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October 19, 2006

Sean Sutton


PETER IRWIN: I would like to introduce Sean Sutton from Oklahoma State. Coach is graciously planned on doing an opening statement here.
SEAN SUTTON: Let me just say this. Last season was a very difficult season for our basketball team and a tough experience of our players. I was very proud of that team, the way they hung together and fought through some adversity, some things that were going on off the court that were out of their control and, yet, still maintained focus and came to practice every day to get better and played our best basketball down the season, which I think has helped build momentum in this season.
We have been in practice one week. I'll say this, I like the attitude of this basketball team. One of the things that hurt us a year ago was that team was very talented, but that team, we could never quite get them together and there was chemistry issues throughout the season.
And the one thing that I think we have really prided ourselves at Oklahoma State through the years is playing hard and guys that play hard and play as a team. When those things have happened, we have won a lot of games. Last year's team we just did not reflect a normal Oklahoma State basketball team.
But back to this season. So far in our workouts, we have got eight guys out there right now. All eight of the guys have practiced hard. They have committed to this basketball program. But more importantly, they have committed to each other, and it has shown in their enthusiasm on the practice court. It has shown in their ability to help their teammates and I like it. I think they learned from some tough, tough losses that happened a year ago, and they have grown up quite a bit.
All of them have worked really hard over the summer to improve their individual games. They got stronger in the weight room. They have gotten -- worked on some of the weaknesses they had in their games, and as a result they are better players.
Just one week in, I like what I see, because I go back to the point that they are together and they are a team and that's what you want and it is our job to help keep them that way.
The way they are going right now, I am very pleased.

Q. Sean, this may be an unfair question, but I know you have been with your dad so long and experienced so much great success, is there anything that we could expect to see you different from the Oklahoma State system for so many years?
SEAN SUTTON: Coach, that's a great question. I would say 90% of my system will reflect his system. When you look at what he has been able to do and the games he was able to win at all the different places he coached, he has changed some things through the years. He played faster his last ten years at Oklahoma State than he probably ever played ever. He made the adjustment to the three-point shot, but the basics, the basis of his system was always playing tough, hard-nosed, aggressive man-to-man defense, taking care of the basketball, taking high-percentage shots, getting your team where they understand what you are trying to do, and you don't beat yourself, and then you play as a team. You play hard and you play as a team. That's always been kind of his foundation for his teams in the past.
I look at that and I think it is very similar to what we are going to try to do. We are going to try to play aggressive, tough defense. We have got to limit our turnovers. Last year we averaged almost 18 turnovers a game, which was 296th in the country and that's ridiculous. We would like that number to be down more like 12.
We have always prided ourselves on shooting a high percentage from the field. Three years ago we led the nation in field goal shooting. The year after that, I think we were third and first in three-point shooting, and then last year, even in an off-year, I think we still shot 48, something from the field.
Taking good shots is always going to be important. The one thing I would say is that I probably let some of our players that could shoot, they will be given a little more freedom to shoot the basketball than maybe he did at times. It doesn't mean they will be casting out 25-footers, I can promise you.
I want them to have the confidence to jump up if they are open or they have an opportunity to drive the ball and make a play. I always think rebounding is a huge concern.
And the three areas -- I will go back to my point. Three areas with this team that have got to get better, we have got to take care of the basketball, we have got to rebound at both ends, and our defense have got to reflect a team, an Oklahoma State-type team in terms of defensively.
Last year, we were not nearly as good defensively as we have been in the past. So those three areas right there will determine, in my opinion, what kind of season we have. Will we take care of the ball; will we rebound; will we play tough, aggressive defense.
Two things I might change a little bit for maybe what my dad, his philosophy is, we may play a little faster. I wouldn't say a whole lot faster because we played pretty fast these last ten years. We averaged almost 80 points two or three of those years.
But we may press a little bit more and extend our pressure 94 feet. And then the other area is we may mix in a zone to keep teams off balance. Or if we get in foul trouble, a couple key guys in foul trouble, jump into a zone.
And that's something that he just didn't like to play. He used to always say every time we thought about putting -- going to zone, he would be like, Mr. Iba, he's going to roll over in his grave. Are you sure you guys want to do that to him?
We are committed to that, and we practiced this week. They were good in it. So we will see. Hopefully it will help us.

