Q: You've got three starters and eight lettermen returning in 2012-13, but this year's team still feels young. Is that just the state of the game right now?
"I think every coach covets experience, but the way college basketball is today – and we dealt with it a year and a half ago in losing a sophomore like Derrick Williams – there is more turnover now than ever before. This past year, we had a number of guys both graduate and some leave before their eligibility expired. For us, it's a matter of having experience in place with a number of guys and welcoming in new talent who I think can add to that experience."
Q: Seven newcomers make up the third-ranked recruiting class in the nation. How do you manage expectations internally?
"We're expecting a lot from our newcomers. As I just mentioned, college basketball is younger than ever before, and with that, you expect newcomers to contribute more than ever before. We have seven new guys who can rely on each other. There is no question that a lot of our season will depend on how much of an impact this group can have."
Q: A five-day trip is scheduled for Aug. 9-14. What are the benefits to taking a trip at this point on the calendar?
"Everything. One of the things you can't underestimate is actually going on a trip like this even this won't be a long trip. It allows guys to get to know each other off the court. When you have so many new faces, and you combine them with guys like Solomon Hill and Kevin Parrom, who are in the fourth year in our program, it will be good to see that chemistry start to build in the month of August as opposed to October."
"We'll have a head start there from a physical perspective, being able to learn how to practice offensively, defensively – doing the things that make us a good team. We're going to get more repetitions. We're going to have more time in the gym and more time together. I'd like to think that a trip like this could be beneficial. It could get us off to a better start. It could prepare us more for the long haul. I'm really excited about it. We're allowed to do this once every four years and to take advantage of it is very smart."
Q: Please talk about a few of your key returning players.
"Solomon is a returning all-conference player. Those guys really are coveted because college basketball has become so young, with so much inexperience, and so much turnover, that when you have someone who is both experienced and productive, those guys many times are the anchor to a great season. I believe Solomon is like that. He'll be one of the most experienced players playing college basketball. He also has a history of production that he can build on."
"Last year, he played a lot inside for us. He won't have to do that as much for us this year – at least that's where we are at right now. With where he's at in his career, I believe he has a perfect storm waiting for him."
"Kevin (Parrom) and Jordin Mayes are in the same boat. Those two guys, it's hard to judge who they were a year ago because they dealt with so much adversity injury-wise. Jordin lost, in essence, 14 weeks before we practiced in October and then suffered another injury that didn't allow him to finish strong. As a sophomore, Jordin wasn't where he wanted to be. Ditto for Kevin. The good news in both cases is that they've had a great spring followed by a really good summer. I think this foreign trip can give guys like them renewed confidence. No question their experience will help us. We need them to contribute."
Q: In the span of a year, you've moved from a team that was undersized to one that has quite a bit of height. Does that change your approach at all?
"We won't change too much with what we do. Obviously, you want to rebound well and get the ball close to the basket. When I mentioned 'death by inches' a year ago, it's not just that your center is taller, it's that your four-man is taller, your small forward is taller. People talk about playing three guards, and that's really death by inches a lot of times because that third guard isn't as good of an offensive rebounder. He's not as big physically in and around the basketball on defense. Now, we're bigger at the three spot with Solomon and Kevin being able to play the position. Hopefully, our size is something we can use to our advantage."