Jim Boeheim [taking seat at podium]: Okay…most fun I have every year, right here. Let's go ahead…start rolling.
Is Boeheim enthusiastic to get the season started this year?
Yeah, I think so. We're ready to go. Fall workouts have gone very well. I think conditioning has been good. Guys are ready. Looking forward to practice. They're ready to go.
What are Boeheim's expectations for the four seniors?
I think they've been fortunate that they've always had a strong presence with them. Gerry last year, and before that they had Hakim and Josh Pace. Every year, the seniors have had guys to set the tempo, set the pace, and now it's up to them. And I think they realize this is their team…they have to be the guys who lead the way. And they're more than prepared for that. They've all been good players, they've all had good stretches, but I would like to think this year they'll be more consistent over the course of game-by-game. They'll be much more consistent. I think the three returning senior starters have all played extremely well at different times, and now they really need to be more consistent game-in, game out. And certainly Matt Gorman has given us good minutes—another guy who's a fifth-year player, and Eric started last year…had a lot of responsibility. Josh Wright has certainly played…and when he played last year he had some great moments. So I think that all these guys are looking forward to the year. Andy Rautins has put some weight on, he looks very good. Specifically strength-wise from last year…that was his big weakness last year. But I think they're all anxious and ready to go.
What impact will the loss of Louie McCroskey have on the team?
I don't really know. He really didn't contribute much the last part of last year, so I'm not sure that it's going to have any effect at all on our team.
What will Eric Devendorf's role be on this year's team?
Well he's primarily a scorer—that's what he does best. I'd like to see him work on his passing, become a better passer. Certainly work on his defense, become a better defender. Those are certainly two goals that he should be thinking about.
What is the situation with Arinze Onuaku's injury?
Arinze will probably have surgery within the next week or two. And then it'll really be a wait-and-see to see how long it takes him to get there.
With Arinze injured, will Matt Gorman play more at center this season?
Well I think we'll play Terrance, Terrance has played inside at 5, and Matt can certainly play there, too. We have the makeup to have a very good small unit that we can play together. Even though we'd be small size-wise, we have guys who can certainly rebound and play inside if they had to.
What kind of player is Paul Harris, and what will he bring to the table?
Well, Paul's a physical player, I mean he's physical; he's good with the basketball. He's a good passer. He's very competitive, and he brings a lot of energy to the game, and I think that's his strongest attribute. In high school he overpowered people, and in college you can't overpower people quite as easily, but what he does he does well.
What area would Boeheim like to see the team improve the most?
I don't think there's any [one] area. I think it's a consistent approach night-in, night out to step it up every night. Each guy has to improve in every area of the game. I think we're all capable of scoring a little bit more, rebounding a little bit more, defending a little bit better, and to do it on a more consistent basis. And that's what you expect from seniors. You expect them to pick up their game and play better. And these guys will, I think.
What will life be without Gerry McNamara this season?
It's going to be hard. Gerry did a lot for us down the stretch in games. He ran the offense for four years. Probably didn't get as much credit as he deserves for making sure we stayed in offensive things, and not get off course during the course of games. He did a lot of things for us, and of course he was very good in late game situations. All that, those are things that have to be replaced by a combination of guys.
What can we expect to see at the point guard position this year?
Josh Wright is the only pure point guard that we have, and he's going to get a lot of minutes at the point. But I would think that we could play as we get into practice and the season, I'm sure that we could play without a point guard. We have guys who can handle the ball. I'm not as concerned about that. I think Paul can handle the ball, Eric can handle the ball, Andy Rautins is a good ball handler and passer. Demetris has gotten better. Terrance is a good ball handler for a big guy. So I think that we have enough guys who can handle the ball, we may not have a traditional point guard on the court at all times, but that's not a major concern of mine.
Are Gerry's leadership qualities going to be missed?
Well I think Gerry is a unique player, and he will be missed. You know that you had somebody who you could rely on to make big plays, make good decisions. And in late game situations, Gerry was the best player that I've ever coached in terms of making the right decisions, making big shots…making big plays down the stretch. So he'll be missed. That part of his game will certainly be missed. But I think we have a lot of guys who are anxious to step up and try to make those plays, so that's a good thing.
