SANDIEGO — Alabama head basketball coach Nate Oats and players Keon Ellis and JD Davison addressed the media following the team’s First Round NCAA Tournament loss to Notre Dame in 2022.
The Crimson Tide were given a No. 6 seed in the West Region of the tournament, meaning that the No. 11 Fighting Irish would have to win their game against No. 6 Rutgers on Wednesday night in Dayton, Ohio, in order to progress.
Alabama had two more days to prepare for the game, but Notre Dame still prevailed in a close game played at Viejas Arena.
The complete postgame press conference transcript from Alabama’s 78-64 loss to Notre Dame is as follows:
The 18th of March, 2022, Alabama Basketball Transcript
Statement at the Outset
Frustrating defeat, Coach Oats. You have to give Notre Dame a lot of respect for playing in a play-in game, seeing it through to double overtime, flying in late, playing with just one day of rest, and yet giving it their all.
This demonstrates that they have some seasoned, responsible men who can carry out a game plan with only one day of preparation. It appeared that they had four or five 1,000-point scorers in one of their games. One of them is part of our group.
We discuss collegiate athletes who have played for several years. In my opinion, it was evident today.
I sympathise with Jahvon. A serious knee injury of unknown nature. He looked ready to go to the game, at least. In my opinion, he had a really productive few weeks of training. He was the only one who participated in last night’s voluntary shooting agreement. You took a fantastic shot.
I believed he was good to go, but then three minutes into the game he goes down with a knee injury and has to sit out the rest of the contest. Things in life just do. When trouble arises, you must deal with it.
In his 36 minutes of action, JD impressed us. No one, including himself, believed he could play 36 minutes at the same level that Jahvon had been showing in practise. Although JD only had 11 points and 9 assists, he still finished with a double-double. Especially impressive for a first-year player at the NCAA level.
Our shooting was terrible. Each of them fired a shot. Cormac’s 7-for-9 shooting from deep was a major boost to his team’s chances of winning. His point total was 29. We just didn’t play well enough to beat his obviously superior team. Ultimately, they deserve a lot of credit because they were the superior team today.
Here are a Few Connecting Queries
#1. How does the Substitution of Quinerly for you Affect your Place in the Starting Lineup?
Big loss, KEON ELLIS says. Given his position as starting point guard, he is crucial to our success. The loss of him had an obvious effect on us. But, as I mentioned before, nobody saw that coming just three minutes into the game.
That meant it was finally JD’s turn to assume responsibility. As the coach remarked, “things come up.” It’s impossible to predict when your moment will come. It was a major setback for us.
#2. Coach, While the game may have just concluded, what impression do you take away from this season as a whole?
CHRISTOPHER OATS, HEAD COACH: By many measures, this season was a triumph. Understandably, we’re feeling a little let down.
We felt that we were capable of much more. Ideally, we’d have gone much further into the game. We got the sixth seed, which meant we would play in the first round. Three years ago, when we first arrived, we would have been pleased to be ranked as the 21st best team in the country by the tournament committee.
At this stage in the year, however, we should have known better. Probably no other team in the competition has defeated two top seeds like we have. We had victories over previously undefeated Baylor and Gonzaga.
Therefore, it’s not constant and instead shows some ups and downs. But we got in as the No. 6 seed and have a shot in the next round. Simply put, we didn’t do well in the opening round. That’s a tough one. You can see that at least one other fairly successful SEC club also lost in the first round of the playoffs.
Unfortunately, it’s not easy. It’s not easy to advance in the NCAA Tournament. As a team, Notre Dame performs admirably. They are a seasoned outfit that managed to hit their targets.
I’d say we had a solid season overall, despite some disappointment and inconsistency. The contradictions troubled us, too. Everybody in the stands, from coaches to players, was a little irritated. We suffered some truly inexcusable losses. There were, nevertheless, some outstanding victories.
I suggested that the team reflect on the season’s highlights. And some of them will come back. Some people just won’t. Those of us who are leaving behind have many fond memories of this year despite its disappointing conclusion.
#3. When JQ got Hurt and You Realised You’d have to Take Over More of the Point Guard Duties, How did it Affect Your Thinking, JD? What did Your Teammates do to Help You get Back on Your Feet when that Happened?
Go out there and be a leader for the team in every facet of the game, JD DAVISON says. They just picked me up and instructed me to go outside. I was told to take charge as the team’s freshman leader and strive to secure victory.
#4. Keon, I Count 39 Minutes of Play Time for you. Some of the Men Appeared Tired out There, According to Mike Brey, and he Heard that it was Because of JQ Losing his Minutes. How did that Affect Your Physical Performance in the Game?
KEON ELLIS: To be perfectly honest, I was feeling fine. I wasn’t completely exhausted, but I did need a moment to catch my breath. Not more than a handful of intense plays that leave you feeling physically exhausted. To the contrary, I didn’t feel like I needed a break from working.
As March approaches, it’s safe to assume the unexpected. The guy fell over. And I had a feeling that something like that may happen. And so, I was prepared.
