Gottfried On The Record

Following are quotes from University of Alabama head men's basketball coach Mark Gottfried for use in previews for the Tide's Southeastern Conference season opener against LSU (in Tuscaloosa) on Saturday, January 5 (6 p.m. CST):

ON NON-CONFERENCE PLAY:            

"I think we've played pretty well at times in our non-conference games but we still need to get a lot better. When we step into the SEC season, we're going to be ready to play. Those first two games, LSU and Vanderbilt, are two good teams. I think every team in the SEC is capable of beating any team on a given night, so you've got to play hard and play well, but I like our guys and how they're playing right now."  

ON THE SEC EASTERN DIVISION:            

"I think on the East, Kentucky-we watched them in person when we were at the Jimmy V. Classic in that doubleheader where we played Temple and they played Duke-Kentucky looked awfully good there that night. Florida is playing extremely well. I think Georgia is a team that's kind of a surprise and Jim Harrick's got them playing really well. I still think Tennessee, as the year goes on, is going to be a very, very good basketball team. And South Carolina-they've got everybody back from last year's team and should be awfully good, too.            

"So I think the two teams, Kentucky and Florida, may be out there in front but I think all the rest of those guys can make a run also."  

ON SEC WESTERN DIVISION:            

"It's going to be wide open. I really think that you've got to obviously do a great job at home. The team that can go on the road and win-and that's something that we have not done-so we've got to do a better job with that and really make some noise on this side. I don't think there's a lot of difference between the top and the bottom. I think the gap is very narrow between one and six, whoever one would be and six would be. So it's going to be a fun race, an interesting race and we've got to play well every single night."    

ON BEING SEC PRESEASON FAVORITE TO WIN WEST:            

"So far this season with the wins that we've had, we've probably got to be figured to be one of the better teams. I still think Mississippi State is a very talented team. They could probably beat anybody on any given night. Arkansas worries me. Even though they lost Joe Johnson the players they have back and the winning they done makes them a threat. Ole Miss has played well. LSU is another team that has gotten off to a good start. And Auburn-Auburn has a lot of talent. But again, I think we've played well enough to put ourselves in the driver's seat going in, now we've got to go out and play every night."  

ON ALABAMA'S STRENGTHS:            

"I think it's an interesting word for us-experience. It's something we haven't had the last couple of years, but we have enough players now that have played. They know how to win. They've gone away from home and won in some great environments-against Temple, against Notre Dame, against Memphis in Missouri. We've won some games outside of this building and that's been good for our guys. They've stepped up and they've got some collective leadership from the junior class. That's our strength really. We have a balanced scoring team, and, hopefully that will make us hard to guard and tough to beat."  

ON HIS CONCERNS:            

"Two things. One, we've got to stay healthy. We're not deep enough inside, big guys, where we can afford sprained ankles and guys like Erwin (Dudley) and Kenny (Walker) missing games for whatever reason. And just depth. We played Notre Dame the other night and had some guys in foul trouble. Kenny had three, Erwin got three. Reggie (Rambo) stepped in and gave us good minutes. Rod (Grizzard) had to play some inside. We've just got to find a way throughout the games when we're in foul trouble inside to make sure we don't get beat for stretches when we don't have some of those guys in the game."  

ON FRESHMAN MO WILLIAMS:            

"One thing that's been impressive to me, and I think he's had a really good start, he's played very well despite the fact that he hasn't really shot it well yet. He's a very good shooter and I think as his shot comes to him and he starts making more shots and shooting the high percentages he's going to be even more dangerous. He's had a good start and he needs to just keep playing well. He's got a great assist to turnover ratio for a freshman. He's given us a dimension that I think we've lacked the last couple of years."  

ON ERWIN DUDLEY:            

"He's playing really well and he's consistent. He's had six or seven double doubles (including exhibitions) already. He's just played really well. He's a guy we need to go to more. He needs to get the ball in his hands and he does a good job with it when he has it, so he's been very good. He's had a great start this year."            

ON ROD GRIZZARD:            

"One thing with Rod-his points per game are down, but his shooting percentage is up which is something we've concentrated on for two years with him. He's now shooting about 47 percent from the field and it was around 38 or 39 for his career. And that's good. I think he's taking better shots. His rebounds per game are up. He just needs to stay focused for a 40-minute game the whole time, and I think as he does that, he's going to be fine. He's doing a lot of things well. We all just expect so much from him-and I do-that sometimes it gets frustrating for him, but he's doing a lot to help us win."  

ON SEASON GOAL:            

"We need to win the (SEC) West. I think this team has got that in its sights. I think we feel like that's realistic now. I don't know if that was really realistic the last couple of years. But that's something our players want to do. I think they're focused in on doing that, and we've got to go out each night and play and play well enough to where that could become a reality."  

ON LSU, SEC OPENING OPPONENT:            

"I think they're very good. They are better than they were a year ago. They've added a couple of key players. They've got a good guard named Antonio Hudson who've they've added in there. Most everybody is back. They play good defense. And they're going to come in here-I think we've developed a nice little rivalry between LSU and Alabama right now. It should be very competitive and hopefully we can play well enough to win."


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