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October 12, 2017
San Francisco, California
WYKING JONES: So far I'm very happy with my team. We're very young, you know. Six freshmen. But every day they're giving us the effort, they're giving us the energy. I feel like they're picking up what we're teaching them at a rapid pace. We're putting a lot in and throwing a lot at them right now. But I feel good about their progress and how well they're picking things up.
We had our first full scrimmage yesterday, and my seniors, Marcus, Kingsley, played really well, as well as Don Coleman, who is a veteran guy as well. So they're going to have to lead us this year.
I feel good about it. I feel good about what they're giving us. Today I brought Marcus Lee with me as well as Kingsley Okoroh.
Q. Is anyone still injured or anyone that's not practicing?
WYKING JONES: Yeah, right now, Justice is out with a stress fracture. He's scheduled to be back within the next week, back on the court. Kind of slowly getting back into it.
Juhwan Harris-Dyson is out. He should be back in the next couple days with a sprained ankle. That's it right now.
Q. You guys obviously know you have Marcus, Don, some of your veterans that you address leading the team. You have a lot of fresh faces in the program, lot of youth in the program that you expressed. What is the mindset going into the season?
WYKING JONES: Those guys are the catalysts. Don Coleman, even Paris Austin, who was a transfer who had to sit out this year. He's been great as a leader for these younger guys. You know, they're working hard. That's all we can really ask. Once the lights come on and it's time to play the game, we'll see how they respond. But right now they give us everything they've got.
Q. (Indiscernible) integrity of the game. Do you applaud that effort?
WYKING JONES: Yeah, I think that's a great idea. Just trying to figure it out. Just putting together some people who have been through this and just trying to come up with a different way of doing things, a strategy. I think it's a great thing to do.
Q. (Indiscernible) is it concerning to you as a new head coach that this is happening?
WYKING JONES: I wouldn't say that -- I'm not concerned. It's unfortunate, but I hope that out of all of this there is some improvement, some change.
Q. I was curious with your background working with (indiscernible). It seems they're looking at all levels -- AAU (indiscernible). What is your thought on that, and are you believing that two companies are part of a problem, if there is a problem?
WYKING JONES: I don't think so. I believe that individuals possibly within those two companies may have been a problem, but I don't think that just saying generally that two companies are a problem, I don't support that.
Q. I guess there was a thought that it's in their best interest to have good players wearing those shoes, and maybe they get to sign with those shoe companies later. Did you ever feel that influence?
WYKING JONES: That wasn't the agenda when I was at Nike.
Q. How are you sort of building new (indiscernible)?
WYKING JONES: Just relying heavily on my returners. They've been through the fire before, they've played in games. They know what it's like. The preparation, more than anything, they're very familiar with that process. With the freshmen, it's going to be a learning curve. So I'm really relying on my veteran players to lead us this year.
Q. (Indiscernible) what is your philosophy?
WYKING JONES: They're not going to want to watch the game right after. I don't know. It all depends. It's more of a game-to-game decision with that. If I feel like it's something that we need to sit and address right away, we'll sit and watch it and try to come up with a better way to do things. Haven't really come up with an idea on that yet.
Q. Has improved technology with video and things kind of helped that cause a little bit?
WYKING JONES: We've been able to watch games immediately after games since forever.
Q. But it seems like there are better ways or each year there are improved ways to do it.
WYKING JONES: Yeah, I just think that if you want to watch it, you're going to watch it.
Q. I was going to say the preseason rankings are out today with the Pac-12 Conference. Does that have an added sense of motivation?
WYKING JONES: Absolutely. I'm a very prideful coach. My staff as well. I have to believe that my players are going to take that, see that, and that should be extra motivation for those guys.
Q. Being an assistant coach and now a head coach, and how tough the conference is going to be, what are you looking for to take into that?
WYKING JONES: It's just all about preparation more than anything. For us, a lot of it is going to be our style of play. We're changing things up a little bit. We're pressing more full court, trapping and things of that nature. We want to speed guys up more on the defensive end. So I think with our style of play, we give ourselves a chance to win every night.
Q. What do you think of the conference this year?
WYKING JONES: The conference is always great. The Pac-12 Conference is always one of the top conferences in the country. I don't see it being any different this year. Any given night you can lose. You can't walk into anyone's arena in this conference and just show up and get a win. From top to bottom it's a great conference.
So you've got to be prepared. You've got to be ready to play, and it's hard to win in this conference.
Q. As far as the fresh faces and freshmen coming into the program, I know we spoke a couple weeks ago, but any new guys in particular that stuck out with you? Now that we've progressed a couple weeks forward, is there anyone that stuck out?
WYKING JONES: Our young guys, it's interesting because they all bring something different to the table. So I wouldn't say that anyone necessarily stands out. They all bring something different. So they're all working, they're all picking up what we're teaching them, I think, at a great rate.
I wouldn't say one sticks out more than the other. They all bring something different.
Q. Can you talk about the team right now and after a couple practices now?
WYKING JONES: Yeah, we've had quite a few practices, and we had our first scrimmage yesterday. The thing that I was most excited about is the energy and the passion that they have to defend. I put in the press. We put in a number of different things out of our zone, and they're excited about playing defense. That is the most important thing.
