The story of the 2021-22 Alabama basketball season

Alabama guard Jahvon Quinerly (13) walks off the court after getting injured in the Crimson Tide’s 78-64 loss to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the Round of 64 at Viejas Arena in San Diego, California.

Courtesy of USA Today

Alabama guard Jahvon Quinerly (13) walks off the court after getting injured in the Crimson Tide’s 78-64 loss to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the Round of 64 at Viejas Arena in San Diego, California.

Austin Hannon, Staff Reporter

Relief is what Alabama basketball fans feel after a 78-64 loss to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the first round of the NCAA Tournament Friday afternoon.

To be frank, they are probably the only fan base in March Madness that was ready to see the season end. Not because they want to see their team lose, but because they were tired of being disappointed night in and night out.

Just three minutes into the game, Alabama guard Jahvon Quinerly made a quick jolt to the basket and immediately hit the hardwood, screaming in pain. From there, it seemed not only the fans, but the team itself didn’t believe it could win.

Poor shot selection, lackadaisical passes, and the inability to defend all sealed the envelope on the Crimson Tide’s season. Fighting Irish guard Cormac Ryan continuously found openings in the Alabama defense. Ryan scored 29 points on 10-for-13 shooting. He came into the game averaging under nine points per game this season.

“Tough loss,” head coach Nate Oats said. “Gotta give Notre Dame a lot of credit. Playing on one day of rest and giving the energy they got, it shows they got some veteran, mature guys that can execute a game plan off a day of prep. I think we’re the only team in the tournament that had beaten two of the No. 1 seeds. We just didn’t play well in the first round.”

Looking back at the season, there were plenty of positives. Alabama had the No. 1 strength of schedule in the country and held its own with some of the best. The Crimson Tide beat three of the teams that played in the Final Four in 2021, went 13-4 at Coleman Coliseum, and brought in the third ranked recruiting class in the nation according to 247sports.

“Overall, I’d say we had a successful season, just a little disappointing end and a little inconsistent, to be honest with you,” Oats said. “And the inconsistencies bothered all of us. All the fans were really annoyed, the coaching staff, the players were annoyed.”

The positives have been heavily overshadowed by the negatives. After starting 8-1 and ranked No. 6 in the AP poll, Alabama finished the season 11-13 and 0-4 in the important month of March.

Until Friday afternoon, there were no key injuries suffered by Alabama players all season. A little banged up here and there, but nothing dramatic. The talent was also absolutely there. It just came down to effort. Unfortunately for the Crimson Tide, that wasn’t always there.

After the season ending loss, Oats revealed information about the dedication of his players —  possibly by accident — while talking about Quinerly’s injury. Oats said that his team was offered an extra shootaround Thursday night to prepare for Friday’s NCAA Tournament game. Oats made this optional for his team. 

Anyone that played sports knows that “optional” doesn’t really mean optional. 

Yet, just one guy showed up to shootaround. That guy was Quinerly.

With a realization like that, it’s hard to see how this team won 19 games and earned a 6-seed in the NCAA Tournament.

The Alabama basketball program is in a much better spot than it was a few years ago. But there are definitely changes that need to be made. If there are players in the system that don’t care, the winning ways will soon disappear in Tuscaloosa. The Crimson Tide needs to assess their issues, figure out what next year’s roster looks like, and get prepared for November.