SEC Basketball teleconference

The various head coaches from each of the Men's Basketball programs around the SEC participated in a teleconference Friday.

ALABAMA HEAD COACH MARK GOTTFRIED

"I think we've got a lot of questions. We've got some inexperienced guys who need to step up, step up and play, and play well. So it's going to be an interesting year for us.

"We don't have any strengths. None. I don't think anybody's lost what we've lost. Demetrius Smith and Antoine Pettway will play the point. Down low, we've got five guys who've averaged a combined two points. So we don't have any answers.

"We've got three signees. And I think they will all have the opportunity to play. How much will depend on how they do, how they play."

AUBURN HEAD COACH CLIFF ELLIS

"We feel good about those guys returning. Kyle Davis will be in the post. Marco Killingsworth and Brandon Robinson will be back in the forward spot. We've got a nucleus of guys that are back that have valuable experience. I think it is important that we replace (Marquis) Daniels and (Derrick) Byrd."

OLE MISS HEAD COACH ROD BARNES

"I'm excited about the guys that we have returning. The two that I could talk the most about are Justin Reed and Aaron Harper. We've got two leaders. With their leadership, we think we can be competitive in this league.

"The thing that concerns me the most is that we have some young guys who need to step up right away. We probably have more kids in our program who've been in our program and who have experience than people are going to give us credit for. We'll have to depend on some junior college players.

(On recruiting possible NBA-bound high school players) "If you have experience with some talent, then you've got a chance to have a great team. I like experience, and that's the way we've built our program. I haven't coached guys who've been here for one year and then went to the NBA. Until I experience that, I would take experience."

MISSISSIPPI STATE HEAD COACH RICK STANSBURY

"It's very obvious that we took a hit with graduation. Derrick Zimmerman was drafted in the second round and Iggy (Michael Ignerski) graduated. We were depending on some guys to be here. But, Travis Outlaw went to the draft and Mario (Austin) left. On the perimeter, we'll be new there.

(On recruiting possible NBA-bound high school players) "If you notice, we're the only school in America who's lost two high school players to the draft. I made a decision two years ago not to go after any big name high school players. I've been down that road twice, and I don't want to do it again."

VANDERBILT HEAD COACH KEVIN STALLINGS

"We return basically everyone from last year's team. We had one walk-on senior. Matt (Freije) averaged 18 or 19 a game, and had a very good year. We need to get him the support that he needs. We had a good spring.

(On what he took from last season's performance) "I think that anytime you have success, you look to try to duplicate that success and figure out how to maintain or get better. When you don't have success, you look to try to figure out what went wrong and how to correct it. This has been an off-season for me of analyzing and evaluating."

SOUTH CAROLINA HEAD COACH DAVE ODOM

"We lost a heavy dose of last year's squad. We had four seniors. The only advantage we would have with losing those players is that we lost a lot of players last year to injury. The major hope of our team is a mixture of veterans coming back and the incoming new group; four freshmen and one transfer. I think it's a solid class, the best class since I've been here.

(On recruiting possible NBA-bound high school players) "We are not able to recruit a kid who's that good. You could ask all the coaches on the teleconference, and they could name about five guys who will develop. But, there's no more than six high school players who could go to the NBA. Most college coaches can look at a kid and say 'We can make him better. He should come to our school.' LeBron James is the exception."

FLORIDA HEAD COACH BILLY DONOVAN

"We obviously lose three very, very key players in Brett Nelson, Justin Hamilton, and Matt Bonner. But we had freshmen, Anthony Roberson and Matt Walsh, who stepped up for us. There are some younger guys who had not been able to play many minutes for us.

(on Christian Drejer) "I think he is a lot like Mike Miller. He can affect the game in a lot of different ways. I don't think Christian is a guy who will go out and get 25, 30 points a game. But he is a guy who can affect the game without shooting. He is almost like a point forward with his passing."

GEORGIA HEAD COACH DENNIS FELTON

(On his returning players) "I'm happy to have them from the standpoint that the five of them are experienced. The most disappointing part is that they are all seniors, so we'll be basically starting from scratch two years in a row. The part that I fear the most is the ability to score. This was an offensive team much more than a defensive team. We had two of the best players in the country, and two of the best scorers.

"I've always believed that if there is a coaching change at a university, all athletes involved should be allowed to transfer, whether they signed a National Letter of Intent, or if they are just matriculating at a university. That's just something I believe."

LSU HEAD COACH JOHN BRADY

"Our returning players, I think Darrell Mitchell had a good year as a freshman. I expect Antonio Hudson to bounce back from a sophomore year that we thought was going to be a little bit better. But we think he'll have a better junior year. Jaime Lloreda proved to be one of the better players in the conference at the end of the year. We've got a good recruiting class coming in, and I'm looking forward to getting these guys together.

"We did lose four nice seniors who have been in the program a while. From a talent standpoint, I think we're a better team. We just don't have the experience."

KENTUCKY ASSISTANT COACH DAVID HOBBS

"We've got several guys who are returning from our team last season. We've got a number of guys with experience on our team. Gerald Fitch is actually leaving next week to try out for the Pan-American Games, as is Chuck Hayes.

(on the defensive side) "It's hard to say. Some of it depends on the inside play that we get out of these young guys. We certainly hope to pick up on that, and get our guys to understand that that is one of the staples of this team."

TENNESSEE HEAD COACH BUZZ PETERSON

"This year's bunch, we do only have one guy in our program who has played more than one year, that being Brandon Crump. He's had a tough summer so far. We're asking Brandon to be a leader this year, to step it up. There are a lot of newcomers. It's been an interesting summer for us so far. We can't wait to get going once school gets started.

(On the SEC this year) "There is still a lot of talent, but there was a lot that was lost this year. The Big XII brings back a lot of people. The ACC brings back a lot of people, and we lost a bunch. But we've got some young guys coming in who will surprise some people.

(On Brandon Crump) "He's been doing weights. He has not been playing any contact, any pick-up ball. He is going to go to Pete Newell's big man camp. He's been going home. Everything seems fine. He hasn't lost any weight."

ARKANSAS HEAD COACH STAN HEATH

"We feel good about the direction of our program. We return a lot. We had about four freshmen who got a lot of experience. We're excited about where we're going. We know how tough this league is going to be. There's some new faces.

(On how difficult it will be to replace last year's inside players) "Not as difficult as some might believe. At the end of the year we were starting Rashard Sullivan. That was an area that we were a little weak in. We didn't have much scoring. I think we will be better at that position."


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