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NATIONAL COLLEGIATE ATHLETIC ASSOCIATION MEDIA CONFERENCE
November 10, 2009
DAVE WORLOCK: Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to our first teleconference with Dan Guerrero, the director of athletics at UCLA, and the chair of the Division I Men's Basketball Committee for the 2009/10 season. This season we want to touch base with this year's committee chair as we start what promises to be another memorable season of NCAA college basketball. We have a number of guests available later in the call, including Tom Izzo from Michigan State and Roy Williams from the University of North Carolina.
We begin today's call with Chair Guerrero who will then take calls from the media.
Dan, the season officially got underway last night with four games. Given that, what is your excitement level as you and your colleagues begin preparing for the season?
DAN GUERRERO: Thank you, David. Good afternoon to everyone. Thanks to all of you for taking the time to be with us on today's call.
As you mentioned, David, eight teams tipped off their seasons last night, the beginning of what will no doubt prove to be a fascinating season. On behalf of the entire Men's Basketball Committee, can I say we are looking forward with great anticipation to the nearly 340 other Division I teams to start their seasons as well. We're definitely excited and know that the coaches, student-athletes and college basketball fans throughout the country are excited as well.
To begin, I would like to start off by acknowledging what a sincere honor it is to represent my colleagues as the chair of this committee and what a privilege it is to work alongside a terrific group of administrators who devote their time year-round, to make a complete commitment to this great championship. Quickly I'd like to take a moment to introduce these individuals in order of their time on the committee.
First we have three new members serving their maiden voyage on the committee, Dan Beebe, commissioner of the Big 12 Conference, Doug Fuller, the commissioner of the Big Sky Conference, and Ron Wellman, the director of athletics at Wake Forest University. These three individuals were able to shadow various members of the committee at last year's first and second round sites. This year they hit the ground running right from the outset.
Entering his second year is Mike Bobinski, the director of athletics at Xavier University, while Jeff Hathaway, director of athletics at the University of Connecticut, and Lynn Hickey, director of athletics at Texas, San Antonio, are each in their third year.
Stan Morrison, director of athletics at UC Riverside, and Gene Smith, the director of athletics at Ohio State University, are both entering their fourth years on the committee. Gene will succeed me as the committee chair next year and he will be exceptional in this role.
Lastly, this is my fifth and final year on the committee, and the same goes for Laing Kennedy, my pledge brother, who is the director of athletics at Kent State University.
Now down to business. Last week in Houston, the committee and the NCAA staff met for our annual fall meeting. During the week, the staff conducted a Final Four host seminar for future hosts and the 2011 Final Four logo was unveiled in an impressive ceremony with local dignitaries, members of the Houston local organizing committee and Houston media in attendance. Other than that, however, it was business as usual with the primary purpose of the meeting to set the table for the upcoming season.
Part of this preparation involves our conference monitoring program. The hub for conference monitoring is a secured website which allows the committee members to access information submitted by conference office personnel. This information is continuously updated, includes key wins, quality losses, notable injuries and other factors resulting in missed games. Another element of this program is the assignment of two committee members to act as primary and secondary monitors to each conference. These two committee members conduct calls with conference commissioners and other personnel to discuss teams in those leagues and gather as much information as they can for the selection, seeding and bracketing process in March.
Of course, the selection of the best 34 at-large teams is a major focus of our preparation every year. Before the start of last season, you might recall that the committee decided to eliminate a team's performance in the last 12 games of the season as criteria for selection. This decision was made so as to put more emphasis on a team's total body of work. We also wanted to pay particularly close attention to each team's non-conference schedule and a team's willingness to play quality competition away from home. Those same points of emphasis will be put towards selecting the best at-large teams this season as well.
And thus, our primary mission is to work to achieve the most balanced and competitive environment for the crowning of the 72nd national champion during the first week in April. We're looking forward to returning to Indianapolis for this year's Final Four. Indianapolis is a wonderful city with a rich tradition of college basketball, including having hosted five previous Final Fours. This year will be a little different with the games being played at the fabulous Lucas Oil Stadium. It should be another fantastic year of college basketball and the committee is ready to roll, geared up for an exciting tournament this spring.
