Opening statement about key returning starters:
"Our starting wing players are both back – Shan Foster and Derrick Byars. They were our two leading scorers and probably our two best players. We think that will be a strength of our team. Both of them have significant experience. Shan was named to the all-conference team. Derrick had a very good year for us after transferring from Virginia.
"We'll need those two guys to lead us – especially from the scoring end. Both of them do a lot of things to help our basketball team. We'll need them to have great seasons for us."
On responding to off-season losses:
"We lost three guys – one unexpectedly to a near-fatal heart condition (Davis Nwankwo) and two who decided to transfer (Kyle Madsen and DeMarre Carroll). We're equipped to absorb the losses on the court as long as we don't have any significant injuries. Our players have responded very well. We've had Ross Neltner sitting out (as a transfer). We think he is going to be a big help to our team. Alex Gordon started a lot of basketball games for us a year ago. We think he's a guy that should be ready to play."
On losing assistant coach Jeff Jackson to the head coaching position
"In some ways that's a loss, but in some ways that's a great thing. Jeff deserved an opportunity to be a head coach. We're really happy that he got it and think he will do a great job. We've hired somebody to take his place (King Rice). You have to move forward because the one thing you know as a head coach is that your assistants don't want to be your assistants for the rest of their lives. That was the case with Jeff. We're really happy that he got this opportunity."
On Alabama's point guard Ronald Steele:
"He's a guy that makes winning plays. He's just a winner. He finds ways to win the game whether it's through his defense; through his passing; or through foul shooting. He makes very, very few bad plays and very few mistakes. That's a very valuable asset to have in a guy at the point guard spot."
On 2006-07 being the year of the post player nationally:
Some years you have unbelievable guards and there are years when you have great wing players. This year may just be the year of the post guy. The only thing I can attribute it to would be a random thing. I do think it's rare, obviously, for it to be the year for the post guy because there are fewer at that size. It's great when you can get one or even two to be on your team that can effectively play. We do have some great post players, not only in this league, but nationally coming up this season."
On junior Alex Gordon at the point guard position:
"He will have an opportunity to be a lot better. We were in a situation a year ago where the expectation was that we had a senior point guard (Mario Moore) that would be the guy. It didn't turn out that way. Alex was kind of caught in between what his role should have been and what his role needed to be. That was a difficult position for him to be in. I think if we can provide some clarity for him that he can have a much better year."
On the NCAA Tournament expansion idea:
"I do favor the idea of expansion in the field. I understand the people that say, ‘It isn't broken so why should we be trying to fix it.' I also don't think it was broke when it was at a smaller number. Expansion has only made it better. I think we could make it better again by making it a little bigger."
On Ross Neltner's anticipated impact this season:
"Ross had shoulder surgery at the end of February, so we didn't have him for the entire year. He made an impact and a great impression (last year) not only on our staff but on our players with his toughness, his ability to rebound. He shot the ball really well. He passes it extremely well. He was a guy that added a lot to our practices and will bring a lot to our team. The one quality that he brings that I value is toughness – on the defensive end and the backboards. I would not be surprised if he was not a starter for us."
On LSU's Glen Davis:
"I happened to run into Glen at the Nike camp. He looks good. He was already an outstanding player, if (trimming down) makes him better, than our league has a lot to be concerned about because Glen was outstanding to begin with. I think he is a guy who is always going to be a great player no matter what weight he plays at because he plays so hard and has a great understanding of how to play."
On Florida's players returning:
"I really think that's a great thing for college basketball and a great message to send to guys all across the country. A lot of (the coaches) would have been just as happy if those guys would have gone on to the NBA. They had a great year. The biggest thing is it sends a great message to other players around the country – especially to the younger ones – that maybe it's not always the best thing to do to hop up to the NBA as fast as you think you are ready."
On freshman Jermaine Beal's role this season:
"We felt when we recruited Jermaine that he would have an opportunity to push for the starting point guard position on our team. We think he's a really good player and brings a dimension to our team that we have not had in that he is a bigger, taller, stronger point guard. We'll have to see how that plays out. Jermaine is an outstanding player who will have a great impact on our team, not only this year, but in the years to come. We're very happy that he is here."