s hard to win with guys that don’t care.”
“We’re big on our guys putting in extra time outside of practice to study the game. We’ll send them edits . . every edit we show them as a group we’ll also send it to them so they can go back and review it on their own.”
“We’re letting everybody know when you come in next year, we’ve got video we’re going to show them, . . this is what we expect you to play like, this is how winning basketball is played. This is what we expect out of you on a nightly basis here in college basketball.”
“You can figure out a way to score just about every drill you run. So, we make it really competitive . . we want to come in and compete and we want to teach them to compete. Some guys are natural born competitors. Some guys are really skilled basketball players, but you’ve got to teach them to compete.“
“At the end of every practice, we do some type of end-of-game thing, whether it’s a six minute game, a game situation at 70-70 where the first team that gets 74 [wins] . . We always score those just as regular basketball scoring, just like it’s going to be scored in the game.”
“We’ve got the set that we’re going to run but [players] have got the freedom to break it off at any point, they see a breakdown in the defense to get a paint touch. If you break it off, you better get something we’re looking for . . we don’t need to run the set to score.”
“As a coach, we all have a little bit of an ego . . I want to run the most innovative sets we can . . but you know what, if that’s the most important thing, then it’s making it about me when what it should be about is about winning the game. And players win the games a lot more than coaches win the games.”
“So, you give your players the freedom to go break down a defense, if they see an opportunity to break it down and then go just make the play.”
“If all we’re doing is teaching guys to put a round ball through a ring, we’re wasting an awful lot of time. There’s a lot more things I could be doing to impact society than teaching kids how to throw a ball through a ring.”
“If we’re the most educated, hardest working coaches at coaching the game of basketball, I think you get some kids’ respect to help them really learn how to be better people . . better humans . . Let’s get them educated so they can make a difference in their families . . let’s use basketball as a tool to help these guys become better citizens and better young men. [A part of that] is selfless love, get out of yourself. Get into your team, get into your community, learn how to love each other.”
Nate Oats Breakdown:
1:00 – Dribble Drive
4:00 – Offensive Perspective
8:00 – Fan Base
12:00 – Driving the 45
15:00 – Player Development Principles
18:00 – Attacking the Rim
19:58 – 20:41 – DR. DISH ADS
23:00 – Quizzing
28:00 – Competitive Component
31:00 – Scoring System
36:00 – How To Game The Point System
39:04 – 39:43 – JUST PLAY ADS
41:00 – Accountable to the Practice
44:00 – Transition System
47:00 – Freedom with Sets
51:00 – Playing Fast
54:00 – Selfless Love Concept
Nate Oats Links from the Podcast:
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