Omar: There's a lot of excitement around the program right now. I know you can't get into all the specifics about commitments, but talk about some of the new players.
Jankovich: We came here hopeful a year ago. Everyone goes into a new program very hopeful. You try to turn things around and you don't necessarily know how long it might take but honestly, things have gone probably a little faster than most of us would have expected. Things have gone a little bit better. Again, I mentioned before, we have five starters back but we have eight new players. Three of them were transfers from last year that all are very talented: Markus Kennedy from Villanova, Crandall Head from Illinois, and Nic Moore from Illinois State. All with a chance to be starters and then we added some very good pieces. Obviously, Keith Frazier is probably the most well known. He's a McDonalds All-American from here in town and some other very good players. There's so many I don't want to go on every name. We will be a completely different team and then also with our recent commitment there's been a whole other kick to the excitement. It's actually rejuvenated our staff. It gets us excited because things are headed in the right direction and hopefully they will continue to do so.
Omar: You guys struggled with your depth last season. How much deeper is this roster than last years?
Jankovich: Yeah, is the opposite of ‘deep' still ‘shallow' in basketball? We were shallow, is that the right word in basketball? I know it is in the pool. But seriously, we were probably the most shallow team in America. Honestly, one year later we're thinking one of our issues is going to be we have so many guys that probably deserve to get in the game. Now, I don't know if you can be too deep but we have the complete opposite issue that we had last year. That will not be our issue.
Omar: People sometimes forget about the addition of the transfer guys. What kind of impact do you think they will have?
Jankovich: Oh yeah because they are out of sight and out of mind. All three would have had a great chance to be starters, so automatically we knew last year we had the five starters and the three that would have been every bit in the mix. Then we added some more talented players, so what it will allow us to do is play defensively with a lot more pressure. It will definitely allow us to get the pace where coach would like to play. We're going to be a much, much more exciting team to watch because we can afford to have rest and run some people in and out. We can afford to try to dictate a little bit more on the defensive end.
Omar: You guys really needed to add a true point guard. How much does having Nic Moore, who you coached at Illinois State, help?
Jankovich: Yeah, Nick Russell did a tremendous job being a converted point guard, but he will probably be the first to tell you that life will get a lot easier if he doesn't have to play that position for 40 minutes. Obviously, Nic Moore is a true point guard so that will give us a dimension that we really didn't have: a natural point guard. That's just one of many things: size, speed, and depth. Those are a lot of things that we added. People won't recognize our team I'll say that. I don't know what the whole story is going to be, but they wont recognize this team from last year.
Omar: What are some of the things you are looking for Jalen Jones to improve on this upcoming season?
Jankovich:Well, Jalen is a very passionate, aggressive, hardworking guy that gets a lot done in a lot of different ways. He is also one of the hardest working guys away from practice time. He is always trying to improve. I think he has improved his skill level and I think he's going to continue to do that because he spends time in the gym on his own. I think he's just trying to get a more well-rounded game coming off an outstanding sophomore season.
Omar: You talked about how it's important for schools in Texas to dominate in-state recruiting, especially SMU in the Dallas area. How much does landing one big commitment, like a Keith Frazier, help you get the attention of other big name players in the area?
Jankovich: I can't speak for the other programs, but I know anytime you get a high profile player over to your program or signed to your program that normally he tends to bring several others behind him because great players want to play with great players. I probably learned that and saw that the most at Kansas. Coach (Larry) Brown probably saw that the most at Carolina when he first out started coaching years ago. Great players want to play with great players so we all say, "sometimes you just got to get one and it kind of gets the ball rolling." Hopefully that's going to be the case for us.
Omar: What's the biggest difference for you between a school like SMU and your previous coaching job at Illinois State?
Jankovich: Well, I think the big difference and one of the many factors in leading me here was the potential for SMU basketball is incredible. Illinois State was tremendous, but I think that because of all that SMU has to offer and all that Dallas has to offer, we feel like we can be a nationally relevant basketball power year in and year out once we get this thing where we want it to go. I felt that coming here, and I feel it now. After being here another year, I feel it even more so I just think the potential. I think we have unlimited range of what we might be able to accomplish one day at SMU.