DAVE WORLOCK: Thanks, Dan. Let's now take calls for the chair of the Division I Men's Basketball Committee.
Q. Just want to know to what extent the committee discussed expansion last week in Houston of the tournament and whether or not they would look at opting out of CBS' contract?
DAN GUERRERO: The expansion question, the age-old question. I recall that back in 2006 or 2007 I believe when Craig Littlepage was the chair, that the NCAA issued a press release indicating there would be no expansion because it seemed to be the hot topic of the time.
The issue of expansion is always on the minds of some and occasionally on the minds of many. That being said, it has not been a hot topic for the committee, at least during the time that I've served. As we have done in the past, the committee will give this topic our due diligence, look at it in the context of what is best in the game and the association, understanding demand for such developments, what participation opportunities would be possible, as well as what the pros and cons are, will always be at the forefront of that discussion.
There's always a great deal of subjectivity that goes into play when discussing what is best. But we really haven't walked down that path to any degree at this point. Again, our job is to contemplate everything that's in the best interest of the game.
As it relates to television, we enjoy a fantastic relationship with our network partners. Our focus is always to work with them to see how this great event can possibly be enhanced. With the expansion of new media platforms and our delivery systems, we have grown this tournament into an extraordinary event, one of the greatest sporting events in the world. We're proud that we've been able to do that together.
Our current contract is still very much in force and while many of the 88 NCAA championships have significant followings, of course this championship in particular draws great interest from hundreds of millions of fans around the world, our focus has to continue to be directly on Indianapolis in 2010 and making it the very best championship possible.
Q. Is there discussion of an op-out or no?
DAN GUERRERO: What we have done is simply focus primarily on the issue of Indianapolis. We haven't really focused a great deal on the future of the tournament from the standpoint of television. That does not mean, however, that those discussions do not occur. To the extent that we can talk about anything substantive, there's really nothing there at this point.
Q. Can you discuss the committee's leaning seems to be more and more dome stadiums in the regional, final round and also are there any attendance minimums for first and second round sites?
DAN GUERRERO: Well, the move to dome stadiums is not necessarily an absolute, but it's certainly something that made sense for us as we continue to grow the game.
As you know, there's much more to the tournament now than the games itself. The tournament has grown to be a large community endeavor with the efforts of the NCAA and the local organizing committees doing wonderful things on behalf of their particular constituents and citizens in their respective cities.
Dome stadiums for the most part have now become what we would call dress rehearsals for Final Fours. It gives us the opportunity to dress up, if you will, those stadiums so that we can anticipate what issues may come down the line in the future as we host the Final Fours. We are pretty excited about the fact that what we've seen so far has been a success.
Q. How about the attendance minimums? Is there a number for the first and second round sites that you'd like to meet?
DAN GUERRERO: Not necessarily. You know, we've sort of gone back and forth in terms of the direction that we've gone in the awarding of those particular tournaments. There is a 12,000 minimum capacity. We sell out 95% of our seats over time just in a general sense. So we've been very successful with that formula. At this point in time, it seems to be the right thing to do.
Q. We hear all the time the different resources and tools the committee has at its disposal to help select at-large teams. But given their busy schedules, how often do committee members have the opportunity to actually watch games either on television or in person?
DAN GUERRERO: Well, as you well know, the season started last night, in fact. I'm sure every member of the committee was glued to their TV sets watching those eight teams and those first four games.
The members of this committee are deeply, deeply committed to the success of this tournament, as you can imagine. They're very professional in every regard and spend a great deal of time monitoring different conferences, evaluating teams, and observing games.
When you are part of this committee, it clearly is a commitment that you make. One of the important aspects of this is to make certain that you are diligent in terms of your observation and evaluation of teams.
As I indicated earlier, the conference monitoring process is one which really aids us in a lot of way in that regard. We have individuals, as I indicated, that are assigned to various conferences. It is their responsibility to make certain that they know those conferences and the teams in those conferences inside and out.