In what areas would Boeheim like to see Devendorf improve this year?
Well I think he's got to continue to get better offensively. But certainly his passing, his ball handling, and his defense can all improve.
What does Andy Rautins bring to the table?
Andy's a good passer and ball handler and shooter. Last year, Gerry supplied a lot of that. Now we need other people to supply that and he's certainly a guy—that's what he does. He can really shoot the ball, and he's a very good passer.
Does Boeheim have any concerns about this year's team entering the season?
Concerns? I don't think I have any concerns right now. I don't worry that much anymore. The things that develop, develop, but we have good, physical players…guys who can rebound, guys who can shoot, guys who can handle the ball. Obviously, what Gerry did for us will be difficult to replace, but a couple two or three guys are going to have to do that. How those guys develop will really go a long way towards determining what kind of success we have this year.
How has Rautins improved during the off season?
Well, I have only seen Andy work out a few times. We can't watch them in the fall, but he looks more physical, he looks more confident, but I think it's mainly physical strength. He's stronger, and that's going to help him.
From watching the little bit I've watched, I feel like these guys have improved. The seniors have improved over the summer, and I think that's important. That's a good sign.
How will the Onuaku injury affect Mike Jones's playing time?
Well, it really doesn't affect Mike. Mike can play a couple of positions, he's a very good offensive player, he's got good size. He's ahead of most freshmen in terms of his abilities. I would expect him to be able to make a contribution this year.
What is the freshman learning curve for recruits to emerge as contributors?
I think every freshman has a learning curve. It's a different game, but you never know how quickly a freshman is going to adjust—make those adjustments. There's really no gauge for that. Some guys do it quicker than others.
Last year you said that this team would only go as far as the juniors take it…
Well now they're seniors, so I guess we can say the same thing. I think it's pretty much the same.
Will going from one primary leader to multiple leaders change team dynamics?
I think it's good when you have two or three guys. I think our seniors know they have to step into that role. Every player has to be a leader in his own way. I think that Josh Wright has showed signs of being able to run a basketball team and do the things you need to do as a point guard. I think that's important. But I think everybody on the team has to take ownership and become a leader-type player. And some guys do it by example, some guys say something, but the best leaders just go out and play, and lead by their example, and I think that's what we need to get.
What does Boeheim think of the Big East Conference this year?
I think it's closer together.
What are Boeheim's thoughts of the expanded Big East, after playing last year?
Our conference is good.
You'd like to play everybody twice, but it just doesn't work that
way. We've got a great
conference. Last year, we had an
unbelievable conference, and this year we're good again. It is what it is. I think its great fans get to see a lot
of different styles, a lot of different coaches, a lot of different teams, and
they'll see some teams this year they didn't see last year. You look at the conference teams that
are coming in here this year and I think that DePaul and Marquette…DePaul is
going to be very good, after we saw what they did to us last year. They're in here, and
What is Boeheim's opinion of Devin Brennan-McBride?
Well you know Devin, being on the front line with all seniors it's going to be tough to break in there. He's going to have to work hard and see what happens. His shoulder is still a little sore from surgery, but he knows how to play. But obviously this year, with the four seniors, it will be tough to get in there and get much playing time.
Will the Onuaku injury have an effect on Brennan-McBride's playing time?
It could help him. It could help him. We only have ten players, so that's something that could be a factor. And when Arinze comes back—if he does come back—we'll know the answer to that. We won't know the answer to that for at least a couple of months.
What are Boeheim's feelings about his coaching staff?
Well we're fortunate with our staff, I've got a great staff. You can't do this in college basketball without a great staff. Coach Fine's been with me for thirty years, and understands what we need to do and get done, and Coach Murphy has done a great job, and obviously Coach Hopkins from a recruiting standpoint has been tremendous. He's a tremendous coach on the court. He's just an exceptional young coach. I'm very fortunate to have him here.