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November 1, 2011

Tim Cluess

TIM SIMMONS: Coach Cluess, thank you for joining us today. How is pre-season practice going for you?
COACH CLUESS: They're going pretty well. Thank you very much for having me on, inviting us to the tournament. We're very thrilled about being a part of it.
TIM SIMMONS: Your team is listed as the top team in your conference this year in the pre-season polls. You have a pretty outstanding player. Talk a little bit about that.
COACH CLUESS: I think Mike Glover had a great year for us last year. He's somebody that has had some national recognition. He's a 6'7" forward who can go inside, outside, plays very hard, one of the leaders of our team. I think he'll go a long way for us this year to keep us competitive.
I think our back quarter is what really puts us up in the elite area of our league.
TIM SIMMONS: Coach, I noticed that on your schedule your first regular game is the tournament. Will you have any kind of competition prior to the Puerto Rico Tip-Off?
COACH CLUESS: The only thing we have scheduled is a couple scrimmages, two Division I scrimmages we have planned in the next week and a half. That will be the only live action we'll have before Puerto Rico.
TIM SIMMONS: Do you think it's going to work to your advantage that you haven't played anybody or disadvantage?
COACH CLUESS: Probably a little bit of a disadvantage. Tried to get games early but didn't have any luck with it.
TIM SIMMONS: How different is your team this year compared to the one you had at the end of last year that lost to Santa Clara?
COACH CLUESS: We're a lot healthier than we were last year for the entire season, to be honest with you. We lost key players throughout the year, had guys hampered. I think we're a better basketball team, a deeper basketball team. We've added some guards and other forwards that can play more up-tempo like we like to play. I'm looking forward to seeing the product on the court.
TIM SIMMONS: The format of the tournament where you play two games back to back, then you have a day off, then play, do you think that's going to work to your favor?
COACH CLUESS: I think it's a great way to go. When we have our conference tournament, we play three days in a row. To play two quality opponents the first two days, have a day to get ready for the final game helps you to regroup, see what you need to work on, gives you a chance to scout an opponent. I think it's really good for us.
TIM SIMMONS: You open up against Purdue. Have you spent any time watching them on film?
COACH CLUESS: Yeah, we watched a little bit of them right now. Honestly this early in the year we're just trying to get our own stuff in because the season gets upon you so quick. We'll start concentrating on them as we get a week to 10 days out of the tournament. Right now we're trying to get in shape, get our guys to understand the system.
They're a tremendous team, we know that. We have our hands full playing against them, but we're looking forward to the challenge.
TIM SIMMONS: Questions for coach.

Q. How is Mike Glover doing this summer? How do you foresee using him going into the season?
COACH CLUESS: I think Mike added a lot of perimeter skills to his game. His shot has gotten a lot better. He's putting the ball on the floor to drive it much better than he was a year ago. Put on about seven to ten pounds of muscle as well. I think he'll be a tougher, more durable player than he was last year. We'll use him in the inside-out role not strictly on the blocks anymore because he has improved that part of his game.

Q. How is Scott Machado doing? Do you see him having as good a season as last year?
COACH CLUESS: To be honest, I think Scott is a much better player this year than he was a year ago. We asked him to drop some weight. He lost about 12 pounds. Worked on his shot as well as some quickness. Playing at a whole 'nother level. Very proud with the effort he put into the game.

Q. Can you tell us about Lamont Jones and how he'll work into the lineup this year?
COACH CLUESS: He adds leadership to our team. We were missing last year. Made a deep run into the NCAA tournament last year. I think that will be invaluable to our team to have a player who is a national born leader. He is a guard that can play the one, the two, even some three for us because he is a physically strong kid. Gives us more versatility in the backcourt. I just like his competitive nature on the offensive and defensive end.

Q. Going into your pre-season, have you had to work more on offense or defense at this stage?
COACH CLUESS: We have about five or six new guys, so we've been doing both, to be honest with you. I think it always starts with defense. You put a little more time into that early on. I think that's an area you have to be solid, especially coming to the Puerto Rico, against all heavy hitters there. If we don't come out working hard on that end, it could be not so pretty.

Q. Tim, Iona is in a similar situation to Wichita State where you can use these tournaments to good advantage, get quality wins. What kind of an advantage is this to your program?
COACH CLUESS: I helps build your program. It helps you make a statement that you're a legitimate team at that level. It also helps your recruiting. Anytime you can play these types of teams, you can show you can go out and play against anyone. You are going to learn your weaknesses very quickly when you play against high-level opponents. That's what I like about it.
When you get through a tournament like this, look at league play, you're not going to really see teams better in league than what you're seeing in the pre-season. If you can get your guys competing, understand what they have to do going through the rest of the year, it helps all of our teams at that level.
TIM SIMMONS: Coach, we appreciate your time. Safe travels down to Puerto Rico. We'll see you in two weeks.
COACH CLUESS: Thank you very much.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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