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October 19, 2006

Greg McDermott


PETER IRWIN: It is now time for Iowa State. Welcome, Coach Greg McDermott. Welcome to the league, Coach.
PETER IRWIN: If would you like to make an opening comment or two, and then we will take questions, if that's okay.
COACH McDERMOTT: I am just excited to be in the Big 12. I am the dean of the new coaches in the Big 12. I was first, so I was joking with someone outside that I am as close to being the dean of coaches in any league I have ever coached in and I have only been here seven months.
It is an honor and privilege to take over the Iowa State program. Having grown up in the state of Iowa, I am very familiar with the tradition of Iowa State basketball that Coach Orr started back in the mid '80s. And the fan base there is as passionate as anywhere in the country, and I have been able to witness that as a child and it has continued today. It has really been a lot of fun to be part of that.

Q. Hey, coach, with a week of practice under your belt, what's the biggest thing you are trying to get this team to understand early? And considering the inexperience of it all, I mean, are you concerned at all that you don't want them to get discouraged if things go rough early on?
COACH McDERMOTT: It is always -- this is my fourth time taking over a new program and it is like coaching a group of freshman from the first day of practice because you don't have the seniors to help the freshman with the next drill and to make sure that they are doing it correctly. They are all learning together at the same time, and that can be frustrating for the players. It can force coaches to be impatient at times.
We are trying to instill some discipline, particularly on the defensive end of the floor. With only four returning scholarship players and a host of walk-ons and six new players to our program that aren't familiar with the style of defensive basketball that we are going to play, it takes some time to instill that in them.
They played a different way defensively a year ago. Not that there was anything wrong with that, it is just a different philosophy than what I'm accustomed to and there are a lot of changes that have been necessary from a player's standpoint. To their credit, they are working hard and they have approached our practices with a lot of enthusiasm and a lot of energy.

Q. We know you don't have a lot of players returning but I have heard a lot about the junior college point guard you have brought in from California. Is he has good as advertised?
COACH McDERMOTT: Well, we brought in two junior college guards, Corey McIntosh from California and Mike Taylor from Chipola in Florida. Both of those young men give us an opportunity to have a competitive guard court. What I like about both of them, they came from very successful junior college programs. Corey McIntosh's team, I think Corey only lost four games in his two years at junior college. And Mike Taylor, I believe, lost eight games. There is that winning attitude that they have brought along with them from junior college and kind of a -- they have been very tough-minded in everything they have done.
And it has been refreshing to have new guys do that because obviously you need the returners to act in that way any time you are trying to break in some freshman that will have to play valuable minutes. I have been pleased with their progress so far.

Q. It is never easy going into a new league. Being one of six new guys, half the league has turned over coaches, is there some value to coming in at that time?
COACH McDERMOTT: It would be difficult to come into a league that you are the only new guy and everybody else is established. I think because of the fact that there is five other coaches that feel the same pain that I feel right now after a week of practice with a new team -- it is hard for coaches by nature to be patient, and you have to be when you take over a new program because you just can't put too much on your players' plate at too fast of a rate.
Because there is so much turnover, I am just one of the gang. It is going to take some time to build these programs. It does not happen overnight, at least not the way that I do it. But I think it gives you a chance to be successful because there is some inexperience and some other programs that are dealing with some of the things we are dealing with as well, and players don't have a great understanding of what the coaches' expectations are at this point in time.

Q. Obviously you're familiar with this conference just from a spectator's standpoint growing up in the area of the old Big 8 and everything like that. But what kind of idea do you bring for your program coming in and playing in the Big 12? What do you think you will see?
COACH McDERMOTT: From our standpoint, I hope we can bring some discipline to the way we play. And I think sometimes people mistake the word "discipline" with "methodical". I think you can be disciplined and play fast. You can be disciplined and play slow. You can play zone or man-to-man and still be disciplined. A common thread among successful teams, they play with some sort of discipline in what they are trying to accomplish.
That's what we are trying to instill in our program. As for the rest of the Big 12, there are some great coaches across this league, and we are going to have to have our guys ready to play every single night. And there is great venues to play in.
For me personally, I have taken a very different career path to get to Iowa State than many of my counterparts across the league. I coached small college basketball and worked my way up that way. So it is really an honor for me to be sitting here and to have the opportunity to coach against some of the people I am going to get to coach against in the Big 12.

Q. Coach, you were talking about changing styles and maybe more man-to-man or whatever on defense. Do you have -- right now, do you have the personnel to do that, you believe? Or is that something that's going to take a little time as well?
COACH McDERMOTT: It is going to take time to get us to the point where I want to be. We only have one scholarship senior in Jessan Gray. So it is really important that we instill this year the way we want to play in the future. We are going to make mistakes along the way as a result of that, but over the long haul, it is the best for our program.
That defensive toughness and the discipline that it takes to play on the defensive end and not gamble and not give up second opportunities on the back boards, not give up transition baskets and to play without fouling is something that takes time to learn. And we have made some positive steps in that direction in six or seven practices. Hopefully over the long haul we will get it to where we want it to be.

Q. We have talked about your new guys, but what about players like Clark and Marsden that are coming back and have seen a lot of action. How do you like their games with what you like to do?
COACH McDERMOTT: First and foremost, there is a lot of turnover in our program after I took the job and to their credit, they bought in and they wanted to be part of what we were going to try to accomplish at Iowa State. And Rahshon Clark has really played in the shadows of Blalock and Stinson the last couple of years. Now this was going to be the year where it was going to be an opportunity for him to lead and now he is leading a very young and inexperienced team, which is a lot to put on anyone's shoulders.
To Rahshon's credit, he has worked extremely hard. His attitude has been terrific. He is working on parts of his game that we would like him to get better at from a ball-handling standpoint. Rahshon has a chance to be one of the best defensive players, one of the best I have ever coached. That's exciting to me. Rahshon and Ross Marsden and Jessan Gray, Jiri Hubalek have done what we asked them to do. Any time there was a coaching change as quick as it happened at Iowa State, that's traumatic for young people to deal with.
To their credit, they approached us with an open mind and gave us an opportunity to build a relationship with them and to build trust in them and it has worked out great so far.
PETER IRWIN: Coach, we wish you the best of luck. Have a great season.

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