That being said, it's important that every committee member have a very sound and thorough understanding of the makeup of various conferences and teams. In order to do that, you're spending a lot of time TiVoing games, watching them at night, speaking to your colleagues throughout the country, whether they be coaches, administrators, conference administrators, and the like, making certain that when we're in the room in March, we're geared up not only with all of the quantitative tools and resources that are available for us, but also that we can go in there and talk about the eyeball test, you know, having seen a number of these teams, being able to once again select the top 34 teams for the tournament.
Q. Dan, how will the passing of Myles Brand affect any decisions that the committee will make or the NCAA will make this coming year? I think I read they hope to name a successor by September of 2010, is that right?
DAN GUERRERO: Well, I do know that there's a process in place now and a committee has been selected to move forward with the selection of his successor. As it relates to that particular search, the executive committee has the responsibility of doing that. The timeline over the next several months will be to identify those prospects.
As you well know, Myles was a remarkable leader with tremendous, tremendous insight, tremendous foresight, was a great friend of the committee. He spent a lot of time with us at our various meetings. Of course, he was a huge fan of this championship.
As we move forward with the championship, obviously we do so with Myles in mind. I mean, he charged us with carrying the event forward, to make it the very best championship it could possibly be, to make it a fabulous experience for the student-athletes, the coaches, our fans. His presence in Detroit this past April was truly amazing. For those media who are on the call, they might remember that it was very powerful to see him here.
The best thing that we can do as a committee and association, just in a general sense, is to continue his vision through this event.
Q. How guarded do you have to be about not getting too excited about some of the results in November and December? Teams have these great runs early. The Georgetown situation last year. Siena goes win less, plays well later. How much do you have to be guarded about not getting one extreme or the other by some of these early results?
DAN GUERRERO: To quote from Mike Slive, last year's chair, he really emphasized the whole issue of the body of work. That's really important to us. Every game counts every night. We have to count what happens now as much as what happens in a lot of respects later in the year.
That being said, you know, 10 different individuals on the committee can evaluate each situation a little bit differently. You're right, I mean, Georgetown was a good example, coming out of the gate very strong, end of last year they didn't finish strong. Eventually that had an impact. There were teams last year that had exceptional wins early on and were able to sustain that during the course of the year.
Once again, it goes back to who you play, when you play, how you play, all those kinds of things. We'll continue to evaluate the entire season, non-conference, conference, and post-season tournament, and look at it sort of as a holistic effort on behalf of a particular team.
Once again, with all of the quantitative information that we have, the ability to evaluate and assess a team's strength of schedule over the course of the year, will give us a very good gauge once we get into that room in March.
Q. Dan, in terms of scheduling, what is the most important thing a coach can do to get the attention of the committee?
DAN GUERRERO: Well, there isn't necessarily just one important thing. Obviously a balanced schedule is important in a lot of respects. That means that you're playing good teams and you're playing teams on the road. That's obviously something that the committee has looked at over the course of time.
You know, it differs a little bit from team to team. There are some teams that really schedule up strong in the non-conference in order to look better, have a better rÃƒÂ©sumÃƒÂ©, for the committee when we look at the team at the end of the year.
You know, you have to remember, there are 332 eligible teams available for Selection Sunday. It's not one size fits all. They don't all necessarily look the same. So what's best for one team might not necessarily be best for the other. Each program has to evaluate what they think is important.
From a committee's perspective, obviously if you play strong competition, if you do well against that competition, then that will certainly help your case.
Q. Dan, this is your fifth year. What has changed about the committee over those five years or has a lot changed, pretty much the same when you were a rookie?
DAN GUERRERO: That's a great question. Serving on the committee gives one a great opportunity to see how things develop certainly over the course of time. I can tell you from my perspective, just in a general sense, my personal experience, the committee experience gives you an opportunity to make long-lasting, memorable friendships. You spend an inordinate amount of time with the other committee members, either in person or on the phone, and you develop relationships with their families. More importantly, you get the opportunity to learn from them.
I look at the NCAA staff, what they've done from the standpoint of improving the tools that are necessary for us to help assess and evaluate the strength of each team. Just from a personal growth standpoint, I've learned a lot from the other committee members. I've learned a lot from the committee chairs, if you will, those that have preceded me. I have great respect for them, their intellect, their passion for the game.
