On the record: Kevin Stallings (Part I)

At the annual SEC Basketball Tipoff, Kevin Stallings was met with questions about the upcoming season from writers and broadcasters from around the South. Here are some of those questions and his answers. (Part 1 of 5)

Q: As I was looking at your team this time last year, it looked like a team of shooters.  Now all of a sudden I look at your team and it looks like a team of inside players, and if you have a weakness, it's going to be the outside shooting.  Am I right?

A: I don't know that I'm ready to say outside shooting will be a weakness.  It's a weakness compared to what it's been, because we've been pretty doggone good from outside the last couple of years.  But I don't know of a coach in our league who wouldn't be happy to trade shooters for being able to score around the basket.  When you start scoring around the basket, you're going to get fouled more, and a lot of other things... more open perimeter shots are going to result from that. I think we'll shoot it plenty well enough.  Maybe not as good as we've shot it the last two years, but our ability to score around the basket will be significantly increased.

Q: You lose your No. 2, No. 3 and No. 4 scorers from last year.  Who do expect to step into that void?

A: So how can you possibly be better, right?  I think Brian Thornton will step into that role.  I think Brian will score points on a consistent basis for us.  I think Russell Lakey will score points for us.  I think Corey Smith will score points for us.  For the first time since my first year we have the ability to be a matchup problem for some people.  Whether it's Freije or Thornton or Corey Smith.  Corey Smith, that will just have to evolve as it happens, but here's a guy playing the small forward spot who's 230 pounds, and I can't believe that there's a stronger guy in the league.  He can post up, he can shoot.  He's not going to dominate a game, but he's just enough of a problem-- in addition to being a great defender.  We've not had that.  We've had guys who could shoot, but we haven't had guys who can penetrate.  We haven't had guys who can score inside other than Freije.  We feel like we're just going to have more ammunition, more ways to consistently hurt people.  We'll see if I'm right.  I've never been confused with being optimistic, but... we'll be able to guard better, we'll generate more offense from defense, and we'll rebound better... I think we should be better.  That's why.

Q: Is Lakey's foot all right?

A: Thank God!  He's probably been the best player we've had in practice.

Q: Who would you say has been most improved over last year?

A: Brian Thornton.  He's really gotten better.  He finished strong last year, had a great game against Kentucky.  His weight is up.  His body fat is down.  He weighs about 270, and his body fat has decreased since he walked onto campus.  He's just a presence in there.  Last year we played with freshman post players, the year before we played with freshman point guards.  That's just no way to win in this league.

Q: How about David Przybyszewski?

A: Well, during the fall I was quite discouraged.  In our individual workouts he was the guy that I was concerned about.  I thought some of our freshmen might beat him out.  But he's been one of our most consistent guys in practice.  It's funny how things go.  You get reports of what happens in the summer.  Guys say this guy is playing great.  Then you get into individual workouts, and it's like, what were they saying?  Then you're high on this guy and maybe not as high on that guy, and then practice starts, and it changes again.  And it will change again when games start.  For some reason that's how it goes.  But Przybyszewski has really been pretty impressive in practices.  He's 7-1, almost 250.  We look a little different than we've looked.  It's kind of fun to walk out there and, at least we look like an SEC team.  We may not play like one yet, but we're starting to look like one.

Q: You've brought in some impressive freshmen-- at which position would you there's the best opportunity for a freshman to step in and earn some time?

A: (pause) Well, I could answer that question a couple of different ways.  I'll choose the answer that I think you're most in search of.  The two freshmen that have made the biggest impact and the biggest impression in practice so far have been Mario Moore and Julian Terrell.  Both kids from Nashville.  Terrell might be our best rebounder.  And I've told them all, if you rebound, you're gonna play.  No matter what position, if you rebound, you're going to get to play.  He is the best guy on our team at rebounding a ball that doesn't come to him.  He will go into somebody else's space and go get it.  And whether he goes over them or through them or around them, we've been impressed with him, especially on the boards.  Mario has one of the toughest jo

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