It appears as if the staff has been having players in for unofficials almost on a daily basis. Is that how it's been?
Pretty much. If you can get a kid on campus at any point, it's going to be a good situation for you. We know we have scholarships to fill, and that's kind of what we're doing.
When you're evaluating players, what excites you besides simply great basketball ability?
There's a lot of different things that I look at besides a kid's talent. Everybody can find out who's the best player in the gym. That's easy to pick out. I try to find if the kid makes a mistake and the coach takes him out, does he give everybody five when he walks down the bench, or does he pout when a coach takes him out. When a coach takes him out for making a mistake, does he hustle off the floor to the bench? If someone gives him a great pass and he scores a basket, does he give him a point to let him know, hey, good pass. Pat a guy on the butt to let him know it's going to be okay when his teammates mess up?
Those are things that make a great teammate. So we have to find out first of all if the kid can play, and then is he going to be a good teammate? If he's a good teammate to these guys he's playing with in AAU I think he'll be a good teammate when he gets here.
How does the staff split up the recruiting? Are there areas you'll focus on, or does everyone recruit nationally?
We don't really do areas. Tim (Buckley) obviously coached in this state for a very long time and he knows the law of the land in the Indiana area, so he's doing a lot of that heavily. I'm from the south, I'm from Alabama. I go down there, I know Birmingham really well, I know Alabama really well. So that would be somewhere I'd go.
I've gone out west to California, and I've also been in DC. So being here at Indiana, that gives you the opportunity to recruit nationally.
With the big AAU events this spring, where have you been so far?
I went to Akron, I went to Arkansas, I went to Houston for a quick minute. Tim went to Pittsburgh.
What's it like on the road recruiting? Do you have time to do anything besides recruiting?
You definitely don't have a chance to watch a movie. It's according to how many kids you're recruiting, how many kids you are following.
Days on the road are action packed. You're going from one gym to the next. Usually you have two guys covering a site. Let's say for instance it's July and we're in Vegas. There's three different tournaments in Vegas. So there are 500-600 teams.
I've put as many as 400 miles on my rental car in a day going from gym to gym. You have a gym across town and you go and watch a half of this kid, and then you drive across town to catch the second half of this kid, and if the gym is behind one or two games it screws up your whole schedule. So you're bouncing from gym to gym just so you can see these kids.
The majority of these kids we know they can play. So it comes to the point that you want to be seen by those kids. You're in there, and they know you're in there, you watch them play for a little bit, and then it's off to the next gym.
When I'm in Vegas, I like to go to your local 7-11 and get a chili cheese dog and eat it in the car, and off to the next game. The road is tough, you eat bad, you definitely gain weight. You don't get much sleep. You have to get up for the 8 o'clock game again, and you can be in the gym, last year I was in the gym until about 12:30.
It's action packed, and it's non-stop.
How have the NCAA restrictions impacted you?
They haven't really been a problem. Tim and I don't have any restrictions in terms of we can go out and recruit, we can go out and evaluate. We haven't really felt the restrictions. I haven't personally.
Does recruiting become a grind?
It is a grind. We have to get a true evaluation of these kids. Let's say it's July 28th, you've got two more days before the end of the period. These kids have been playing May, June and July, and they're tired too. So you have to go in the gym and watch a kid play, try to get a true evaluation and the kid has played 80 games in the summer. And that's difficult to do at times.
How many times like to see a kid play before you'd tell Coach Crean that this is a kid worth offering?
There are some kids out there that are just no brainers. The first time you see them play, you're like, wow, this kid can play. But you don't want to jump the gun and offer a kid too soon. I like to see a kid play four or five times before I say hey, Coach Crean, this is a kid, we should offer this kid. But I want Coach Crean to see him too. I think he trusts our evaluations but I would like for Coach Crean to see kids that I'd like to offer.
How is your transition at IU different from when you were hired at Marquette?
It's completely different. When I was at Marquette, the program was already established. Coach Crean described it as a moving train, so I just jumped on and started working. Here, it's collectively we're trying to build this thing together.
I keep saying build, and they won 25 games last year. But everyone is familiar with the off-the-court issues and things that were going on. The exciting part is I'm heavily involved in helping build one of the most storied programs in America, along with the head coach, and along with the other staff members. It's not just one guy coming in new. We're all in this together. I feel a big ownership in this.
When the coaching staff first realized just how bad the roster situation was here, what did you think?
The exciting part is, it's Indiana. Regardless of what troubles are here, eventually we'll get it to where everyone is proud again to be associated with Indiana. There's no doubt about that. We'll get it turned around.
Again, I don't want to hop on rebuilding, because we're not rebuilding. We have some issues with the roster, but it's an exciting time, a very exciting time for us all.
How difficult will it be to be patient? It seems as if it's going to take a year or two to get this turned around.
We do have young players, but call me crazy, why not win now? Why not? Young teams have won before in the country. Why not us? Everyone says we'll give you patience, but when January rolls around, those people sitting in the seats, they say patience now, they want to win…We want to win now. We're preparing our guys that are coming in, we're preparing to win now.
The patience part of it, it would be great if we can get some time, but that's not realistic. We want to win. Our kids that are coming in, they expect to win, and we're going to prepare them every single day to win.
Bennie Seltzer Q&A
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