"We're really excited about the team and this year. We don't have a lot of scholarship. We have 11 guys on scholarship and not 13. But they'll play hard and play together. I'm very encouraged by this year and where we are.
"Earlier this year we were fortunate enough to be able to take a tour to Mexico. We went to Monterrey, and were able to practice for 10 days and play two games. That was a great experience for us, because it gave the five new guys a chance to play with the six guys that were returning. They got together and learned a little bit about each other. That was terrific for us.
"The other thing that I really like is the fact that over the next two years, we're only going to lose four players. Although we have a very young team, we're going to get to a point where we do have veterans and guys returning. We'll have some real symmetry to our program. I think we're going to do a pretty good job recruiting this coming year when we add that class in. We'll have some depth and the type of players we want to play our system.
"I would not say that this is maybe the most talented team that played at Iowa State, but I think it is one of the deepest teams. We have 11 guys that I can put in the game. We have 11 guys on scholarship. You can go Jared Homan, Curtis Stinson, and on down the list. These guys can all come in the game and help us. That kind of depth over the season will help us.
"But obviously, only having 11 guys on scholarship, one of the absolute key guys for us is our trainer Vic Miller. We can't get anybody hurt. Everybody has to stay relatively healthy."
On importance of keeping Stinson healthy:
"Curtis is a great player, and God knows the last thing I would ever want is for him not to be playing. But we have other good players on the team. I don't go home and sit down and think about what would happen if Curtis went down. Then I'd have to wonder what would happen if Jared or Will Blalock went down? I'd have to wonder if a plane landed on their dorm and they all got killed? I don't worry about all of those things."
On depth in different areas of team:
"Our starting backcourt will definitely be Will and Curtis. I think that our perimeter is very solid. The (three) position is between Rahshon Clark, Anthony Davis, John Neal, and Tasheed Carr. I think they will all get playing time, and be very valuable. We just started practicing, so there is no particular pecking order. We all know that Will and Curtis are going to be out there.
"Obviously, Jared Homan is going to be out there in our frontcourt. He's going to be our anchor, our inside power game. He's bigger, stronger, and is about 6-foot-10 and 255 pounds. He's all muscle. He's improved a lot, so he's going to be the focal point of our frontcourt.
"Damion Staple is going to be out there with him and will help. The rest of it is up for grabs. I can't tell you if Anthony Davis is going to start, Reggie George is going to start, or if Robert Faulkner is going to start. That will all be decided between now and the last part of November. I do know that all of those guys are good players and can help us. I think we have some good depth.
"I also think we have some guys that can play two positions at different times. That's also helpful."
On possibilities of all 11 guys playing:
"All 11 guys will play at various times. There may be nights that Tasheed Carr plays 30 minutes, or John Neal plays 30 minutes. One of the things that we'll have to be good at is having the ability to recognize a night when a guy is really playing well.
"Tasheed Carr could be playing terrific one night and play 30 minutes, which would mean maybe Will could pay 18. Or maybe Reggie George might be playing unbelievably one night and get 30 minutes, then Damion Staple plays 22 minutes. We've got to recognize that."
On positive experience of NIT carrying over:
"In terms of the six guys that played in those games, it will carry over and mean a lot. It will carry over to our younger guys as the veterans talk to them in the locker room. The veterans will let them know what to expect. The veterans can say the NIT experience was great, but that they really want to strive for the NCAA this year."
On picking up slack from Jake Sullivan's loss:
"I think our 3-point shooting has to come from everywhere. Quite simply, the fact of the matter is we lost Jake Sullivan, maybe one of the greatest shooters in Iowa State history. We don't have one guy that's going to come out and shoot the ball like Jake. He is a once or twice-in-a-career player, and I understand that. It's not often that you have a player that, every time he shoots, you think it's in. That's when you know you have a great shooter.
"The other scenario is we have a player that's so good, that if you look next to you during the game and they're sitting there, you get nervous. You need him on the floor. Curtis is that kind of player for me. I get nervous if I don't see him in the game."
On taking next step to the NCAA Tournament:
"I never predict and won't pick numbers of wins. I will say what I've always said – our goal is to assess the potential of your team, strive and work every day to reach that potential, and to be the best team you can possibly be. Each day we come on the court, we have to get better. Our practices are pretty tough, and you can't come through practice trying to get through it or survive it. You have to look at every day as a chance to improve.
"I will say that our style of play and the players we have to fit into it is something the fans can look forward to. When you come out to see us play, it will be really enjoyable and entertaining. I think that if we can play to our potential and stay healthy, when all is said and done, we'll be happy with the amount of wins we have."
On attention Stinson will get from other teams:
"I think that most people that play us will try to stop Curtis Stinson. But we had games like that last year. We played Kansas State here and their whole thing was to stop Curtis Stinson, and Jake just went off and won the game in the end. I think we have enough weapons where if you put too much pressure on Curtis, then someone else will help us. We had another team here that just played Jake face to face and wasn't going to let him score. Well, somebody else had 25 points. Curtis can do other things like pass the ball, block out and rebound, and help us in some other areas."
