On the record: Kevin Stallings (Part IV)

At the recent SEC Tipoff 2003, Kevin Stallings answered questions from basketball writers from around the South. In this segment, Stallings answers questions about the Commodores' non-conference schedule, the team's young players, the status of recruiting, and "The Streak." (Part 4 of 5)

Q: Regarding your schedule.  I know you guys have some high-profile games early this year...

A: Too many!

Q: Do you like having those big games to prepare your team for SEC play?

A: I don't know that anything prepares you for SEC play, but what I like is that our guys have looked at that schedule and said, guess what?  We had better be ready, or we're gonna get our butts kicked.  That has been a motivating force for them, to get themselves ready.  And I've had coaches in this league look at me like I'm absolutely crazy, like I'm trying to schedule myself out of a job.  Most of us try to schedule to keep our jobs... it would appear that I'm trying to schedule myself out of one.  But that's OK.  We'll see if we're up to that challenge.

Q: Do you think playing the Connecticuts and Indianas and Michigans shows up in SEC play?

A: I don't know that I've ever been a big believer that playing those games... I think every experience you have, I don't care if you're playing Indiana or Centenary... you know, Centenary dang near beat us last year... I don't think it makes any difference who it is.  I think that every experience prepares you for the next experience similar to it.  Those will all be tough games.  We've got a bunch of tough games on our non-conference schedule.  But if our team has 15 out of 16 good practices... if we stay at that ratio, we'll be ready for tough games.  I'm bragging about that only one bad practice in 16 days... and tomorrow will probably be a big bust. (laugh)

Q: Last time we talked, we talked about that guy who used to coach Arkansas.  Could you talk about the new coach, and what you expect from his regime?

A: I don't really know Stan [Heath].  I've met him and talked to him at the league meetings, and he seems like a good guy.  He had a great team last year, I know that.  I'm sure it'll be a lot different, as different as it was when I took over for my predecessor.  When you make changes, things are going to change.

Q: How hard is that first year?

A: It's the hardest.  That's one thing he didn't learn last year... he didn't learn how hard it is with that team he had last year.  The first year is the hardest.  I say that, and my second year was more difficult than my first.  But the first year is very difficult.  Those guys are still thinking about how they were coached before, and... gosh I don't like what you do as well as when we did this... and you start defining success in much different ways, and you have to have a philosophical change of attitude.  You want them thinking and believing the way you think and believe.  So it's going to be different.  It's hard.

Q: I'd like to ask you about a couple of players, and the progress they've made over last year.  Start with Scott Hundley.

A: Scott's biggest detriment is playing under control.  He's an energy guy.  He's a hustle-play guy.  The more we get him to play under control, and not be out of control, the more effective he can be.

Q: Holwerda?

A: Jason has improved quite significantly from a year ago.  And I think that's because we're playing him at a position he's comfortable with.  He's not a point guard.  Because of Lakey's injury, he ended up being a guy we had to go to.  He's made a lot of progress.

Q: How about Martin Schnedlitz?  What do you expect out of him this year?

A: Martin is still behind several of the other guys.  I don't know that I can say that I see his role expanding a great deal from a year ago.  His knee is healthier.  But at this point certainly Thornton and Przybyszewski and Freije and Terrell would be in front of him.

Q: You talked earlier about Mario Moore and Julian Terrell... talk about two of your other freshmen, Adam Payton and Ted Skuchas.

A: Adam is an athlete... defends very hard and very well... plays with a lot of energy.  The college game is really, really new to him, as it is to Skuchas.  I think over the course of time both of them are going to be pretty good.  I think that he just hasn't been exposed to what he's seeing right now, and that is setting him back a little bit, like it does a lot of others-- Payton I'm talking about.  Skuchas is kind of in that same boat right now that Schnedlitz is in.  We just happen to have some big guys who are a little more experienced than him, and have some talent.

Q: How are you handling recruiting this year, since you don't have any seniors?  Are you approaching some seniors maybe on a contingency plan?

A: No, not really.  Because then you're expecting something negative to happen.  We're recruiting juniors.  That's what we're doing.

Q: Do you think there are as many pure shooters in the game as there used to be?

A: No.  Why?  Because I think the game has become a lot more about being off the dribble, and creating shots for yourself, and in some cases crea


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