Lickliter Press Conference: Part 2

Todd Lickliter was introduced as Iowa's new head basketball coach today. Read more from Iowa's new head man in part 2 of this premium transcript.

Todd Lickliter: I want to express my sincere gratitude to president Fethke and to you Gary for this honor and this opportunity. For the confidence you've shown in my. I will work diligently to repay. I'd like for you all to know that I'm thrilled. I agree with Gary that no one, with a less than, I don't know if excellent is the word, but it had to be an awfully good resume to catch the University of Iowa's attention. I knew going in that if they contacted me, that they saw something that caught their eye. I had to assume that was what we'd been able to accomplish on the court. I was flattered to hear from them, but I knew there would be more to it than that. As I said, I was flattered, excited, and I felt like, as Gary said, that I had a good job. It had been proven with our graduation rates, with our success on the court, the individuals I was involved with. I am indebted to Butler University, and will always be very special. I wouldn't have left there unless it was a unique and special opportunity. After meeting with Gary and Fred Mims it became very obvious to me that this was such an opportunity. This was a special, special place. I went back and told my wife, "It went better than I could even have expected." It was terrific. I believe we shared the same visions, had the same approach on the highest level in the Big Ten at a terrific institution that has a storied tradition, a fan base unparalleled and I just couldn't be more anxious. I hadn't heard. I wanted to go back again and spend some more time and see if we couldn't agree that this was the right opportunity for both of us. I was able to do that. Let me back up and tell you I have a son that's a junior in high school. This could possibly mean a move for him. He's very settled. He's here with me today, my son John with my wife Joez. They've accompanied me. I told john , "This could mean a move. It's pretty unsettling." His comment was, "Dad, it's Iowa!" I was glad to hear that. I was in full agreement. I didn't know he was as wise as he is. I appreciated that. I got his blessing. Once we had an agreement that it was the right fit, I wanted to first of all meet with my team that I was leaving then hurry and get here. With that said, there was a plane from Iowa City and my car's still in Atlanta. I think it's in good hands, but I wasn't going to waste any time. We'll figure that out some other time. We'll get back don there and get the car. I'm thrilled to be here. I got to meet with the team. I'm looking forward to getting to know them and work together, for us to set on a path here that all of our fans will be proud of, that we will be proud of. We're looking forward to the challenge, thank you.

Q: Iowa's tradition. Are you going to look into that?

Lickliter: I welcome the tradition, because it's storied. I know about Iowa because I grew up in Big Ten Country. I know about the Big Ten. I want to learn more. I'm thankful to now be a part of it. I want to build on it. The one thing, I'm learning. I saw a book that seemed to be dedicated to the fans. I don't know if I've seen any sports books for the fans. I'm pretty excited about that. I've heard there aren't any better fans than Iowa fans, and I can't wait to meet them all.

Q: Gary, what are the terms?

Barta: Here's where we're at right now. We've signed a memo of understanding. I sort of liken it to, for the attorneys in the room, I liken it to a handshake. We don't have a long-version contract yet, but we've agreed to seven-year terms, 1.2 million dollars in guaranteed income, then a very attractive bonus structure that's very competitive, both in the Big Ten and the NCAA. There will be additional compensation. We talked the talk, so we have to walk the walk. We put an academic compensation bonus package int here related to APR, and graduation rates. I told you also when I left here that we would be competitive. This is a very competitive package nationally and in the Big Ten. Where we sit today is that it's a document that will be converted into a contract in the next 30 to 60 days.

Q: Coach, after you've had opportunities to go to other so called "big schools," why Iowa?

Lickliter: I think I'm going to learn that more. It was my perception that we shared the same vision, the vision that you can be really good at two things. You can be great students and you can be great players. I think there's a tradition here we can build on. I think it has the right community feel. I think it has a fan base that's unparalleled. It's in the Big Ten, obviously. I'm really excited. As I said, you can do two things, you can be a great player and be a great student. I think Iowa promotes that, so we share that vision, and I look forward to the opportunity.

Q: With all the teams you beat this year, how did you do it? Was it the philosophy, the kids you had? How'd you do that?

Lickliter: Yes. (laughs) I had a special group of guys. Athletics is a people business, but more important it's a right people business. I was surrounded by the right people. My staff, the team, the support. I fully anticipate it'll be the same way here. It'll be a people business, it'll be a right people business, and we will compete on a very high level. I look forward to it. As I look, and I think you look at the players that have come through Iowa in the past, there are far too many to mention that are at the highest caliber. Nothing against my guys at Butler, I love them, but I thought when we were a couple possessions away in a game or two, or in the tournament. I thought if we could possibly attract the caliber of player that's come through here and I'm sure these guys are, and we can work together, that we can enjoy meeting a lot of challenges.

Q: The previous coach called this a football school. That's one of the reasons he left. How do you like coaching at a football school?

Lickliter: First of all, Steve and I have known each other. I was a high school coach and he was a high school player. Steve would speak one way, and I might speak another. My answer would be that if Florida and Ohio State are football schools, I'll take it.

Q: You worked under Thad Matta over at Butler. What did you take from him?

Lickliter: That's an interesting question. Not only did I work under him, but one year, in between my high school stints, I coached him. I've probably taken more from him, just as I've taken more from players than I have from fellow coaches. Thad Matta had an incredible competitive spirit. He had a great mind for the game as a player. He told me one time, "I'm going to be a sales rep." I told him, "No, you're going to be a coach." But he might be selling a lot right now in his coaching. He is a great student of the game, we agree that the game should be played out of the joy of playing and competing. I tell my guys all the time, I love coaching, but I'd trade em, I'd rather play the game. We want our players to play with great enthusiasm and great spirit. I think he approached coaching the way he approached playing, and I'd do the same thing. We've been long-time friends, but a couple times a year, that won't matter.

