July 16, 2007

Hoops Notebook: Steele rehab going well

While most SEC head basketball coaches are enjoying the last few weeks of summer before preseason practice starts to heat things up again, Alabama head coach Mark Gottfried is spending his summer coaching.

Gottfried took a few moments away from coaching the Pan American Games USA Team in Philadelphia to participate in an SEC basketball teleconference Monday and gave an update on both his activities in Philly, as well as his players back in Tuscaloosa.

Steele on road to recovery

First and foremost on the minds of the media was the health status of star senior point guard Ronald Steele, who has spent the summer rehabbing after undergoing surgery to repair the nagging injuries that plagued him for the length of the 2006-07 season.

"He had surgery in early April on both knees on the same day," Gottfried said. "They did some work on some cartilage and some things like that and it's now been over three months since he's done anything."

Gottfried said both he and Steele's doctors were optimistic about the senior's progress.

"I think they're now a couple of weeks away from letting him do a little more and even start to play again," said Gottfried. "He has not played since April or even run down the floor or anything like that. We're hoping that he can be 100 percent soon but he's not there yet."

Gee, Hendrix don't make the cut

Gottfried's presence on the coaching staff didn't appear to provide any leverage for the two Tide players competing for a spot on the Pan American Games team, juniors Richard Hendrix and Alonzo Gee. Both players failed to make the cut over the weekend during team trials. Along with Gee and Hendrix, fellow SEC star Chris Lofton also failed to make the cut, though Vanderbilt star Shan Foster played well enough to continue with the team.

"All of the players played well," said Gottfried. "Nobody who came up here played poorly. The committee, which is chaired by (Syracuse coach) Jim Boeheim, makes the selections. We had input, but it was minimal."Sometimes it was just a matter of who they felt could fit together. Chris Lofton did well. Our players from Alabama did well. Shan really shot the ball well and really grabbed their attention. It was competitive. They all did well. Most of them haven't tried out for a team since fifth or sixth grade."

Gottfried said the two Tide players were disappointed after being cut but will undoubtedly benefit from their experience at the trials.

"I spoke to them that night after they named the 14 finalists," Gottfried said. "I had both of those guys in my hotel room for a long time. They were disappointed. But they both did well. It wasn't a situation where they played poorly. Talking to the committee, it could have easily been those two making the cut instead of somebody else. I was very proud of both of them. They were disappointed, but it's a learning experience and they will grow from it and get better."

Notes and Quotes

Gottfried also spoke on several other subjects during the teleconference, including an update on the recent charges of credit card fraud against sophomore center Yamene Coleman.

Gottfried on Yamene Coleman's recent arrest

"I think there's some things that still need to be determined. I'm going to evaluate it when all the information is at hand. I do believe in him. I think he's a great young guy. Young people make mistakes, we all do. At the proper time we'll figure out the right discipline for him. It wasn't a credit card situation, per se, it's a little bit different. I want to be careful what I say just yet. From my knowledge, the investigation is ongoing. I'll find out more before I leave the country on Saturday."

On growing coaches' salaries

"I don't think there's any question that coaches get paid well. I think that does raise the expectation level and then there's a natural tendency to shorten the time a coach gets to build a team. The more you get paid, the quicker they want you to reach a certain level. We're living in a time where at the collegiate level it has escalated a lot."

On new Arkansas head coach John Pelphry

"I know him well. I've got great respect for him as a coach and as a person. He worked for my father at South Alabama and my dad feels the same way about him. He will do a phenomenal job. He inherits a very talented team. I've told him all summer that I'm picking him to win the West. I think he'll handle that situation well and he's going to be an excellent coach for Arkansas."

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