Q&A: Mike Muse

Mike Muse has seen his responsibilities change drastically with his elevation to assistant coach following the untimely passing of Coach Skip Prosser.

After being tapped to become head coach after the heart attack felled his good friend and mentor, Dino Gaudio wasted no time in naming Muse to an assistant coaching position from his duties as Director of Basketball Operations, a non-coaching function in the Basketball office. In this interview, Mike expresses his appreciation for the opportunity but laments the reason for it.

Q: Can you express how you feel about becoming an assistant at Wake Forest and the circumstances surrounding the promotion?
A: Well it is definitely not the way I thought I would get an assistant coaching job. But you know, God has a plan and whatever that plans is, we have to live it and walk it. I am blessed to have this opportunity and am glad Coach Prosser felt good enough about me to give me the chance to come to Wake Forest and then doubly blessed to have Coach Gaudio, Battle, and Kelsey to have enough confidence in me to promote me to this position.

Q: You guys seem awfully tight as a group and that is not always true in a lot of coaching staffs.
A: We are really close, kind of like a band of brothers. It is nice to know when you come in to work that there is no back-stabbing or petty jealousies involved with your cohorts. Instead of talking behind your back, these guys have my back and I feel the same way towards them.

Q: Do you feel like you are all pulling in the same direction and how did that come about?
A: Definitely, and Skip Prosser had a lot to do with that. He was the guiding force and you always knew who the captain was and it kept us all on board as a team. That is the best part about working here, we all want the same things and have the same vision for where we want to go and how to get there.

Q: Changing direction here a little, does it bother you that virtually all the pre-season basketball magazines have you guys tabbed for last or next to last in the ACC this season?
A: That does not bother me. I am not concerned with rankings early in the season and the only one I care about is the one when the season is over because that is what people remember you by. The good thing is that these magazines provide some good speculation and reading material for fans but our players don?t pay attention to it and they go out every day to be the best they can and improve each day. We know what we have to do and our capability so we don't pay much attention to them.

Q: Can you use this type of thing as a motivational tool?
A: I don't know, you would have to ask them that question. I do know that, as a coach, nobody is putting as much pressure on me as I do myself. People are going to say what they say and hopefully your actions will speak volumes for you as a person.

Q: With the fact that you are the one who found Coach Prosser and what you personally went through in that whole process, how did you get through it all?
A: It would have been much more traumatic if I had not had to gone through the CPR process before. Without my strong faith, I think it would have been very, very hard to get through it. It almost seemed like I was placed here to do what I did and I only wish I could have done something to change it but I am secure in the knowledge that I did everything possible to bring Coach back. You know when God decides your time is up, it is up and it helps you to accept that and be thankful for what you have, who you have and just count your blessings. I wonder how people get through situations like this without a belief in something and some turn to drugs or alcohol but I just put my faith in the Lord and trust in him.

Q: A tragic situation like this causes one to re-examine their relationships and priorities because you just don't know what lies in your future and you need to make the most of what time you have, right?
A: You better make the most of each day and you need to treat people the way they should be treated. Skip Prosser treated everyone equally no matter whether you were the CEO of a major corporation of the custodian of a high school. Everyone was treated special by Skip and that is a lesson we all could learn from.

Q: Now you are recruiting on the road, which is different than your high school coaching career and your job as Wakes DOBO. How big has the change been?
A: It is good to be back out on the road because I did work 8 years for Bob Gibbons covering a lot of the same events I am going to now as a coach. So I got to prepare myself during those 8 years to become a college coach which was my goal. The evaluation of talent is what I did and still do. I sat in on home visits as a HS coach with the best football and basketball coaches when they were recruiting my kids and learned to listen to what the kids were telling them. What was important to the kids is what I learned from and I try to take that experience with me when I go into a home now as the person doing the recruiting. Recruiting is, or should be, all about forming relationships with people and being honest and forthright with them.

Q: It also must help to have a product worth selling and Wake Forest would certainly be considered that.
A: No question, it is the best of both worlds for the kids. We have big time basketball and big time academics in a small setting. The University is a great product to sell and pretty much sells itself.

Q: What will your function be when practice starts Friday? Who or what phase of the game will you concentrate on?
A: We are having a meeting Monday or Tuesday to discuss what roles we will play. During the preseason, I have been working with the wings and learning from Coach Battle. I also have worked some with Coach Kelsey with the post players and will work wherever they want me.

Q: When I talked to Dino a month or so ago, he stressed that Wake will have to play better on the defensive end to achieve his goals.
A: That has been our number one theme so far and I think people will be very pleased with the product Coach Gaudio puts on the floor.

Q: You will have a fairly deep team, even with the recent departure of Anthony Gurley.
A: I think Coach Gaudio will make the right decisions on the tempo and type of defensive sets we will run. He is a good x and o's game coach and will get the most out of the players and use our depth to advantage.

Q: Are you comfortable with the talent level on this team?
A: I love our players. They are great guys, hard workers, and love to be in the gym. They are fun to coach and are a motivated group of young men and I love our team.

Q: It is always questionable as to how effective freshmen players will be in the ACC, but is seems like the freshmen coming in this season have made a good impression on everyone, both in their ability and their character.
A: Gary Clark, Jeff Teague, and James Johnson are three great guys. I think they all will be really, really good players and very exciting to watch.

Q: Are all the players ready to go and healthy?
A: Our players are good to go and in excellent shape.

Q: You will have approximately three weeks to get the freshmen acclimated to the speed of the game in the ACC before the first real game. Is that the biggest obstacle they must overcome, the speed?
A: Yes, the speed with which they have to play and how hard they have to practice and play. The good thing is that with guys like Ish, LD, and Jamie and Chas learned that last year and will help the new guys adjust quicker.

Q: One last question, you lost your leading scorer and rebounder from last season so how do you feel about David Weaver and Chas McFarland having to come in to replace Kyle Visser?
A: We have to make those points up but I think this teams strength is the collective ability our players have as a team. People will see as we go along that our team will play unselfishly, hard, and play good defense and Coach Gaudio has done a great job stressing that with all our players. As long as we stay healthy and play hard, expect good things to happen for this team.

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