That's where, myself and my staff, we wanted to see more than anything, is that excitement to play defense. The excitement to get a stop. There's going to be nights when things just -- you're not going to hit shots, you know? Things are just kind of out of sync on the offensive end, and your defense is going to have to do it for you.
I think that, you know, our guys are really dedicating themselves to defense to the point where they really enjoy playing defense, and that's what it's all about for me.
Q. What about since you're talking about the defense from a philosophy standpoint, how -- with about two weeks in a practices, how have the guys progressed in terms of going to more zone press defense?
WYKING JONES: We're zone, we're press, we're man. We have a number of different defenses. The thing that's most important with that is being able to get into it, and everybody's on the same page. You can fall back and somebody thinks you're in man and you're really in zone.
So having the communication has been great up to this point. We'll see what happens when the lights come on and the refs show up and there is popcorn popped in the building. We'll see how that goes. But at this point in practice, they've done a great job of picking it all up.
Q. Also about just a personal or player question. Austin McCullough in practice, his jumper looked robotic. What have you seen from him in practice so far?
WYKING JONES: He shoots the ball well. He has some toughness to him. You know, he's a guy that if you leave him open, he's going to knock it down.
When I say they all bring something different, that's what he brings for our team. I'm excited to see what kind of freshman year he has.
Q. Where has Marcus Lee grown the most?
WYKING JONES: Leadership. Leadership. I think when Marcus, when he first got to Cal, I don't know if he had that role or not at Kentucky. You know, by the middle of his sit-out season, he was one of our leaders, very vocal. He backed it up with energy and passion, and he always played hard. So now that he's a senior, he's our most vocal guy. I expect him to have a great season.
Q. He's always been an energy guy, but I know he's in a different role for you guys, especially with everything that you've (indiscernible). Has his game slowed down a little bit? Has he changed how he plays at all?
WYKING JONES: He still plays with a lot of energy. He's an unbelievable athlete at 6'10", 6'11", whatever he is. But we're relying on him to do more than he's ever had to do.
So I feel really good about it. I think that he's up for the challenge.
He has had to slow down, like you said, at times once we get into a half-court set. But in transition, he's still Marcus. So he's given us everything he's got, and at this point I'm very happy with what he's bringing.
Q. (Indiscernible) in a half-court set? I know that's not traditionally how he's played before.
WYKING JONES: I don't know. We'll see. I can't answer that question because he hasn't played a game yet, you know. I know in the scrimmage he was very good yesterday, but a lot of what he gets comes off offensive rebounds, comes out of transition, comes off of just energy plays. Guard gets into the lane, throws it up, he catches the lob. Can we go through him? Time will tell. Time will tell.
Q. How do you feel he and Kingsley are working out so far?
WYKING JONES: Great, great. And it starts with defense. You have two different type of defenders. We have Kingsley, who is great at protecting the rim. His goal is to lead the country in blocks, and I think that he was a single season leader in blocks last year in 21 minutes of play. He shared minutes with Cameron. So he's obviously going to get a lot more minutes this year. But I think that's an achievable goal for him.
Marcus is different in the sense that Marcus can go out and go one through five. If the team needs the basket, Marcus can switch off on the point guard, be able to sit down, slide his feet, use his length, contest a shot.
They're different, but they're both present on the defensive end. So having those guys both out there at the same time helps me sleep at night.
Q. Earlier you were saying you don't think the shoe companies are the monsters that some people have depicted them to be (indiscernible) how much needs to be cleaned up in that area?
WYKING JONES: Yeah, you know, I think when you generalize that, I don't think that's -- that's not (indiscernible). You know what I'm saying? Like individuals, you know, I think it's more of an individual thing than it is a general shoe companies are not good or AAU's not good for recruiting or whatever.
But at the end of the day it's not my job to police that. It's my job to abide by those rules, and we're doing that.
Q. Is there pressure with the system because of the money that comes into these programs to even move up or do well in the spot that you're at?
WYKING JONES: Well, I don't think so. I've been an assistant at the high major level for many years. I wouldn't say that -- I don't think so.
Q. But it's happening. So I just wonder if that's a catalyst for it, or why is the money being thrown at the kids?
WYKING JONES: Yeah, I can't speak to that because I've never had to go that route.
Q. On a similar notion, I know you're big on the idea of the culture within the school. As you and Wilcox are both new in the school, how do you see yourself hoping to redefine?
WYKING JONES: I've said it before. For me, it's just continuing the culture that Coach Martin set for this program. I think that in my two years as an assistant under Coach Martin, that was what I loved most about what we were doing here at Cal. Young men who believed in the academic piece, dedicated themselves to the academic piece as well as the athletic piece.
We're just continuing that. We're just continuing that. Having young men that on the weekends you don't have to worry about them. They're taking care of their business. They're being responsible. Those are the type of kids that we'll continue to recruit, continue to build our culture in that fashion.
Q. You touched on a couple of really experienced assistants. How much of a resource have they been to you?
WYKING JONES: Unbelievable. Unbelievable. Tim O'Toole, former head coach. Chris Walker, former head coach. Those guys have been great. The addition of Theo Robinson, who was a Cal alum, has a background in NBA as well. Those two guys make my job a whole lot easier. I trust those guys. They can run a practice if I'm out of town. I trust those guys' experience and knowledge of the game. Their ability to teach. They've been unbelievable for me.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports