Interview: Kevin Stallings, Part III

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 III of III)

VM: What interested you about Ohio State last summer?
KS: My Big Ten roots. That, as much as anything. Having played and coached there. That was the overwhelming attraction.

We have some very close friends who had been (in Columbus) for a very long time and loved it. My wife's best friend had lived there for a number of years and her husband was on the football coaching staff there. They are gone now, but we're pretty in tune with what the place was like because of them.

But sometimes your greatest blessings are when God does not answer your prayers. That would be the case for us. Not that I was praying for that job. That is a figure of speech. I'm thankful that it worked out the way that it did. I'm truly happy that I'm here.

VM: Which incoming freshman has the best chance to adjust to this level of competition the quickest?
KS: Well, we only have two. We'll just have to see. George Drake's body gives him a chance to adjust a little more quickly. Kyle (Madsen) is a thin guy that will need to put on some weight and strength. I might give the edge to George, because he has a ready-made body for college basketball, but we think both of them in due time will be good players for us.

VM: If you are going to make the NCAA Tournament this year, what three areas do you have to excel in?
KS: I don't know if I can answer that question. An easier question to answer is, ‘What three areas to we have to improve in?'

I think we have to improve low-post scoring, our rebounding and the consistency of individuals, which comes in the frame of mental toughness.

I think you have to be tough to be consistent, and I look back at guys like Freije and Langhi – they were tough guys because they went out every night and competed and were consistently productive. You have to have toughness to be consistent. Anybody can be really good for one night when the stars and moon align and everything goes right. To be consistent, you have to be tough.

We have too many guys at this juncture in their career that have shown the ability to be good on occasion and not on a game-in, game-out basis.

In any given season, the three things that will determine your ceiling are toughness, leadership and chemistry. We call it TLC, but it is a different form of TLC. Those are the three things I would like for us to excel in. If we can do that, we'll be pretty doggone good, but it is easier said than done.


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