QUESTION: What impression have you gained of your new players?
ANSWER: “The one thing that’s been really exciting is it’s a really good group of kids. They’ve got a good attitude, and they’re really working hard to adapt to what we want to do. That part has been really encouraging. It’s a transition in philosophy, transition in styles, terminology, all of those things. Some of them look like they’re going to adjust pretty well to it, the (Dominique) Archies and the (Devan) Downeys and those guys. And some other ones you know it’ll take more time.”
Q: Downey was among the nation’s leaders in steals last season, yet there has been a lot of talk about him struggling defensively. How do those two things mesh?
A: “There’s a difference between stealing the ball, which he’s really good at in terms of having good instincts and great hands. He’s really good at sneaking in and slapping it away. But to be a really good defender, you’ve got to learn that there’s a good time to do that and when you have to be solid.”
Never miss a local story.
Q: He took too many chances?
A: “Yeah, to when you don’t get it, our defense is in total breakdown mode.”
Q: What about the rest of the guys defensively?
A: “I think that’s where we’ll have to make the biggest growth. Our defensive philosophy, in a nutshell, is we don’t want you to be comfortable, and that’s just not how they’ve played before, and it’s a different approach, and I think that just takes time.”
Q: Conditioning-wise, are you doing more sprints, or are practices just being run differently in general?
A: “You’d probably have to ask them that. I don’t know. I just think the approach and the way we want to do things is different.”
Q: Is recruiting ability the No. 1 criteria for assistant coaches?
A: “Well, No. 1 is sharing the values that we have in terms of being able to work with young people. Because you can recruit the best players in the world, and if you don’t take care of them while they’re here, it doesn’t matter. Our most important recruiting job is every day with the guys we have. But probably 1A is recruiting. Just because you’ve got to have it. The challenge is you might occasionally miss on a guy here or there, but you can’t miss several years in a row on two or three guys, because then you don’t have the talent to compete.”
Q: It seems like all the guys on your staff, including you, there is no division of duties, as in no one just recruits. It seems like you all do a little bit of everything. Is that correct?
A: “Yeah, that’s a great observation in a short time actually. I think that’s important for two reasons. You hurt yourselves with the players if you’re just one of those two things. It’s really important that our guys know that everybody on our staff cares about them individually, is going to have a relationship with them individually, is capable of coaching them, but is also handling other duties as well.
“I think the other part of it is I do a disservice to them (his assistants) if they don’t have responsibilities in all those different areas, because everybody wants to be a head coach, and we want to hire people that want to be a head coach. And it’s hard to do that if you’ve just been a recruiter.”