2017-18 Media Day
Nov. 1, 2017
Arlington, Texas – College Park Center
Head Coach Scott Cross
On the positives of depth …
"It is a very talented group. There are days that that group will go out and beat the starters. Because we have that depth it can bring some guys down to earth and understand that if this group can beat us, guys 11-15, then surely anybody we play has the ability to beat us. That is what we want our guys to understand, it doesn't matter who you play, if you are not ready to play you are going to get your butt whooped. And on the positive of that, it doesn’t matter who we play, if you bring it, we are capable of beating any team. It was to be an everyday thing. You have to bring that effort and intensity. When this team is hitting shots and playing good offensively we can beat just about anybody the key is can we win those games when we are not shooting the ball well. I'm not convinced yet but we are working towards getting there and once we get there it could be scary."
On the experience from the NIT …
"The NIT in general, was big. Winning at BYU and then winning vs. Akron and having those great home crowds. It is definitely a positive experience for the guys. It also can wake the guys up that any team on any given night can beat us. I felt like we were a better team, a better offensive team than (CSU) Bakersfield but they were the tougher team, without a doubt. And that is why they won that game. They were the tougher team. That is apart of my core philosophy, that the toughest team always wins. I really believe that. I think they proved that point to us and if you look at our losses throughout the year you can look back at those individually and see that the other team probably played harder than us in that game. That is going to be the challenge for our guys. Not being complacent about who we are playing. Bringing the effort, regardless of the score, playing every single possession until the horn sounds."
On guys poised for breakout year …
"Kaelon (Wilson) is a guy that is poised to have a breakout year. We kind of saw glimpses in the NIT of what he is capable of doing. Nathan Hawkins is a guy that brings a lot of those intangibles that Drew Charles brought. He's a great defender, is extremely intelligent. His role will definitely be expanded from last year. Mairega Clarke, he redshirted last year, and is a great finisher in transition and can shoot the three ball for us. Davion Turner, we call him 'Sticks.' Kind of a similar mold of Kevin Hervey, a 6-foot-9 shooter that can play the same position. We may play them side by side a little bit and that gives us added depth at that position.
"David Azore is a guy we were counting on and unfortunately we got some bad news on him in the exhibition game, he tore his knee up so he is going to be out for the season. DJ Bryant, who backed up to Erick Neal (last year), his progression this offseason has been tremendous. At times last year he looked tentative and in our first scrimmage in our exhibition game, he's going against some of the top point guards in the country and he doesn't look like a junior and senior. He's confidence in what he's doing. He's tough and a great leader out there. Julian Harris is a guy that also broke his finger. He's out until December but he's been doing some great things for us. He's a little bit like Jorge (Bilbao) too. Great defender. Can pass and can play the high post.
"Our two big guys, you remember Link (Kabadyundi). He's 7-foot-1 and he had a great spring and summer as well. His knees are a little bit better. We've spent a lot of time working on the pick and roll and I think he can be a lot more effective for us. Johnny Hamilton is our transfer from Virginia Tech and the first two scrimmages we've had he's looked tremendous. He's a high flyer, kind of reminds me of Anthony Walker, that we had back in 2013, but at seven feet. So he's a game changer for us as well. I feel like we have 11 guys that can all contribute. Obviously Erick and Kevin are the ones that get the press an attention but there are a lot of guys that are going to be a big part of what we do this year."
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