Coach Haith Press Conference

Head Coach Frank Haith spoke to the media recently about the upcoming 2004-2005 men's basketball season. It will be the first season in the ACC for the Canes, and they are ready for the challenge.

Opening Statement

We've had eight practices, and out of those eight practices, I can only say that we have had really only one bad practice. We've had one semi-ok practice. What I have learned from those practices is that we are still trying to find a point guard. Between Anthony Harris, Eric Wilkins, and Brandon Okpalobi. I have been very please with our post players. We had a scrimmage on Saturday with officials. We had tremendous production out of our post guys, in terms of offense. I think Gary had 12, Will had 14 and 10. We only played 24 minutes. I wanted to make sure that we had some production out of our post guys. I do feel good about our perimeter play in Rob and Guillermo. Guillermo and Rob have both played well. Guillermo didn't play particularly well in the scrimmage, but I think that he needs to make the simple and easy play instead of the difficult play. Once he does that, he will keep himself from getting in trouble. As a team I have been very pleased with our commitment and effort. And our commitment to learning, because we have done a lot of teaching and breaking things down fundamentally, offensively and defensively.

What do you look for in a Point Guard?

The one thing that person has to do is play under control and stay out of trouble. Trouble is going to find him, so he needs to not go looking for trouble. The main thing is the ball should stick in their hands, they have to keep the ball in their hands. We've got to get them in the offense and get the ball moving. Between our three guys, each one of those guys have had their day. Consistency is something I am looking for over the next couple of weeks.

What have you learned, now that you are a Head Coach?

Well, right now I'm trying to learn my team. The only thing I can do now is try to figure how I can put my team in the best situation to win. That is a day to day process. I continue to evaluate each day, putting in a lot of time on the court and off. As a staff, we spend a lot of time with our guys, talking to them. We also spend a lot of time in film session and breaking down our personnel.

What caused you to give Brandon a scholarship this year?

When I first got here, I didn't know anything about Brandon. Just how he carried himself, and how his teammates perceived him. He was a young man who was always around when we were doing workouts, and he does well in school. So I wanted to reward him. It's his senior year, and he has been with the program since his freshman year. I was not going to use the scholarship, so I think it is a positive to him. And he's worked hard. He has some leadership qualities, he just has to be steady. He has to not turn the ball over. Those other two guys on the wing are pretty good, in Guillermo and Rob.

What can your team expect from the ACC?

I think people think of the Big East as being a more physical league. Although, when I was in the ACC, it was physical league at the time. My experience has been in the ACC, you are talking about a passionate league for basketball. The enthusiasm in this league is incredible for this team. When we travel, our guys will see that. Our guys will see packed houses, and they'll see an enthusiastic crowd. We are going to play against great coaches and players.

How do you build that atmosphere here?

Well, we have got to do our part and that is put a product on the field that people want to come out and see. We've also got to do some marketing. That is no different that what we had to do when we first got to Texas. We have to educate folks about basketball in the ACC, we have to spend time with our student body. It starts with our students. They're going to bring the energy to the program, and we have got to find a way to get them into our building. We have a function where we are bringing all the residence halls to our practice. They are going to spend time with our players. We are reaching our to them, that is what we have to do, is reach out to them.

Who is becoming the leader of this year's team?

Well I think there are four guys that separate themselves, Gary Hamilton, Will Frisby, Rob, and Guillermo. I've been very impressed with Gary Hamilton, he does everything that you ask him to do. He's not the most talented player there is, but he is the most sound. He leads by playing, and I want him to be a little more vocal. He's so competitive, and he is starting to get more confident in his offensive ability. I wanted him to be more assertive offensively. He has nice touch, I want him to shoot the ball when he is open too.

What was the mood when you first came in, and what have you done to change that mood?

Any time there is change, it is difficult, because they don't know what to expect. The one thing I try to do is spend a lot of time with my guys on the phone. I'll call two or three guys a night. Just to see how they are doing. I want them to know exactly what I expect. There is no gray area. That first meeting I could sense in their eyes that they were wanting discipline and direction. They've been very cooperative, they're like sponges. We've thrown a lot at them, and they have taken it all in.

About the schedule

We play Xavier in I think our third game, and at Texas we played them in the sweet sixteen. They are a talented team. Then three games later, we have a game at Florida. Then we have UMass., who some people are picking in the Atlantic 10. We really wanted to get some home games, and get some people in our house. Based on where we are at, it is a competitive schedule.

How will you prepare for teams like Duke?

I think you have to instill confidence. Especially on the road, the kids have to be confident, and know that you believe in them. As we go on in practice, the repetition is key. I'm a big believer in putting 45 seconds on the clock in practice and practicing our execution. Teaching them the game, as opposed to playing the game. I think when you put them in a situation and they execute, then when they get in the game they can handle themselves.

Talk about Glenn Batemon

He's coming along great. He's still working on his weight and conditioning. I saw him at 350 and he is now 335. I still want him to get down. When he catches the ball, he has great hands. He can catch the ball, and if you have good hands, theoretically, if you have good hands, you can score. The problem is getting him down there so he can score, and getting him back down the other end. If we are able to get him where he needs to be, he can help us, because he is a presence. We don't have a lot of size on this team, and having him in the middle, taking up some space would be very helpful. He does extra running, time on the bike, to continue his conditioning. Now we have to get him to watch his diet.

How are you going to recruit at UM?

First thing we got to do here is take care of Florida. If there are players in South Florida that are good enough to play at this level, we need to get them. Then we'll go wherever we need to go to get good players. My staff and I have contacts all over the country. I know we can recruit in Texas.

Talk about the style of play this year

We are going to play up-tempo. We are going to have a slanted style of play, meaning that we are going to play fast offensively and slow defensively. We have to make people shoot contested jump shots. With our quickness and athleticism, I think that we should play fast offensively. We can get out and run. Offensively we will get up and down.

Talk about the freshmen

Antoine Mayhand is a guard out of Washington DC, who has really impressed me with his offensive skills. He can really put the ball in the hole. He was our leading scorer in the scrimmage. We have to help him understand what we are doing, sometimes he gets lost. He has good talent. Raymond Hicks is 6-7 forward out of Texas. He's really athletic, strong, I think in time he is going to be a great player. Like Antoine he is still finding himself. He can score, he is explosive around the hoop.

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