Exclusive: McDermott on the Future

In part three of CN's exclusive interview with Greg McDermott, the coach gives subscribers inside information about everything from future schedules to why fans need to be excited about Iowa State basektball once again. Read it here only at CN.

Williams: Can you talk just a little bit about the schedule? What type of schedule are you going to want to play here at Iowa State?


McDermott: It will change as our team changes. Initially we want to challenge ourselves enough in our non-conference schedule to prepare ourselves for Big 12 play so we have to play enough teams in our non-conference that will show us what the Big 12 is going to be like. At the same time, we're going to be going through some pains learning how to play in a different system and a different style of play. There is some learning that goes with that and when you're thinking, you're not reacting as well. We also want to make sure that we play a schedule that fits our level of experience. You want to have a schedule that you can have some success with as well. I think that when our schedule comes out and we get it finished, there will be a good mix of competition and a lot of games that we'll have an opportunity to win.


Williams: What do you think about playing games in Des Moines? There's been a lot of controversy; a lot of fans don't like it. What's your opinion on that?


McDermott: I certainly understand the importance of playing there. We've got a lot of great friends in the Des Moines metro area and there's a beautiful arena there in my opinion and the Cyclones need to have a presence there because of that. We just have to make sure that it's good for our program. It's not good for our program to play an opponent on a neutral site and then return to their place. If we can attract people to come and play us at a neutral site in Des Moines and then return to play at a neutral site somewhere near their home town, then it's a good situation for us.


The Bradley situation was good for us because we were able to get virtually two home games out of it with just one return to Peoria. That ended up working well in a late date so it will be interesting to see what happens. I would like to think that we can continue to do that.


Williams: Do you think a change of scenery is going to help Alex Thompson and his career?


McDermott: I hope so. You know, he played behind Greg Brunner. There are a lot of good power forwards across the country who wouldn't have played ahead of Greg Brunner. I'll be surprised if Greg doesn't get drafted here in the next few weeks and if he's not drafted, he'll get picked up on a team somewhere, I think he's that good of a player. I was impressed with Alex when I watched him play in high school with his skill level. His skill level really fits what we look for in front line players. He can get stronger; he can get better with his ball handling. He needs to become more of a consistent shooter. He wants to be here and he's excited to get to work.


Williams: Have you talked to Ross (Marsden) much since Alex made the decision? Is he happy that Alex is coming here?


McDermott: Yeah, Ross has no problems with Alex whatsoever. I think he's really excited that Alex is here.


Williams: Do you believe in a rebuilding year?


McDermott: No, I don't believe in it. You know, Jessan (Gray) is our lone senior along with some of the guys who are walk-ons in our program. We owe it to them to put ourselves in a position to have as successful of a season as we possibly can. I inherited a tough situation at UNI where they had just won seven games, and we won 14 in our first year. I'm not sure that Cyclone fans are going to get a true sense on how we're going to play in the future based on how we play next year. Sometimes when you're piecing it together, you have to almost come up with a different plan for each game to give yourselves an opportunity to be successful. I owe it to those guys who are just going to be here for one year to do that. We'll see how quickly our team can come together in terms of learning how we want to play and we're going to try and execute it. You always have the element of surprise I think on your side because the teams you're playing aren't familiar with our system of play and our style of play. I think that's why sometimes we see upsets in the NCAA tournament. We'll have that one year where people aren't going to know what to expect. Hopefully we can have that play to our advantage.


Williams: If you could give the fans one big reason to be excited about Iowa State basketball again, what would that be?


McDermott: We want to build a championship program. People ask me what style of basketball that I like to play, that's a winning style. The style of play that you put on the floor each year changes based upon your players, at least for coaches at good programs it does. You don't want to force feed a style of play down a group of players throats when it doesn't fit. That's the first thing that we have to determine. What do we have? What are their strengths and we need to build our system and our style of play to fit those strengths. That's what we'll do. I think it will be an exciting style of basketball in the sense that our guys will play the game the right way. We'll value the basketball, we're not going to give up easy baskets and we'll play an unselfish style of basketball. That's what I appreciate about the game and we'll work hard to build that into our players.


Williams: Have you and your new assistants set goals as to where you want this program to be in five years?

You know I've never done that. We've never been on a one, three or five year plan. I think that if you just work as hard as you possibly can, everyday, and obviously we have some needs that we have identified from a recruiting standpoint as to what we want those people to be capable of when they join our program. If you do that and once your players get here, you really work hard with them. Only success will follow. It happened at UNI in year three, and a lot of people probably wouldn't have guessed that it was possible with the situation that we took over there. We're going to work as hard as we possibly can and we're going to surround ourselves with positive people. If we do that I think that things can happen at a little faster rate.


Williams: When you got into coaching, who was our number one influence that really made you who you are today?


McDermott: I think that it's a combination of a lot of things. I don't think that I'm who I am because of one certain person or one certain experience. Certainly all of the people who have coached me in the past. You take bits and pieces from all of them and you mold your own coaching philosophy. That's always changing based upon team you compete against, watching coaches who you respect in the profession and seeing how they run their programs. Then you try and tweak yours to make it better. I am who I am because of how I grew up and who I learned the game from. Then you just mold our own unique philosophy.





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