Omar: How do you think KT Turner has fit in with the new staff?
Jankovich: Tremendous. He's an outstanding person, number one, and he comes from a family, I don't know how many people know this, but he's dad was a college basketball coach. He coached at Oklahoma State, Ohio State, and Kansas State. KT was a very good player in his own right and now has had tremendous experience including a final four appearance last year. He's been a great addition.
Omar: Coach Maligi has played a big role in a lot of the success y'all have had and people don't really talk about him as much. What kind of influence does he have on the program?
Jankovich: He's tremendous. He has had so much to do with a lot of the successes and excitement that we are talking about. You're right, he probably doesn't get enough recognition. He certainly does within our staff and he's got a great, great future ahead of him and he's incredibly valuable to us.
Omar: How big of an effect will the re-opening of Moody Coliseum have on the program?
Jankovich: When January rolls around, I think it will be a little surreal for a lot of the people that have been supporting SMU basketball for years. It will be surreal for me. I think I stepped into Moody for the first time in 1982 or something. I have been in it I don't know how many times since and then of course our games there last year. To go in there and see what it will be like will be a little surreal. It will be like a completely different place and I think it will be another jump-start for the program. We play UCONN that night, and it could be amazing.
Omar: How have practices been with the new guys so far?
Jankovich: We practiced with the transfers all year, so we know them very well. The new guys we practiced with all summer, so we have a pretty good feel for them. We have been pleasantly surprised by all the new guys, honestly. We will get started with individual workouts here tomorrow. We have been off for a while. I think three weeks of August and now a week of school, so we'll get started this week, and we will get to know them better. We have basically coached all but one of our players on our roster so far.
Omar: Have you guys started to set goals or expectations for this season yet?
Jankovich: Well, it's still kind of early. I don't know that we have done that, but Coach Brown is a very, very big thinker. Bigger than most people that any of us have been around. I can tell you for sure that whatever most people's expectations are, his are probably three steps higher than that. They always are and that's I think part of the secret to his success. He sets the bar up very, very high.
Notes from the press conference:
• Friday, November 8th there will be a triple-header at American Airlines Center to open the college basketball season.
• Games (Times and TV TBA): Oklahoma vs. Alabama, SMU vs. TCU, and Baylor vs. Colorado.
• SMU associate head coach Tim Jankovich, Baylor head coach Scott Drew and TCU head coach Trent Johnson were in attendance.
• Larry Brown had cataract surgery today, but Jankovich said it ‘went-well' and Brown was recovering fine.
• Tickets for the games go on-sale Thursday, Sept. 5 at 10 a.m. (use Ticketmaster or AAC Box Office).
• All three coaches talked about how important in-state recruiting is to their programs. Each coach also discussed how the tip-off event helps with recruiting because players want to play in NBA arenas and at the home of the Final Four.
• Johnson called Larry Brown ‘the best and most accomplished coach in this state, regardless of sport or level.'
One On One With Tim Jankovich
Pony Stampede Top Stories
Five Players to Watch: SMU vs. TempleDemo breaks down five players to watch for SMU against Temple on Saturday.
Pony StampedeYesterday at 2:24 PM
Pony Stampede Podcast Sept. 28Come inside another edition of the Pony Stampede Podcast for the latest on the SMU hoops team and a TCU game breakdown.
Pony StampedeTuesday at 10:59 PM
2018 offensive lineman has SMU near the topBilly talked with 2018 Highland Park (Tex.) offensive lineman Thomas Shelmire about his recent SMU visit and recruitment.
Pony StampedeTuesday at 9:00 AM
FREE Pony Stampede Hilltop Review: Sept. 23Come inside this free edition of the Pony Stampede Hilltop Review with the latest on SMU commits and visitors from last week's win over Liberty.
Pony StampedeFriday at 6:00 AM
Elijah Landrum talks commitment to SMU2017 point guard Elijah Landrum talked with Pony Stampede about his decision to commit to SMU.