Brownell era set to begin

SUNSET, S.C. - Head basketball coach Brad Brownell talks to the media at his first golf tournament.


Opening statement...
Brownell: "Just really excited to get started. I know that we aren't going to forget about football season just because of basketball media day.

"Feel really great about what we've been able to do in preseason. Guys are working really hard. We finished up conditioning this morning. Now it's time to get on the court here soon and really get to work with these guys. We've been working in small groups for a month and a half now.

"I'm anxious to see how our guys pick up our philosophy on what we are trying to do and we'll see where that takes us."

What's been the biggest surprise for you so far with your team?
Brownell: Biggest surprise? Hard to say again because we haven't done anything in a full-team setting. We haven't seen our guys interact with each other. The attitude of our players has been very good. That's not surprising but it's been very positive. They've been very good about working. They've been very good about being coachable. We haven't fought them at all on any of the ideas we are trying to do.

"If I had to pick one (surprise), it would have be "Bobo." (Catalin Baciu) Just from the stand point of, looking at his stats and listening to people talk, there are almost no expectation for the guy. He basically hasn't played for two years. I've done some things in talking to our strength coach and talking to him about how I feel it's important for Bobo to improve in that area immensely. He's worked hard. That's been a big goal of ours. He's up to 255. I don't know what that's going to lead to yet but I think he's a guy I've got to imagine is going to play for us this year. I don't think a lot of people saw that coming."

"Demontez Stitt has certainly earned that and needs to be a good player for us. Somebody else has to join him for us to have success. Who that will be I'm not 100 percent."

The past four years it's been Trevor Booker's team. Do you think it will take a while to find out who that new player will be this year?
Brownell: "It could be. Players all want that opportunity. Sometimes a lot of players feel like they deserve it when they haven't earned it. Our guys are in the position right now where they will get that opportunity. Demontez Stitt has certainly earned that and needs to be a good player for us. Somebody else has to join him for us to have success. Who that will be I'm not 100 percent. Will it take some time for that to happen? It probably will. Especially with a new coach and a new system.

How quickly do you expect the players to adapt to your style?
Brownell: I think the offense will be more difficult. It will be more complicated than what they've done in the past. When you have great players like Trevor Booker, you don't have to be so complicated. When you aren't as talented, you have to find ways to manufacture baskets in basketball. That's the difference. It's like in football where you have a playmaker when he can make the same catch break a tackle and take it to the house, some other guys can't do that. In basketball it's the same way. It will take a little longer because we are going to have to be a little more complicated offensively because I don't know that we have a lot of guys in our program like that right now. Some of those guys will emerge. We have to coach them up and hopefully that will happen.

Defensively there will be a change in how far out we pressure and different kinds of things. But it shouldn't be as much of a challenge for them. They should be able to pick that up quicker. We'll be very demanding on that end of the floor.

You mentioned manufacturing baskets- it's it too early to tell who your leading scorers will be?
Brownell: Demontez is one. We need somebody inside to emerge. Hopefully Devin Booker is a logical candidate in terms of having physical tools. He just hasn't had a lot of game experience. He has to learn how to play through things. The Andre Young's of the world, and the Tanner Smith's of the world- I don't think we are just going to have three guys all of a sudden average 15 points per game. I don't see that happening. But I think we'll have a lot of guys who can get eight to 12 and maybe one guy gets 15 and we'll see what happens. But I haven't really worked with these guys in a setting in five-v-five. Haven't done any of that yet.

"Hopefully Devin Booker is a logical candidate in terms of having physical tools. He just hasn't had a lot of game experience. He has to learn how to play through things." (Roy Philpott)
Have you challenged Jerai Grant this offseason?
Brownell: Yeah. I don't know if I called it a challenge more than talking to him and hoping that he understands this is his last go around and appreciates the fact that he's a senior here. He's done well. He's in better shape. He's benefited by our little more physical nature. We've asked him to gain weight and he's up to 228. He's bigger and stronger. He is a guy though that benefited tremendously by Trevor [Booker]. He was given a lot of passes for dunks and had a lot of offensive rebounds because of Trevor. Now he has to elevate his game to be able to go his own baskets. Hopefully he'll be ready to do that.

What about shooting?
Brownell: Shooting will be a question mark. It's not something, when we are doing some of our shooting drills when we are comparing to some of our guys we've had at other places we aren't as good yet. But I think some of our guys will certainly improve. I don't know that we will be one of the better shooting teams in the ACC but we have to shoot the ball reasonably well to have a chance to win. Our guys understand it. Our coaches understand it and that is why we put a lot of time and effort into that in September.

Do you think Milton Jennings will have a chance to shine maybe more than what he did under Oliver Purnell's style?
Brownell: You know, whether it's the style of offense or not, maybe. I think Milt will have the chance to play out on the court which is what we do with our motion. He'll have a chance to be moving throughout the possession which will be good for him. I think he's excited about the opportunity. Whether these guys are ready to do it or not? I don't know. That's more on them. They will have to be ready. We will practice them hard and put them in positions. They will have to be good enough to do what they have to do to finish plays.

Is your style of play more physical?
Brownell: I think so. This team has to play with an inside presence. We have four guys who are 6-foot-8 or bigger. We have to play with an inside presence. Because we don't shoot teh ball quite as well as other teams, we are going to have to get the ball to the block and score. They are going to have to score and get fouled and make some free throws. That's not that much different than the past because we've had Trevor Booker down there. It won't be distinctly different but it will have to be a point of emphasis. Without Trevor Booker - I've told them you need to be able to score down here if you can't command a double team in 1-on-1. Hopefully they are excited by that challenge - and hey we have confidence in you so we are going to throw you the ball.

Sounds more deliberate?
Brownell: It will be a little more deliberate. It's not going to be walk it up every position and win in the 40s. I think the best teams can do both - win in the 50s and win in the 80s. There's a tremendous misconception (out there). You watch the NCAA Tournament and the Final Four- where were the games? They were all in the 50s and they barely made the 60s. I mean, it's high-pressure, lower possession basketball. I'm not saying that's the only way to win because North Carolina plays a different style, but a lot of times when it comes to tournament play the games grind slower. You better be prepared to win those games unless you are just supremely talented and can outscore everybody. You have to be prepared to win in the 50s and win in the 80s. Top Stories