Alabama basketball coach Nate Oats explains his practice plan ahead of trip to Final Four

He's got one player who came off the plane in Tuscaloosa in a walking boot. He's got another with a head injury that's still being evaluated, and he's got the biggest game of his career less than a week away.

That's a lot for Alabama basketball coach Nate Oats to balance ahead of the Crimson Tide's first trip to the Final Four. UA will face No. 1 overall seed UConn on Saturday, and it looks as though there's a good chance that sharp-shooting guard Latrell Wrightsell will return to play from his head injury. Center/forward Nick Pringle has been dealing with ongoing pain in his heel this season, an injury that was exacerbated during UA's Elite Eight win over Clemson. Pringle exited Alabama's plane in a walking boot when the team landed in Tuscaloosa on Sunday.

So for Oats, the question is whether the team is more in need of rest after playing its 36th game of the season (25-11), or more in need of practice to ready itself to face the nation's No. 1 team. Oats said he'll have a practice plan fully organized by Monday morning, which will be broken up by the team's mid-week flight to Phoenix, but he's already got an idea of how he wants to handle things.

"We'll make sure Wrightsell doesn't get hurt again in practice, that's a priority. We need to make sure nobody else gets hurt, because we can't afford another injury. But we've got to prep. So it's not going to be a normal week of practice because it's too risky to risk injury," Oats said. "And you've got to practice live some, but we'll do a lot more with the scout end, make sure we keep their conditioning up, make sure we get their skill level back up, keep shooting. We're going to have to make shots. You can't beat Connecticut without making shots at a high level."

In Alabama's 89-82 win over Clemson on Saturday, Wrightsell was unavailable after suffering a head injury during a second-round NCAA Tournament win over Grand Canyon. Pringle played and played well (16 points, 11 rebounds), but was noticeably limping at times. As for the healthy players, they're likely in need of some rest as well. Senior point guard Mark Sears has played 117 of a possible 120 minutes over Alabama's last three games, and won't get much of a breather, if any, against the Huskies.

"We'll do a lot of video work to show what the scout (plan) is. We'll probably have more walkthroughs than live stuff," Oats added. "But we're going to throw in a little bit of live, but just controlled enough that we make sure we're not risking further injuries."

Reach Tuscaloosa News columnist Chase Goodbread at Follow on Twitter @chasegoodbread.

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This article originally appeared on The Tuscaloosa News: Alabama coach Nate Oats explains practice plan ahead of Final Four