August 19, 2007

Tide basketball hits the court

While August practices are usually reserved for football players, the Crimson Tide basketball team is getting an early start to the 2007-08 season with 10 practices leading up to a trip to Canada on Labor Day. Alabama will travel to Ottawa to play four exhibition games in three days against Canadian university teams and began their preparation for the trip Sunday evening.

"Well it's August the 19th, so we're not in great basketball shape, nor should we expect to be," said head coach Mark Gottfried of his team's first 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. But today we struggled more than anything. It was the first day, and, again it's August the 19th."

Junior forward Richard Hendrix said the early start means he and his teammates will have to shake off the rust of summer a little sooner than usual.

"Today's practice was not one of my best," Hendrix said. "I still have to work out some of my offseason kinks and bad habits that you pick up playing pick up ball. And of course, I have to get in a lot better condition. This is earlier in the year than normal for us to practice but we still want to be ready when the season comes."

Present for practice but not allowed to work with the team yet were true freshmen Rico Pickett, Senario Hillman and Justin Knox. The three newcomers are not allowed to practice with the team until school begins on Wednesday. Gottfried said he hopes to learn a lot about the freshman trio on the Canadian trip and give them the chance to develop their identity as members of the Crimson Tide.

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