Hawk Talk: October 19, 2012
On the first week of practice...
As a coaching staff, we sit in here after practice and evaluate how things went, covering the things we did well and the things that need to improve. The impressions that we have formed of practice thus far are both positive and negative. On the positive end, these young kids have some talent. There is enthusiasm and great chemistry. To this point, we're not dealing with any new injuries. They're picking up on offense and defense well.
There is a negative side, though, and it's that these young players don't yet know how to practice for two hours and 45 minutes every day with complete concentration and focus. For the first three practices, they were able to handle that very well, but you could tell by the time days four and five rolled around, the concentration wasn't there the entire time.
The young guys have never had to go for a full Division I practice at full focus and intensity against guys that are as good as or better than they are. It's about knowing how to practice, how to watch film, and how to prepare yourself for success. It's building mental muscles as well as physical. Right now, there is some weakness there, and from day to day you don't know where the carry-over from the last practice is coming.
We haven't had out and out failure in practice yet; I've seen those, and we have avoided that. We haven't had a practice where everyone's energy is bad, or where everyone is unfocused. What we've had is different individuals on different days in different phases of the game lose concentration.
The kids are able to see it when they watch film, all it takes is one person playing without intensity or focus to give up a basket to make them all look bad. In a nutshell, we need to find consistency.
As some of you know, we've made some changes to the offense this year, and as a result, everyone is going through a learning curve, even our veterans.
On a positive surprise at the start of practice...
One of the other things that has been a positive surprise, though, is the amount of carry-over we've seen from the European trip. Obviously, I felt that the 10 days of practice, as well as playing over there, would really help us, and that for the most part the first few practices would be review. I also fully expected us to be a little rusty, with it having been nearly two months between Europe and the beginning of practice.
However, when we started to practice, especially offensively, it had looked like we already been at it for a while. It seemed we picked up where we left off. We thought we would take some steps backwards, but that hasn't been the case.
On how Clayton Bates and James Holland are different from Rick Carter and Larry Farmer...
One of the things about losing Rick and Larry and bringing in Clayton and James are the differences in personalities. They were like yin and yang. Larry was a head coach for a number of years with a calm demeanor and a voice of reason. Rick was young, full of fire, and had basically no life outside of basketball. Those are both guys that are great to have on staff and did things their own way.
In bringing back Clayton, we return someone who is maybe more familiar to me than any other assistant coach I've ever had, save for maybe Jeff Dunlap. We can go on a recruiting trip together, and we don't have to talk a ton about the trip because he knows what I'm going to say, and I know how to play things off him. Plus, he knows the values and morals of the program, and what we truly consider to be important. He can bring a player in to watch film and immediately recognize what things they need to do to impress me...and likewise, what things NOT to do to avoid getting on my bad side.
James brings a different set of skills, and it's a skill set we haven't necessarily had here before, and he's fit in great. He's had a ton of success and experience at the high-major level. As a result, his recruiting contacts are at the national level, and to some extent the international level. He's been a professional assistant his entire life; he's worked for coaches all across the country, and I swear he has scouted and recruited 90 percent of the gyms in America. There's little he hasn't seen, and he brings a highly professional attitude to the position.