Q&A With Coach Prosser: Part II

DeaconSports.com's Michael Jennings sits down with Deacon basketball coach Skip Prosser.

Part II of Michael Jennings' interview with Coach Skip Prosser.

MJ:Last but not least is Joe Dukes?

CP: It is hard to become a point guard in this system and Joe has a tendency to rush things. He's going too fast. We want to play quickly, but we don't want to hurry, and he's still in the hurrying stage. We've got to get him to change gears and throttle it back a little bit. His decision making sometimes hasn't been sound. But he's quick with ball and he's got talent. We can probably get him to harness that talent. I would rather have somebody that's really quick and really talented and try to harness his abilities rather than somebody that can't do it and try to coax something out of him that's just not there.

MJ: I was surprised at how athletic he was.

CP: Yes, he's very athletic.

MJ: What about some of your walk-ons?

CP:John Buck is a guy who has been here four years. Great leader, great motivator, well respected by his teammates; going to graduate, good student. Michael LaPore and Matt Smith, two walk on guards that have been steady for us in practice. Another big guy, Bobby Hoekstra, from Forsyth Country Day, who's a banger and not afraid to get in there and mix it up a little bit. He's been a positive force as well.

MJ: I'm sure, since it's the beginning of the season, you're going to have some strange combinations on the floor. If you had to pick a starting five tonight, who would it be?

CP: Well, I probably couldn?t pick one. I really don't know. I would think that Justin, Trent, Kyle and Eric, and then Chris Ellis would get playing time and David Weaver will get playing time. Joe and Harv and Cam will also play, Mike Drum will play too, but that fifth slot is what is in abeyance.

MJ:This year we have a chance to have the first season sell out in Wake Forest history. That has to make you feel good, right?

CP: Well, that's a real credit to a lot of people, our players most of all. In the four years the only team to win more games in the ACC than us is Duke. In the last three years we and Duke have the same number of wins, so that's obviously has a big part of us being successful. I think our style of play is entertaining. I think out marketing department has done a great job. I think our students and their support has had a ripple effect throughout the arena and again I think that we are blessed to have a very loyal fan base and any time that you have done something that has never been done before that's really special. If it does happen, and I think it will happen, that's a testament to a lot of people.

MJ: You have five guys that are going to be freshman this year, is the biggest problem and the biggest adjustment for them the speed of the game and the mental aspect of it more than the physical?

CP: I think the combination of playing fast and still making good decisions that's the most difficult thing. There will be growing plains involved and they call it pain for one reason, because it can be painful at times.

MJ: What does this team have to do, if you have to pick one thing to be successful, what do they HAVE to do?

CP: We have to guard and rebound. My second year here the team wasn't expected to be good picked 6th or 7th in the conference and yet won the league. Josh Howard really imposed his will on a bunch of young guys and we started a senior, two sophomores and two freshmen that year. When Justin got hurt, Lev started for us and he was only a sophomore. So that was a really young team and the culmination of those guys being talented though young and Josh's will that he imposed on the team made for a successful team. We don't have someone like a Josh Howard, who has that incredible confidence and went first round and is a top NBA player. I'm hoping a combination of Justin and Eric, our other two seniors, can have that same kind of mental effect on the team. And I'm hopeful that a couple of our freshman, just like Justin and Eric and Trent can contribute just as those guys did that year. We need our fan base to really be a big part of our success as well. Our crowd has to come to the aid of our young team. If they are waiting for the team to excite them, that might take a while. It's imperative for the crowd to excite the team, and not the other way around. Last year's team was excited from the jump-start, but I think this team is going to need every edge we an get and since we know we don't practice at the Joel, we don't have really a home court advantage, we really need a home CROWD advantage. I can't emphasize enough how important our fans are to the success of this team.

MJ: I know you are not allowed to comment on specific recruits but you have missed on a few recruits who were very prominent names. However you also have gotten verbals from some very good players. How do you feel you are accepted now in recruiting players? What do you 'sell' when you are talking to a recruit to make him want to come to Wake Forest?

CP: Recruiting is the ultimate inexact science. Lots of times when people have these highly rated recruits that don't pan out. I am not sure how high Josh Howard was rated and Chris Paul was not rated that highly when he gave us a verbal and they had a wonderful career. We are going to recruit the best players we can and it is tough to come in second. If you come in 2nd or you may as well come in 92nd.. You can not always go by the ranking. I think our acceptance level is very good because we and it is tough to come in second. If you come in 2nd or you may as well come in 92nd.. You can not always go by the ranking. I think our acceptance level is very good because we are TV a lot and people watch the games and see how excited our crowd is it really helps recruiting. Even though we came in 2nd on some recruits, we are not going to let that dissuade us from going after the best players. Distance sometimes really hurts you but they have moved Wake Forest once and I don?t think they are going to move it again to be in some recruits city so we will just keep swinging.. What we tell recruits is that Wake Forest is a small school with Big Time Basketball. You can get a unique in many cases of the best of both worlds scenario at Wake Forest. We have a school that is unbelievable academically and that has Basketball at the highest level. Everything else, the ACC, the exposure, the success we have had, the notoriety, things like that, NBA players from Wake Forest, our style of play, the sellout crowds, the atmosphere at the Joel, all these things are a big part of what we 'sell'. We are not the University of North Carolina at Winston-Salem, We are a small private school and kids who understand that they are not going to come here and see a Football game with 80 or 90 thousand people it just doesn't happen. Again if they can get by the distance factor or understand that we are who we are that has been good for us so far.

MJ: Is there anything you want to say to the Wake fans who read our board and support Wake with all they have?

CP: We are grateful, We started 4 years ago and we had lost to Duke 14 straight times, at Maryland 11 times. People talked about Wake having a solid team that was superbly coached under Coach Odom...The Joel was not necessarily a tough place to play and that has changed. People all over the country are calling our marketing people to find out how we get so many of our students to the games and get them jumping around like that. I think people do not want to come play in the Joel now because we are 57-6 there in the four years and our fans have a big big stake in that.. It is not easy to go to the NCAA Tournament, of the 12 schools in our league, only three have gone all 4 years and I am proud of our players for having done that and our fans who have been a big part in us doing that. Of the schools with the longest streak of weeks of being in the Top 25 there are only three schools who have a longer one Arizona, Kentucky and Duke. There are three hundred and some schools in the NCAA and you would think that schools like Connecticut Michigan State were in there but they are not. I think we are proud of the consistency that we have. We feel strongly that we just have to keeping knocking on that door in the NCAA Tournament and I think last years team was a final four caliber team. But it did not work out and we played well against West Virginia but they played better. They were a hot team at the right time of the year but when I look in total at the last four years I am grateful for the support we have had and what the players have done. Throughout that four years , every senior guy has gotten a degree from one of the most prestigious institutions academically in the country. I think there is a lot for us and our fans to be proud of.


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