#5. Keon, You Finished the Game as the Game’s Leading Scorer Despite Scoring 10 of Your 16 Points in the Final Eight Minutes. You’ve Mentioned Before how Your Teammates have kind of Encouraged You to Take More Shots. Did You Feel that you Just Weren’t Getting any Open Shots, or did you need to Build up Your Self-Assurance as the Game Progressed?
KEON ELLIS: I missed a handful of early opportunities I should have taken. I remember flipping the ball over once and hearing Coach and the team yell at me to shoot it. Coming out of halftime, I was probably more interested in taking the initiative than anything else.
And he informed me that they needed me to shoot the wide-open shot if anything was going to change. Because of it, I can’t turn down the offer. The ones I wanted to shoot were the ones I got.
#6. Keon, Did you and Your Teammates Rally around the Player Who didn’t Return at Halftime? Did You say Anything to him? How was it in the Changing Room, if you don’t Mind My Asking?
We did it as a team, KEON ELLIS. JQ even told us to give it our best shot to play for him in that game. That should be incentive enough; he was probably better prepared to play the game than anyone else. All week long, he had been practising relentlessly. Intenseness characterised him.
During drills and everything, he had fantastic conversation. He came out ready to play, so it’s a shame he got hurt. That’s why I believe he stressed the need of keeping up the intensity after halfway. As in, it doesn’t matter how much you’re losing, you should still keep playing.
#7. Throughout the Week, You’ve Stressed the need of Cutting Down on Turnovers, Nailing Free Throws, and Getting to the Basket More Often. How did you Evaluate the Three Areas in Which Your Team Participated?
When it came to turnovers, we weren’t where we wanted to be, Coach Oats said. They were better than they’ve been in the past.
To a degree that is intermediate. In my mind, we still had a chance to win. Nineteen times, we flipped them. When it comes to not giving the ball away, they’re among the best in the country. In total, we only flipped it 14 times.
However, we struggled to score around the basket. We haven’t been having a lot of success at the end for some reason. A number of layup attempts were missed by the men tonight. The official tally, as far as I can tell, is 11 of 22.
Our team sailed to victory, winning 18 of 34 contests. Clearly, this is a bad thing. We were unable to make 16 layups. Some of those have to be changed over.
To put it bluntly, we didn’t spend enough time at the charity stripe. We attempted only 7 FTs, making only 4 of them. That’s not a particularly high rate. But the figures are so low. We could have done a better job of attacking.
It was a rough second half for us. We took a couple more 3-pointers than usual, but we still only shot 24 total. We weren’t able to make frequent trips to the foul line for whatever reason.
Even after seven attempts, we only succeeded in four of them. Even though we turned the ball over at a high enough rate to win, we couldn’t close out the game. To put it bluntly, we didn’t spend enough time at the charity stripe.
#8. If Cormac Suddenly Goes Berserk as He did in One Game, How Hard is it to Make a U-Turn While he’s Just Firing Everything with his hands in Front of His Face?
That one-second half-deep with roughly half a second left on the shot clock was a killer, as Coach Oats exclaimed. I felt like our players were pumped up and gave it their all. When Juwan made the theft, we felt we had a breakaway opportunity, but we had to make a tough decision.
From my perspective, it looked like a deliberate foul. The opposite happened. Our team showed incredible resiliency as we held strong defensively for 29 seconds until he made a wild three-pointer. Yes, it’s that difficult.
When we gave him the first one to use during the change, I didn’t think we did a very good job. Then we gave him back-to-back sets on defences we’ve already covered. We didn’t stick up for him. Just wasn’t giving it my all on the field.
That got him moving, so to speak. When you have talented guys like that, it’s the problem. They won’t get going if you give them transition buckets and don’t properly guard the set.
Suddenly, he’s reached the third and final round. Now that he’s got the stove going, we’ve got a problem on our hands. Scores 29 points on 7-of-9 shooting from beyond the arc. They make a fantastic group. However, he is the key to their success in this game. I guess we just didn’t know how to deal with him properly.
#9. You Said that JQ was the Lone Participant in That Optional Shooting Session. Is it the Kind of Activity Where You’d Typically Find More Participants?
We had a COACH OATS for breakfast this morning. This morning, three men arrived at the house. Last night, he was the one. We made it optional because we trusted that the lads would do the right thing and rest their legs before the game. Furthermore, he didn’t go the night before like the other guys did.
He then left. Since our guys regularly visit the gym on their own at home, we had our shooting sessions at a local high school every night while we were in town. Last night, he made some excellent shots.
We had the vast majority of teams, and I believe every team abandoned their 20-minute shooting session to join us.
We managed to keep ours, and three guys agreed to come on their own. This morning, Shack and Keon both stopped by the office. They came in the previous evening. The majority of the shooting time went to our primary guys. JQ, however, was the lone attendee yesterday night.
#10. Where did you observe the most team buy-in during the course of this year?
