How has preseason practices been going for your team?
Not bad. We were practicing pretty well and I thought we were really making some good strides. Then we had an injury last week and that made us take a step back. It was our point guard so we have to kind of rethink the way we're going to do things here early in the season. So, we're in the process of a little transformation but the guys have been working hard.
Have there been any players that were on the roster last year that have been standing out or surprised you?
Well, I think Terrell Stoglin is coming off. He was all-freshman team last year and he had a good season. Especially late in the year he put up some good numbers. He's practiced well. He can really score the ball. I'm trying to make him a more complete player. Sean Mosley has really practiced well and played well in our scrimmages. He's a senior and he's done well. Across the board, we have some guys that didn't play a lot that are back from the team whether it's James Padgett, Ashton Pankey or Berend Weijs. Those are three big guys that are playing well for us. Mychal Parker is the same way: a guy who didn't play a lot for us last year that's practicing well. It's all their time to step up and try and produce at this level. Then we have a freshman Nick Faust who has played well for us and has a chance to be pretty good.
Do you like the way this tournament shapes up in terms of the schedule?
Well, I like it [the format] too and the day off. I like these early season tournaments. I think they're great for bonding, bringing your team together, just getting away from home and seeing where you stand nationally. I don't know if our team's ready for three and four days. We're down to seven scholarship players. We'll see. We're going to have to implement a couple of walk-ons into our rotation. That's the way the schedule is and this is our team so we're looking forward to it. I've never played in the Puerto Rican Shootout. I've been to a lot of the other tournaments but I'm looking forward to this one.
Coach, you play Alabama in the first round. What're your thoughts about the Crimson Tide?
Well I haven't studied them a lot. Obviously they have a good coach who has done a great job in Coach Grant. The Green kid and the Mitchell kid are special players. They've had great careers and have helped to put Alabama basketball back on the map, so to speak. They had a great SEC season last year and made a run in the NIT, to the championship game. So, we know they're going to be good. They lost a few pieces and added some new pieces, some good pieces. So, I'm sure like us they're trying to find themselves but they're still very talented and they're picked high. They should be excited about this season. I think they're in most of the Top 20 polls that I've seen.
Thoughts about the second round possibilities (Colorado or Wichita St.).
Well, you never really look forward to that as a coach. A lot of great memories at Wichita State. You know, I'll see a lot of familiar faces because Wichita St. travels well and they'll have a lot of people down there so it'll be good to see some people down there. Then of course Tad and I were together for a long time at Jacksonville St. and Wichita St. and he helped me build those programs and get where we are today. So, you don't look forward to any of those games to be quite honest with you but you've got to play them. I think the Shockers are picked high in their league and they should be good once again this year. And I think Tad is kind of going through a little bit of a rebuilding stage. Obviously, a little bit of a young team. Either way we're going to play a black and yellow team in the second round but it should be fun just to see some familiar faces.
Coach your football team wears some different uniforms. Are you guys doing anything like that this year?
Not this year. We're not planning on it. I think we will in the future. The pride uniforms, the state flag, I think will be one of those once a year type things that we'll do. But as of this point we are sticking to the uniforms we had last season and then next year we'll do some more stuff.
Coach do you have any new updates on Alex Len yet?
No. I don't.
How do you manage three games in four days with a relatively thin roster?
We're just gonna have to play some walk-ons. That's the bottom line. We're gonna get in foul trouble and we're just gonna have to play them. We're gonna practice that way and start preparing that way. Unfortunately, since PeShon's gone down we've had two scrimmages and really haven't had a lot of practice time to adjust to him being gone and it showed in one of our scrimmages this weekend. So, we got to see which walk-on players are most ready to help us and they're gonna play. Give us a couple minutes here and there in the first half and the second half. That's the only thing you can do when you play three games in four days. It's hard to play one game or two games with seven guys. We gotta get our guys in better shape. They are getting in better shape. And maybe change the way we've been practicing. We've been practicing, putting up-tempo, playing a lot faster and unfortunately we might not be able to do that early in the season.
On Pe'Shon and his MRI results.
Unfortunately, I haven't heard anything yet. I was supposed to hear something yesterday and didn't hear anything. He's had the MRI and some people have looked at it and they've given me preliminary stuff but nothing factual like okay this is what the doc said after he viewed the whole thing. I know Pe'Shon's got a doctor's appointment on Wednesday and we'll know more there because not only has he read the MRI but also he can push on Pe'Shon's foot and see how he reacts to the pain and that kind of stuff. So, unfortunately I don't have anything for you. I should have more and I don't. I'm a little disappointed, but hopefully we'll have something by Wednesday.
What kind of ripple effect is Pe'Shon's injury causing on your lineup?
Well it's a big deal. Pe'Shon was a steady point guard for us. We only had two in the program so this knocks us down to one. So now I've got to move Nick Faust to point guard or backup point and he's a really good three man but he's gonna have to play point and he's not comfortable there. It puts a lot of pressure on him and it shortens our rotation. Terrell Stoglin, I think, is more of a scoring point or a natural two even at his size and now he has to play more point. And he's played point. He's played it his whole life. So, we couldn't afford an injury to one of our two point guards and it's happened. We've just got to adjust. This is the way it's going to be. This is our team and we'll adjust. But it's a big ripple effect. It's not just a little thing. Our program is not in the position where we can just plug somebody else in, unfortunately. But we will be next year.
Have you been able to accomplish what you've hoped to accomplish in recruiting so far?
Yeah, so far. We wanna do more. We're not done by any stretch. We still have three scholarships on paper. So, we'd like to add a piece or two before next season. But we've got to add the right pieces. So, we're actively recruiting a lot of people and if we don't get it done early we're gonna do something late. But no, we need to do more.
How have your bigs been coming along?
They're coming. I think Pankey is coming the quickest. He can defend and rebound for us better than the other two. James has shown some ability to score but him and Berend need to know they're gonna play and get relaxed and do what they do in practice. They're all getting better but I think Pankey is coming the quickest.
We're excited. I know Maryland, last time they went down there, they won the tournament. The fans still talk about that, what a great time they had. And they had a heck of a team that season. But we're looking forward to getting back down there. Hopefully traveling well and just bonding as a team. We're looking forward to the challenges and obviously playing Alabama is going to be a great challenge.