JOHNSON: Gottfried at ‘Bama

Here is a statistical breakdown of Mark Gottfried's final six seasons as the head coach of the Crimson Tide.

Mark Gottfried comes to NC State with 14 years of experience as a head coach.

Eleven of those seasons were in the SEC with Alabama. That gives us a ton of information to help us determine what style to expect the new coach to implement over the coming seasons with the Pack.

I will never claim that you can look at some numbers and determine everything there is to know about a coach. But you can draw conclusions, find patterns and learn a great deal by looking at what he's done as a coach and that's the goal of the rest of this column.

Unfortunately, because Pomeroy only has data dating back to the 2002-2003 season, Gottfried's first four years at the school are not reflected here. We'll also be throwing out the partial 2008-2009 season, so all told we'll be examining six seasons during which time Gottfried led Alabama to a 116-73 overall record and 50-47 conference record.

Overall Offensive And Defensive Performance

Year W-L Record Off. Efficiency (Rank) Def. Efficiency Tempo
2003 17-12 (7-9) 110.7 (35) 94.5 (61) 67.0 (253)
2004 20-13 (8-8) 115.6 (16) 93.7 (50) 66.1 (220)
2005 24-7 (12-4) 120.4 (8) 93.7 (52) 64.3 (281)
2006 18-13 (10-6) 114.9 (19) 97.9 (106) 64.6 (259)
2007 20-12 (7-9) 115.1 (31) 97.2 (99) 66.3 (185)
2008 17-16 (5-11) 112.0 (50) 97.6 (101) 68.0 (125)

As the table shows, Gottfried ran an extremely efficient offense during his time at Alabama. Gottfried ran the ‘UCLA High Post Offense' as coach of the Crimson Tide and it's safe to assume he'll run the same scheme now that he's with the Pack. As the name implies the offense was original designed by the legendary John Wooden and is designed to create spacing and involve all five members of the team in the offensive attack.

The problem for Gottfried, especially during his final years with Alabama, was on defense. For reasons we'll delve into more deeply later in the column his Alabama squad went from consistently good defensively to consistently mediocre. The difference amounts to slightly more than two points a game on average, but in a parity-filled sport like college basketball that's all it takes.

The final column on the table is tempo, which is simply an indication of the speed at which Alabama played in those season. Despite his reputation for pushing the ball down the court the only team that really ran under Gottfried was also his 2008 team - a team that went a paltry 5-11 in SEC play.

Year-to-Year Offensive Performance

Year 3-point % 2-point % TO% Off. Reb % FTA/FGA
2003 32.2 (262) 47.2 (202) 19.8 (72) 37.6 (50) 36.4 (156)
2004 37.7 (37) 48.7 (138) 18.9 (44) 33.4 (179) 40.7 (73)
2005 39.0 (19) 53.8 (13) 19.3 (63) 35.1 (111) 43.8 (24)
2006 34.5 (183) 50.5 (84) 20.7 (142) 39.0 (25) 41.5 (44)
2007 37.1 (69) 49.4 (146) 20.1 (103) 38.9 (24) 36.1 (179)
2008 36.3 (112) 50.0 (104) 18.5 (43) 37.1 (32) 33.5 (250)

There are a couple of conclusions we can draw from looking at these charts. While there is not a ton of consistency, this looks like a coach who can play to his team's strengths. When he had good shooting teams in 2004 and 2005, the offensive rebounding suffered but the team got to the line far more often to take advantage of its shooting ability.

In the absence of good shooters, Gottfried still managed to squeeze out an effective offense by crashing the glass and preventing turnovers. The extra possessions created by holding on to the ball and rebounding allowed Alabama to score points even when shots weren't falling.

Like any coach, Gottfried looked a lot better when his team could make shots – especially from behind the arc. His two best offensive teams were also his two best shooting teams. But his apparent ability to adapt when he the team couldn't consistently hit shots has to be an encouraging sign for Pack fans.

Year-to-Year Defensive Performance

Year 3-point % 2-point % TO% Off. Reb % FTA/FGA
2003 33.4 (98) 46.2 (84) 20.6 (209) 32.2 (86) 31.6 (61)
2004 35.9 (228) 44.9 (40) 19.5 (261) 33.0 (134) 33.6 (89)
2005 36.6 (269) 42.9 (13) 17.2 (321) 30.6 (41) 25.3 (8)
2006 35.4 (198) 46.8 (112) 17.7 (321) 33.1 (132) 24.1 (5)
2007 30.8 (12) 48.1 (137) 17.9 (323) 34.6 (227) 24.9 (5)
2008 35.5 (196) 48.3 (163) 20.2 (205) 32.3 (141) 33.9 (118)

Like his predecessor at NC State, it appears Gottfried doesn't care much for creating turnovers. For three years in a row he was among the 20 worst teams in terms of generating turnovers while at the same time being in the top 10 as far as keeping opposing teams off the free-throw line.

On average, Gottfried's Alabama team also cared a lot more about guarding shots inside the 3-point arc than ones outside of it. When things were going right, the strength of his defense relied on the ability to guard 2-point shots and effectively prevent second-chance points.

This is a defensive strategy that walks a fine line between success and failure. Simply put you can't ever be a great defensive team by leaving 3-point shooters open and forcing few turnovers. You can get by as Gottfried did from the 2003-2005 but when other facets of your defense fail (interior defense specifically in this case) the defense began to really cost Alabama in the win column.

Final Thoughts
So, what does all this mean for fans of the Wolfpack?

Well, expect an offensive improvement once the players on hand begin to buy into the offensive concepts Gottfried teaches them. It could take a season or so for the team to start running it crisply, but when they do the Pack should become a consistently effective offensive squad.

The worry has to be on defense. The good news is that Gottfried never fielded a defense as porous as this year's Wolfpack team. The bad news is that in none of the seasons shown above did he field a championship-caliber defense. Gottfried needs to find a defensive minded assistant or refine his defensive philosophy to avoid repeating the same mistakes that cost him in his last years at Alabama.

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