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The Mark Gottfried Track Record: Defense Part I

Offense Part I
Offense Part II

In keeping with the format of those previous installments, I'll start with Alabama's defensive performance in the shooting and free throw factors. All of the numbers that follow come from conference games only.

No, Your Other Left Block

Alabama FG% Defense
Opp_eFG% Opp2FG% Opp3FG%
Average Rank In SEC 6.4 6.9 5.9

Gottfried's teams were the definition of mediocre when it came to forcing opponents to miss shots. In general not bad enough to cripple a season, but not good enough to break through either. I'll leave the 3FG% figures to your own interpretation; I tend to think there's more noise than skill evident there in the majority of cases. The 2FG% is a different story.

The team's year-by-year ranking is charted below. (Click to enlarge.)


Their best stretch (2004-2006) in terms of FG% D includes their run to the Elite Eight in 2004 and their lone dominant SEC season (2005). Alabama's 2005 defense was by far the best of Gottfried's tenure, which makes plenty of sense given the excellent foundation they had in a couple of the shooting categories.

Opp_eFG% Opp2FG% Opp3FG% SEC Avg eFG% SEC Avg 2FG% SEC Avg 3FG%
1999 50.0
49.9 33.4
48.7 47.3 34.4
2000 50.0
51.3 31.8 49.4 48.6 33.9
2001 50.2 49.8 33.8 49.7 48.9 34.2
2002 49.2 47.8 34.4 49.4 49.2 33.2
2003 51.3 51.1 34.4 50.2 49.2 34.7
2004 49.1 45.0 37.4 49.6 48.2 34.9
2005 45.3 42.2 34.0 50.4 49.5 34.8
2006 49.5 47.0 34.6 50.5 49.7 34.8
2007 52.1 53.6 33.0 51.4 50.1 35.9
2008 51.4 49.2 36.6 50.2 49.4 34.4

(Bold years -- Alabama made NCAA tournament.)

I'm not sure what changed their fortunes in 2005; Alabama tended to be an average shot blocking team at best, that season included, so it wasn't like they magically had the services of some sort of Jarvis Varnado-styled maestro to send two-point attempts flying. Whatever the case, '05 was the middle of a good run for Gottfried's defenses, but as we've seen in other areas, Alabama couldn't maintain the pace and Gottfried eventually was out the door.

Were It Not For Bad Luck...

Alabama Defense -- FT Factors
OppFTRate OppFT%
Average Rank In SEC 5.2

I'm including opponents' FT% in this section because I'm lazy and copy/pasted the tables from the installment on the offense. While a coach can control his own team's FT shooting in that he recruits the dudes what do the shooting, how the other team shoots is subject entirely to external factors. It obviously affects defensive performance but should not be used to pass judgment on the coach; it gives us an idea of the sort of luck (or lack thereof) Gottfried enjoyed over the years, but that's about it.

Maybe this is the price of coaching at a school where interest in hoops is limited. Maybe smaller crowds made for higher free throw percentages from opponents. Or maybe someone pissed off a gypsy. You never can tell with these things.


As far as their defensive free throw rate goes--which of course was well within their control--I'm a little surprised they rated so low on average. For defenses as indifferent about forcing turnovers as those groups were, I'd have expected the hands off approach to pay more decisive dividends. Still, a 5th place average is nothing to swing an elbow at.

And the chart above doesn't illustrate just how brilliant they were in keeping their hands to themselves in 2005 and 2006. Those two years, opponents got about one free throw out of every four field goal attempts. That was way, way below league average.

Alabama Defense OppFTR OppFT% SEC Avg FTR SEC Avg FT%
1999 36.3
35.1 68.9
2000 32.4
34.6 67.3
2001 35.9
35.7 67.2
2002 38.5
36.3 68.7
2003 32.4
34.4 69.1
2004 38.9
38.1 69.1
2005 23.9
35.6 67.7
2006 23.6
33.0 68.5
2007 27.3
32.2 68.7
2008 38.2
32.3 67.9