Tide hoop squad prepares for Canadian trip
TUSCALOOSA – Minus a view of his three newcomers who -- per NCAA rules -- must wait until classes start Wednesday to practice with the team, coach Mark Gottfried got his first view of his 2007-08 University of Alabama basketball team in action tonight.
Alabama began the first of 10 practices it will hold within the next two weeks to prepare for the team’s trip to Canada on Labor Day weekend. Alabama will travel to Ottawa to play four exhibition games in three days against Canadian university teams.
Freshmen Rico Pickett, Justin Knox and Senario Hillman were forced to stand and watch from the sideline Sunday, as did senior All-Southeastern Conference point guard Ronald Steele.
Ronald Steele likely will participate little in the next two weeks as he continues his recovery, on schedule, from arthroscopic surgery on both of his knees last April 3.
“I’m feeling better every day. I’m re-habbing hard,” said Ronald Steele. “It’s hard sitting out watching the guys practice, but I’m trying to do what I can to help them off the court. I’m getting better. I’m not behind by any means in my recovery. They just want me to take it slow so I won’t have any problems during the season. I expect to be ready to play when the season starts.”
Gottfried said his team will be ready as well, though he thought conditioning was an issue on Sunday night.
“I think first of all, obviously it’s August the 19th, so we’re not in great basketball shape, nor should we expect to be,” said Gottfried following Alabama’s two-hour practice. “That’s the first thing that stood out -- more than anything -- is our conditioning in August. We’ve got to get a couple of days under our belt here, get our legs underneath us and then I think we’ll start to be a little bit better."