Young team played tough

Don't let Alabama men's basketball coach Mark Gottfried fool you into thinking that a loss is good. But he'll be the first to tell you that he knows more about his team after a 71-62 loss to nationally ranked Pittsburgh than he would if his team had blown out a team with much less talent.

"We played them tough, but at the end of the day, we're 0-1," Gottfried said. "We feel like we could have won. Hopefully it gives (players) confidence. We learned a lot about ourselves. We've got to find ways to rebound the ball although we're not strong. Defensively, we learned that our zone can help us. This team's going to get a lot better as we go along."

The Tide's shooting percentage was not great--only 38.5 percent from the field and 21.4 percent from three-point land. However, Gottfried did find some positives from the game, which was played on national television at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

"I really liked how we executed our offense," Gottfried said. "Taking an inexperienced team into the Garden, I really thought we executed well."

Sophomore forward Kennedy Winston got off to a slow start, scoring only three points in 18 minutes. Gottfried said that he was tentative in recovering from knee surgery, but has gotten back on track.

"I thought he'd be more productive, and he thought he should have been more productive," Gottfried said. "Since we've been back from New York, he's had his two best practices of the season. Now he believes what I've been telling him in that you're playing way too tentative. It's a mental hurdle that he has to hop over."

Sophomore forward Kennedy Winston is still recovering from cartilage surgery on his knee. (AP photo)

Winston averaged 11.1 points last season. Earnest Shelton, another guard who is expected to step his game up, scored 11 points, but shot only 3-of-12 from the floor and failed to hit a three-point shot on five attempts. Shelton is battling an injury to his left ring finger, which he dislocated in the Tide's first exhibition game.

"This morning someone passed him the ball, he wasn't looking, and it hit him in the finger," Gottfried said. "He's real tender. It has to affect him some. Hopefully it won't bother him in a couple of weeks."

Similar to quarterback Brodie Croyle's shoulder injury, Gottfried said that Shelton couldn't injure his finger any worse.

Freshman Jemareo Davidson made his Tide debut against Pittsburgh. The 6-10 forward scored four points, but led the team with 10 rebounds. Gottfried is expecting big things from Davidson this year.

"He's going to play a lot," Gottfried said. "The minutes he got will make him better. He needs to get loose and feel comfortable. He took an open jump shot and missed it about four feet to the left, and he also missed some free throws. But in time he'll make those foul shots."

Gottfried added that he didn't know that much about Friday night's opponent, Louisiana Tech. The Bulldogs are opening the season against the Tide, and are likely to be led by junior college transfer forward Donell Allick and guard JueMichael Young.

"I believe they went into Auburn last year and won," Gottfried said. "They're a good team that lost a lot. They've got four junior college guys who will all play. The tough thing is that we don't know how they're going to play. They're not a big team, but they're quick. We'll see how they go on Friday night."

The game will tip off at 7 p.m. at Coleman Coliseum.

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