Morgan Meets the Press

First-year Iowa State head coach Wayne Morgan introduced his 2003-04 team during Tuesday afternoon's media day at Hilton Coliseum in Ames. Here is a transcription of his comments.

Wayne Morgan:

On putting tumultuous spring behind:

"During the past 12 months there have been some issues and controversy, but we have moved forward in this program. We're looking ahead. We feel the future is very bright. We feel the future has many positives, and we feel we will get nothing but better and better as time goes on."

On adjustments of first-year players in program:

"In terms of the basketball end, the freshmen will see that the game is quicker and a lot more physical. Because our freshmen have ability, they kind of think they're better than those guys and can overcome that. But in the first few games, they'll see the game is much more physical and the kids they're playing against, the talent level will be fairly even. Academically, it's been a very big adjustment, because the work at a University such as ours is a lot harder, and the classrooms at Iowa State are very competitive. Those are the two biggest adjustments. They're making those adjustments and doing everything we're asking them to do. As they acclimated to the situation, they'll hopefully enjoy the type of success we want them to have."

On focusing on getting program up and running:

"I've had to do some things dealing with issues, but at the same time myself and my staff have worked hard on the Xs and Os of basketball. That's coming along and we're doing a great job of presenting things to our kids. The student-athletes are also doing a tremendous job of taking that in, working hard at it and assimilating. I'm trying to get to a point where all I can do is focus on basketball and put blinders on and push everything else out."

On if he's having fun yet:

"Pat Riley once said, ‘There's only winning and misery.'"

On fans' thoughts on upcoming season:

"Our fans are enthusiastic, but I also think they are sophisticated, and although they want to see our guys work hard, also understand they are freshmen. I've been told by many fans that they're excited to see the team play. We are very excited to see how they are going to play.

"But we're not expecting a whole lot. That's fine, too. We expect a lot of ourselves and are going to push ourselves. Our goal is to play up to our maximum potential. Our goal is to be the absolute very best basketball team that we can be. Hopefully that level of play will have us compete and carry us past many of our opponents.

"But at the same time, we have a young team and will have an even younger team next year. We're losing some unbelievably tremendous seniors, I think."

On fans putting past behind:

"I think the people are absolutely willing to give our team a fresh start, because the kids that are here and the team that is participating has moved on. That's in the past."

On staying positive through first few months on job:

"That's my nature. When I get to the basketball court, I don't see or hear anything else. When a young man is in my room talking about academics, and that's what we're dealing with, we're not talking about anything else. I know that some of the things that have happened here have been atypical.

"This is actually a wonderful place with wonderful people. Not only do I think we have the best fans in the country, but I think the people of Iowa are the best people I've ever been around. They are genuine, sincere and will accept you openly in your first meeting. People from New York and the East are the same, but you have to scratch through a little crust first."

On style of play and any changes:

"We are going to run more. We are in the process with our team of teaching them how to run. Over the last few days, as we've done drills, I think they've figured out why we ran all those 30s. As it comes together, we'll get better. I think the fans will enjoy the style of play. The fans will really enjoy what they see, and watching these particular players play. As they grow, mature and as we add more classes to fit our style, we'll have more success."

On anticipated use of freshman class:

"I expect to use all of my freshmen. All of them are talented. They will have different roles. They all can contribute in us winning basketball games. They have to work hard and will have to make the adjustment to the style of play. They will have to work hard, make an adjustment to the style of play, to how much more physical it will be and to the speed of the game.

"But in the case of our freshmen, in one respect, and in particular with Will Blalock and Curtis Stinson, they have played a thousand games. It's not like being a true freshman. They have a lot of basketball experience."

On starting lineups being named yet:

"We have not made any assumptions as to who will start and who will not start. We're going to have players compete and let their abilities pick those things. As we go over the next three weeks, that will be demonstrated and understood by what we see on the court."

On his past 24 months and how it's felt:

"It's been like a movie. In many respects, it's been like a miracle. I'm very flattered and honored to be the head coach here at Iowa State University, and to work for President Geoffroy and Bruce Van De Velde. I'm very flattered and honored to have an opportunity to recruit these young men.

"What I'm going to do every day is get up, and from the time I open my eyes until the time I close them, work as hard as I can to make this program the best program it can be.

"I honestly think that God has helped me. I'm not trying to be corny, but that's how I feel."

On going out on summer Cyclone Club circuit:

"Initially, I wanted to get out and heal wounds and bring everybody together. But I think the nature of this state and University has meant people have come together. My going to Cyclone Club outings, in some respects, helped me more than it helped them. I realized the tremendous amount of support these kids have. I realize the tremendous amount of support that this program has behind it.

"At times I was very tired, but going and seeing those people would regenerate me and give me more energy to go on or to push harder the next day. I don't necessarily like flying on a little plane for two hours; I might not mind being in a car for two or three hours to get to a place; but when I got to those places and see those people it was wonderful. People here are the best and would do anything for you."

On new beginning for players:

"I think the players feel refreshed and that this is a new team. They feel like this is their team, and not a team from the past. I think they're looking forward and moving ahead. They're very optimistic about their chances this year, and the competition and proving what they can do."

On versatility of this roster:

"We have some versatility, our team. There might be times we play three small guards, and if we do that it will be very difficult for the other team to defend those guards. There may be times we would be in a zone and have an opportunity to present a larger lineup. Most of the guys on this team could play more than one position, and that is valuable and it does give us versatility."

On competing in Big 12, for postseason play:

"I think the goal you set every year is you want to win the Big 12 Championship, and that's what we're going to fight for. Where we lie within the framework of that goal, I'm not sure. I am not clairvoyant and I do not have a crystal ball, so I don't make predictions on numbers of victories or where we'll finish.

"What I have to try to do is make this team the very best I possibly can, and maximize their potential as a team. Then I have to hopeful that maximizing that potential gets us to the goals that we set."

On Jared Homan's offseason:

"He has brought a lot into our program. He has run hard and tried to bring the other guys around. He has cut any baby fat that he had. He has been focused on everything he's doing and on basketball when he's here. During one of our defensive drills yesterday, he got hit in the nose really hard and it drew blood. He wiped it and kept playing. That's a tremendous example for our young players to see. I was tremendously impressed with that and how he handled it.

"He does every drill as hard as he can. His low-post game has improved and he has worked on his range as a shooter. He's doing things that he could not do before, so he's worked at the game and tried to be dedicated. That has improved this team."

On Jake Sullivan's attitude:

"It could not be any better. He has been a tremendous aspect to this program. He has been wonderful to coach. He is a guy that you have to scale back and rev down, not push or rev up. He had two surgeries this spring and a week later was in the hospital. Instead or rehabbing an hour a day, he was going four and a half hours a day. That threw his whole body off. That's Jake. He shoots a thousand shots a day. He comes in here at 6 o'clock in the morning and 10 o'clock at night.

"He has supported me and done anything that I've asked him to do. He has helped me in anything I've needed help in. He has given full cooperation. If he wants to go home and visit his family, he calls me and asks permission before he leaves. I do not have the adjectives or accolades to bestow upon this young man. He will be a tremendous asset to this University as an alumni."

On possibilities of redshirting players in future:

"Obviously we can't think about redshirting now, because it will take every single body I have to help us be successful. I'm hopeful it will be down the line when we can fill our classes up with recruitable players. When the classes have filled up with recruitable players, then the opportunity may come to recruit a 7-footer that you could sit out a year.

"Next year, all of our best players will be freshmen and sophomores, although we'll have two tremendous seniors. It takes time to have a program. To me, the definition of a program is every year you have eight or nine returning players. Then you have a program."

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