Let me say, if all those guys, you look at Craig Littlepage, professorial, the statesman, Gary Walters, the philosopher, the prankster, Tom O'Connor was the floor general, the master tactician, if you will, and of course Mike Slive was just brilliant, a sage, a very good mentor to me.
When you talk about how the whole process has developed, I look at it from the filter of how I have developed through the process. It has allowed me opportunity to grow, to experience something that -- a once in a lifetime experience. I've been very fortunate to have had the privilege of serving on this committee.
I can tell you that when we go in that room in March, the tools that are available to us to evaluate teams, to assess, to make those decisions that in our opinion are the right decisions for the association, for the field, to get the best teams out there for the championship, those tools are all in place. We're very fortunate to have those available for us.
DAVE WORLOCK: We would like to turn the call over to John Adams, second year as the NCAA's national coordinator of officiating. He previously spent 16 years as an official and nine years as a conference coordinator of officiating. John, thanks for joining us today and please begin with your comments.
JOHN ADAMS: Thanks, Dave and Dan.
Every year we freshen or officiating initiatives, and engage our partners. This year was no different. Our central officiating issues are player safety and sportsmanship. These are reflected by the points of emphasis, which are part of the rule book. Those points of emphasis are pretty important and they kind of make up our focus for the year. They include charge block, player controlled fouls at the basket, excessive swinging of the elbows, player and team member interactions as sportsmanship issues.
We also have a new rule, a lot of buzz going on about. We have said that a secondary defender who is positioned under the basket for the sole purpose of creating a charge foul against his team is now an illegal guarding position. You cannot have a secondary defender under the basket and have him be a legally guarding player. We come up with a mechanic that we think will help coaches, the media and fellow referees and the fans in that if we signal this as an automatic or an absolute blocking foul, under the basket, we will also point at the area under the basket.
I think we probably ought to define 'under the basket' once and for all as defined by this rule. It is the space from the front edge of the rim to the face of the backboard, as wide as the rim is wide. So it's 24 inches deep by 18 inches wide. That is the area that is under the basket, that a secondary defender may not be touching with either foot. If he is, he cannot be a legal defender. If contact occurs, it is supposed to be called a blocking foul.
There's another new reasonably visible rule that involves injured players. If a player is injured and he cannot shoot his free throws, the opposing coach will pick a replacement player from the four players that are on the floor at the time of the injury. Our friends at the NBA have a much more expansive rule. We tried to narrow it down and make sure that the substitute was somebody that was healthy enough, wasn't injured, wasn't sitting on the bench perhaps in a redshirt situation.
Finally we've asked our officials to pay a lot more attention to three-second violations. While it may not seem important, we think it will go a long way towards cleaning up rough play in the post. We examined the 2009 NCAA tournament videos and found a significant number of three-second violations that went uncalled. When they go uncalled, they tend to lead to wrestling matches between the players involved.
Also we've asked our officials to up the ante and to pay much closer attention to intentional and flagrant fouls, when they occur, call them, don't automatically downgrade them to just a common foul.
We'll end with our freedom of movement initiative, using that as the measuring stick, litmus test, for what is and isn't a foul. We keep telling our officials that if the rhythm, speed, balance or quickness of a player is affected, that is a foul. That's what our measuring stick should be rather than just advantage or disadvantage.
I think it's important that the rules and officiating calls are described correctly because each of you folks out in the media and coaches are integral to assisting the fans in better understanding the game. Feel free to call me anytime. I'll give you my cell phone number, it's 317.590.3736, or you can email me at JWAsports1@AOL.com.
David, that covers the four minutes you gave me.
DAVE WORLOCK: Thank you, John.
Now we would like to welcome to the teleconference the head coach of the University of North Carolina, Roy Williams.
Your team got off to a strong start last night with a win. Obviously a team that's coming off a national championship with a very different look to it this year. Talk about the expectations on your team, the chances of repeating in a tough ACC and on a national stage.
COACH ROY WILLIAMS: Well, the expectations are a little unrealistic I think because it just doesn't happen in college basketball that you lose four starters, five of your top eight guys, all of a sudden have the same kind of success the next year.
