One-on-One With Mike Davis-Part I sat down for a one-on-one conversation with IU Coach Mike Davis this week to discuss what's in store for the upcoming baskektball season. Today is the first part of that interview.

What are your thoughts heading into the season?
We're looking forward to the season. We've worked hard in the off-season. We have some new additions to the team – we have some younger guys who are new and some older guys who are new.

Everyone is excited about getting started. It's a month before our game, and we're looking forward to it.

During this month before the season starts – what is most important during that time?
Just to get a feel for each other. What we have is a lot of new pieces. We have guys that are back from last year, but we have to get those guys use to playing together. Even though Lewis (Monroe) and Marco (Killingsworth) were here last year, they played on the opposite team. Now we get a chance to get those guys together and try to make sure we get on the same page before we get started on the 18th.

As a coach, how exciting is it that you head into this year without any real questions in terms of talent at any spot on the floor?
We've had two players that have been pretty good, and last year we had some young guys that were really talented, but they had to play a perfect game for us to be successful.

Now we have guys who can play, we're probably nine or ten deep. It's good for practice, it's good to get guys to compete. Competition brings out the best in you. That's one thing I like about this team – we're deep and competitive.

Is it underappreciated how important it is to have that depth of talent on the practice floor?
If you don't have that, you need strong minded guys who understand that I have to come to practice and practice hard every single day.

Kids don't normally make a commitment to effort unless they have that mindset. You can't give it to them. They need to be in a situation where they fear something, and the only thing that most kids fear now is playing time. So that's going to be something as a staff that we're going to enjoy.

Looking ahead to the year, are there are one or two things that concern you most?
I just think it's just a matter of us playing together, getting used to each other. That's the biggest thing, the thing that would concern me. We need to get to where we're used to playing together. Marco and Lewis haven't played in a game in a year. They've practiced.

Then we've got some other guys like Ben (Allen) and Cem (Dinc) and other guys who are new, Earl (Calloway). That's a lot of new guys who have to get used to playing with guys like Marco.

Are there one or two things that you know about this team?
We're talented. That's big. That's a huge deal. Now it's just a matter of getting together and getting on the same page.

I'm sure you've been anxious to get the opportunity to put Marco and D.J. White on the floor together for a game. How good can they be together?
They can be very good. They share the ball. They rebound the basketball, although D.J. needs to do a better job of that. He can be a very good rebounder, and Marco will definitely help him in that area.

We're excited to see them, but also with guys like Ben and Cem and Sean Kline is playing a lot better now, probably better than he's ever played. So we have five or six guys, and that's going to really help us. If D.J. isn't carrying us or he's in foul trouble, where do we go? What do we do? We don't have that problem this year.

Sean Kline has been someone that has turned some heads with his play during the first week. Has he surprised you? How much was he slowed down last year by the knee?
It held him back a lot. Tremendously. Last year we were trying to find the pieces last year, and you can only go by what you see. You talk about the injury, but you don't think about it.

He's faster, he's jumping higher. His body looks good. It takes a year to get back to full speed after an injury like that. But it looks like he's back.

With Marco and D.J., in what ways are they similar players, and in what ways are they different?
They are different. The similarities are that they are both players that command a double team. If teams let them go one-on-one, they can both score in a variety of ways.

They're different in that Marco is a really physical guy and D.J. is a big-time athlete.

With the point guard position, in year's past you've had to try Bracey Wright there, and sometimes Ryan Tapak, and Marshall played there obviously as well. How much better do you feel about what you have at that spot this year?
The thing is we have other guys on the court that can play and that's the big difference. When you're trying to get other guys wide open shots, it's hard to do. Now we have guys who can go make plays on their own.

We're really focusing on pushing the ball up the court. We want to push the ball, we've got guys that can run the floor, that know when to run, that can fill the lanes.

It's not hard for the point guard when you have a lot of good players around you. It's tough when you have to rely on everything is perfect – every screen, every cut, everything has to be perfect.

With pushing the ball up the floor, is Earl the best at that? Or Lewis?
They are both good. Earl is faster than Lewis, but at the same time Lewis is big and strong and can finish around the basket.

What does Lewis give this team?
Defensively, he's tough. He's not a talker, but he's a tough, hard-nosed guy. You have to have that.

Last year Vaden was probably our toughest guy. Now we have Vaden, D.J. and Lewis, three guys that are really tough, and (Marshall) Strickland is a lot better in that area as well.

It's one thing to be talented and it's another to be tough. I think we have both. I'm not sure where we are from being where I want to be from a toughness standpoint, but we're definitely heading in the right direction.

How do you want to use Marshall?
He'll play both guard spots. Lewis will play both spots. Vaden will play the 1, 2, 3 and 4 spots. We'll definitely try to use Marshall to the best of his abilities, and I think he's a really good catch and shoot guy. He'll be good in transition, good for spot up shots. Top Stories