It is the middle of July. Football is just about to start. But basketball was on Mark Gottfriedâ€™s mind Wednesday as he took about ten minutes of his time to answer questions from reporters about UAâ€™s basketball program. And Gottfried is â€œexcited.â€
â€œWe are at the point now where we know who we have, and are excited about our team,â€ Gottfried said. â€œWe have the chance to be very good this year. Obviously when you say you have a chance, that hinges on a lot of things, but I think we are going to be a pretty good basketball team.â€
The roster uncertainty kept Gottfried on the edge of his seat for most of the off-season. Gottfried said the two-and-a-half month process of underclassmen testing the NBA waters is too long, and should be changed. He said it wasnâ€™t good for the young players, and you could tell in his tone, that it isnâ€™t good for coaches either.
â€œIt is difficult because you donâ€™t know for such a long period of time what your roster is going to be,â€ Gottfried said.
But that is sorted out. Gone from the Tide roster are marquee names like Richard Hendrix, Mykal Riley and Rico Pickett.
Gottfried bluntly said these departures created holes on next yearâ€™s squad, but he remains â€œexcitedâ€ about the squad.
â€œOur guys are here working hard right now. We do have some experience mixed in with some young guys,â€ Gottfried said. â€œWe are excited about getting started and seeing where we can end up.â€
Helping stoke Gottfriedâ€™s excitement is a highly touted recruiting class. The Tideâ€™s recruiting class includes JaMychal Green, a five-star power forward from Montgomery, Tony Mitchell, a four-star forward from Swainsboro, GA., Andrew Steele, a four-star shooting guard from Birmingham, and Anthony Brock, a three-star point guard from Fulton, MS.
Green is playing on the USA Basketballâ€™s U18 team, and has been training with some top-notch young players. Gottfried said the international play experience will help Green when he arrives at Alabama.
â€œHeâ€™s got a head start as far as what to expect when we begin practice,â€ Gottfried said. â€œI watched the team practice, and I thought he did exceptionally well.
â€œHe has played well there, and I think the coaching staff that is coaching that team really liked him and liked his attitude and liked how hard he played. I think this is going to be a great experience for him. He is getting great coaching with Bob McKillop, John Thompson III, and Anthony Grant.â€
Gottfried expects Green to face typical freshmen obstacles when he begins college play, but said Green brings energy and a desire to win with him to campus.
New 3-pt. line
Gottfried expects the new three-point line to change college basketball, and not necessarily in a way the NCAA expected.
â€œThe rule was intended to spread the defenses out and open up the middle of the floor,â€ Gottfried said. â€œI think the opposite may end up happening. If you are playing against a team that canâ€™t make the new three-point shot with a very high percentage, then you are going to see defenses step back and clog up the middle.
â€œWhere the line was before, there were so many players who could potentially make that shot, that you did have to stretch your defense out…My personal opinion is that now teams are going to start packing the defenses in.â€
Gottfried sad to see Packer go
â€œI think (Billy Packer) has been a phenomenal asset to basketball,â€ Gottfried said. â€œHe has given so much to the gameâ€”for most of us our entire lives we have listened to him broadcast the Final Four. That will be different now.â€