But in saying that, we do have a chance to be a very good team by the end of the year. We have Deon Thompson and Marcus Ginyard, who have played for us quite a bit in the past that we expect to lead our team. We have Ed Davis, who averaged about 16 minutes a game for us last year that we think is going to be a big-time player for us. That gives us a little nucleus. Everybody else is completely untested, but they're also gifted.
Last night we did beat Florida International. I think we won by 16. I think at one time it was 26 or something like that. It wasn't the greatest showing in the world by any means. I think we're going to be a strong team defensively, a strong rebounding team. We have to get good play from our point guard spot. We need to make some outside shots. The games we do those things, we're going to be really good.
DAVE WORLOCK: A question about the scheduling, the way you address that each and every year, playing a tough conference schedule within the ACC, but also a quick rundown of your non-conference schedule. You have a game against Ohio State, potentially Cal or Syracuse in New York at the Coaches versus Cancer, then teams like Michigan State, Kentucky, Texas, teams you're familiar with, then also some strong teams such as Nevada. Talk about your philosophy as you approach scheduling each off-season.
COACH ROY WILLIAMS: Well, what I try to do is I try to get four games every year that are going to be national television, very exciting, who's gonna win, depends who plays the best kind of games. I know that's a long description. It is four games that we want to be top 10, top 20 type games, hopefully have half of them at home, half of them on the road, because I think it does help you to go on the road.
This year I may have taken one more game than I may have needed to for the youth of this team. We took Texas fairly late. We already had things set up with Kentucky, the schedule we do with them every year. We knew we were going to have a big-time opponent in the ACC, Big Ten challenge. When you look at the Associated Press poll, you have Michigan State, Texas, Kentucky, 2, 3 and 4 in the country, as young as our team is, might be more than we want to handle.
The Coaches versus Cancer, I always like to play in a special event like that that will have really good team, then try to get some other games against mid-majors, I'm not sure that's the way we should count it, but teams maybe not in the 25 may be a better way to say it, play one of those games on the road as well. This year we're playing at Charleston. Last year we played at Nevada, Cal Santa Barbara. I think those types of games help your team as well. I've been fortunate the six years here at North Carolina, our schedule is ranked in the top 20 in the country every year we've been here. It's worked out well and we hope we can continue doing it.
Q. Roy, John Adams was on ahead of you talking about points of emphasis for the officials this year. Seemed like almost everything about the play down low, down under the basket, post play. Is that still what coaches are most concerned with or is there some other aspect of the officiating that has taken over for you guys?
COACH ROY WILLIAMS: I'll speak for me and some of my coaching friends, the ones I talk to about it the most. We all have the same opinion. We are concerned about the aggressiveness, the rough play, physicalness of the game. We don't want to take away the openness of the game of basket, the smoothness, the finesse game it should be. There's no question that's my biggest concern, is the physicalness of the game.
I think the decision to make the imaginary circle around underneath the rim, I think that was not the -- I think our officials are going to have a difficult time with that. I would be in favor of putting down a dotted line if that's what we were going to do. I think playing underneath the basket just to draw a foul as a guy is coming down after shooting the ball is not a good play. I can understand the reason for it, but I would like to give the officials a little help by putting the dotted line in there like they have in the NBA.
I think our game is in good shape. I like our game. I don't think we have many problems from a rules standpoint we should worry about.
Q. Do you think a 65-team NCAA tournament is just about right or does it need to be expanded?
COACH ROY WILLIAMS: I hate to sit on the fence on too many things. I have mixed emotions. I think 65 is wonderful. It has to be a great accomplishment to make the tournament. I think some of those teams that make the tournament, they feel that great accomplishment. The ones that come close to it just feel that tremendous sadness, the thrill of victory, the agony of defeat kind of idea.
I'm not so sure that you could have that same kind of feeling the more that you get into it. I love college football, the pageantry of college football. To be able to have 800 Bowl games for 800 teams at the end of the year, whatever it is, I don't think that is what we want to have in basketball.
I do have mixed emotions. I love where we are, but, yes, someone could present an argument and convince me that we need more teams. So I didn't give you a great answer.
Q. Talk about Marcus Ginyard. He looked great last night. Talk about his progress after sitting out last year with the injury, how you've seen him progress to this point.