On another Stinson in this class:
"If you would have asked me that about Curtis a year ago, I would have said I don't know. I had Rony Seikaly, Derrick Coleman, and Sherman Douglas, and I didn't know they were pros until they actually were pros. You can't tell that. I knew Curtis was very good and we now know how good he is. I would not be surprised to see Tasheed or Rahshon emerge as heavy impact players for us. In fact, I'm hoping that one of them does. But at this time, do I know that for sure? No. They have to do it. We'll see what happens as time goes on, but they are good players and will help us win games."
On ball-handling responsibilities this season:
"Actually, the primary ball-handler last year was Will Blalock. He handled the ball more than Curtis, and will do that again this year also. Curtis will also handle the ball a lot, and there will be times Tasheed handles it. If you watched our games last year, what you saw is when we played good enough defense and rebounded it, most of the time we got it to Curtis. But if we took the ball out, without any break, the ball went to Will and he ran the offense. We're blessed to have two very good point guards, and Tasheed as a point as well. That will end up being very valuable to us."
On outlook for Aaron Agnew:
"We run one drill where we call it a loose ball drill. We throw the ball and the guy has to grab it, then one of the coaches has a pad, and he hits the guy as hard as he can while he tries to lay it up. Damon Archibald is pretty strong and he said he'd hit Aaron and fall backwards. Jared Homan bounces off of Aaron and can't do anything with him. Aaron came into the weight room as a freshman and benched 335 pounds in the first session. He's going to be good at some point."
On positives of recruiting kids from prep schools:
"Most prep schools don't offer scholarship, but they do offer financial aid based on need. Most of these kids have to pay something. I don't think any of them ever get a full ride. That something may be anywhere from $1,000 to $3,000, because some of those prep schools cost up to $30,000. I don't think any of the kids we have has $30,000, so they all have some kind of stipend or scholarship.
"Prep schools are good because they do a very good academic job. They do a great job of preparing them for college. The prep schools also will do a very specific job in the analysis of aptitude tests – ACT or SAT – and basically train the kid how to take the tests. They understand that's why the kid came – to be successful academically and work for that.
"The level of competition in particular in the prep school division of New England is the best in the country, high school or junior college. No junior college or high school conference in the country has the talent that league has. Every team in that league has anywhere from three to eight high-major Division I players. So the competition is great.
"The other thing that's great about those prep schools is that the kids are away from home for a year, and are on a small campus that's a small microcosm of what a college campus would be like. That thing about being homesick and all of that stuff…they're over it already. They've been away. There are a lot of good things about those prep schools."
On Will Blalock breaking out as sophomore:
"He should be more poised, and I think he'll do a better job leading. He'll be more aggressive. He will help us win a lot of games. His talent will speak for itself and emerge."
On defensive plan for upcoming season:
"I'm hoping to have enough depth, speed, and quickness to get to a point where we can press for almost a whole game. We want to put pressure on our opponents, with full-court man-to-man and zone pressing, for a minimum of 30 and up to 40 minutes a game."
On Jared Homan as a captain:
"He's had terrific personal development over the last year. He's more mature and understands what's going on. I think that he's finally understanding that every he walks into a building that somebody or everybody will know who he is. We've had a lot of talks, and he's done a very good job of trying to do the things I've asked him to do.
"He's a four-year starter here, and we don't have anybody else that's a four-year starter. He's earned the right to be a captain. He gives leadership. He is very tough and can show our new frontcourt players the type of toughness it's going to take to have success in the Big 12."
On standing in Big 12 Conference:
"I think that Kansas, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, and Texas are teams that are picked in the first four positions. I've seen us picked as high as fifth and as low as seventh. We're going to strive to try to be a team that can finish as high as we can and win every game. The goal is the same every year – win a conference championship and get to the NCAA. That's the goal every day."
On schedule for upcoming season:
"Our non-conference schedule is challenging and good. When I first had the opportunity to start this job, a lot of things people spoke about were good non-conference games here. They got to see Xavier here last year, and they were an Elite Eight team. They'll get to see San Diego State from the WAC and Virginia from the ACC. Virginia won eight of their last 10 games last year, have their whole team coming back, and a good recruiting year, so that will be a big-time battle. On that night, that will be a game that people around the country will be watching to see what happens.
"Our conference will be a war. Every game will be a war, home or away. If you're not ready to play, you're going to get beat. If you're really not ready to play, you're going to get beat badly. We just hope to be playing at a consistent level and at an efficient level nightly in our conference.
"One of the things that will help is our depth. When you only have seven guys and three or four of them are playing bad, you only have two or three that can play well. If you have 10 guys that can play, you've got a chance in that group of finding four or five guys on a particular night that are playing well. If we can do that it will help us."
On possibility of mass substitutions during games:
"We won't platoon them in and out, but you'll see guys going in and out of the game. We won't throw five in and five out. We'll try to find combinations that work the best for us. Maybe sometimes it will be more speed on the floor, and maybe others more size on the floor. Maybe at the end of the game we'll try to get more ball-handling and shooting on the floor. I think we'll have more versatility to do that."