Q. Sean, everybody knows JamesOn had kind of a difficult personnel year last year. He seems so much more relaxed. What kind of season do you expect out of him?
SEAN SUTTON: I think he will go back and play like the player he was his freshman year. I think his confidence level is high right now. He knows I have a tremendous amount of confidence in him. I believe in him. He can really shoot the basketball, but he can do more than that.
He is a guy, he is a very good passer. He got into problems last year because he was playing with a whole new group of guys and it took him a period of time to adjust to them. And then I thought he started pressing. He started losing confidence, and as a result, just did not have the type of season that I know we needed him to have and the type of season that he wanted to have. But that's behind him, and this is a new season.
I do, I think you will see the old JamesOn. I think you will see him play with a lot of enthusiasm out there. He is shooting the basketball extremely well right now. He looks quicker, and he is making better decisions with the ball.
One area that he has got to get better in is he has got to become a better defender. Pick a weakness for him and Boggan. Both of those guys have got to defend at a higher level. And Boggan has to rebound at a higher level.
There's no question. Those two guys and I would say Byron Eaton right now are probably the three best players at this point in time on the team.

Q. Sean, obviously the theme of the Big 12 in the off-season was the amount of change in the coaching ranks, six out of 12. Obviously, you go through that, too, but at a much lesser level at OSU.
SEAN SUTTON: It is a little bit different for me, I think, because I have been part of the program for so long and the players that I am coaching this year, I coached last year, and that's a little bit different for the other guys.
But I am excited about all of the new coaches coming into the Big 12, and I think everybody else should be. I think we've added some outstanding coaches and it would be good for the league. Bob Huggins, I think his name right there speaks for itself. He has got Kansas State. Their fans can't wait for basketball season.
We have played against Mike Anderson's teams when he was at be UAB, and I will say this, I was really, really impressed with how hard those teams played, how hard both those teams played that we played against them, and the way they executed their system.
They will be difficult for people to figure out playing them the first time. And then some of the other new coaches coming in will do a terrific job as well. So I think it is exciting for the Big 12.
And somebody asked me back over there, Do you think the Big 12 needs to win a national championship? Well, I think we are on the verge of getting there. We are on the verge of winning one. We had a great stretch there right after 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004, where we had five of the 12 teams in the Final 4. Kansas went twice. Texas went once. We went once. And Oklahoma went once, I believe.
I think it is just a matter of time before we win one. Kansas this year, in my opinion, their talent level is as good as anybody in the country. There is no question. When you look at Chalmers and you look at Wright and you look at Russell Robinson and Rush and Kaun and Jackson and Giles and Sherron Collins. I asked Bill out there, Would you be willing to trade -- make a couple trades?
He said, No chance.
Those guys are very talented and certainly talented enough to win the national championship because they got good players, but they also got a great coaching staff. I put them with North Carolina and Florida as the three most-talented teams.
So don't be surprised if it happens this year. It could happen this year. If it doesn't, it will happen soon. Eventually we are going to win a national championship in basketball in the Big 12.

Q. Sean, is it a much different feeling for you now that it's your program? And can you also maybe talk about how much you are going to consult your dad during the season?
SEAN SUTTON: I mean, I think it is a little bit different. You step up and all of a sudden you are the head coach. There is more responsibilities for sure. I think I had the luxury of handling a lot of responsibilities through the years that a lot of assistants don't have the opportunity to do. So in that way maybe I am more prepared than most. But it is still different and it is still, I think, the time is the biggest issue.
I am looking forward to it. And Oklahoma State is obviously a very special, special place to me, having played there on two Sweet 16 teams, having coached there as an assistant on two Final 4 teams. The ultimate for me is to bring a national championship back to Gallagher-Iba arena. We have two. I would like to see another one hung up there.
In terms of my dad, that's going to be up to him. I would love for him to come by practice any time he feels like he has time to. Right now, he is staying pretty busy. He has got two jobs. He moves around quite a bit. He is looking good. I think he feels better than he has felt in five to seven years.
When things slow down for him, sure, I would love for him to come to practice. Much like when Mr. Iba used to come back and watch practice when he first started coaching. I know that Bill Self, assistant there, Rob Evans was an assistant there with my dad. How much they enjoyed Mr. Iba coming to practice every day and giving his input. And when he has that opportunity, sure, we would love to have him back and give us his opinion and his input on things.
That's his decision. I want him to come when wants to come.
PETER IRWIN: Okay, coach. We appreciate your comments. We wish you the best for the season. Thank you all very much.

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