COACH ROY WILLIAMS: Well, he's having a great pre-season for us. He's healthy now, knock on wood, which means I'm hitting myself in the head. I think he gives us a total game. You had a great saying several years ago that people have adopted about a staff sheet stuffer. I think that's what Marcus is. He's going to get some steals, block some shots. Might have a turnover or two there, but he's going to get to the board, make some baskets, make some three-point shots. He's a great leader. He's our best defender on the perimeter. He's the best defender at seeing the big picture of what the other team is trying to do. He's the best help defender we have. He has some tremendous qualities we really need. I'm really hoping he has a great year 'cause he's such a great, great kid. It was a tough year for him last year to not be actually out there on the court playing with the team that won the national championship.
Q. Other than the size of the field, there have been some subtle changes over the years in the formatting, the way the tournament is run, specifically in travel and geographic issues. If there was something you could change with the way the tournament is run, what would it be?
COACH ROY WILLIAMS: I would say something it would probably be bad for TV because I wish that everybody would play a Friday, Sunday approach, which means you can't have every game on TV, don't have those Thursday games. I think we ask kids to miss so many days of school. Some of the people that make decisions, if it's something that they don't like, they say, We got to keep aware of the academic side, yet if it's the NCAA tournament, we're getting all the money, it's not as big a factor then. I dislike that. What we get from leaders about our rules, whether it's in recruiting, when we want to make a stand, we use academics. Yet in the NCAA tournament you can get in a situation where you're going to class Monday, Tuesday, perhaps Wednesday morning, then you're missing Wednesday afternoon, Thursday and Friday for two or three weeks, some people maybe even four weeks that make it all the way. That would be something that probably wouldn't be good for TV, but I just hate that we have to miss so much of the class time there.
The rest of it, we have a wonderful, wonderful event that I love, that people love, that everybody does such a great job of, that we don't have many things that I complain about. I definitely complain about the amount of time we have to spend with the media, there's no question there. I would cut that about 90%. Other than that, I think we've got a great, great game.
Q. The off-season, a lot of people were wondering how the guard play was going to be. What have you seen from your guards early on? Are you happy with how they're doing in your offense thus far?
COACH ROY WILLIAMS: I don't think any coach is happy where they stand right now. I would fit in that group. But we're not going to be until we give the kids chances to play, opportunities to play games, see how they react in front of a crowd.
I feel like Larry Drew is going to be a big-time player for us, yet he's got to get better. I felt that same way about Ty Lawson his freshman year where he was thrust out there to play so many minutes.
It's still a work in progress. But that's our whole team. That's what it is. We have two seniors, one junior, everybody else is a freshman or sophomore. Young team that we got to get things going.
DAVE WORLOCK: Thank you, Coach Williams. We know you have to get to practice. We'll let you go. Best of luck during the season. We really appreciate your time.
COACH ROY WILLIAMS: Everybody have a great day. Look forward to seeing you.
DAVE WORLOCK: The first RPI will be released the week of January 4th. We'll have that available at NCAA.com. You have check that site throughout the year pertaining to information about the men's basketball championship. We'll post that on a weekly basis. We want to remind you the NCAA will begin accepting online credential applications for the 2010 championship beginning on December 15th. The web site is NCAA.com/media. We will email everybody a reminder a week prior to the site going live. That will include a link where we house or media brochure, media related policies for the Division I men's basketball championship, principles and procedures for selecting, seeding and bracketing, contact information for our preliminary round media coordinators, hotel information, other useful information we believe you'll find quite useful as the season progresses. We also have launched our 2010 and '11 Final Four sites. Those can be found at NCAA.com/Final Four. One other site, as it relates to the web, for those of you on Facebook, check out and become a fan of the official NCAA Division I men's basketball Facebook page, which launched a week and a half ago. We're proud to say we're well over 1500 fans already. We will post information pertaining to the regular season, post-season, ancillary events that accompany the Final Four, which will be held April 3rd and 5th in Indianapolis.
Our annual mock selection exercise, which has become very popular with members of the media, specifically members of the United States Basketball Writers Association, that is scheduled this year for Thursday and Friday, February 11th and 12th, in Indianapolis. We've already started putting a list of participants together. However, feel free to email me if you have interest in participating.
