Alabama players huddle before the start of the first half at Memorial Gymnasium Alabama players huddle before the start of the first half at Memorial Gymnasium Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2023, in Nashville, Tenn. Ncaa Basketball Alabama At Vanderbilt

How do you process grief? How do you ask a group of young men to put their emotions aside and go play a game that doesn’t matter after what they had gone through?

That was the task facing Alabama basketball coach Nate Oats, who had to lead his team to Nashville to face Vanderbilt on Tuesday.

Under any normal circumstance, this probably would have been an easy victory for the Tide, who were coming off a 40-point victory over LSU.

But this wasn’t a normal game. Sunday, the team found out that their teammate, Darius Miles, was allegedly involved in a murder of a 23-year-old woman. They were not only grieving the loss of their teammate on the floor but the loss of this young woman’s life as well. And how did they handle it? They won 78-66.

Afterward, however, during his post-game interview, you could tell Oats and his team are still processing everything. Despite the win, they are all still in pain.

“I did see some guys break down postgame. I think they were bottling some stuff up. You know, we had a job to do. We had to get to the game, got to the game, took care of business, and then it’s almost like there’s a big relief the game is over and we let out a sigh of relief,” Oats said, via

Even Vanderbilt head coach Jerry Stackhouse was touched by the whole situation and said it was hard for his team as well.

“I can’t fathom how they’d even be able to play in this game,” Stackhouse said. “In my pregame speech, I even put a damper on for the guys because I was like, we should really just go out and honor the victims, honor this kid that we all know and have competed against whose life is changed forever. Just go out and be thankful. I mean, this game means nothing.”

Stackhouse was right. In the end, all of this doesn’t matter, especially when the lives of several young people are lost. 

{Michael Casagrande}

About Stacey Mickles

Stacey is a 1995 graduate of the University of Alabama who has previously worked for other publications such as Sportskeeda and Saturday Down South.