How does it change your approach, now that you only have to teach the system to newcomers, and the guys coming back can assist in assimilating them into the system?
“It helps you get further ahead obviously, because now when I start talking, they can kind of finish my sentences before I do. I think a lot of the time player-coached teams can be better than coach-coached teams because they take ownership of what’s happening.”
How is Jairus Lyles adapting to a leadership role?
“He’s always been a leading scorer obviously, but that doesn’t always mean you’re the leader of the team. Last year we were led by a combination of Will Darley and myself. Now all the sudden we’re in a position where the players are leading one another. That’s how I like to do it. When I was a player that’s the way it was. The freshman learned from the seniors, the senior’s kind of told them what to do, and then as you move up the ladder hopefully it becomes your time. It’s clearly his turn, the players know that, we’ve established that; so now it’s my job to teach him how to do it. I’m going to try to do my best, and he’s done great so far.”
How realistic is it for this team to win the American East Conference?
“It’s a goal of ours. We’re definitely trying to do that. There’s a lot of great teams that will be in our way. We have good players in our program, have good leadership, good senior leadership, so it’s not unrealistic for us to think in that way. We’re going to play a few teams that have a chance this year, and I think we’re one of them.”
Is there any player you’re particularly excited for this season?
“Well, I’m excited for all of them. I’m looking forward to watching Arkel (Lamar) play this year. I’m looking forward to seeing what he can do. He’s going to play two different positions, three and four, which will be new for him. He’s got a chance to really step up, he’s a very talented guy.”
How do you plan to replace Will Darley’s production from last season?
“Will was great. We have some other guys, some other options there with Max Kern, he’s playing good basketball. We’ve got Arkel Lamar who I was just talking about. Both of those guys can fill his shoes quite nicely. Are they gonna do exactly what Will did? Probably not. They have to be themselves. I don’t want it to be like, when Jairus graduates next year, I’m not going to tell the next guy you have to be exactly like Jairus. But to answer the question, it is a hole because he provided a ton for us, made a ton of big shots throughout the season, and our guys are going to have to do that by committee. Brandon Horvath, who’s out right now, also gives us a really great option. He’s done really great this fall.”
What do you expect from the Temple transfer Max Portman?
“I expect a lot out of him. Max is a team guy that’s going to do anything I ask him to do, and anything the team needs. He’s a guy who can score, he’s a good passer, good defender and he played for a great coach at Temple who’s been there for 30 years. He’s been coached, he’s been part of a winning program, so he understands that. He’s a 4.0 student. So, I’m excited to have him here.
What’s your biggest long-term goal for this program?
“Our main goal is to graduate our players, and for them to have a great experience. I want every player who plays here to earn their degree, get the most out of their experience on campus, meet folks and set themselves up for life after basketball.”