Is there anything that you can do as a staff to make sure you don't run into the academic difficulties you did last year?
No. A lot of it is the individual. It's just like from a basketball standpoint. A lot is always made of the development.
I played for the greatest college basketball coach of all time in my opinion. I never was put through an individual workout. We weren't allowed to do that at that time. I don't think it was so much about he developed me. It was the system that he put me in. It was how you went about doing things and his knowledge of the game. And then what I did as a player, I wanted it. I wanted to be pushed. I wanted to become a better player. It's a combination of what that coach can do for you and then as a player do you buy into it or are you just going to punch a clock?
This is a neat team because they're not clock punchers. They enjoy being at the University of Iowa. They know the opportunity they have. They're really striving for success.
The same thing goes with academics. You have to put forth the effort. We do everything that we can within the rules and the guidelines that are set up within the university.
I don't think academically there was anything more that we could have done in the last two years that we haven't already done. Nothing has changed going into this year as far as what we do personally as a staff. We've maximized everything that we can in the rules and under our guidelines as far as helping these kids become successful in that area.
Do you see any of the freshmen cracking the Top 7 (in the playing rotation)?
That's a tough crack. But those opportunities are out there.
The freshman that might have the best opportunity to do that may be an Alex Thompson depending on rotations. Carlton Reed I think is going to fight like crazy there in the backcourt to get things done.
I have really been pleasantly surprised with what J.R. Angle and Seth Gorney have done. We knew we had talented players there but I didn't quite understand how they would be impacted from going from their respective high schools to playing at this level. They've both made great strides.
It is hard because you've got guys like Doug Thomas that have more experience. And you've got a guy like Adam Haluska that sit out a year that's a special talent and going to demand a lot of attention himself.
So, that's what we'll find out here in the next three to four weeks of practice.
Is it safe to safe Horner, Haluska, Pierce and Brunner are odds on starters?
If we started today. And I've got Hansen in there as well. If we started today, those are the five guys that deserve it.
Now, we haven't started practice yet. A lot of things can change going into our first game against Western Illinois. So, I'm not saying that's what it will be a month from now. But if we had a game today, that's probably the five that I'd put out there.
Where is Seth compared to Jared at this point?
That's hard. I don't like comparing guys because I never like to belittle one over the other.
But they are similar in their AAU experiences and in the size of school they played in. Seth probably played a little bit larger school. If you play in South Dakota anything is probably going to be a little bit bigger school.
He's probably a little bit ahead of Jared just because Jared had incredible expectations when he got here. Jared struggled just trying to deal with expectations let along trying to learn a different game.
Seth hadn't had that. That's going to be the plus with Seth. We've got enough guys up front that Seth can learn at a little bit slower pace. Jared didn't have that opportunity. Jared had to be thrown right in from Day 1 even though he wasn't ready because we didn't have that kind of size.
Seth needs (that slower pace). If we can keep him that comfortable all year, he's got a chance to really be something special.
This is a guy that's 7-feet tall that can shoot the 3-point shot. He's got great hands. He's going to be a good passing big man, which I thought was Jared's strength. He's just got to learn post footwork. That takes some time. He's working hard in that area. He's a guy that likes to learn. His learning curve is pretty high.
Is this a make or break season for you, and how do you respond to all the preseason magazines that have you on the hot seat?
I don't know. I think that's part of the business. I've always said that I love this game because our coaching staff has an opportunity to have an impact on kids.
That has changed over the last 15 years with a lot of things to distract kids - Internets; the attention they get from media. When I played, there was one ESPN. Now, it seems like there's 10. Just the amount of exposure kids get today it enormous.
Well, that's also impacted coaching. There's a lot more attention given in that area. I just hope that I never lose the perspective that I just enjoy doing it because I got a chance to make a difference in some kid's life.
I got a great email from Glen Worley who's in Ireland playing professionally now. It's almost like the light went on with Glen by going to Ireland and knowing what he had here at the university, the opportunities he had. The career that he had but maybe what could have happened of this, this and this happened.
I'm just so pleased with what Glen did for the program. Hopefully the impact that the kids see when adversity hits now what do you do as a man? You kind of separate the coach and player there. It's more of how you handle it as a man.
We've had a lot thrown at us in two years. Now part of what's happened is you get on hot seats. But that doesn't bother me as much as what are my guys thinking? They see how I'm handling things. And maybe part of how I handle things isn't how I address you as media, it's do they see me changing who I am because I'm feeling maybe some more pressure from an individual standpoint.
I don't want it to be about me being here or having this position. It's about us being a team and being in it together. Let's lace them up together and see what we can do. We know we're going to be friends for life.
The pressure probably isn't from the magazines or what people say. The pressure is just that I want to go back to the tournament. I've made a living as a player in the tournament. I've been there before as a coach. It's just a heck of a lot more fun. I'd much rather be in the NCAA. I'm tired of not being in it.
Do you worry about Greg Brunner's back being a cronic problem?
No. I'd be more concerned on Greg Brunner's mind than that he's got a cronic back problem. (laughs) He's learned that. Just between us (laughter), that's probably a great statement.
As a freshman and sophomore he knew the game. He's a very smart kid. He knew it was a 40 minute game. But I honestly believe that he thought that if he played beyond 20 minutes he'd pass out.
Lat year, he learned that he could play 34-35 minutes and it still felt pretty good. He comes into this year knowing that his expectations are a little bit greater. He takes a little bit bigger role.
All joking aside, he went through some tough struggles late in the year as Jeff did. They got their bell rang a couple of times. He had a back problem in their summer league (PTL). It just never did heal real well.
In the last three weeks, he's been tremendous in our workouts. Going into Saturday's practice, he's as healthy as he's been since December or January of last year.
In the newspaper story this week (Sunday's Register), you said that you're close to fulfilling your purpose and your destiny in the coaching profession. Can you elaborate on that?
Some things are personal. My spiritual life and what I do in seeking my faith, that's both personal and then obviously try to witness the best I can without crossing the lines of being at a state institution.
But my life is exciting to me right now because I've seen things just going on within my career. I see us being awfully close. And from a spiritual standpoint, I've always been taught that the closer you get to what you're really trying to achieve as long as you're on the same page that you need to be with your creator that's when things really start to attack you.
That has happened in the last whether it's several years or several months. I'm turning that in, my family is turning that in to some very exciting times becuase I think that we're right on the brink of something very, very special.
What that will be? I don't know yet. But it's pretty exciting trying to figure out what that's going to be.
Over a period of five years here, have you changed anything do you think?
Yeah. Each of those years there's been different things that have happened within that team, several things that I've never had to deal with in coaching. I would hope that I've learned valuable lessons of mistakes that were made or decision that were made or how you handled this situation or didn't handle this situation.
I would hope that I've grown, the coaching staff has grown and the individuals and the teammates have grown through that as well because there's been actually several of those things thrown at us that I've never had to deal with.
I hope at 39 that I'm doing things better than what I was at 34. I feel like we're working awfully hard at it. I love our system. I love what we have in place going into this year. I'm excited about staff and team. Now it's just a matter of trying to improve here in the next four or five weeks of practice.