University of Alabama Coach Mark Gottfried
SEC Basketball Coaches Summer Teleconference Transcript
July 17, 2006
“We’ve got a couple of good players, obviously, coming back with Ron Steele, Richard Hendrix and Jermareo Davidson. So a lot of our team’s success this year is going to be built around those three guys.”
Looking at your backcourt, in talking about depth when you look at the newcomers, any gut feelings about which ones will come in and get immediate playing time?
“No. I think with our team this year, outside of those three guys (Steele, Davidson, Hendrix), I think we’re going to have a lot of competition for playing time. (Alonzo) Gee did not start last year but he played a number of minutes and Brandon Hollinger as well, but I think with the new kids coming in there’s going to be a lot of competition. I think it’s way too early to tell who’s going be in the lineup.”
Then, on the freshmen you do have coming in, can you speak of their skills and talent level, and, particularly on (Verice) Cloyd who I is enrolled in school now (at Alabama)?
“I think all of them are different. Mikhail Torrance is a bigger guard that has, I think, a lot of potential. Justin Tubbs, we felt, was a guy who could really knock down shots. I think Verice (Cloyd) has got a chance to be that proto-type combo guard we all talk about who can play both positions. Mykal Riley is a good player that I think has range with his shot and can shoot it. And so, again, all four of those guys, along with Gee and Hollinger---we’re going to throw them all into mix and see. The cream always rises to the top and we’ll see who best emerges from that group.”
We’re headed into the 20th anniversary of the shot clock in college basketball. What is your opinion on how it’s changed the game?
“I like the shot clock. There’s no question that it changed the game. It took the coaches that wanted to really slow the game downit eliminated that philosophy. That one went out the window. So it’s made everybody play the game similar which I’m not sure is great for college basketball. If you look back in the 70’s with Dean Smith and the Four Corners, you just don’t see those type things very often anymore. We all basically play similar basketball now because of the shot clock.”
Are you surprised at all the good players who are left around the SEC who could have gone (to the NBA draft) but decided to stay in college?
“I think every kid is different. I think kids in our league this year made some great decisions. There may be some discussion about Joakim Noah because he might have been considered a top five player, but I don’t think there’s any question that every player has got a chance to improve himself tremendously and hopefully really solidify themselves as bona fide first round draft picks, not, I-hope-I’m-a-first-round-draft-picks.’ There’s a big difference in there. So I think throughout the league guys made some good decisions.”
Do you think they paid attention to the year before where a lot of guys left early then went undrafted?
“Absolutely. I do. I think they saw how painful that could be. I think it had to impact all of them.”
What do you think it means to the league to have all these key players back?
“I think it helps our league. I think at the end of the day we will be judged on how well we do in March. That’s what we did last year. If our league does well in March, we’ll be where we think we are which is one of the best two or three basketball conferences in the country. And if we can’t get it done in March then we are who we are.”
Can you talk about the gesture of applying for another year of eligibility for Chuck Davis; explain why you did that and then give an update?
“His appeal to the NCAA has been denied. I got that, in fact, in writing this morning. We just felt that with some circumstances that happened in his family (his mother unexpectedly passed away April 2, 2005) to try to get a fifth year. I read somewhere where (someone wrote) he was trying to get a sixth year and that wasn’t accurate. Just a fifth year. I thought it was the right thing. He was a graduate in three-and-a-half years. He’s done everything the way it should be done within the NCAA and I thought it would really benefit him personally for the rest of his life. But that has been denied.”
Are you comfortable with the way Verice Cloyd’s situation was handled?
“I’m not going to comment on that. I think it’s good that he’s here. He’s met the requirements just like every other student athlete, and it’s time for him to move on.”
I’m sure you remember as a player that it was en vogue and now you’ve seen it as a coach that a lot of players skip their senior year (to go to the NBA). As a coach you saw guys straight out of high school go or will go just after one or two years of collegeguys like (Greg) Oden...What’s the impact that can have on college basketball? There will be 3-5 guys who before now would not have played a minute of college basketball who are now playing college ball and that likely will impact the college game.
“I’m glad that they’re going to college and I think once kids come there’s a better chance for them to stay in college and then hopefully make the right decisions at the right time. We’ve all seen way too many young people ruined where, had they waited they could have had a great career potentially. We’ve all seen too many people do that. I think with (Greg) Oden, obviously, it’s going to be good for college basketball. It’s good for him, too. I also think you pay attention to the draftand I haven’t done my homework on it (to really study numbers)but when I look at it I see a lot more seniors being drafted in the last couple of drafts. I think four or five years ago it seemed like every kid that was being taken was a freshman or sophomore. And I see a lot more of those seniors going now and those seniors sticking on (NBA) rosters. So I think the NBA goes through cycles. I think the fashionable thing to do there for a while was just go ahead and take a chance on any Tom, Dick and Harry out there that’s a freshman or whatever, and I think now the NBA learned the hard way that a lot of those kids can’t help you, can’t help a team win. Now they’re going back; the cycle is turning back to where more seniors are getting rewarded. They have a better chance to help an NBA team win because they’re more mature physically, older, all those things. So I’m glad.
“I think there’s a message within that that you have a better chance to make a (NBA) roster if you stay in school.”