Oct. 21, 2010
Ed Conroy, Tulane head coach
Opening Statement "First thing, thank all of you for being here and we appreciate the interest in what we are doing. As you know we started official practice Friday evening, even though we have been doing skill development since the beginning of classes. We have had seven official practices since Friday and we are making progress. We have a ways to go as you can imagine with this being our first week of our first year of putting in a new program, so there is a long way to go. There are a couple of things I would like to point out. I have been very pleased with the seniors. It is very difficult to come in your senior year and have to adjust to a new coaching staff and a different way of doing things. They have been great. Kris Richard, especially, a guy who athletically has done some special things in the past but can he adjust to this new style and play with other guys? Johnny Mayhane has done a super job from a leadership standpoint, helping bring the younger kids along. David Booker, perhaps, is going to have to adjust to a new role. With our lack of size, he will have to play in the interior a little more. Aaron Holmes has done a great job in a leadership role and has helped out with the younger guys as well. So I'd like to point those guys out for their sacrifices and hopefully they can keep progressing. If we want to be as good as we'd like, I don't see any formula in which the rotation wouldn't include those guys in a big way. They are a key and I've addressed that with them. But I'm excited to get started. We have to be ready to go because we start with two on the road, and it is never easy to go on the road in college basketball. But really our focus is on ourselves and just trying to make progress."
What is the biggest key to success for your team this year? "The biggest key to success for us is the development of our players, and that takes a lot of things into consideration. We have to stay healthy and we have to take care of business off the court so we do not have any distractions there. Each one of our guys, because it is a new way of doing things for all of them, we have to be really determined to make progress every day and to try and get better. The seniors have to change some habits, and they have to do it really fast. The freshmen have to get accustomed to college basketball. We need everybody. I don't think we have any dominant player who can carry us so it has to be a real team effort."
You mention players taking a new role and seniors stepping up, especially Kris Richard, can you elaborate on what he has had to change? "I mention Kris, because he is a senior and he knows the level of competitiveness and how hard it is to win in college basketball and they know the demands of Conference USA, so I expected him to jump out early. Kris didn't have his best moments early in practice, but then he started to really work hard and adapt to what we were trying to teach him. The key is this, and it doesn't matter what style you play, but can five guys play as one. And in Kris' case, perhaps he would get a steal, but on the possessions he didn't he would leave us exposed, and we don't have those seven footers to erase mistakes. So that was the first thing and I think he has made great strides in learning who his teammates are now and he we can best play to our strengths. That's really our philosophy, offensively and defensively. It's versatile and we will do things to highlight strengths but at the same time we do not have every piece to the puzzle so it has to be a team thing."
Will you be more conservative on defense since you don't have a lot of size? "That would depend on what you view as conservative. We don't really sit back on anything. If there is one word we use over and over in our program it would be attack. Offensively I would tell you we attack in every way you can possibly attack, whether it's a drive, cut, post up, a screen, a pass, we really look at ways to constantly put pressure on the rim. Defensively, the biggest thing we try to teach is positioning, so we can understand where we can make plays. If I am going to allow one player to make a play right here, the other four need to be in position to cover for him so we are not exposed. That's the word we use all the time. Are we going to get back and protect the basket? Oh, yeah. But we are definitely going to show them areas where they can make plays and be aggressive."
What does it take to get everybody on board with your system? "My philosophy is to recruit everybody. Not just our current players, but everybody in this building. You are representing everything about you program, all the time. If we are truly going to be about player development, then they need to really know me so that there is a trust and we can go out there and communicate efficiently and move quickly without worrying about measuring our words and weighing the truth. We need to be able to speak to each other in a way which helps us make progress fast, so they need to know me and know where I'm coming from. So yes, I've spent an awful lot of time with our current players."
How is your relationship with the returning players? "It's a work in progress. Hopefully we are working hard to try and touch all of them. We all come from different backgrounds so it's never easy, and it's never a problem solves. It is Jordan Callahan's birthday and he likes chocolate chip cookies and I discussed that with him this morning. You are always finding out something different with them and the only way to learn everything is with time. It's no different than being a parent, and that's what they need. We have been here for five months, and with recruiting I was not in town in April and July as much as I would have liked so it's been phone calls and texts."
Are you settled in here in New Orleans? "My wife would probably have a much different answer, but I'm settled. I have a projector upstairs with a film screen. The house is under renovation, we don't have televisions downstairs and there is no kitchen, so it's not done yet. But the kids are in school, doing fantastic, they have adapted really well and I am proud of them."
Are there any new players that have stood out so far? "I'm excited about the new guys. Kevin Thomas, a young man from Waco, seems to be getting better every drill. He has a great attitude. Josh Davis, who will not play this year because he is a transfer from N.C. State, had his best practice of the year yesterday, he really dominated on the boards and that is something I hope he can do for us next year. Kevin Brown has run with the first group a lot because he can play different positions in the back court. Jonathon Frye is another signing that has looked really good. Those guys have kind of jumped out. Overall I have been really pleased with the whole group."
What are your expectations for this season? "It is dangerous and not allowed. We really only have one expectation and that is to get better each day. I have already talked to our guys about this so many times. It can happen in different ways, whether its media day or someone trying to pin you down on wins and losses, or when the schedule comes out. Our focus cannot be on anything but our team. We have so much to learn, and so much to get established as far as a culture and the way we execute. We will always focus on ourselves more than the opponent, but especially this year. That's our expectation; we have to find a way to drive ourselves and to get better every day."
Will you spend more time in the film room on the court? "We have already shown them film of practice. We have shown them film from an NFL game. We have shown them film of a Major League Baseball playoff game. I showed them a little film of our Citadel team last year. Anything we can do to get the point across to maybe help their learning. We also try to walk through everything. Some guys learn in different ways. Some are visual learners, some learn by walking through things in a slow pace, and some learn by putting their hand on that hot stove and burning themselves. We out to practice and during a drill they do something and realize that won't work anymore. So we are trying to be creative in every way possible."
What was the NFL video about? "They were talking about different quarterbacks and how their hand and footwork was possibly causing their teammates to not look as good. So it was a lesson on technique."