Question: One of the things you said on the radio is that the practices have been uneven. Is that accurate?
Coach Beilein: “Yeah they have been very choppy. We would like our practices to have a great tempo to them, the heart rate never goes down that people are able to go. We are teaching every drill. We are stopping in the middle of a drill. Sometimes I will have 12 minutes to run a drill and it will take me eight minutes to explain it. We got four minutes and then all of a sudden we got to go to the next thing. So getting everything in has been very slow and it has always been slow the first year. So it has taken the tempo of what I want down.”
Question: Where are you at in terms of putting the offense in?
Coach Beilein: “We are trying to put the shell in, but there is so much reading involved in it that it just takes one guy to mess up a read and then you are back at the beginning again. Through osmosis they gradually get it, but right now everybody struggles at different times and it is not uncommon. If it was the second year, this would be very uncommon. Lets say we only recruit two players, there are only two guys learning it. There are 12-14 and Coach Jackson. There is a lot it.”
Question: Pretty much the same experience putting it in at West Virginia?
Coach Beilein: “We are thinking about that right now. The only difference, I guess would be is that Patrick (Beilein) was one of my guys there and Johannes Herber was a guy that played a lot of European basketball and while it is not a lot like that, some of the concepts were similar. So he had played a lot of that and we had one player on that team J.D. Collins who was just exceptionally IQ’d. He could learn anything just like that (snaps fingers). So I do not remember it being this difficult, but it was difficult. We might be a little more complicated than we were back then too, just a little bit.”
Question: Is that frustrating for you?
Coach Beilein: “You know, every practice has frustrating moments. I walk in here some days thinking, ‘man this is really going to be tough’ and in another instance, I say, ‘yeah, I saw a little light at the end of the tunnel today.’ What you have to be careful to do as a coach is that what is frustrating is 32 years of a guy catching a ball with one hand and it going out of bounds (laughing) and you yell at him, but you are not really yelling at him. You are yelling at 32 years of watching somebody doing that. So that is what you keep saying, ‘okay, it is okay… he is no different than these other kids you have had.’ They will get it.”
Question: Has there been occasion where they have picked things up quicker or does it vary from day to day?
Coach Beilein: “I think Deshawn Sims has done a wonderful job of picking things up in particular. Everybody is doing okay with it, but I thought Deshawn; he did a read the other day and I missed it. Then he corrected me and the film, which we call ‘the truth.’ It proved him right and I still owe him five pushups for that.”
Question: So you will get down and do them?
Coach Beilein: “I will do them. Yeah, but I have only had to do it a couple of times so far.”
Question: I saw (Ekpe) Udoh sit down today.
Coach Beilein: “Yeah he banged his knee yesterday just for a second. As a precaution, we do have a closed scrimmage this weekend, and we thought maybe to just let it die down a little bit and see where it is. Hopefully, it is just a bruise.”
Question: You talk about attitude initially. How are attitudes now that they are starting to go through the ringer a little bit?
Coach Beilein: “It has been pretty good, pretty good. I think we go through the normal problems of when they make a mistake, woe is me. Or the coach corrects them, woe is me. It is a normal thing that they go through early until we said listen, ‘we are only going to learn from our mistakes that is how we are going to get better’.”
Question: What about defensively?
Coach Beilein: “Yeah okay, okay. Even our man-to-man defense is a little bit different. Some of the concepts are different than either they played in high school or college last year. So there is still a lot of learning to go through. There is learning man-to-man defense for anybody who has not played major minutes in division I. Really, I think you only got Ronnie (Coleman) and Jerret (Smith) who really have major minutes on that team. Ekpe (Udoh) might have had a few more last year, but just all the things going on… we do three or four things very different then what they are accustomed to last year. And then every high school player, and both these kids were well prepared, every high school player goes through a major change. It would be no different than a college player goes to the NBA. It is a different defense.”
Question: So you are saying Manny (Harris) and Kelvin (Grady) especially have a lot to learn?
Coach Beilein: “Every freshman. They are not different than any other freshman. They have shown some great eagerness to learn. They hustle, both like crazy. But man-to-man defense and zone takes a couple of years to really learn. It is instinctive. Right now we go through a lot of paralysis by analysis that they are thinking. They are one step behind. You have heard that before.”
Question: What do you know about this group that you did not know two weeks ago?
Coach Beilein: “Oh boy. Just having Epke (sit down). I did not have a plan in place if one of the big guys got hurt. That is one thing I know right now that I had to make a quick change and either make sure you get Deshawn (Sims) or Anthony (Wright) in a backup to Zach (Gibson) if we do have injuries to the center. You know, I do not expect them to know much right now other than to play hard and they have competed every day for the whole 2 hours, 2 hours 15 minutes. So I am pleased by that. You know what, we have not had any disciplinary issues. They went out there and there was not a guy disrespecting his teammate, disrespecting their coach. They do want to get better and our job is to teach them how to get better and that is the biggest thing.”
Question: Having a game next week. Is this something where you are in a position where you can know what your rotation would be like or anything?
Coach Beilein: “We are starting to get to that. You usually, when before we used to have five weeks before the first game, the first game would be like November 22nd. We start the 15th, five weeks and you scrimmage in 3 weeks or exhibition, this 2 weeks to the scrimmage; we are not ready for that, but we will just do our best. Playing on the 9th for a first year is not easy to do. Radford is in the same situation that they are going through the same thing.”
Question: You talked about before the season starting only playing a certain number of guys, without saying particular names, have you started to develop in your mind how many guys you are going to play on a regular basis?
Coach Beilein: “Here is one of the issues that I think in the first year coach especially is that you try and prepare eight, nine or ten is harder to prepare than six, seven or eight. Obviously, there are so many new concepts that are going in all the time, the shorter the number would be better. I think it is maybe one of those things where we start with a shorter number and grown it, as opposed to other situations where maybe they got the system in, teaching two or three people, they start with ten and shrink it. It may be a different 7 or 8 every game. It may be different ones while we read who does what.”
Question: Do you expect that to be a motivating factor?
Coach Beilein: “What I try to be is educational factor
and a motivating factor as far as they say, ‘I got to get on that team
where he is playing the eight’. I actually brought that up today with
them too. I says that guys who turn out in the scrimmage to be nine, ten or
eleven; the only guy that have not been successful for us in the past are the
ones that brooded about it and it inhibited their development. So guys like
a Frank Young, let it nurture him to be a better player and all of a sudden
he comes a terrific player. So those are the points that I was trying to make
with them today. I think that it would be unwise to throw eleven guys, ten guys
in there right now, because there is just too much room for error there.”