So Far, So Good Says Gottfried

Alabama Basketball Coach Mark Gottfried was going over the first week of practice with sportswriters Tuesday afternoon when from the back of the room came the jangle of someone's cell phone ringing. Said Gottfried: "If that guy's seven-foot, tell him I'll take the call." Gottfried didn't get good news from the phone call, but he had good news to report.

A week and a half into pre-season practice, Alabama Basketball Coach Mark Gottfried likes what he sees from his team. "I like how they're working," he said. "I think there's a great feel with our team. I like the attitude every day. I's been very encouraging."

The team is preparing for Sunday's 4 p.m. Crimson-White scrimmage at Coleman Coliseum. "Guys get tired of playing against each other in practice," Gottfried said. "You get an opportunity to turn the lights on, get some officials, and look at some things you can't look at in practice. It's a dress rehearsal."

A draft will take place in the coaches room with Crimson and White head coaches Phillip Pearson and James Holland, who will get some input from Antoine Pettway, the newest member of the Tide staff. "I think he's going to have a lot of impact," Gottfried said of his former point guard. "There's a lot of credibility there. He's played in our system. He's watched our system work and win. From a recruiting standpoint, he's already made an impact. The kids we're recruiting now are all familiar with Antoine Pettway."

Many Alabama fans are hoping for more of a pressing, run-and-gun Tide this year. Such fans may get their wish, according to Gottfried. "We have personnel changes," he said. "You've got a fifth-year senior now at the point guard instead of a true freshman. On the wings, guys like Hillman and Torrance are doing a good job. Justin Knox is playing hard and well, and JaMychal Green is playing hard and well.

"We're going to push it. We're going to get after people defensively. We‚ve got the personnel to be a more pressure defensive team. We're a much quicker team now."

One former point guard has moved to the wing, and its helped his game tremendously, Gottfried said. "I think Mikhail Torrance has really raised his game to another level. I think it's helped him to not have to be the quarterback. Now, he's playing on the wing, and can use his talents. He has jumped off the page more than anybody else so far.

"I think he made two three-pointers last year. My wife can make two. (This year), he has shot the ball really well. He's been really impressive."

Gottfried thinks he's found his ace defender on the perimeter. "Senario Hillman changes everything defensively," Gottfried said. "I think he can be the best perimeter defender in the nation, bar none. He has all the physical tools. Senario's an absolute shut-down defensive guy.

"If Senario Hillman was a football player, we'd be talking about him like Tyrone Prothro, Reggie Bush, and Javier Arenas. Torrance playing off the point adds another playmaker."

As for the big men, Gottfried said, "We don't have a proven interior player right now. Our big guys are a question right now: how effectively can we score around the basket? If you look collectively at Yamene Coleman, Demetrius Jemison, Justin Knox and now JaMychal Green, they've all done a good job. One day it's one guy, the next day, another. Justin Knox is so skilled. Shoots it, and does a great job fundamentally."

Asked about the new, one foot longer three-point line, Gottfried said he's identified his shooters, both primary and secondary. "The new three-point line? Ron Steele is a great shooter. Brandon Hollinger has shot that ball well. Torrance has shot it well. Hillman has shot it well. Andrew's (Andrew Steele) made some. Alonzo's (Alonzo Gee) made some. Mainly Ron Steele, Hollinger and Torrance."

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