What is your evaluation of season one?
I thought we did a pretty good job of establishing our style of play. But even before that, I think we did a decent job of establishing our identity in the classroom and our work ethic in the classroom. Just changing the culture from a character standpoint I thought was really important. So, you know, I feel pretty good about what we were able to get accomplished but, obviously, we still have a great deal of work to do in that area. But, I think our guys are pointed in the right direction and understanding what we want, what's required, to have some measure of success both on the floor and off the floor. I think, as far as style of play goes, I thought we did a pretty good job in trying to establish what we want to do in terms of defensively and in creating some offense from our defense. Really trying to create a style of play that has a tempo and a pace to it is something we were after. So I think, looking back, as we kind of try and put the pillars together, I thought we were able to establish that. But, obviously, we still have a great deal of work to do and a long way to go. But, the first year was interesting on a lot of different fronts. But, for the most part, I thought we had a good time. Our staff did everything we could to get our guys in the right situation to be successful and our guys, I thought for the most part, gave us what they could to help themselves be in position to be successful. So, I wouldn't necessarily call it a success, but I definitely wouldn't call it a failure. We'll call it our first stepping block on the stairway to success.
What were some of the challenges you faced, especially this being your first head coaching job?
Every league, every job, has challenges. No matter where you are and who you are. I think just being able to understand the overall culture here at Cal State Fullerton would be a challenge for anyone that's new to this environment, because it is unique. It's very different. So, just trying to get a feel for that and understand how things work because it's unique. We just kind of took what we were hit with and we just kept rolling. You have to be resilient in this position and I think that was something that was tested for us. But again, it just made us better and, moving forward, it will make us better next year because now we have a better feel for what to expect and deal with it as it comes down the pipe.
Talk about the importance of continuity with this being the first time for most of these guys having the same college coach for more than one season.
As you look at teams, programs, or businesses that are successful I think continuity is one of the key components to that. So, for us to be able to have the same staff, have the same faces, have the same voices around for more than a year I think is extremely important. It gives our guys a different level of confidence to know what to expect when we get on the floor together. Know what to expect when in meetings. Know what to expect when we travel. Because of this first year spent together, I think consistency of how we want to do things will definitely help them, propel them, to have some success. Something that we've intentionally tried to do is almost mimic our days, where every day is the same. We do, pretty much, the same thing or at least the same framework. Things may change here or there a little bit, but this gives the guys a different level of confidence because they know how to operate in situations. They know when they're going to have some downtime. That part of it is extremely important to us and our staff. As we move forward, we want to continue and try to establish that consistency and, if we can do that, it will catapult us to where we think we can be in terms of a success run.
On the difficulty of replacing Michael Williams:
Every year, you're going to lose guys and, fortunately or unfortunately, we're going to lose a guy who scored 20 points a game for us, and he's a talented, talented, player. We were really fortunate to coach him. But, as you've been in this business long enough, you understand the significance of recruiting. I think it's synonymous to success. I think it's 1A and 1B in terms of importance. Recruiting and scheduling. They both, in my opinion, go hand in hand with success. Trying to replace Mikey won't be easy. We've got some more pieces coming that I think will help us replace him. But I don't know that you'll ever be able to replace a guy who can score the ball with such ease. What we've tried to do is improve our talent quotient and I think we've done a pretty good job of making a step forward in that direction with the redshirts that we have, with the incoming guys that we have, the two high school kids, the three junior college players, and so if you look at our roster, it will quickly change over, but I think you'll find more depth in terms of talent that we hope can help us replace a guy like Mikey Williams.
You brought up scheduling, what can we expect from the 2014 schedule?
I can't technically speak to all of it yet because contracts aren't signed. But, I think our schedule will be similar to what we saw last year. We'll play some big boys, in the Pac-12 hopefully. We'll try to play some teams that are like us to help us prepare for conference play. We'll have Pepperdine here, go to Santa Clara, San Jose State will be here, Sacramento State there, Texas A&M Corpus Christi will be here. We're working on a couple other options to embellish our schedule. Everything in the preseason is intended on helping us be successful in the regular season, in hopes of advancing to postseason and having success. So our schedule will kind of mimic that. It will be a little bit of what we had this year from a scheduling standpoint. We'll always try to be competitive and try to play a competitive schedule that will prepare us for what's to come in conference.
Come back Monday for part two of TitanCentral.com's interview with Men's Basketball Head Coach Dedrique Taylor