USFN: Who is emerging as the team leaders?
McCullum: We expect leadership from all of our players, especially from your seniors, but in a rather unique way, Chris Howard would be singled out as one of the team leaders, and that was the case last year. The year before he was injured, which tells you a lot about the type of young man, the type of player he is for his teammates to see him that way. He has an unbelievable basketball mind, he picks things up so quickly, and he's just a student of the game. He's a gym rat who loves basketball, and he gladly imparts his knowledge on his teammates. So I'd have to say his name is right at the top of the list.
USFN: Who do you expect to be the impact players this year?
McCullum: Melvin Buckley, McHugh Mattis, Jesus Verdejo when he becomes eligible can really score the basketball. Kentrell Gransberry will make such a difference. He's an outstanding rebounder. He's just a powerful athlete, very difficult to keep off of the boards, because rebounding is such an important key, and he has the type of physical presence that so many of the teams in the BIG EAST have. As thrilled, as I am to have him with me here, I wish we had two or three like him. From a freshmen standpoint Soloman Bozeman I think is a guy who is very competitive point guard who can really shoot the basketball, and he'll make his presence felt right away.
USFN: How was the off-season for the team?
McCullum: It was a good off-season, and of course the trip to Italy really was a big part of that so that we could stay healthy and get those guys some valuable game experience. It will be a different team as we go into BIG EAST conference play.
USFN: How has the team and your self acclimated to your new assistants?
McCullum: Well he (Charles Cunningham and I have known each other twenty years, and of course Reggie Kohn has been a welcome addition. Of course he was no stranger to the campus and the program. So both of them are two outstanding additions.
USFN: Who will see the most time at Point Guard this year?
McCullum: Well right now Chris Capko is going to start because of his familiarity, but Solomon Bozeman could very well log as many minutes. He's a good athlete shoots the ball better, but yet again Chris is more familiar, and here early on both of them will play together. Then of course when Chris Howard returns we'll have three point guards. We'll go from one last year to three, and again that will make us a much better team.
USFN: How much of a boost do you expect in December?
McCullum: We anticipate Jesus and Kentrell becoming eligible for the tournament in Vegas. At that time our team will begin to take on a totally different look, just because of the size and the depth standpoint alone.
USFN: Is it your intention to use Verdejo as a pure two guard?
McCullum: He's an off guard, and that's what we indent to use him as.
USFN: Is the team ready to make it to MSG?
McCullum: I think It is a realistic goal. I thought prior to injuries last year that it was a realistic goal. Last year if you look what we did with so little depth, losing seven game by seven points or less. I think one can see that it wasn't so farfetched. If we are healthy going into BIG EAST play, and if you look at what some of the teams that finished above us suffered perhaps more losses then we did. Then that to paints a very realistic picture of us having a chance to make it to the New York.
USFN: Does it motivate the team being picked to finish last in the BE? McCullum: Yes, of course it does, but it doesn't matter, that's why you line up and play. I've been kind of considered an underdog all my life. So that part is nothing new, but that's why you play, it doesn't matter where you're picked. Seton Hall was picked 15th last year. I guess someone forgot to tell them, and they advanced to the NCAA tournament.
USFN: How has being in the BIG EAST helped with recruiting?
McCullum: It has helped tremendously, from Chris Howard to Zaronn Cann last year. I think a big part of the reason we got them was our membership in the BIG EAST conference. Solomon Bozeman, Amu Saaka this year. The signing of Dominique Jones of Lake Wales High School for 07, Being in the BIG EAST was a big factor in his decision. Little by little it's paying off
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