On the record: Kevin Stallings (Part III)

At the recent SEC Basketball Tipoff, Kevin Stallings addressed questions regarding his basketball team from members of the print media. Here are some of those questions and his answers. (Part 3 of 5)

Q: How would you characterize the practice sessions you've had up to today?

A: Really good.  [Our players] are really trying to meet the challenges and expectations that have been put in front of them.  Generally speaking, when they don't, it's not because of lack of desire or want-to.  I have no complaints.  For the first time in a while-- and I'll have to keep private the definition of a while-- I look forward to practice every day.  (Glancing over his shoulder at Russell Lakey and Matt Freije)  Those two over there, now, first of all you take them home and love them to death, but... we're having fun.  We're enjoying what's going on.

Q: Talk about taking them home, I've got a couple of daughters...

A: (Laugh) I'm serious now... those two guys are awesome.  And I'm not going to say that every kid we've had at Vanderbilt since I've been there is... perfect, but those two guys right there... and the great thing is, they can play.  They're good kids, but they can play.  So I'm enjoying my job right now.  I'm not enjoying the fact that we were two games over .500 last year, but... Eddie [Fogler] told me that I had the best job in the league... except on game nights.  He said my job is harder than everybody else in the league on game nights.  But otherwise, you've got the best job in the league.  And he's probably right.

Q: Other than the experience factor, looking at the guys on your team, what would you most like to see change?  If someone gave you a crystal ball... besides having more experience, any place you think you need to shore up recruiting-wise?

A: The only thing I would say is if we had... a really athletic perimeter pure shooter... how about that?  If I could just pick one thing out of the wind, I'd love to have a wing player who was a great shooter and a bigtime athlete...

Q: ...like every other school has?

A: Yeah.  Everybody else has one, I'd like to have one (laugh).  But, that's not to say that I don't think the guys we have can be... our team is just going to be a lot different.  I guess we'll see if that's for better or for worse.  Finally, we have a chance to be a mismatch problem at times.  We have a chance to go into a game... two different things.  Offensively, they might have to spend a little time thinking, how are we going to deal with this?  Where, the only thing they thought last year was, we've got to get to their shooters, and we've got to bang Freije inside.  This year there's going to be some things that, I'm not saying they can't do anything about, but it's just a little more problematic than just getting to the shooters.  I think!

Q: More weapons?

A: I don't know if I would call it more weapons.  Just opportunities for... Brian Thornton weighs 270 pounds.  And has less body fat than he had when he walked on campus.

Q: What did he weigh when he got here?

A: 250, 255.  Now, I don't know if we have any more of a weapon, but I know one thing... you're going to have to guard your [behind] off on the post, because he's going to try to catch it...

Q: Coach, do you allow your players to cuss?

A: We don't have the no-swearing rule. (laugh)  So... last year he was overmatched physically at times by guys.  That's going to happen a lot, lot less this year.  So now we've got a guy down there hunkered in that, you've got to work pretty hard to keep it out of his hands.  I don't know if that means we have more of a weapon, but all of a sudden now, you better put some energy and focusing on that.  You better focus on Freije, because he's going to score some points.  Our small forward weighs 230 pounds, and he's a heck of a good defender.  Our perimeter guys, our post guys, he can guard just about anybody.  All of a sudden we're not the team that has all of the physical mismatches.  Every team in this league has shooters.  The problem was that shooting was what we did the best.  Everybody else had shooters, but that wasn't what they did the best... they could throw it inside and score.  They could defend you.  Well, we weren't any better shooters than anybody else... that was just what we could do.  Well now, we've got a couple of guys who can defend... we've got a couple of guys we can throw it to on the post who we can expect a result when we throw it there.  We still have some guys who can shoot, albeit maybe not like some of those other guys.  But, maybe more simply put, our strengths have a chance to be consistent strengths.  Shooting is not going to be a consistent strength.  It's going to be a strength, but if they're shutting you out on your shooting, your strength is gone.  Well, it's a lot more to deal with a team that really defends... which we hope to be able to do.  If you can really guard, you can really guard, and there's not much they can do about that!  Or, if you can really rebound, you can really rebound.  Now, all we might be doing is just catching up.  I'm not by any stretch saying that we're running by people in this league.  We just might be catching up.

Q: Is this your best group?

A: Oh, I don't know.  We had three really good seniors when I first got there.  Prater, Strong and Langhi... Langhi was obviously Player of the Year.  Three really good seniors.  Over the course of time, it will be our best group for sure.  It's hard to say... we've got no seniors.  NO seniors.  We've got a walk-on senior, but you know what I'm saying.  But we're happy with our team.

VandyMania.com Top Stories