Tide Preps for In-State Road Match

After responding to the challenge of its first road game, against an NCAA tournament-caliber Charlotte squad with a thrilling triple-overtime win Saturday night, the Alabama basketball team (6-1 overall) now faces the task of responding to the quick turnaround, going on the road to play Alabama State (1-3 overall) in Montgomery's Joe L. Reed Acadome Tuesday night at 7 p.m.

"One thing I liked about the Charlotte game is that it was a game where this team, this year, begins to build its own identity - away from last year's team," Alabama Head Coach Mark Gottfried said.

Gottfried moved to schedule the game at ASU after some talks for a nationally televised high profile game in Tuscaloosa did not materialize. Gottfried has taken his Alabama team to Huntsville, Birmingham and Mobile to play, but Tuesday's game will mark the first in the capitol city since 1966.

"We were holding on to an open date all summer, working with ESPN and we thought we had a nationally televised game with one of four or five teams," Gottfried said Monday. "I thought this would be a great challenge for our guys, instead of playing here to take it on the road, that's why we did it."

The opportunity for Alabama State to get a high profile, in-state opponent in its home gym is a rare event, something Gottfried understands the importance of from his days coaching Murray State (in Kentucky).

"I was at Murray State and the day that (type of game) goes on your schedule players, coaches, managers and secretaries are ready for the game, and they should be," he said.

There is no television coverage for the game, but the Crimson Tide Sports Network will carry the radio broadcast.

One thing the Crimson Tide wanted to avoid in Charlotte was an up-and-down basket-trading contest, which is what the game eventually became. It's an area Gottfried wants to improve upon Tuesday.

"They got us sped up a little bit and we were hurried. We've got to be a little more poised," Gottfried said. "I thought watching film that they did a great job of getting us to take quick shots and really had us hurried. We didn't play the game at our pace. We were taking shots that we normally don't take in our offense. We got out of our offense early in the game."

While the team is coming off a quality win over Charlotte, Bama junior Kennedy Winston is coming off a stellar week where he was named the Sporting News and ESNP National Player of the Week as well as Southeastern Conference Player of the Week for back to back bouble-doubles against East Tennessee State and Charlotte. Winston had 21 points and 10 rebounds against ETSU and 33 points and 10 rebounds against Charlotte.

"I'm excited for Kennedy being named Player of the Week in league and around the country," Gottfried said. "Against Charlotte he had one of those games where big play after big play he stepped up and made it count for his team. I'm proud of him for that."

"Great players can be too unselfish," Gottfried said. "There are times when you best players need to make plays and Kennedy did that."

Alabama and ASU have met five times, all Alabama wins, beginning in 1998, but Gottfried joked that his relationship with Hornets Coach Rob Spiver goes back to the days Gottfried was in diapers.

Spivery played and coached for Gottfried's father Joe at Ashland College (now Ashland University) and later at coached under Joe Gottfried at Southern Illinois.

"Rob Spivery and I are good friends," Gottfried said. "I've known Rob literally since I was young bouncing balls all over around the floor."

Alabama will return home Saturday to host the Temple Owls.

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