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November 12, 2014

Bill Kennedy

TIM SIMMONS:  Coach Kennedy, thanks for getting on early.  Just kind of give us your thoughts about the preseason preparations for your team.  I know you probably had a game, an exhibition game, and then you have one prior to coming to Puerto Rico.  Your thoughts on your team?
BILLY KENNEDY:  Really like where we're at with our team right now.  Still trying to figure it out, like everybody, answer some question marks with some eligibility of some of our players recently, and with Danuel House and trying to see where that's going to play out.  We still have some things up in the air, but the veterans in Alex Caruso, Kourtney Roberson and Jordan Green, we know they've been stable for us.  Our new guys have been impactful, Alex Robinson especially as a freshman, has come in and done some good things for us in our exhibition game and in our preseason, and Peyton Allen is a 6'4" shooter, as well as Tonny Trocha and some of the other guys that we have this year, with Jalen Jones, a transfer, probably making the greatest impact with his maturity at this point.
TIM SIMMONS:  Any surprises that you've seen so far in the preseason?
BILLY KENNEDY:  No, I'm still waiting on some.  I think the lights and the games will show us some things that will hopefully surprise us, some positive surprises.  We've been pretty consistent with our effort.  I like our chemistry.  I like our attitude, and our guys get along really well.  There's a lot of uncertainties with our team because we're relying on so many new guys to impact us.  But I like where we're at, and I expect us to gradually get better, as most teams will, so early in the season.
TIM SIMMONS:  You'll be playing Dayton in the first round.  Your thoughts about the Dayton Flyers?
BILLY KENNEDY:  Number one, they're extremely well coached.  Coach Miller does a really good job.  I've known him for a while, and his teams are prepared.  They play hard.  You can't say enough about Dayton's program the last few years and the last really 20 years.  It's a great basketball school.  Those kids expect to win, and the season that they had last year just goes to show you how special a program that is.  Archie has done a really good job of getting those kids to play hard and believe in his system on the defensive end.  I think that's where they present a lot of problems.
TIM SIMMONS:  I know people don't like to look ahead for the next round, but got a chance to play the defending national champions or College of Charleston who's got a new coach.  Any thoughts on your second‑round possibilities?
BILLY KENNEDY:  Well, I'm just trying to figure out our team right now.  I haven't looked that far ahead.  We've got our hands full with Northwestern State on Friday.  They're a team that won games and beat some good teams last year and went to the NCAA Tournament recently.  But it's a great field there in Puerto Rico, and I think a lot of teams will find out a lot about themselves against the caliber of play of a Dayton or a College of Charleston in the second round‑‑ I mean, Connecticut and College of Charleston in the second round.  Defending national champions, it says enough.  They've got a good group back and another team that's well‑coached that's won a lot of games on the defensive end.  It'll be interesting who can score points in that tournament because there's a lot of tough‑minded, good defensive teams in that tournament.

Q.  I was wondering, how do you see Jalen Jones and Alex Caruso meshing as Jones has been one of the biggest newcomers for the team?
BILLY KENNEDY:  Jalen Jones and Alex Caruso are gelling well.  Jalen hasn't played in a while, having sat out last year, transferring from SMU, so he's still trying to figure out how he fits in on this team.  But he's got a great motor, can score inside and out.  He's played the 3 for us, he's played the 4 for us.
Caruso is also making an adjustment because we played at freshman Alex Robinson some at the point and played Alex off the ball.  I think it's a work in progress, but I like what I see.  They're adjusting well at this point, but I think they'll get better as the season goes and we settle in on how we're going to play during the season.

Q.  How do you see Kourtney Roberson playing?
BILLY KENNEDY:  Kourtney is a fifth‑year senior.  We expect a great year out of him.  He's had a good off‑season.  He's healthy.  He's been banged up the last few years.  You know, just having that maturity and that experience of rebounding the ball and being an inside presence is important for our team to take the steps necessary to get better.  Kourtney brings a big body who's experienced and can help us inside on both ends of the floor.

Q.  You mentioned Jalen sitting out the year last year.  How tough is it for a staff to find attention for a player who's sitting out in the middle of a season?  Is that a challenge for you?
BILLY KENNEDY:  You know, for him, he transferred in January last year and got acclimated really quickly for us.  I mean, he's made a smooth transition because we really lacked a guy who had the intensity and the motor he plays with 15 feet in from the basket.  He can score a variety of ways.  He's shooting the ball extremely well from the three.  He's got great energy and great intensity around the basket, and we needed that toughness and that presence.  He impacted our team when he walked on campus in January because he brings a toughness around the basket that we didn't have.
You know, it's been a good transition for him.  He's mature and so good for us that he's able to play through some mistakes early on, and we're just trying to get him to get comfortable in our offensive system, and that may not happen for another month or two.  What he does bring is toughness and intensity, and he'll be on the floor a lot of minutes for us from day one.

Q.  I'm doing a story for Basketball Times Magazine on camaraderie in the smart phone and social media era, and I'm wondering if you've found with your players, now as opposed to several years ago, whether they're communicating less or they don't really have the same bond because they're on their phones so often and checking Twitter and things like that?
BILLY KENNEDY:  We actually just got involved with a new app that's helped us communicate better with our guys where they get everything on email.  It's still over my head.  It's called Team Synced.  We use that to get to them.  We know they've got their phones in their hand.  When we change a meeting, we change anything, I want to send email to them, mass, and just a click of a finger, we're taking advantage of that.  I'm learning how to use it because these kids Twittering and social media and Instagram, all those things that I didn't grow up with, are really hitting me in the head trying to catch up.  I can't keep up with it.  But we're trying to take advantage of some things that we can use to communicate better with our players, and I know this app, Team Synced, has really helped us recently communicate with our guys every day.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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