Tide Basketball In Exhibition Game

The Alabama men's basketball team will open its exhibition slate on Thursday against the Faulkner Eagles. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. CST in Coleman Coliseum. Faulkner (an NAIA school located in Montgomery) opened its 2008-09 exhibition campaign with a loss to the Mobile Rams.

Alabama Coach Mark Gottfried met with the media Wednesday to discuss his team's progress and the upcoming exhibition game Thursday night against Faulkner.

Here are his remarks:

"When you get to this point in the year, your guys are ready to play against somebody else. I think we've had good practice days; our Crimson White game I think helped us. Now you get to the next step in the process which says now we have to start building our top seven, eight or nine guys and begin to build our team. Tomorrow will give us a good opportunity to do that.

"It's good to play Jim Sanderson's team. Jim, who is the head coach at Faulkner is Coach Wimp Sanderson's son. He's been a friend of mine for a long time. Back when I played here, I got to know Coach Sanderson and all of his three boys. Jim has done a great, great job. He's a terrific coach, he's a good friend and I know his team will come in here and compete extremely hard. Our guys are excited about playing. We are going to play against a very well-coached basketball team."

On Mikhail Torrance's role following his performance in the Crimson-White Game:

"He's obviously going to play. He's got a great opportunity to play this year. He's earned it; he's worked hard this summer. I think his hard work should be rewarded. Whether that is starting or not, I don't know. We've played him a lot at the small forward position in practice, which is where Alonzo Gee has played for us the last couple of years. Maybe for us, the thing we need to do is try to find ways to play them together. I've told him that it's not necessarily important who starts the game, it's who plays the bulk of the game or who finishes the game – that's where you want to be involved. So, whatever that role is, that's not something right now that is set in concrete; it will change. I think the thing that is, for right now, an absolute is that he is going to have a great opportunity to play."

On whether or not there will be two inside players for this game:

"I think at times we will. I think we can play both ways. The year we went to the Elite Eight (2002), we actually started Jermareo (Davidson) and Chuck (Davis) together. When we subbed, we brought Emmitt Thomas in for Jermareo and became a four-guard, one-post type of team. This team may be similar in that regard, at least that's the way we may start the year, we'll see how we go. Again, I haven't come to a point where I'm set in stone on anything in regard to the starting lineup."

On whether or not there will be mixing and matching with the lineup:

"You can play different ways, but your team needs to get into a confidence or a rhythm of how they are going to play, which will be both ways. There will be times when we need both bigs (big men) in the game. There will be times when we like the fact that we've got four perimeter players in the game, I think that should be a strength of our team this year – that we can play some different ways."

Brandon Hollinger's position in relation to Ronald Steele:

"I think today, if we had to put it down on paper, we would play Anthony Brock as our back-up point guard. He has been very impressive. I think Brandon (Hollinger) has always been much better off the ball where he can catch and make some shots. He's a great defender, he's a senior, and he's smart. We like the fact that right now that we think we have two what I would call pure point guards in Ronald Steele and Anthony Brock. Two guys that I think that's the position that they are. So, Brandon's role will be a little bit more off the ball and coming into the game and giving us a lift, knocking some shots down, and playing great defense and doing those things that he can really do well."

On his relationship with Faulkner's coach:

"When you play somebody that you know well, and I've known Jim (Sanderson) a long time – Jim, Scott and Barry all three of coach Sanderson's sons. Those guys have all become great friends of mine. I love all three of those guys and obviously Wimp and Annette, it will be fun for him to have his oldest son come in and coach in the Coliseum. They are a very well-coached basketball team and he's done a great job there throughout the years and he's a guy that I love to talk basketball with. It's an interesting side of tomorrow night and I'm glad we're able to play their team."

On whether the starting five will remain consistent throughout the season:

"A belief that I have, and I think it's true with any team, is that your team needs to know how you are going to play. In other words, if you are on my team, you need to know that you're coming into the game at a certain point, and you need to get used to that role – it's the 16-minute mark, ‘Hey, this is where I'm coming.' Obviously, there are fouls and there are things that happen in the game that change that, but I don't think a team develops a great chemistry if you've got a guy sitting over there that has no idea if they are playing tonight, or they are playing 25 minutes tonight, are they are playing two minutes tomorrow night? That's when your team is unsettled. To be honest, our team was unsettled a lot of the year last year. There was a lot of evenness in practice; there wasn't a lot of separation. The end of the year last year, when we began to play really well, was when we cut the rotation down and went with certain guys. You've got to get your team to a point, and it doesn't have to be the first day, it's November 5 – today, but at some point they have to get comfortable with the rotation and their role on a team."

Whether or not he likes the two preseason exhibition games:

"It's changed a lot. Years ago we played teams like Athletes in Action, Marathon Oil, and some of the international teams. What you had when you played those teams, and I miss this a little bit, when we would play Athletes in Action, we played against 25, 30-year-old guys, who either had played four years in college, some played in the NBA, some had just been cut from the CBA or the D League. So you are going to go out and play against some grown men, and I liked that, I think we miss that. When you look around the country, you see a lot of scores here, the 59-point wins and all that kind of stuff and I don't know if that is all that great, as well. Then we came to a point where we could chose to play a scrimmage against another Division I team, which we've done that the last two years, we scrimmaged Western Kentucky and South Alabama. This year, my philosophy was, because of JaMychal (Green), Andrew (Steele), Brock (Anthony), and even Ronald Steele, who hasn't played, I wanted two games with the lights on, the popcorn popping, people in the stands, and referees to see if we can get ourselves ready to go to Maui within the next two to three weeks. So this year we've got two of those opportunities."

On his team's participation in the election process:

"I think it's important for young people to participate in the voting process and I've encouraged our players to do that. I've been coaching 20 years or so, and I don't know if I've ever seen a team I've been involved with this excited about voting, where my players all went and voted. I told them and tried to teach them that there was a time when certain people couldn't vote. These guys now need to understand that and cherish that. I was glad yesterday, we talked about it yesterday, most of them had voted before practice. I'm excited that they feel a part of it and I think that was good for them."

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