Interview: Kevin Stallings, Part I

VandyMania talked with Commodore head coach Kevin Stallings about a variety of things including Ross Neltner, team leadership for 2005, the Witchita State thriller, Derrick Byars, prospects for 2006 and more. (Part I of III)

VandyMania: Talk about what Ross Neltner can bring to the team and describe his game.

Kevin Stallings: Ross is a player in the mold of guys we've had here in the past. Dan Langhi, Matt Freije, Dawid Przybyszewski, guys with good size that have good perimeter skill. Ross is pretty athletic. He's done a great job with his body in the two years he was at LSU. I think he'll bring a level of toughness that will be good for our team.

I think he'll bring some rebounding, particularly offensive rebounding, that will be good for our team, in addition to the perimeter skill set that he has that we think will be very effective in the way that we play our offense.

VM: Are you surprised schools like Florida, Illinois, Georgia Tech and Michigan were pursuing a guy that averaged 2.9 points per game?

KS: There is a two-part commentary there. I think one is the market for big guys this spring was not very good.

Secondly, and more importantly, he was a guy who was capable of doing much more. He just happened to be on a team with two of the very best big guys in the Southeastern Conference. He was on a team with THE best big guy in the SEC in Brandon Bass, and then Glen Davis was Freshman of the Year. So that was a commentary on his point totals and rebounding totals.

I think all the coaches that saw him play, coached against him, felt like he was capable of more, but he had a couple of other guys there that were terrific players.

VM: Can Shan Foster be a First-Team All-SEC guy at some point?

KS: I would like to think that he can, yes. I think Shan has a lot of ability and Shan has a lot of desire to get better. He's very coachable and very driven to become better. That is obviously a good combination to possess. He probably did what we thought he could do as a freshman. He might have exceeded our expectations a little bit, but not a lot, because we had high hopes for him initially anyway.

I see him as a guy that if he maintains his work ethic and great attitude, that he'll have a chance to be an All-SEC type performer.

VM: Mario Moore and Julian Terrell seem to have opposite personalities when it comes to being a leader. How do you see that playing out next year, the talker and the quiet guy?

KS: Both of them have to make some modifications in their behavior in order to increase their ability to be leaders. The modifications are sort of relative to the things you are talking about. We have one guy that is high-strung and verbal and one guy that is, in a way, laid back, so they are going to have to modify and improve some of their own weaknesses to gain credibility in their leadership roles.

I think their hearts are in the right place, so I think they will try to do what we think is necessary for them to do in order to provide us with some effective leadership.

VM: What team stat disappointed you the most last year and what stat pleased you the most?

KS: The team stat that disappointed me the most was one of two. It would be either our rebounding margin or our lack of free throw attempts.

The one that I liked the most was our defensive field goal percentage, particularly until the last conference games of the season. We were second in the league in defensive field goal percentage, and we defended poorly at LSU and we ended up fourth or fifth because there was a bunch of teams very close.

But if you don't finish off the defensive possession (with a rebound), it doesn't do you any good.

Bill Trocchi is the interactive editor for Athlon Sports. Photo of Kevin Stallings (above, right) by Bryan Hufalar.


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