Thanks to Bobby Jack for keeping the blog alive while our team has been on life support. My lone appearance since the SEC Tournament was when I was caught coming out of the Dope Testing Trailer at the Tour of Georgia. If you think I'm ashamed of that then ask yourselves how many of you could have ridden up Brasstown Bald mountain. Okay, so I rode up in a bus with all the other old and out of shape fans - at least I showed up. I make no apologies for the fact that I enjoy pro tour cycling. The bulk of my fan time between March and November are devoted to that sport.
Back to basketball for a few moments. Where does Bama Basketball go from here? There is only one person who can answer that question. That man is
Only a fool would deny that our players have failed the past two season to make the plays necessary to win their games. Only the coach is in control of doing everything he can to make sure that does not happen again next season. How does he do that? As I have heard many of the best football and basketball coaches of the past two generations say, "It's the coach's job to get the players to do what they would not do if the coach was not there."
Most Alabama football fans wear their feelings on their sleeves. I have been that way about Bama Basketball ever since I was a student - the Newton and Sanderson years. I was fortunate during the David Hobbs era. Both of my daughters were very young and I enjoyed being with them so much that I was able to forget about Bama Basketball until things came back around. Next year both of my daughters will be students at The University. I wish for them even a small part of the fun and excitement I experienced as a student attending Bama Basketball games.
I was among those who wanted to hire Mark Gottfried. My thoughts and feelings on his performance have been open and obvious to Bama Basketball fans since long before this blog was created.
The simple reality is that Mark Gottfried is our coach. What any of us thinks or feels about it (or says or prints about it for that matter) will have no impact on that simple fact. I am a Bama man and Gottfried is Bama's coach. I support our coach and our team and I hope that for the third season during his Alabama tenure Coach Gottfried performs up to his potential.
Mark Gottfried graduated from my high school and from my University. He embodied everything I ever wanted to see during his playing years at Alabama. He was like a coach on the court. He played both sides of the ball with a tenacious competitive spirit but understood that the guys wearing the other jerseys were his brothers when the last whistle blew. Anyone who followed that young man's college career knew he would be successful in some field. I hoped he would choose to return some day to lead our alma mater's basketball team.
During his earlier years at Alabama, Coach Gottfried did a good job of getting average players to perform up to their potential. He had his weaknesses as a coach. Every coach does. The good news was he was young, developing, and would only improve. In some ways he did.
Let us set aside for the moment all the arguments to the effect that the past two seaons have not been Mark's "fault." Many if not all of those arguments (or explanations) concerning the team's performance have merit. The repeated and consistent shortcomings of our teams over the past several seasons are obvious to any fan or student of the game. Coach Gottfried himself has identified those areas during his post game interviews. What is not obvious to a simple fan or student is, "How do I get the players I have to improve in the areas of those shortcomings so they perform better in the games next season?" Coach Gottfried is the only person who is in a position to answer that question. I hope he does.
So where do we go from here? I honestly do not know. Past performance always is the best indicator of future performance. Nothing in his performance over the past few seasons suggests to me that Coach Gottfried is up to the task. But while a man has breath in his lungs he has the capacity to change and to improve. I know a bit about Mark Gottfried's background. Everything in that background tells me he has all the tools and help he needs to make the necessary transitions.
Next season promises either to be the restart of an exciting and rewarding ride for Bama Basketball fans or to be the beginning of the end of the present regime. I for one am hoping for the former. I really do not care which coach leads our program to the Final Four, but I'm rooting for you, Coach. Good luck and God's speed.