With four more recruits coming in this Fall including 6-foot-8 power forward Dwayne Collins and 6-foot-11 JUCO transfer Fabio Nass, Haith sees the team going into a more traditional mode of basketball playing from the inside-out, but there are a load of questions that will need to be answered before the 2006-2007 season tips off next November.
CanesTime: Coach, thanks for taking the time to speak with us on this special night. Talk about the feelings you have on these guys who are now graduating and moving on.
Frank Haith: This is their night. You know it's a pleasure coaching those guys, Rob, Guillermo, Eric Wilkins, Lee Butler and Gary Hamilton. They're great men and I wanted to make sure we included Guillermo in there cause this is his night too, so they were tremendous kids, tremendous kids to coach.
CT: You are losing your two top scorers and best players. What was it like coaching two dynamic players like them?
FH: Guillermo and Rob were exciting players to watch play and it's been a joy for the last two years coaching those guys, but this is kind of the period for them and the end of their careers. I wish those guys nothing but the best and, I see nothing but positive for all of those guys.
CT: What was it like in the locker room following the loss to Michigan which ended your season?
FH: It was a real emotional time. I think our kids felt like we gave it a big run, gave it a great run and you know, I said this on stage. I applaud these guy's efforts even after having tough losses we continued to come back and compete and fight and that's a true testament to them and how committed they were to what we are trying to do here.
CT: Losing your top two scorers, how do you replace players like Hite and Diaz?
FH: Those guys are going to be tough to just say you are going to replace this guy and you're going to replace this guy cause they are good players. We got to have a lot of guys step up. We got to have guys in our program like Denis Clemente,. Anthony Harris, Jack McClinton. They've got to really step up and do more. Anthony King and Ray Hicks and Jimmy Graham. All those guys have got to do more.
CT: What do you expect from the incoming signees?
FH: The kids we signed. Dwayne Collins, James Dews, Fabio Nass. All those guys are going to have to come in and give us something. Until you get going with your season you don't know where that guy is going to be, who is that go to guy. But I know this, we are going to have a lot of guys contribute.
CT: Talk about the improvement of Raymond Hicks and need for Anthony King to step it up to another level, especially on the offensive end of the floor.
FH: Ray improved dramatically as the season went on. He has great footwork. He just got better and better as the season went on and hopefully we can expand on that and he can be a double-figure scorer for us along with King. And that would be nice to have two big guys averaging double figures in the post. I think King's consistently got to do that, he's got to post up aggressively. He's got to want the ball, not only when we call plays for him, but early post up opportunities, demand the ball when he has early post up opportunities and I think if he does, he give ourselves a chance to have a complete team if we are getting that our of our guys in the post.
CT: The last two years, you've had a guard dominated team with very little help or depth on the bench. Do you look at next year's team being more of a traditional style going inside more often?
FH: I do think it will be a well-rounded team. I think we'll be able to extend our defense a little bit more and do some things that way too and scoring out of our defense also.
CT: Defensively this year, we played a lot of zone because of our size disadvantage. Do you see yourself using more varieties of defense besides the zone next year?
FH: Sometimes when you have length and got size, you want to play zone. We are going to do whatever we have to do in order to win. I never want to be a coach to say this is what we are going to do until we get into our season and see how we are going to materialize. I can tell you this. We are going to do what we got to do to win. I think our personnel will be deeper and hopefully we can expand it and do more things, but until we get into it, we won't know.
Rudy Rodriguez-Chomat can be reached at email@example.com