Archibald: When we went 0-and-5 in conference, you couldn't have asked for a better scenario than how we finished out the season. We were extremely happy as a staff and program of how our kids matured, played down the stretch, and the character that they showed through adversity. When we're 0-5, when we're down 12 on the road, and come back to win games. We're very proud of the fact we won so many road games.
Going to the NCAA Tournament and being in the Big Dance gave us an unbelievable amount of exposure. It was great to see all the people talk about you. That's good for the kids and recruits coming in. They can see what we're all about and the foundation Coach Morgan is trying to build here at Iowa State. I think Coach Morgan should be considered for national coach of the year. Nobody does what we did. That's unbelievable; that's unheard of. He should be considered for that.
CN: Talk about the tournament experience in general. How will it benefit the returning players, and what was it like for a guy like Jared Homan to finally get there after four seasons?
Archibald: There are two ways to look at it. The way I like to look at it is this is just the first notch on your belt. This is our first time going to the tournament and know what it's like. We were fortunate enough to win a game in the tournament and get some experience. Hopefully down the road, years from now, we'll be able to have kids in our program that have two or three years of NCAA Tournament experience. When we go there, it won't be such a show and more of just what we do here at Iowa State.
It's great for Jared, too. He was in his last year of a fantastic career. Going to the NCAA Tournament was a nice storybook ending. But as a coach we're trained to always look down the road. We have a young team and a lot of players that played a significant part of that tournament team. Our challenge is to bring in kids that are going to be able to continue with that pace and line of excellence that the returning players and Coach Morgan has set.
CN: Let's discuss the North Carolina game. What approach did you take with that one afterwards? Was it one you just wanted to burn the tape and move on, or did this team learn a lot from it?
Archibald: A lot of people forget that with two minutes left in the first half, it was a two or four point game. Then they went on a 9-0 run to finish out the half. Then they jumped on us early in the second half and buried us quick. That was tough for us to recover. We do have a young team, but in that environment it's a little bit different.
I'll be honest, as a coach that's the most talented team I've ever seen as far as their first six guys. I don't know if I've ever seen a team with their first six guys as good as that. Marvin Williams, their sixth man, could be a lottery pick in the NBA. He's coming off the bench. Our players talked about their size disparity afterwards. Everyone was bigger, longer, and taller.
CN: How much did Homan improve his NBA potential with those two games in the tournament?
Archibald: When you drop 19 (points) and 20 (rebounds) on national television against the number one team in the country – that's going to raise some eyebrows. He definitely made some money that day and helped his cause. He definitely helped his visibility when he goes into those camps, but will still have to perform.
He's already been invited to Portsmouth, whereas last year at this time Jackson Vroman wasn't invited. Coach Morgan had to fight tooth and nail just to get him to be an alternate for the Portsmouth Camp. Jackson did his job when he got to Portsmouth. He played fantastic and got invited to Chicago. They weren't even going to let him in.
But now Jared has already been invited to Portsmouth and was on the early list. He was already sending stuff in and a lock going there. I feel very confident that he'll be invited to Chicago also. He can thank Jackson for laying the groundwork. Nobody listened to us last year how good Jackson Vroman was, and now we've got Jared Homan. Everyone hears Coach Morgan loud and clear.
CN: This team should be very solid in the guardcourt next season, with Curtis Stinson, Will Blalock, and Tasheed Carr returning to the mix. However, the post game certainly will need to be addressed. How much of a focus is that right now?
Archibald: I'm going to fight you on that. The biggest thing we need to address is our perimeter shooting. We're going to get some big guys inside, but nothing's going to matter if we can't hit a jump shot. We were the worst team in the league this year in 3-point shooting, and that's something we'll have to remedy in the offseason. We need to bring in some personnel that can help stretch a defense.
Stretching the defense would help two things. Number one, it helps our inside game, which we just talked about. Number two, it helps our driving game. If everybody packs it in and just lets people shoot from the outside, it kills the inside game and dribble penetration. We need to emphasize that.
CN: If Farnold Degand comes in and proves he is a capable 3-point shooter, would the staff think otherwise about redshirting him?
Archibald: Absolutely. If he can be a lights-out shooter. Coach Morgan has no problem playing freshmen. Whoever is making it happen, Coach Morgan will play them. John Neal was a walk-on last year and in some key games for us. He was handed the starting position going into this season because of what he did last year and in the offseason shooting the ball. Coach will play anybody who is getting the job done.
CN: Looking ahead to next season, which players will you look for to be outside threats?
Archibald: First you've got to point your finger at Tasheed Carr and Rahshon Clark. They had the highest percentages for us this year. You can just imagine how much better they could be after a year of experience, being in the NCAA Tournament, and playing in the environments they did.
Tasheed was playing single-digit minutes at the start and by the end of the year he was a big part of what we were doing. Now he'll be more experienced, bigger and stronger. Having Rahshon, Tasheed, Will, Curtis, Anthony Davis, and John Neal in there – you've got a very strong nucleus returning that is battle tested.
CN: How much of a focus is the post game this offseason?
Archibald: I feel confident we're going to get some kids in here that could compete in there. Just like in the last two years, we're going to bring in kids that people are going to be excited about. We're going to get people just as excited, with Shawn Taggart, Ross Marsden, and Farnold Degand. All those guys probably could have gotten minutes for us this year as seniors in high school. Then we're going to sign two more big guys for sure (in the spring).
CN: How much do you think the NCAA Tournament exposure will help your recruitment of the junior and sophomore classes?
Archibald: It helps two different things. It helps your exposure for transfers. Kids will be at another school and realize they're unhappy. Usually teams that go to the tournament receive a lot of transfers. Teams that don't get to the tournament usually lose kids. This is the other aspect it helps you with. When you walk into a gym of 300 coaches after making it to the final 32 teams in the country and having the kind of run we had at the end, there is a little more bling bling on the shirt. People see that a little louder. That's always nice, ego-wise as a coach and player, when you walk out with your Iowa State gear.