Gottfried stays positive

Having lost five of its last six conference games, Alabama fell out of the Top 25 this week for the first time all season. But while fans and pundits have been harsh in their criticism of the team, Tide Head Coach Mark Gottfried makes a point of staying positive.

"Perspective is everything," Mark Gottfried explained in his weekly meeting with the press Monday. "The way our team sees it, we've got seven conference games to go. We've struggled, but we're focusing on those games left. That's the way we're going to look at it."

Alabama's record stands at an average 13-7 overall, but quality wins earlier in the season against Oklahoma, Ohio State and Xavier help in terms of strength of schedule. However, the tournament selection committee also pays close attention to conference records, and the Tide's current mark of 3-6 is frankly poor. It's rare for a team with a league record under .500 to make the NCAA tourney, and Alabama would have to finish 5-2 in its remaining regular season games just to reach that point.

"Our guys want to play in the NCAA, but it doesn't help us to focus on RPIs, stats and those type numbers," Gottfried said. "Our chances (to make the tournament) start with Saturday's game. Then we focus on the next game. That's the only way we can approach it."

"We won't talk about how many games we have to win one way or another," Gottfried continued. "We did that two years ago, and I don't think it helped us any. We've just got to take care of one game at a time."

For most of the season Mo Williams has been the Tide's most consistent outside scorer. But versus Florida the sophomore point guard shot only 4-of-12 from the field (1-of-7 from three-point range). (Associated Press)

The Tide plays Western Division leader Auburn at home Saturday, before hosting Georgia for a Tuesday night ESPN game. Later Bama gets Ole Miss and South Carolina at home, but tough road games versus Tennessee, Mississippi State, and LSU also remain. So far Gottfried's troops have lost every SEC away game this year, often looking bad in the process.

"In our league there are no stiffs," Gottfried said. "It's like in baseball when you're in a slump you're hoping to face a (bad) middle relief pitcher. But we're facing (all-star pitcher) Randy Johnson every week."

Last Saturday versus Florida in Gainesville, the Tide's offensive struggles continued. Alabama ended up losing 75-56, but in many ways the game wasn't even that close.

Despite his team's recent record, Gottfried doesn't think his players have given up. "After the game I wanted to make sure nobody's head was down getting on that plane, and they weren't," he related. "This thing will turn. We will turn it around.

"At some point this thing will turn in our favor, and we're going to finish strong."

As a team Alabama is only shooting .384 in league games, while its .284 average from beyond the three-point line is even worse. The Tide is ranked dead last in the SEC in terms of shooting percentage.

Right now virtually every outside shooter on the team is struggling with his confidence, but Gottfried remains determinedly positive. "If we're going to regain our confidence we've got to stay positive," he said. "We address the problems from the previous game during practice, but at the end of the day the players have got to know that the staff believes in them."

Gottfried hopes that a return home will result in some wins, giving his squad a desperately needed boost for the stretch run. "Success is the key to regaining confidence--as much as anything else."

"It's time to zero in on our remaining games. I think we will finish well."

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