Sears Had Tide Newcomers Ready for Opener
The Alabama Crimson Tide men's basketball team began their season with a resounding 105-73 victory over the Morehead State Eagles. Mark Sears, a returning starter, scored 13 points, recorded five assists, and two steals, leading the Crimson Tide. Aaron Estrada, a new addition to the team, added 16 points, and Grant Nelson, the North Dakota St. transfer, scored a game-high 24 points.
The Tide resumed their dominant play from last season, knocking down three-pointers, playing at a fast pace, and utilizing their versatile talent.
As the Alabama basketball team brings in a lot of new players, coach Oats will rely on his experienced players, such as Sears, Rylan Griffen, Nick Pringle, and Davin Cosby Jr., to help the newcomers adjust to the team's culture. Sears, who started the majority of last year's championship team, will be the main leader on and off the court.
"I feel like I'm one of the vocal leaders on the team," Sears said. "Being a part of what we did last year, I just want to carry that down going into this year. Preseason, I really wanted to be out there with the guys and keep the team chemistry, and it felt good to be out there tonight."
"He has shown us the ropes," Estrada said. "As soon as we got here, he showed us how to do things around here."
"Just coming in, he was very welcoming," Nelson said. "Even on my visit, he kind of explained everything with the leader of this team being one of the three returners, and I feel like he's done a great job with his leadership, and I think it's passed down to me and Aaron to lead some of the freshmen."
Nelson transferred from North Dakota St. back in June and was one of the top prospects that entered the transfer portal. Coming from a mid-major school, Nelson has played in a lot of environments, but none of them on the level of the SEC. Finishing with a game-high in points, seven rebounds, and two blocks, the North Dakota native displayed an impressive debut in Coleman Coliseum.
"I mean, it's crazy," Nelson said. "I know these guys played at mid-majors, but it's nothing like this. The fanbase is crazy; I mean, hopefully, we can fill the stands a little more besides the student section."
Estrada transferred from Hofstra University last April. The New Jersey native was in the starting lineup for tonight's game and was able to fit right into Oats's system immediately. When he arrived in Tuscaloosa, he mentioned how it did not take long for him to learn how to play for Nate Oats.
"The adjustment was nothing too crazy, just because while making the decision, I knew how I wanted to play," Estrada said. "Last year as a spectator, I kind of watched Alabama a lot anyway, so I was kind of familiar with it. How loose Coach Oats lets his guards play, how much space, and how many opportunities it gives us to make plays So for me, the adjustment was pretty easy."
With all the new guys on the team, Sears feels that it helps that Oats brought in some veteran guys, as well as the usual freshmen, to the team, which helps the team get better. Sears also mentioned how different it feels with this team, given all the guys that left.
"It definitely feels different from last year, especially with a new team," Sears said. "Coach Oats did a great job bringing in great guys, and we got a great group, and they are very fun to play with and be around."
Alabama will be home again this Friday, November 10th, at 7 p.m. when they take on Indiana State.
Alabama MBB vs Morehead St.
Gallery Credit: SEC Media Portal