Gottfried Pleased with First Day

Mark Gottfried got his first glimpse of the immediate future Saturday morning when his University of Alabama men's basketball team held its first official day of practice. The Crimson Tide practiced on the floor of Coleman Coliseum for about two hours and forty-five minutes.

"I thought our guys had a lot of enthusiasm," said Gottfried. "The new guys played like new guys. They've got to learn a lot, but the guys that have been in our program I thought showed good leadership. But it was a good day. I think we got a lot done. We taught a lot today and threw a lot at them, and overall I was pleased with it."

While Alabama returns four starters, including senior guard Earnest Shelton, junior forwards Kennedy Winston and Chuck Davis, and sophomore forward/center Jermareo Davidson, it opened practice on Saturday with 17 players, five of them walk-ons, two more who were redshirts as freshmen last season, three true freshmen and a JUCO transfer.

One of the four starters Alabama returns is Shelton who had a breakout junior season, moving from an eight-game starter as a sophomore who averaged five points to a full-time starter as a junior who averaged 15.3 points. Saturday morning marked the fourth "opening day" for him since he arrived on campus four years ago, and he said this time around was different.

"I think this one was a lot different as far as first days go for me because normally on the first day we're doing a lot of teaching and it's kind of going slow. But this time I'm a senior, and being a senior I had to do some of the teaching and helping the coaches out, so this is probably the most different first day of practice I've had here," said Shelton who led many of the drills. "It was still fun and exciting to get out there and run. But Coach (Mark Gottfried) is trying to take it slow because we've got a lot of new guys and he's trying to take it slow and make sure the guys learn the concept and learn the offense and defense.

"There's a lot of talent on the floor. I like it, and I think the coaches like it and I know the fans are going to like it. But the key is going to be getting everybody to play together and getting that talent to gel together on the court."

Alabama has three true freshmen, guards Al Weber, Glenn Miles and Ronald Steele and JUCO transfer Jean Felix new to the team on scholarship this season, all of whom took the floor for the first time.

"I was excited but I think it went well," said Steele. "Everybody's kind of excited because we have the chance to be a good team but at the same time we realize we have a long way to go. This was just the first day. We've got to get a lot better before the season starts, but, overall, it was good."

Steele's was a sentiment shared by Winston, a John Wooden Preseason All-American who was All-Southeastern Conference last season.

"It was a very good practice today. I think everybody worked hard and was getting into it. I think everybody was ready to be back out on the floor. And the younger guys are getting adjusted quickly. They're going to be alright."

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