How would you rate this team seven games into the season?
Oh, about a C+. We're OK. I wouldn't get real excited just yet, but I think we've shown at times we can be very competitive with just about anybody.
For us, the question is going to be can this team get over the hump, really learn how to be an effective team for 40 minutes. We show it at times, but that's for me right now the area that this group needs to learn how to be better for 40 minute stretches.
Is it about what you expected at this point?
I really didn't know what to expect to be honest, so I don't really know how to answer that question. We've competed every night, I don't think that we've had very many stretches where I've felt like we're not competing. That's been good.
We haven't always played well, the first half of the Texas game we didn't play well at all, but we were able to in the second half. I thought we had a poor start to the Indiana game but we overcame that and took a lead at halftime. We haven't always played great but I think we're playing pretty hard. I think we're playing really unselfishly, I like those two things.
Defensively, we're good at times. Midway through the first half of the Indiana game until about six minutes to go in the game, I thought defensively we were really good. We weren't very good at the end, so consistently can we sure up those areas with our team is probably going to determine a lot for us.
What have you thought of Lorenzo Brown's development at the point guard position?
I think [he's] done very well. There is a lot more to that position than people realize. When you are the quarterback you have to understand so many things, understanding your own players, who needs the ball where, who hasn't had the ball, who needs the ball.
Defensively, what we're trying to do, he needs to be the coach on the floor and direct traffic. When you look at all those things, for a guy who really hadn't played it exclusively, I think he's done very well.
When you are trying to establish a program, how important is the work that someone like Bob Alejo has done as far as conditioning?
He's been critical. It's why when we brought Bob in, it's why I hired him. I felt like he was the right guy who could set the tone for day in day out how hard we're going to work.
Nowadays in college athletics, especially in the offseason, we don't get our players as much as we'd really want to. The strength coach does, he's with them every day. That's a critical position in college athletics, someone that can demand great effort, push guys to another level and do it in a way that there is still good rapport with that guy and the players.
How did this game with Stanford come about? Was this one of the games you scheduled after taking the job? Was this one of your requests?
Yes. I've known Johnny Dawkins a long time. We were looking to go on the road, we needed to go on the road. I wanted a high level BCS-type school to play and believe it or not, I didn't' have a lot of great choices. Not that this wasn't a great choice but then we had a conversation about going with Stanford, which was good. These kind of games help our team, help us get better. Just like the Indiana game, you are really clear on what you have to improve on as a team when you play good teams.
Coach Dawkins hasn't had quite the results that he would have wanted in his first couple of years, but what do you think of Stanford and they challenge they'll present? Are they better than people realize?
They pounded Oklahoma State in New York, they were leading against Syracuse in the Garden with three minutes to go. They have two senior post players who are very good players. They give that team some senior leadership. Then they have a sophomore class that has a year under their belt. Then they add in a really good freshman.
He's got a good blend, they are playing really well. They don't beat themselves. It might be the best team we've played. Vanderbilt didn't have Ezeli, probably with Ezeli you would say Vanderbilt but without him this team might be the best team we've played.
Jordan Vandenberg hasn't played the last two games. He hasn't redshirted, but is that in the conversation?
His shoulder has really been hurting him lately, I think it was a little better yesterday. We'll look at him again today. Hopefully, especially against a team like Stanford, even against Zeller he could have helped us a little bit, we need him to play. I'm hoping today he's a little better. If he was injured obviously it could turn into one.
We've played him already in some games. It's something we'll watch and obviously he's got to be the barometer of how he feels. We'll see. He can help this team right now but if it's something we have to look at doing later, I want to do what's right for him. We'll take it day by day.
What have you seen from the other frontcourt guys? Deshawn, C.J. Leslie and Richard Howell have all played well. Also, what about Thomas de Thaey, are you hoping to work him into the rotation more?
We have to get Thomas in there and we may play him a little more at the wing. They've all done well we just have to do more. Painter has been good and I think he's really been a surprise. Prior to the first game I wasn't really sure how he would figure in, but what happens sometimes, Calvin doesn't play three games, DeShawn gets an opportunity and next thing you know he plays real well.
Richard is one of those players we just have to get him to play at a high level all the time. He can get to a high level for short periods of time, some of that is stamina even though he's lost the weight. He's got to learn to push himself to another level every minute of every practice. For him to become a really good college player, that's the one thing he's got to learn how to do.
Calvin, if you rank the guys right now to date who's playing the hardest, he's near the top of the list. He's also playing within what he can do.