Vets Lead First Practice

Mark Gottfried put the 2005-06 version of Crimson Tide basketball through a three hour practice session on opening day Friday at the University of Alabama's Recreation Center.

"Like always there's good and bad, and I thought the guys who've been here before, the veteran players, played like veteran players. The young guys played like young guys. That's typical for your first day," said Gottfried, who enters his eighth season as Alabama's head coach and who has taken the Tide to four consecutive NCAA tournament appearances.

"I thought our post play was pretty good by Jermareo (Davidson) and Chuck (Davis). Ron (Steele) played pretty well, obviously, and I thought Evan Brock did a nice job, really kind of stood out.

"We're a long ways away from being a good team but we did get a little bit accomplished on our first day. The guys were excited to be here and that was good."

It was the first time in 37 years that the first practice wasn't held in Coleman Coliseum. Opened in the winter of 1968, the building is nearing completion of a major renovation and it will be a few days before the arena floor is ready for occupancy. The practice gym in the Coliseum hasn't been affected by the renovations but a home volleyball match against South Carolina had priority. The basketball team will practice in the back gym on Saturday but will go to Shelton State's gym to practice on Sunday and Monday.

Davis is a veteran of first days as Friday marked the fourth and final first day of practice for the senior from Selma.

"The first day was pretty much like all of them, a typical first day of practice," said the All-Southeastern Conference forward. "We've got a lot of young guys this year and their having to learn a lot. But overall I think everyone caught on pretty good."

Among those young players are five freshmen, guards Brandon Hollinger and walk-on Greg Cage, forwards Alonzo Gee and Richard Hendrix, and center Yamene Coleman.

"It was real intense," said Hendrix, "Mr. Basketball" in the State of Alabama in 2005 and a McDonald's All-American. "I really enjoyed it. I learned a lot. Anytime you play with these guys and the experience they've got with these older guys, you know it's really an experience. But I'm learning a lot and hopefully everything will pay off."

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