No one knows Loe better than Harriman, who just completed his second season as an assistant at SLU and has been the Billikens' go-to guy in recruiting in Australia and now New Zealand.
BillikenReport: How did SLU get involved with Loe?
Harriman: "Obviously with working with Australia so closely and how tight-knit that is with New Zealand I've known about Rob for quite some time. He has always been a big kid that was developing and improving and he really worked hard in the past 18 months to two years and his development has been excellent. So I've known about Rob for quite some time and I've seen him play for almost three years now. We've been involved for the better part of over a year at least heavily in recruiting. I did a home visit over a year ago and then he was at the World Championships obviously where Christian (Salecich) and Cody (Ellis) were at and he had an unbelievable World Championships where he averaged over 18 (points) and seven (rebounds). I know his team wasn't a powerhouse team, as you would say, but he definitely went up against the best competition in the world for that age group and took a backstep to nobody. He played great."
BillikenReport: How many trips did you make to New Zealand over the years?
Harriman: "I've been to New Zealand twice this year four times in the past 18 months. Obviously the World Championships was one of those when I was there to see Cody and Christian play and obviously Rob. We've had our eye on Rob for a long time. We knew he wasn't going to be easy guy to get because it's just hard to find guys that are that big and that also have the skill-set that he has. He's a winner. The kid is competitive. He's tough. I think he's a perfect fit for what we have and what we need in terms of a big that can shoot it and he has a great feel for the game. It was a lot of trips out there but it was definitely worthwhile."
BillikenReport: Is Rob already qualified and cleared and ready to go?
Harriman: "He is cleared. Rob is a qualifier. Rob's an academic qualifier. He's already been cleared through the Clearinghouse. He was just selected to the Nike All-Asian Camp in Beijing this June, so he'll be attending that. He's the first New Zealand athlete ever asked to attend that. So that's the last trip he's going to make. He's got some national team commitments. He'll probably be playing in the World Championships this August. So he's going to be in national team preparations for a lot of the summer, which is great for him but it's also good for us because that's the most elite level."
BillikenReport: Who can you compare him to among current college players?
Harriman: "I don't know if I can compare him to a certain guy. I will tell you this, being 6-11 and 235 and having the shooting ability that he has, Rob has a chance to help us immediately. I think that he can come in and because of his unselfish nature passing the ball and that he's such a competitor, he'll come in and play right away. His development and what he becomes is going to be up to him. We'll definitely do whatever we can on our end to make him the player that we think he can be, but he's got a lot of work to do. He's got a lot of work to do on his body and he knows that. The weight room is going to be his best friend for the next four years. Erick Schork is going to do a great job I know with him. He's got a lot of things like all freshmen that he needs to get better at, but there aren't a whole lot of guys like Rob Loe because of his size. If you are 6-11 in the States you basically from 14, 15 growing up, you are back to the basket your whole life. Luckily Rob has had the experience playing on the senior men's level where he is playing off the elbows, he's playing outside on the perimeter. I think he has a chance to come in and play immediately and really help us and he's such a team-first guy that he'll fit in really easily."
BillikenReport: Loe told me one of the reasons he liked SLU was because the team was such a tight-knit group.
Harriman: "When it came down to it, obviously the fact that we have such a young team and we are building towards where we want to be and this year was a step in the right direction, I think he sees the future here is promising but more importantly he loved our guys. He absolutely said hands-down that he enjoyed our guys more than any other team when he was on his visits. That's a credit to Coach (Rick Majerus) and the kind of high-character guys that he brings in and then obviously with Coach's background and the way in which he develops bigs, that was the other deciding factor for Rob, the fact that he knows he's going to get better, he's going to play under a future Hall of Fame coach and to be in a winning program meant matters a lot to him."
BillikenReport: Two of the issues with the team this year were knocking down shots from the perimeter and rebounding. I know Rob can make shots from the perimeter, but how much can he help with rebuilding?
Harriman: "Size alone helps obviously. Being 6-11 is 6-11. You're right, he can shoot the ball, but what really impressed me the most about Rob, apart from his shooting ability, is just how competitive he is. I think he'll surprise even himself with how good of a rebounder he could be because he understands angles, he understands footwork and he knows how to do his work early. I think he enjoys contact. He's not afraid of contact. Although he's kind of a more European mold in that he doesn't mind playing on the perimeter, I think he also enjoys utilizing his size for mismatches. The kid loves to rebound. The kid loves to compete. He'll definitely help us, no question about it, rebounding in our league and that was something we had our issues with. I think he'll more than help us in that area. And it makes it easier on guys like Willie (Reed) and guys like Brian (Conklin) and Cody (Ellis) and Cory (Remekun) having another big body in there, even in practice. Competing against guys that size is going to make us better. Practice is going to be more competitive and I think ultimately we'll be a better team because of it."
BillikenReport: You expect him to come in and be in the rotation right away if not in the starting lineup? Right away you think he can make that kind of impact?
Harriman: "Absolutely. I think he can. This is a kid that coming in here and playing, he's not going to be afraid. He's not going to be where he hasn't been exposed to something like this before. He's played on the senior national team in New Zealand as the youngest guy ever to do it. He's played over in Europe against the European national teams. He's played against the Yugoslavias and the Turkeys and the Argentineans of the world. I think he's a lot more mature in the fact that he is young but he's more seasoned probably than anybody we've ever had in my short time here because of where he's played, in the arenas he's played in and the competition he's played against and I think that's going to help him more than anything. He's going to be a freshman, he's going to have his ups and downs. He's not going to step in and be a savior, but he's going to step in and I have no question that he's going to help us right away."
BillikenReport: What are the similarities between Rob and Cody Ellis? Are they similar in their games and their abilities?
Harriman: "Yes and no. They are similar in the fact that they can both shoot it well. Rob has more of an inside mindset. When Cody got here, Cody was at such a disadvantage just conditioning-wise and going through all that he went through. To do what Cody did surpassed even some of our own expectations though probably not his. But I think that Rob's a little more physical. Where Cody at times was too perimeter-orientated and at times falls in love with the jumper but he can shoots it so well that that's OK, Rob also likes contact. Rob likes to mix it up. He's got that competitive streak about him. With his size, he's a little bit different. He can play a little more inside, where Cody is developing both inside and outside. I think Rob is at times a little bit behind Cody perimeter-wise but a lot more ahead on him in the interior. For Rob, at his size, he's a power forward but one of the things Coach (Majerus) has talked to him a lot about is utilizing himself as a mismatch. When he's got a smaller guy (on him) taking him inside. When he's got a bigger, slower guy, playing on the perimeter. But he's such a great passer and he's such a great fit in terms of understanding how to play within what we do and the way Coach wants things done. They are different in a lot of ways. Different personalities but both are really high-character guys."
BillikenReport: What can you say about how Cody Ellis performed this season?
Harriman: "Cody completely ran out of gas. Cody gave us all he had for as long as he could and I think he wasn't prepared to play and nor should he have been. He wasn't prepared to play 22 games. He was probably prepared to play about 10 to 15 max because of his conditioning and his preparation and he just completely ran out of gas. He had no legs. We've had a lot of discussions with Cody already about what our expectations are and I think he's on the same level as us. This summer is just going to be tremendous for him. We've already started the guys working out in the weight room and we're kicking his tail every day and I think he'll be a completely different guy next year to obviously how he finished out and I know he's disappointed in how he finished out. The challenge for him is getting his body right and getting himself in shape and he will do that and that will help us."