Ricardo Patton Q&A

Before practice Monday, Ricardo Patton spoke to reporters about CU's next opponent, Gardner-Webb (Tuesday, 7 p.m. tipoff), about what it means to approach his 150th win as a coach and where the idea came from to employ more zone defense this season.

On Gardner-Webb
They're a good basketball team. They've played some really good games. They had a chance to beat Georgia at Georgia this year. They can really shoot the ball; they shoot a lot of threes, and their guards are really good off the dribble. We have some matchup problems with their guys, for sure. It's going to be a big test for us.

Their post guys are physical enough to play (with us). If Julius Ashby was available, we might could cause some problems. But I don't know that any of our post players are good enough to pose any big problems at this point. We'll probably give Lamont Arrington the start tomorrow.

On moving into No. 2 all-time in wins (149 and counting) among CU men's basketball coaches, which Patton did two games ago
I really haven't taken the time to look at that. That's something that coaches tend to reflect on when they're done. More so than when they're coaching.

I think (the achievement) it's good and bad. I think it's bad in the sense that Colorado doesn't have more tradition. I think it's good in the sense that I think we've done a pretty good job with what we've had to work with over the years. So if that confirms it, then, good.

Q: What are you most proud of?
I think it goes back to the character we've been able to develop in some of the kids that have gone through the program. I just came back from a funeral. (Former player) Jamahl Mosley's mother passed. When he first came here, she developed cancer. He wanted to quit and go back home, but she wouldn't let him. She wanted him to stay here.

Him graduating on time, and just the fact that we still have a great relationship – that's what's special to me. You try to help these kids mature, but you don't always succeed. The best part is when you do see someone and say, ‘OK, maybe he was listening.'

Q: What coaches do you most admire?
I admire those guys that I think do it the right way. I'm a big fan of Al Skinner at Boston College. A few years ago he got national coach of the year. He's done a nice job; he's done it his way and he's been highly successful.

(Kentucky coach) Tubby Smith and I are good friends. I admire him.

And guys in our league – Eddie Sutton (Oklahoma State), I've got a great deal of respect for him. And Kelvin Sampson (Oklahoma). His teams play as hard as any team you're going to play out there.

I worked for a guy (at Tennessee State), Frankie Allen; he's at Howard now. He hasn't always been in the best situations to coach a basketball team. But, boy, he knows basketball.

Bruce Stewart, a guy I first worked for. He's won at every level. He can really coach the game. He got himself in trouble a few years ago with some NCAA stuff. But in terms of just basketball and coaching, there's no one out there any better than Bruce Stewart.

Q: Have players become easier or more difficult to coach the longer you've coached?
Actually, it gets harder because more kids put their individual goals before team goals. It makes it tough. To be successful you've got buy into the team concept. I think it's getting tougher and tougher for kids to buy into that.

They all think they're going to play in the NBA. And what makes it even tougher is when their parents all think they're going to play in the NBA too. Sometimes their parents are waiting on that dream to kind of bale them out.

I think that's the toughest part. The X's and O's is the easiest part there is. The toughest part of coaching is trying to create an atmosphere where guys are playing for one another, they're playing for the team and not themselves.

You would think that all you'd have to do is mention a couple times and guys would think, ‘OK, yeah, you're right.' But they don't.

Q: Is this team buying into the team concept?
I think the majority of our players have bought in. But we still have a couple guys that it's still about them, and they're trying to find a way to get minutes. We have a couple of guys that aren't there yet, but the majority of them are. And I think the other guys will eventually come around.

Q: How would you assess your team's play so far?
So far, our team has done a nice job. We've won some good games. Now we're just different (with Julius Ashby lost with a foot injury). What the concern for me now is, ‘Who's going to get 17 rebounds for us ?' like Julius did (at California). Now, we're a different team. Somebody's got to step up and fill that void.

Q: Have you been playing more zone this year than in year's past?
We're playing more zone earlier in the season than in year's past. In the past, we've been strictly just man-to-man at this point.

Q: Is that something you came into the season wanting to try?
It actually was something I wanted to do last year. Even this year I thought we were long enough to push our opponent's offense out further away from the basket with our reach and our length. That was primarily what I was looking for.

A few years ago we played in Hawaii. We were playing Kentucky, and were playing them really well. We were leading the game and they went to a zone. They were so long that they ended up pushing our shooters out further than we were accustomed to shooting the basketball. I always liked that. I thought that was a good move; it kind of stale-mated us.

It was something I always thought about, but this is the first year I thought we were long enough on the perimeter to do that.

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