Coach Izzo, we welcome you to today's teleconference. Really appreciate you taking the time during this busy portion of the year. You had an exhibition game last night and will soon start the season. Please talk a little bit about your team and the excitement level as you try to get back to another Final Four.
COACH TOM IZZO: Well, I think I'm really excited about that. I've struggled to figure out where we are yet. We have a rash of injuries. But I'm excited about the fact that I think we have a very good talent base with some guys that have been there and done that. Like I heard Mack Brown say a couple weeks ago about his football team at Texas, the one factor, you know where your talent level is, you know how good you are defensively, you know what your weaknesses are, but the one factor you never know about a team is the one that, because of all the injuries, has really hampered our maybe improvement, and that's the leadership, the chemistry, the ability to handle distractions that go with high rankings. I think that's the biggest concern that I have for Michigan State and our program.
DAVE WORLOCK: We'll go with questions for Coach Izzo.
Q. You mentioned leadership. Last year when the national championship game didn't go your way, Draymond Green stepped up in the locker room and said something. In the off-season, have you noticed one player who is going to try to fill that role that is a big void by Travis Walton leaving?
DAN GUERRERO: I think that one player is the one you mentioned. Any freshman that comes up and says that, I know you kind of want it to be Raymar Morgan, Kalin Lucas, but Kalin has a lot more on the plate. The one thing Travis Walton had, he wasn't a great shooter, offensive player, athlete, he was just a defender and a leader. Sometimes with Kalin I got to make him defend, lead, pass, shoot, score. That makes it harder.
I think in Raymar's case, his personality doesn't always lead to that. So Draymond Green has been a big key. I think there's no question, I think leadership is a big, big, big part of things to get people to hear that great song on CBS, One Shining Moment.
Q. Tom, what are the chances that Roe, Morgan and Allen are going to play?
COACH TOM IZZO: Allen and I think Roe are going to play. Morgan I think is out for I don't know how long. He has had a bad ankle sprain. He's been in rehab morning, noon and night here. He's making some improvement. But definitely not at the pace I'd like it to be made at.
I think there's no question that he's trying to get it done. He's tough enough, he'll play hurt. But right now his ankle has responded a lot but not to the level it needs. He definitely won't play Friday against Florida Gulf Coast. He's a big question mark right now on the game against Gonzaga.
Q. Which ankle is it for Raymar?
COACH TOM IZZO: I got to think myself now. I think it's his left.
Q. Talk a little bit more about leadership specifically if you will. There's so many facets and forms that can take within a team. Talk about what it is you're looking for, looking to replace, when you talk about that quality of leadership?
COACH TOM IZZO: Well, to me a leader is somebody who definitely I wouldn't say drags other people but convinces other people to jump on the wagon. There's a lot of people that talk about leadership by example. I absolutely despise those kind of people. I just think it's a copout. I think it's part of our society, leading by example means you're taking care of yourself. I've never been a fan of that. That's a phrase that gets used often that I really struggle with.
I think, you know, the real leaders, if I look at the best years we've had, the best years Michigan State has had, you know, you got one of those guys that just happens to drag other people with them, a Pied Piper type guy. Doesn't always have to be your best player. I would honestly say Travis Walton was our ninth best player talent-wise, but he had that insatiable desire. Instead of doing things himself, you have the meetings you have the night before the hotel, what happens on the airplane, what happens when you have the tough losses, he's the guy in the middle of it.
A coach becomes like a parent. You can do it by coaching, but I think the process is so much longer. I think the difference in good and great or great and elite is whether you have guys that do lead. You know what, you also have to have good followers. Everybody talks about, I don't want to be a follower. If you're a good follower, there's nothing wrong with that. Everybody's personality is a little different.
But I think a team has to have, and I think we have guys capable. I'm just concerned that at least so far, and I say we've had 17 practices, not one with any of our -- with all of our top seven guys, and I think seven our eight of them with four guys missing. We've had just a slew of injuries. So it's kind of unfair. I'm not throwing our own guys under the bus, I just don't know. Like I said, Mack Brown, when he said it, he said it takes four or five weeks in a football season. That's why the pre-season rankings mean so little. I'd say there's a lot of truth to that. I think the first month you learn about your chemistry and leadership.