Q: Can the Butler way become the Iowa way and the Big Ten way?

Lickliter: The Butler way is special to me because I think it's more about how you live. I wouldn't ever impose anything on anybody else. I want to get acclimated and learn what the Iowa way is. If I can add to that from my experiences, I want to do it. We want to build and grow. What it is in my opinion is a season today, prepare today, do what champions do today so that when the time comes, you can seize that opportunity. I think anybody would want to do that. I'm anxious to learn what the Iowa way is also.

Q: When did you first hear from Gary and what was your initial reaction?

Lickliter: I actually heard from Parker Executive Search one evening when I was driving. I thankfully answered the phone. When I heard Iowa, I said, "yes, I'm interested." I went to Atlanta on a vacation and flew back to Iowa City. I went down to the Final Four, and we got to meet. Like I said before, I went to the meeting excited. I left the meeting anxious. I was so impressed, that I wanted to get a call back. I wanted to come to Iowa, I knew that at that point. I want you to know that my wife was more anxious than I was. She was pacing, I told her, "You could never be a coach, you're too anxious, relax." I got to meet with them again, then we were on a plane headed to Indianapolis and then Iowa City after that.

Q: How important is it to keep (current players) and the recruits Steve had coming in?

Lickliter: I don't know why there would be a reason not to keep them. They committed to the University of Iowa, a great institution. They've upheld their commitment thus far. I told them I watched them some on tape this year, but I did not evaluate. There would be no reason to evaluate. I know they're very capable. I'm sure I'll give every one of them a chance, I'm sure they'll give me a chance. I've enjoyed great relationships with every one of my players, I anticipate that. We want everybody that wants to be at Iowa with us. We can be really successful with guys that want to be here and compete for Iowa. I got to meet with them and I'm throughly impressed.

Q: What would Butler fans and alumni say about you personally, off the court?

Lickliter: So I'm going to speak for them? I'm going to make it sound good if I'm going to speak for them. I would hope they'd say, and I have to say I'd hope, that I had a great love for the game, a passion for people and an enthusiasm. I understand that this is a game people can feel passionate about. I wouldn't ever want to dodge that. I'm thankful for it, I can live in that world and I'm going to enjoy it as much as possible. I know there'll be times when maybe once or twice I might make the wrong call. I respect them if they come and support our guys, I'll be glad to be around them.

Q: Can you talk about your coaching style, X's and O's? What style of basketball do you play?

Lickliter: Winning. A winning brand of basketball. I told the guys our teams are opportunistic. We're going to seize opportunities. We're going to attack with poise, we want to attack with great ball handling, we're not concerned about tempo. We're going to take what's given to us by making the extra pass and playing unselfishly. On defense, we're going to set our defense and make it very difficult for people to score. We're going to contest shots, and we're going to finish plays. We scored 90 this year, and we also scored in the 60s. What we're going to do is play the way we need to play to win that night. That takes toughness. Toughness, to me, is just doing what's right. I anticipate it here.

Q: Have you thought about a staff?

Lickliter: I've thought about everything. (laughs) Now h'm trying to get it systematic. I have thought about my staff. You don't have the success we had at Butler by having just a head coach or just a great team. We had a great team of coaches and players that worked very diligently. I anticipate we'll have staff members from that program interested. Believe me, when they see the University of Iowa, and what it has to offer, I'd be very surprised if a lot of people aren't interested. We'll open it up, evaluate, and make the right decisions as far as who can best help these student athletes achieve what they're dreaming of. I know that's success in the classroom and championship basketball.

Q: What about a schedule, at a mid-major you may have trouble getting some games.

Lickliter: We'll have to look at that. I like a competitive schedule. This year, we went to the pre-season NIT, we won the preseason NIT, we played in the Wooden Tradition. I think that's a good preparation, but that said, we obviously want to play at home. I can't emphasize enough, I had a good friend, I told him, "There'll be over 15 thousand people a night." He said, "Believe me, they are loud." We want to be in there as much as possible. We'll evaluate it, we'll put together a competitive, good schedule to prepare us for a Big Ten run and I still anticipate the Big Ten being a nice challenge.

Q: How many days until the Hawkeyes play the Buckeyes, and what will that be like for you?

Lickliter: It's an interesting question. You're going to see two really competitive coaches. We'll prepare really well and anticipate a great game, as I do with every team. I anticipate it'll take 40 minutes, and that's fine. We'll compete at a high level and strive to be successful. But that's down the line, as I'll tell our guys when we meet, our goal is to prepare today, seize today. Put the team first and improve every day. We'll prepare for the next contest every day. Hopefully when Ohio State is the next contest, we'll be prepared. I'm sure there'll be some other good teams before that.

Q: Being from Indianapolis, you have some ties there. Ohio State had two pretty good guys in Mike Conley Jr and Greg Oden come out of that area. Is that an area you want to recruit pretty good?

Lickliter: I'd say pretty good would be an understatement. We're gong to recruiting the areas where they have the players. Iowa is nationally known. We're not going to back away from anywhere. At the same time, we know there is great basketball in this state and the midwest. We have a lot of contacts there. I grew up in Indianapolis, my father was a high school coach. It wouldn't make sense to me to not recruit Indianapolis. But it's not the only place. There are a lot of places around here that have excellent talent and what we look for is good matches, good fits. Young people that take earning a degree seriously, that want to seize that opportunity and high level competitors and how we can fit them together to build a team.


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