Hoops Squad Still in Great Shape

Alabama Head Basketball Coach Mark Gottfried was a participant in the summer SEC basketball teleconference yesterday, and he has some interesting things to say about Chuck Davis, Verice Cloyd and his 2006-07 squad.

Had there been any more good news for the Alabama basketball team this summer, the rest of the league probably wouldn't have been able to stand it. So when Mark Gottfried announced Monday during the Southeastern Conference summer teleconference that he'd received final word that all-star forward Chuck Davis had been denied an extra year of eligibility by the NCAA, the other 11 coaches probably breathed a collective sigh of relief.

Davis' waiver request denial was a disappointment for Gottfried, who said, "He's done everything the way it should be done within the NCAA and I thought it would really benefit him personally for the rest of his life. But that has been denied."

Gottfried's answer also seemed to indicate the waiver request was submitted, at least in part, with a relief request on the basis of the personal tragedy of the death of Davis' mother, who passed away on April 2, 2005. "We just felt that with some circumstances that happened in his family to try to get a fifth year (was the right thing to do.)"

"His appeal to the NCAA has been denied. I got that, in fact, in writing this morning. I read somewhere where (someone wrote) he was trying to get a sixth year and that wasn't accurate. Just a fifth year. I thought it was the right thing. He was a graduate in three-and-a-half years."

From a layman's reading of the NCAA rule book, Davis didn't seem to meet the requirements for an extra year. The NCAA has demonstrated, however, that the Division I manual operates more as a set of malleable suggestions rather than rules, which is why it was appropriate for Gottfried to request the additional year for Davis.

There are athletes who seem to need their sport in order to be a thriving member of society. Davis isn't one of those. He will get professional tryouts, and his basketball career isn't over by any means – unless he decides to end it himself – but Davis appears to be the type of person who will be a success in life with or without basketball.

He graduated from The University's College of Business and Administration with a major in management in three and a half years. He's considerate and likeable.

As it stands with the squad, however, Gottfried squad looks like a contender even without Davis. Ron Steele and Jermareo Davidson, and probably Richard Hendrix, will be listed on preseason all-SEC teams, and there's a young crop of talent waiting to prove themselves.

The squad was bolstered more last week when Verice Cloyd was finally admitted to The University and allowed to begin attending classes and working out with the team. Cloyd was originally a test case in the NCAA effort to regulate what high schools institutions may and may not accept players from. The NCAA spared Cloyd's high school from the frowned upon list, and then attention turned to whether The University would admit Cloyd.

That process was not a smooth one, and Cloyd hung in limbo for a while. But he was ultimately admitted. When asked if he was comfortable with the way the situation was handled, Gottfried said, "I'm not going to comment on that. I think it's good that he's here. He's met the requirements just like every other student athlete, and it's time for him to move on."

Based on the questions from others reporters, you'll see features in the coming weeks about Glen "Big Baby" Davis' weight loss, player and coaches responses to Internet message boards, and about the shot clock.

Some of the coaches responses about message boards were interesting. Arkansas' Stan Heath was most concerned about letting his players know that "most of them are lies," discouraged his players from reading them (presumably wanting them to hide from message boards) and to view them as "entertainment" if they do look at them.

Tennessee's Bruce Pearl had a more nuanced view. He said he never reads them personally, but that his assistants sometimes monitor them because it is important to know what's being said – whether it's true or not. His players, he said, were always looking at Internet message boards.

Pearl said that how they handle the information is more important than what is being posted.

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