BUS OATS: Wow, that’s a really interesting query. At times, I even found it to be better than the previous year’s. I had the impression that we didn’t deal with difficulties quite as well as we had hoped. The target wasn’t always being hit. From time to time, I saw a decrease in intensity on the part of the team.
To be really honest with you, I don’t think we were nearly as mature as we were the year before in terms of being able to deal with some adversity. I always assumed that men aspired to success. When working together, I found them to be a fantastic team. It was pleasant to spend time with them. They seemed to have bought into the concept of teamwork.
We had a lot of young, inexperienced guys, and they lacked the basic knowledge of what it needed to win at this level (they keep talking about striving to get old and stay old). Take a look at the menu for tonight. JD is on the field for a total of 36 minutes. Currently, he is a first-year student.
Keon Ellis is currently playing basketball at the NCAA Division I level. In other words, we didn’t have a single senior who was a part of the team for all four years. Noah Gurley is a freshman in the high major basketball league after transferring from a mid-major. Charles Bediako, a freshman, began for us despite the fact that we had many other individuals who were not.
Therefore, they generally agreed to participate. Needless to say, Notre Dame’s veteran players gave us a leg up on ours. Maturity and experience alone can go you far.
Herb Jones is demonstrating his NBA greatness from last season. It’s a good game for Primo. Actually, Petty wasn’t too bad. You give those dudes, like (unintelligible), credit for being a fifth-year senior.
High school seniors Reese, Petty, and Herb. One of the best players around, Primo is top notch. I don’t think buy-in was as big of a problem as maturity and experience, but losing those five guys and not having seniors who have been in the programme for that long makes it difficult for the team to move forward.
#11. When Taking a Team Through an Up-And-Down Season like this, What do You Take Away as a Coach that Helps You Move Forward?
BUS OATS: Wow, that’s a really interesting query. My view is that everything is critical. A coach’s job is to teach, and you know that sometimes it’s harder to do so when your team is victorious. More effective methods of instruction are required.
As they say, “a good shot covers a multitude of sins.” Since you’re victorious and don’t think such sins are a significant problem, nothing is done to rectify them.
If you want to call it that, I think it’s crucial to manage the guys’ mental state through victories. That is to say, you need to be able to persuade them that, despite our victory, we still need to evolve and improve. It’s important to keep an optimistic outlook even after experiencing setbacks.
It’s true that we excelled in some areas. Just a few opportunities went begging. Continue at this pace. However, I am still feeling a modicum of frustration. This meant that we were the sixth seed in the tournament. With the victories we did have, we would have been a 3 seed, maybe a 2, 3 seed somewhere, if we had won the games we lost that we should have won.
You won’t be drawn to face Notre Dame in the first round if you’re a 2, 3, or lower seed. Some of our earlier losses, like those at Missouri and Georgia—games in which we were clearly the superior team—came back to haunt us in the end.
If we were a higher seed and faced a 14th seed instead of a highly experienced team like Notre Dame, perhaps we would have been able to overcome the loss of Quinerly.
We need to do a better job of maintaining interest among our players following victories. With the necessary effort to keep winning like that, regardless of whether or not our shots are falling. As a coach, you gain a lot of knowledge each year. As coaches, we’ve grown a lot this year, too.
#12. What are the Next Steps in Assessing Jahvon’s Injuries?
He needs to get an MRI, Coach Oats said. Our team doctor and trainer will bring him back safely. Get an MRI as soon as possible; I expect to be flying home tonight. They will determine its nature eventually.
And then I felt sad since he was graduating this spring. He intended to see how the draught system worked. He intended to leave into the professional world. This puts a major wrench in the works of such plans.
He’s a nice young man. His mom and dad are amazing. At the intermission, they entered the room. He’s in a tough spot.
The doctor, though, was not optimistic. Until we have an MRI, we prefer not to make any assumptions about the cause. We simply don’t know.
#13. Without a Doubt, the Loss of JQ had a Significant Effect on the Outcome. Especially in the Second Half, how did Charles’s Foul Trouble and Eventual Ejection Effect Your Offensive and Defensive Capabilities?
It was enormous, Coach Oats says. If you look at the box score, you’ll see that he’s the only player on our squad to have a plus in the plus/minus column. Them being a big part of our defence strategy against them.
Atkinson was the lone non-3-point shooter on the team. I was blown away by his performance. Charles’s one-on-one performance was superb. Definitely a step up from our previous help. That allowed us to merely expand without adding any additional labour.
When we put Charles back in after he had committed four fouls, it should have been obvious how crucial he was to our success. Together, we were obligated to accompany him. There is too much we are losing.
You only have to look at his fouls to see it. They committed a questionable moving screen foul, and they also fouled on the offensive rebound. He committed the foul for blocking while defending the ball handler. Not like he was guarding Atkinson with a flagrant violation. The pressure was on him to make some difficult decisions.
It’s par for the course in any basketball tournament, but especially the NCAAs. When he wasn’t around, our performance suffered. His foul issues hampered us today, though not as much as Quinerly’s absence after the first three minutes of the game.