Interview with Coach Ray McCallum

"If you look over the last four years, you will notice that our conference has put more players in the NBA than the ACC." – Ray McCallum

Q. Coach, what will be the difference in this team from last year?
I think when you look at this team you don't see the big physical bodies that we had a year ago. That team last year was a very physical team that could play power basketball. Our team this year has good skill, speed and quickness and will be more of a finesse team.

Q. Working with this new group of players after losing most of your starters, how fast can you develop this group during your OOC schedule?
It's important with this team that we develop very quickly. We need to get them in a position where they can win games. Our OOC schedule is a good mix in the level of teams, style of play and even the lower level teams will have more experience than us, so that is going to be a good challenge for us. We just have to keep coming together and try to get better with every game.

Q. Who is the biggest surprise on this team so far?
It is really hard to say, we are kinda getting what we expected at this point. I think one of the most improved players is Jeremy McGuire, he has more maturity and he also has a better understanding of Cougar basketball now.

Q. Do you have any newcomers that will be in the starting unit this year?
Well, when you think about it 4 of our 5 starters are gone so, all the guys have a chance. I would say now that Shelton is in the running for a starter role.

Q. We have seen increased recruiting efforts by C-USA schools in the last couple of classes, where do you see C-USA on a national level today and down the road a couple of years?
We're starting to get the recognition and exposure from the national media. They are recognizing Cincinnati and what Huggins has done with that program over the years along with a Marquette Top 10 finish last year. Pitino moving in at Louisville from the NBA and John Calapari coming from the NBA to Memphis spells exposure and recognition. A lot of these kids today want that exposure and recognition and that's what we are going to be putting in front of them with C-USA.

If you look over the last four years, you can notice that our conference has put more players in the NBA than the ACC. Kids know that they can come to this conference and play for teams that can get to the final four. We have been to 5 final fours, Marquette has won a National Championship, Louisville has been to several final fours and won National Championships, Cincinnati has been to several and won National Championships.

Q. Who do you consider the top 5 or 6 teams in C-USA and where do you see our Houston Cougars in relationship to that group?
I think you have to look at teams like Cincinnati, Charlotte, Marquette, who might have the best player in the conference, Louisville and our Houston Cougars will be in there competing.

Q. How do you think our team speed ranks with the Top 25 team today?
I think we have good team speed and quickness and can match up. I think we will be playing a lot of small three-guard line up, but athletically, I think we can match up with those guys.

Q. Is one of those guards built about like a small forward?
Lol. Yes he is.

Q. When can our fans expect the next final four trip?
I'll tell you what, wouldn't it be nice to go to San Antonio next year? Wouldn't it be nice? I'm going but I don't know if we will be playing or not.

Q. What do you want to say to CoogFans today?
I think last year the success we had at home meant a lot to our players, and the fans that were there made it a home court advantage. We might not have had a sold out house, but they were supportive of the guys and team and this really means a lot to the kids. The kids feed off of the positive energy from the crowd. I want to give our fans a lot of credit for being there for us when we needed them. We emphasize defense and when we would go down the floor needing a stop, the crowd understood that we needed their help and they gave it to us. That wasn't the case our first year, we need them and we're working as hard as we can day and night to make Cougar basketball better and to make this a better place for basketball.


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