Interim Coach, Players On Tide Basketball

Alabama Interim Basketball Coach Philip Pearson, senior forward Alonzo Gee, and freshman post player JaMychal Green discussed the announcement that Mark Gottfried is no longer coach of the Crimson Tide. Here are their comments from Monday afternoon:



Alabama Interim Head Coach Philip Pearson

Opening statement …

"This was obviously not what I expected today when I came here to work. It's a tough situation and obviously Mark and I are very close. I worked with him for 14 years and Coach [Mal] Moore called me in today and asked if I would take over the team for the rest of the season. Certainly, I told him that I would.

"As most of you know, this Alabama basketball program is something that is very special to me. Sixteen of the last 20 years, I've spent right here in Tuscaloosa with Alabama right across my chest.

"We are going to do all that we can to make the best of a challenging and tough situation. I think we have a great group of guys and I've been here when we've recruited every single one of them. They are great guys and some very good basketball players.

"We sit here with 11 games left in the SEC season and certainly we think we have enough time to get this thing turned around a little bit and get to playing a little better. We just had an hour and a half workout that was a little awkward and thrown together a little bit. I thought our guys responded great. We are just going to take it one day at a day from here and see what happens."

On speaking with Coach Gottfried this afternoon …

"Yes. He was very supportive. It's obviously a very tough situation for he and his family but he just said, ‘Work as hard as you can and you guys play as well as you can'. We just kind of left it at that.

"I think he's disappointed as anyone would be. He's just like I am, he's poured a lot of his soul into this program for a good number of years. He was a great player here. We've had some good years here in this basketball program. I think he was disappointed for sure."

On changes he will make to move forward …

"I don't know if we are going to make a bunch of wholesale changes. I hadn't had a lot of time to get prepared and really think about it. Obviously any time there is change, I'm going to be a little different than this guy and so forth. We have some pretty good things in place and I'm sure as we move along there will be adjustments that we'd like to make. I don't know if we are really set in stone at this point about making a bunch of changes."

On adjustments to the staff and game coaching …

"I really haven't had a chance to talk about that at all to be honest with you. We'll just have to see how it goes. I'm going to get together with every one of our guys tonight. We are going to have a meeting up in the office.

"I tried to call every one of the guys' parents before we went out to practice today. I got most of them. I still have to run down another couple parents. It's just so early, I'm not really prepared to say that we are going to do this or that."

On talking with recruits …

"I will. I will tonight. Obviously I haven't had a chance yet to do that. That's on the agenda for the night."

On this being a "bittersweet" situation …

"It's tough. You want to have a chance to be the head coach but you never know when it's going to happen. This is probably a little more challenging situation than some others. Like I told those guys back in the locker room, some of you guys know this and some of you don't, but I was somewhat of a player at Alabama. I wasn't a very good one but I was here for five years. Everything I did, I did full speed as a player and I've done it in coaching too. I've driven all night and worked all day. I've looked at tape all night. Everything there is to do as a coach, I've done full speed.

"I've made a promise to these guys that that's what I'll do as a head coach. I can assure you that our staff will do that and in return I've asked that our guys give it 110 percent every step of the way and I think that they will."

On Alabama's remaining schedule …

"We're 2-3 in the league and the name of the game in the SEC is to win your home games and try to bat .500 on the road. That's kind of a goal I think everyone has always had in this league. We let an opportunity get away on Saturday so we have to see if we can catch back up. It's early, there are 11 games left. I don't know that anybody in the West can run away from anybody else. I hope not. We're going to do all we can to catch them."

Senior Alonzo Gee

On the feelings expressed by outgoing Coach Mark Gottfried ...

"He is still behind us 100 per cent and he wants us to go out there and still play hard. He still roots for us and wants us to continue to get better."

On when he was first made aware of the change …

"When I first got to practice we had a team meeting and that's when I first found out about it. I was sad. It was depressing. I've been here for four years he's been our coach. We have to move on and get better and get ready to play."

On the feelings of other team members …

"We are kind of shocked about it right now, still. I think we had a good practice today and we looked good out there. We are getting better."

On how the team will move forward …

"We have to continue to work hard, stay together as a team and just get better. We have to keep working hard and trust in our coaching staff."

On what interim Head Coach Philip Pearson will bring to the table …

"I think he is going to be pretty good. Today's practice was real good. We trust him and think he will do a good job."

On the mood of today's practice …

"I thought it was going to be down, but we actually practiced pretty good. It was a good practice today."

On Alabama's remaining schedule …

"We have 11 games left and I still think we have a chance to try to make a run. We just have to stay together as a team and keep getting better. I think we will do a good job of staying together. As a senior, I have to keep everybody together and I think we will do a good job of that."

On the added pressure of being a senior …

"My coaching staff is behind me and I think it will be a lot easier just having them behind me."

On the emotions after meeting with Gottfried …

"It was sad. When you lose your head coach, he recruited me and I've been here for four years, so it was kind of tough for me. I'm a senior and I have to keep the team together and move on and get better."

Freshman forward JaMychal Green

On the news of Coach Gottfried's firing …

"I was actually shocked that he got laid off in the middle of the season. That's how I felt about it. I was shocked just like everybody else."

On how news of the resignation of Coach Gottfried affected him …

"It hit me hard but I'm just going to continue to be here and play hard. I'm going to try to help this team make a run."

On Coach Gottfried's message to the team …

"He just told us that he really loved us and that we were like one of his children and to just continue to play hard and make the best of this season.. It was emotional. Coach Gottfried shed some tears and hugged every one of the players so yeah, it was emotional. He basically was saying that Alabama means a lot to him and that even though he's not coaching, he's still going to be there to support us and cheer us on while we're playing. He wants to do well as a team and to be there for one another and that he loves us."

Thoughts on Coach Pearson as the interim head coach …

"He'll do a good job. Today at practice, he kept pushing us and we just kept going.. He knows what he's talking about and knows what he's doing. I have a good relationship with Coach Pearson. He's from Montgomery so we've been talking a lot since he recruited me and I've known him for a few years."

On Coach Pearson's coaching style …

"Inside, out. He wants the ball inside and he wants the ball outside. He just wants to share the ball and become a team."

On if the players heard of the news before practice …

"We kind of heard before it happened, but we weren't really sure about it so he (Gottfried) just came and told us it was true."

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