Gottfried On 2005-06

Southeastern Conference basketball coaches were involved in a teleconference Monday. Here is a transcript of Alabama Coach Mark Gottfried's comments, courtesy of Becky Hopf in The University's media relations office.

Opening comment from Alabama Basketball Coach Mark Gottfried on returning starters from 2004-05 squad:

"We've got a couple of key players coming back. Chuck Davis (forward) is a senior and we're expecting him to have a really good year. And Ron Steele at the point guard had a lot of experience and had a terrific freshman year. And Jermareo Davidson (junior, center) I think is a guy who we really want to see step up his game a little bit.

"We've got three starters back. We've got some holes to fill, obviously, with (Kennedy) Winston and (Earnest) Shelton gone, two really good college players. We're going to have to try to replace their scoring. We're certainly going to miss those two."

On who he "perceives" will pick up in scoring for Winston and Shelton:

"We don't know yet, to be honest. We've got a guy named Jean Felix who played some last year. And then, really at the other wing position, we're just wide open. We don't know yet. I don't think you take a Winston and Shelton combined off your roster and you don't take a hit. I just think it's hard to recover without readjusting a little bit, and that's what we're going to have to do."

On whether he "perceives" any of his newcomers coming in and helping immediately, particularly Richard Hendrix:

"He's going to be a good player. He's a good freshman for us. We've got another player, Alonzo Gee, who plays the wing a little bit and who can shoot it and who I think is a very good player. And then a junior college player named Ray (Ravone) George. Those three guys, probably more than anybody, have opportunities to get in there and fill those spots."

On Chuck Davis and his improvement each year:

"One thing about Chuck, he's such an intelligent player, and he's really matured as a person which I think has helped his work ethic. He's just really grown up a lot, and I think he's going to have a heck of a senior year."

Tennessee media are sometimes intrusive and took over part of the teleconference to talk about their latest entry in the basketball coaching derby.

On Tennessee's new coach, Bruce Pearl (a long-time Gottfried friend), as far was what Pearl may face, compared to Gottfried's experiences, as a 1st year SEC coach:

"First of all, he's an excellent coach, and he's going to jump start that program. I competed against Jerry Green my first couple of years at Alabama and obviously with Buzz (Peterson). I think Bruce is going to do a great job. I think he's a great coach. His style is going to be a little different for people in our league. But like all of our teams in our league, you've got to find a way to get that top two or three on your side and stay there. That's the thing for all of us outside of Kentucky, and I'm sure they still feel that way, but we all look at Kentucky and think of them as being maybe up there a little different, but, outside of that, you've got to find a way to get yourself in that top couple on both sides."

On some of the things (still referring to Pearl) that Gottfried did to get fans to look at Alabama as more than just a football school, etc., when he first came to Alabama:

"I've never looked at our place as that being a negative, that football has done well. That's a positive. We have tremendous fans, and all we need to do is get them excited about our sports, and we've got to be good enough and have a good enough product where they will get excited about it. You know, there are some schools that don't have the fans that a Tennessee or an Alabama has. So we've got them. We just need to convince them to get excited about basketball, and we've been able to do that at Alabama. And I'm sure Bruce will do the same at Tennessee."

On the Western Division race:

"I think it's going to be wide open, I really do. We lost some key guys in Shelton and Winston. Mississippi State lost some key players. I think LSU loses Bass is key. I think Arkansas probably has the most back of a really talented, good, young team. I think Auburn and Ole Miss will both be better. So I just think it's wide open."

On possible experimental scenarios on the floor:

"I think it's something we can look at (three post players-- two returnees on floor at same time), and I think at times we'll try to do that. I think we do have two good returning post players, and then we've got a very good player in Richard Hendrix coming in. One thing we've got to be careful of is, Chuck Davis last year in the post was as good of a post scorer, maybe as we had in our league. So I want to be careful not to move him away from the basket too often just so we can get those three guys on the court. I think we have to find a fine line there. But at the same time, it's a good problem to have. We just need to figure out the best way to play it."

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