Hi coach! Thanks for sitting down with us today. Let's start off with an easy question: What's been the most surprising part of your BC experience so far?
The most surprising thing so far, I think, has been that this is pretty much similar to what I've done my whole life. I get an opportunity to coach at a really good academic school, that values education, and I'm still able to do my job so it hasn't changed that much. You know, you hear so much about how things will be different when you get to this level, but I don't sense that. I'm fortunate to be at a place like Boston College, in a great conference, but its Boston College! It's why I think it's a good fit for me and why I thought I was coming into a great opportunity.
So it seems like you've been having more fun this year than last year, with the young guys and everything. Is that the case? Are you having more fun the second time around?
Yeah, I enjoyed last season, but I was in a position where I had to really try to figure out what was best for that group rather than what I should be doing in terms of developing the program. I think it would have been unfair to expect those guys to make dramatic changes after being with another coach for three years. Here I got a chance to bring in so many new faces that I had gotten to know over the year in the recruiting process, and they are really engaged in everything they're doing because they're invested in it so much more because I know them so well. Then, you put in the part where they're learning something completely new, and they've been great about it. They're very eager, and just really enjoy learning, and you can tell they want to learn so it's been a great experience so far.
Would it be fair to say that this group has exceeded expectations so far?
Well, it's hard to say, you know. I try to evaluate things like that qualitatively rather than quantitatively. I like to see what the effort's like, but you never know until you get a kid what he's going to be like, and I've been really pleased with all their work in the classroom, in the community, in the weight room, their intensity in practice, willingness to do the extras; so in that sense, yeah, we hope that each kid that you bring in is like that and we've been really pleased that it's been like that for this group.
So, where do you see this program in four years?
Well, it's hard to look ahead when your mind is right in the middle of what's going on here. My vision is that you should be able to continue to attract great student athletes and compete for championships in the ACC. There's no reason why Boston College shouldn't be able to do that. We've gotta attract the right kid that fits what we're about. I see us continuing to grow as a program with those types of student athletes. I think that's obviously the blood-line of your program, because how well you recruit those types of kids to your program effects how well you can instill your philosophy. But if you don't get those types of kids, I think it's very difficult. I've been really fortunate. I think we've done a great job with this class and we're really making strides in the next couple of classes as well in order to have that vision in four years.
Could you tell me a little bit about your offense? When you first came here I read that you liked to run the "seven seconds or less" style. Is that actually the case?
Well, I don't think that's as accurate as it is...I would love to play really fast, push the basketball, and get the best shot you can. But the reality is that teams are well coached, so if you have that philosophy teams are going to adjust to you. It's not like you can come up and take one that's not a good shot just because you want to keep playing fast. I think the important thing is that you're constantly putting pressure on the defense, trying to get early ones, because I believe that you can get better early shots than you can late shots.
So, with that, you've got to have great, conditioned athletes. You have to have great, smart players. You have to have great, skilled players. I think we like that type of athleticism but I think the reality of it is that there's other things that are way more valuable in our system, and if you don't have those skills, pass-dribble-shoot, basketball IQ, and great conditioning, you're going to have a hard time. I think where we differ from most teams is we probably that we have five skilled players out there at all times as opposed to a team that says "Maybe I'll take a power forward because he rebounds well. I'll take a center because he defends the post well. I'll take a 2 that really shoots it. I'll take a wing that really drives it." I don't look at those things. I'm really looking for a well-rounded player at every position because it's critical that if you have one guy, which is 20% of your offense, which doesn't fit, I think it's going to be hard for us to play the way we're trying to play.
So can you talk to me a little about the conditioning? Last night was the first time I saw the team, and I'm sitting there on the floor saying to myself that this is the best shape I've seen a BC team in in the six years I've been here. Is that the case or is it just because they haven't gained the freshman 15 yet?
No, I think it's definitely the case that Nick Asermelly does a great job with strength and conditioning here. I think that the previous coaching staff wanted different types of players, which is fine. As I said, the critical piece in this for us is the cardio piece. And strength, and core strength in particular, for these guys. So Nick and I got together and we just agreed that we're going to really tailor this program, when they came in in June, to be really more of a high intense, cardio workout to go along with the other things that we do in the weight room in terms of flexibility and strength training and all that, and they've done an incredible job with that.
I mean, Dennis Clifford runs a 5:15 mile at 7 feet. All those kids have done an unbelievable job at the conditioning tests we put them to. So I agree with you. I think it's a team that moves better than I anticipated, better athletically than I thought, and they play at a fast pace. They're not stop and go guys. This program before had a lot of them, because that was what they needed for their system. I need guys that can just continually move, on both sides of the ball. We're trying to outwork the opponent in that sense.
What about your offense in the paint? A lot of times your offense is characterized as shooting a lot of threes but will you work to do more in the paint this year with the big guys coming in?
No doubt. I think last year it even surprised me that we were able to get as many open shots, and I thought they were good shots, but a lot of open threes. I think when we switch from Joe at the 5 and Cori at the 4, and then John Cahill or Danny Rubin, and Reggie and Biko you had five guys out there that really shot it. I think that was our strength in a lot of ways, putting people out, especially with Reggie's ability to get to the rim and then kick it to a kid whose feet are set ready to shoot a three, and we did that to a point at Cornell in different years but we also had a 7 foot kid in Jeff Foote, and Jeff was a big part of our success there too, making people guard us in the low block.
We have to be a team that goes inside-out in order to be successful. You just can't think that you're going to come out and shoot threes and not have to do anything. It has a lot to do with how you attack the rim if you're going to get open looks. Especially with this group, I think two of our strengths are Dennis Clifford and Kyle Caudill. I think we shot almost 45% of our basket attempts with threes last year. I would think that we're going to be much lower than that this year. First, we don't have straight-up stand-still shooters. I think these kids are going to get better as we go along at shooting but we have kids that can create a lot of different things with the dribble to make the defense have a hard time to guard us. So it may not be an open three, but it might be a really good attack on the basket or making a good basketball play. And then we have two good back-of-the-basket type of guys.