Before the congregated media settled in, McDermott delivered his first message: "Let's get this done. We've got a lot of practicing to do. And we need every bit of it."
He meant business. Instead of the fun-loving recess like atmosphere from last year's basketball media day, this year's was more like a Calculus class. There wasn't any time for fun and games. Get your work done. Solve your problems. Have fun and pass notes on your own time. And as Mike Taylor found out, McDermott is more than willing to slap some wrists with his old-school style ruler.
And each one of Professor
McDermott's pupils on the
Talent + Hard Work + Chemistry + Focus = Success.
It was clear from talking to the players and the staff that the Cyclones have three of the four parts of this magical formula. The talent part of the equation is a work in progress.
These guys know they don't have the most skills or size in the country. It's obvious from looking at this team that they have a long ways to go in the weight room and the kitchen before they can match their competition. But as they said to-a-man, their inadequacies are no excuse to play at half speed.
Undersized point guard Corey McIntosh said it best, "What I can't do with my strength, my quickness will make up for."
Similar sentiments were echoed from all of the players. Position, quickness, toughness, and coaching will have to make up for talent and depth. If that means walk-ons earning significant minutes, so be it.
This team will struggle out of the gate. They may even lose on Friday. But rest assured we will be witnessing an entirely different team when conference season rolls around.
Professor McDermott is merely in week three of his time-tested curriculum. It takes a while to adjust. However, one thing was very evident: Last year's failing term paper has been completely ripped up, shredded and lit on fire.
The slate is completely clean.
Rahshon Clark could have hemmed and hawed about losing the majority of the scoring from last year's group. He could have turned into the punk kid that slouched in the back of the class and threw paper air-planes. Instead he has bought into the coaching staff, talked up his new backcourt, and put the team on his athletic shoulders. He is in the front row taking more notes than anybody.
Everybody is buying in.
Greg McDermott has complete control of his classroom and this program. The team is united and their dedication is easy to see.
They will get after you on defense, pressure the ball, take good shots and limit their own mistakes. And if they don't, Professor McDermott has a ruler that he's willing to swat.
Class is in session. Don't be late.