Beginning Anew

Trent Johnson speaks with the media before his team's first practice of the 2013-2014 season. He says he is "very happy" with his freshman class and says why he thinks his team can outsmart opponents.

On Karviar Shepherd and his freshman class:

"Karviar Shepherd, and it's early, is as coachable as I've been around," Trent Johnson said. "He's raw offensively, but he's as coachable of a young man as I've been around. [Freshman] Hudson Price, same way. [Freshman] Brandon Parrish, same way. [Freshman] Mike Williams, same way."

On makeup of roster:

"Very happy. When you look at [our roster] we're bigger and stronger. The key now for us is to be durable...[The trip to Canada] helped us answer questions about how competitive we could be against good teams. Karviar, Brandon, Hudson and Mike and then also Jarvis, getting those guys back in a position to compete and see if they could compete at a high level. We have a good indication of how competitive we can be. It was good for us."

On the necessity of mental toughness:

"I talk about mental toughness a lot. It's doing what you're supposed to do all the time and being consistent about it," Johnson said. "The four freshmen have been pretty consistent in their approach to practice and consistent, in terms of when things went wrong in the games [in Canada], staying the course. In my experiences over the years, the teams that police themselves socially, academically, and athletically are the teams that overachieve and play at the highest level. We are early in that phase, and there were some guys on this team last year, as much as I hate to go back to last year, that weren't necessarily mentally tough. It has nothing to do with being physically tough."

On new assistant coach Kwanza Johnson:

"A lot of intensity. Very good. Very good defensively. When you look at some of the players who were under his tutelage at Georgia, you look at Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and how he emerged from his freshman to his sophomore year. He is improved a lot. I've always been impressed with Kwanza. He worked for Mark Fox who worked for me at Nevada. We've improved ourselves because we have a lot of deficiencies at the head coach. It's important to me to have guys on this staff that are good basketball coaches, loyal, good representatives of this institiution, and probably most importantly have some good basketball knowledge and be able to challenge me as a head coach. Kwanza's background speaks for itself."

Not practicing:Amric Fields, Aaron Durley, Devonta Abron.


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