Q. Obviously a great deal of attention was made to your team's trip to Detroit for the Final Four, how the region embraced your team. Can you describe what the months since that time have been like for you, your team and your fans?
COACH TOM IZZO: After the whooping we took, I said if I was a true fan, you know, they talked about our cause, Detroit, the state of Michigan, the Midwest, all that, and there was truth to that to a certain extent, especially when it's your home state, as it will be for Purdue this year. There's always a little bit more of a cause when you're in your home state. If I was just a purist basketball guy, you have to appreciate what the guys at North Carolina did. I mean, that was a cause, too. Guys stayed in school. Because of that, wanting to win a championship kind of overtook personal goals and objectives.
That's what I've tried to say to my team since then. A lot of teams are good enough to win it. I say there's 15 every year that are good enough. It's who handles those things.
I thought our guys handled Detroit as well as you can handle it. We just got beat by a better team that was better to start with and on that night we didn't play as well and they played great. They made shots and we didn't.
Since that time, I've gotten to reflect back and watch a lot of video of all the falderal of the Final Four. Maybe it's a once in a lifetime happening when 70 some thousand people go to a game in your home state. The chances of that happening again are probably slim to none. I've tried to enjoy it a little bit. Seems like when you win, the summer goes quick. When you lose, it seems to go slow and you agonize over it.
It's come quick. We're on to next year. It's definitely a happening that will be a memory maker for a lifetime.
Q. Your philosophy on scheduling, just a quick review of your schedule shows games against teams like Gonzaga, Florida, North Carolina, Texas, then always the rugged competition in the Big Ten which sent seven teams to the tournament last year and looks to be deep and balanced once again. Talk about the Big Ten schedule as well as your philosophy on non-conference competition?
COACH TOM IZZO: What scares me the most, I think our league is going to be the best it's been in 10 years. You couple that with the fact we have a tough non-conference schedule, especially with more road games as ever, at New York, at North Carolina, at Texas, which I think are two of the best teams in the country. We've done this my entire career here. My first year we played Carolina, at Louisville, at Oklahoma, Arkansas when they were really good, even Santa Clara with Steve Nash. The only thing I haven't changed is the philosophy on that. There's times I've wanted to. It's just paid dividends for me at Michigan State. I don't begrudge those who don't, and sometimes I say those that do are insane. But it's worked for me.
I don't think it necessarily makes you tournament ready. What you do in November doesn't necessarily help you in March. But I think it gets you to a point where you know your deficiencies along with your officiencies (sic) of your team. It gives you a chance to build on those. Sometimes, like that one year I think we lost seven games in the non-conference, but we were 12-4 in the league, still made it to the tournament. So my philosophy is nobody's cocky around here 'cause when you are they get knocked down pretty quick by a 20-point loss to Duke or a 35-point loss to Carolina last year or some of the other games we played over the years against Kentucky or Kansas or Arizona, whoever.
It's been good.
DAVE WORLOCK: Thank you, Coach Izzo. Best of luck to your team this season. We really appreciate your time this afternoon.
COACH TOM IZZO: Thanks. I appreciate you guys.
DAVE WORLOCK: Before we go, we have a couple of housecleaning items we want to mention. These numbers always draw some interest in the media. This year there are 347 Division I teams, including 332 eligible for the 2010 championship. All 347 will count in the RPI this year. The newcomers eligible for the championship are New Jersey Institute of Technology, Utah Valley State, Kennesaw State and North Florida. Centenary and Savannah State are ineligible for the championship this year because of issues.
Last year's Final Four, students from the four participating institution were seated courtside for the first time. Each school was given 472 seats. This year in Indianapolis, each school will have 660 seats, an increase of more than 70%, at a cost of only $25 for the three final games. The Division I basketball committee staff is excited about having students courtside at the Final Four. We thought it added an outstanding element to the venue last year in Detroit and we'll do so again this year in Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
This concludes this afternoon's teleconference. We appreciate everyone's time and participation.
End of FastScripts