Exclusive: The Plan of Attack

Last week CN had a chance to sit down with Iowa State's men's basketball coach Greg McDermott. What does the coach think about the roster turnover? How good can the recruiting class of 06 be? Get all of the details right here. Here, in part one of this CN exclusive, find out what the coach had to say about his new program from a recruiting perspective.

Williams: First of all coach; talk a little bit about how you like Ames so far and how the change has been for you?


McDermott: It's been wonderful. People have welcomed us with open arms. We're just excited to be Cyclones. I haven't had a lot of time to enjoy the community. It seems like I'm always on the road or in and out of the office. I'm just looking forward to getting my family here.


Williams: Next year the fans are going to see a completely different basketball team. When you took this job, did you expect this much turnover with the roster?


McDermott: You know this is the fourth time I've done this, where I've taken over a program as a head coach. I think that you always anticipate some changes but you never know to what level. There is no way of knowing how your system, style, or how the way you are going to operate your program fits the people already there. There really wasn't any way of knowing. I'm not totally surprised at what has transpired, but fortunately my staff did enough work behind the scenes in the time that it did happen so at least we were able to put solid team on the floor next season.


Williams: I've had the opportunity to talk to the guys who you are bringing in and the one that stands out to me is Corey McIntosh. His coach has built him up to be an all-star, talk a little bit about what you like about him.


McDermott: I always like to evaluate a PG on whether they win or lose. I can overlook some other things that are missing if they are proven to be a winner. That's what Corey is. He knows how to run a basketball team. He understands the importance of getting his teammates involved. He can shoot the basketball and does enough off the dribble that he can create some things for his teammates. He's a leader. When you're starting over with a program, it's important that you have a guy in a leadership role who isn't afraid to speak his mind and who will back it up with his actions. Corey can do that.


Williams: What about Michael Taylor, he's another JUCO guy that you're bringing in. Is he good enough to make an immediate impact?


McDermott: He's going to have to. Without a question, both Mike and Corey are going to play an important role for us. Michael can really get to the basket; he has a great first step. He's a very good defensive player. He's really improved his 3-point shooting from his senior year in high school to the point where he is now when he shot just about 40% last year when he took quite a few 3-point shots. Michael has to get stronger, that's going to be his challenge. In the Big 12, he has to build his body to the point where he can come out here and compete every night. They both love the game and are really passionate about the game. Their work ethic speaks for itself. They are the type of people who we want to surround ourselves with and they are both good fits.


Williams: Will you talk just a little bit about the Prep School guys coming in, Dodie Dunson and Wesley Johnson. Johnson is kind of the unknown guy in this class what do you think about these two recruits?


McDermott: Well the prep school that Johnson was at this year closed in December so he was really living in Michigan with his brother for the last six months and I think that everybody forgot where he was and what he was doing. Fortunately for us, Jean Prioleau wasn't one of those people who forgot about him. Jean recruited him while he was at Wichita and Marquette as well. Wesley has really developed a lot of the last year. He's grown. He's played guard for most of his life and he grew into this 6'7 frame so he's got perimeter skills and he can shoot the basketball. He needs to get stronger and that will be a focus this summer and early into the fall next year. He needs to try and get his body ready to compete. He's going to need to step up and play for us at that small forward position.


Dodie Dusnon was in Illinois and I was familiar with Dodie when I was in the Missouri Valley Conference. He had actually committed and signed with Illinois State. He then decided the summer after his senior year to go to prep school, instead of going that route at hopes of playing at a higher level. I'm familiar with his game and he's a very complete player. He can play either guard spot. He's a very good 3-point shooter and a good defender so he'll too have an opportunity to be in the mix for us next year.


Williams: When you're out recruiting these kids, what would you say are initially the top two things that you look for in a player?


McDermott: It depends on the position and it depends on what our specific need is at that particular point and time. We really attempt to do a thorough job of evaluating character. If you're spending too much time solving off the court problems, then that's taking away from the time that you should be spending on the court to make your team better. You want to try and recruit good people number one.


Number two is that we're always interested in a high skill level. We want them to shoot, pass, catch, just the fundamental parts of the game. In the end, that determines a lot of basketball games. I think that we have a good group in that regard. You have to have a certain level of athletic ability, a certain amount of size. That maybe is one of the areas where we have really had to sacrifice in this recruiting class because of how late we got into it. Michael Taylor and Wesley Johnson are not big, strong, thick players right now. If they were, they probably wouldn't have been available on April 1. We had to sacrifice a little bit of size and strength to get what we wanted in the other areas.


Williams: Is it safe to say that we're done seeing players coming in this season?


McDermott: We have three scholarships that are open. There could be some sanctions from the APR possibly. We don't know what is going to happen with Jiri's (Hubalek) situation, if there will be a scholarship lost because of that. We're in a holding pattern right now until some of those things get settled down.


Williams: Looking ahead to 07 and 08, are you looking for quite a few big men?


McDermott: Well at least two probably. We'll have four scholarships available. We need a high school PG. That's a priority. The same would go for somebody who could play the five. I don't know if it has to be a true center but somebody with some size and athletic ability along the front line. My guess right now is that we'll look for two front line players as we go into it.


Williams: Are you thinking in-state? I know that the in-state class of 08 is pretty stacked what are you thinking there?


McDermott: Yes the state of Iowa will always be a focus for us. Unfortunately for us at this point it doesn't look like there will be anybody out of that 07 class. There are four or five players in that 08 class who will have the potential to play at the Big 12 level.


Make sure to check out CN on Wednesday for part two of CN's exclusive interview with Iowa State head basketball coach Greg McDermott.


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