Huggins holds weekly press conference

On recruiting...

“This is pretty much all we’ve done since we got here. But, yeah, it’s great to have it over with. These guys have all been really solid (with their commitment). They’ve been terrific.”

 

On if he was worried about other schools trying to steal these players...

“I’m always worried about that. I was worried up until about 20 minutes ago. There are people who tried to get in on most of them. They’ve been really good. Our guys have done a great job. Dalonte (Hill) has done an unbelievable job with Mike (Beasley), Jake (Pullen) and Dominique (Sutton) as well. He’s got such a great rapport with them. He’s kind of been on top of everything.”

 

On how television impacts recruiting...

“We live in a world where television is extremely important. That’s how players start to recognize programs and coaching staffs. We just haven’t been on TV enough. We need to get on TV more. We’re working at that.”

 

On if Michael Beasley is the best recruit he has landed...

“I think he’s real close. Dontonio Wingfield was very talented and had great skill. I think Mike is a lot like Dontonio. He’s not as physical as Don was, but he’s more athletic than Don was, and Don was a pretty good athlete. Those two guys are probably the two big guys that I think were probably the most ready to play. Danny (Fortson) just worked so hard and go so much better, and Danny was a heck of a high school player.”

 

On if he expects Michael Beasley to make an immediate impact...

“He better make a difference immediately or it’s going to be a long year for us. I think the thing that’s exciting for us and you can throw Bill (Walker) in the mix we’ve got five guys that are great teammates. Mike is not selfish at all. Mike really loves to pass the ball and share the ball. Bill has always shared the ball with the group that he played with. Jake and Fred (Brown) pass it extremely well. I think that’s the best thing at this point in time that Freddie does. Freddie really has great court vision and passes the ball really well. He’s so long that he’s going to end up being a heck of a defender. Jake just really pushes the ball and sees the floor. He’s going to enable us to player a little faster because he’s got such great speed with the ball. He’s got a great personality. He’s a guy that you’re just going to love because he’s got a great personality. He’s just one of those guys that’s just fun to be around. Dominique may be as hard a playing guy as I’ve ever recruited. He plays really hard, he’s got great anticipation, gets the ball, and he’s really athletic. All five of those guys are going to be great teammates. Guys are going to love playing with them. I think they’ll mesh together faster than maybe other recruiting classes would, just because of the kind of players and people that they are.”

 

On Michael Beasley’s strengths...

“I think, right now, he’s strength is around the perimeter, but that’s not saying that he can’t score close because he can. When you watch Mike play, there will be days that he will block six or seven shots in a half, but then there will be other days when he will play on the perimeter. He plays so unselfishly. He’s never really been a post player, so to speak, and I don’t think he’s going to be a post player. Although, I think that’s an area that he needs to get better at to be the total, complete player that he can be. He’s got good feet. He can go out on the floor and guard. I had a lot of guys tell me that he’s the best guys that they’ve seen not just the best guy that they’ve seen, but the best guy they’ve seen in a long time. There’s been guys that may be more athletic and do more athletic things, but it’s hard to find someone like them that do well. He really does what he needs to do.”

 

On what Bill Walker and Michael Beasley need to work on...

“I think Bill just has to develop some confidence in his shot. Everybody says that Bill’s weakness is his perimeter shooting. I’ve watched him a bunch and he can really shoot it. He just has so much confidence in taking it to the goal. He’s kind of been that kind of player his whole life. He’s just attack-oriented. He attacks the rim, which is terrific. I think you have to do that. But, when they back off of you, you have to jump up and make it, and he can do that. I think that’s something we’re going to try to work with him a little bit to have a little more confidence in shooting it around the perimeter. I think both of them, physically, are going to get much bigger and stronger. Both of their genetics are just off the charts. When you have that much fast-twitch muscle, you’re going to get strong quicker, and they’re going to get stronger quicker.”

 

On players leaving college after one year for the NBA...

“It’s about having a career; it’s not about making the league because a lot of guys make the league. You want to have a career. Kenyon (Martin) stayed a year and he would have been (pick) 18-22 in the draft. He made a great decision, came back and went (No.) 1. Lamar Johnson did the right thing. He left after his freshman year, and he should have. Danny (Fortson) left after his junior year, and he should have. We’ve had some other guys that have left that probably needed another year. I try to be honest with them. There’s enough data out there. The NBA does a great job of projecting where guys are going to go. My experience with it shows that it has been very accurate within two or three spots of where they’re going to go. I think you sit down and make an intelligent business decision. People don’t want to hear it, but it is a business decision. The people who say don’t do it, it’s not their kid. If it was their kid, they’d be right there trying to find out where they were going to go and how much they were going to make. You just try go get them to do what’s best for them. I had a guy I told not to go, but other people were telling him well, he’s going to try talk you into staying because he needs you.’ I told him I really don’t need you.’ We just won 31 (games) the year he left. We were 31-3. It wasn’t about that, he was about doing right. He made it in the league for a year or two, but he didn’t have a career.”

 

On what he needed to accomplish with this recruiting class...

“We lose a lot of perimeter guys. When you look at our team, we lose a whole bunch of perimeter guys, so we had to recruit some perimeter players. We have the two big freshmen that I think are going to be good players, but we needed a more mobile, agile big guy, which certainly Mike is. The rest of those guys are wing guys, but they are going to be able to rebound it. I think Bill and Dominique can both go and rebound it. They may rebound it better than our bigs do, but they are still going to play on the perimeter.”

 

On the open scholarship...

“If we could get a big that can score, that would be terrific, or just the best available. We still need to be able to score the ball. I think people that advance in the tournament are great defensively, but they have the ability to score the ball. We need somebody who can score the ball. It doesn’t have to be a big because we are okay there. We’ve got enough guys.”

 

On if he’s had a better recruiting class...

“I probably have, but I had a bunch of guys. We signed (Corie) Blount and (Nick) Van Exel in the same year that were pros and Eric Martin who was a really good college player, as well Allen Jackson and Terry Nelson. Those guys were all in the same class. John Jacobs who 6”7, 260 pounds and was a force at power forward. But then, I think we signed eight guys in that class. It’s easy to say that now because I didn’t know Van Exel was going to be a pro. I thought he was good, but know.”

 

On Saturday’s season opener...

“I hope we’re better than what we were last Saturday. We’ve had really good practices, and generally when we have really good practices we play good. We’ve got a couple to go here, but I think Monday’s practice was as good a practice we’ve had all year. As I’ve said many times, it’s a marathon, not a sprint. We have to bring it everyday, and that remains to be seen if we do that.”

 

On the Washburn game...

“I was trying to think of something positive that I could not work on, but we didn’t rebound good, we didn’t guard, we didn’t run offense, our transition defense was bad. Thank God they didn’t press I didn’t know whether our press offense was good or bad. It probably wouldn’t have been any good either. We just didn’t do very much right and they (Washburn) deserve a lot of credit. They are very well coached and made big shots. Seemingly every time we started to get a run, they made a big shot. Let’s be honest, when Cartier (Martin) goes 4-for-19, we’re going to struggle. I doubt that he’s every shot it that poorly, but he hadn’t shot it very well going into that game either.”

 

On the team’s struggles against Washburn...

“You have him (Martin) go 4-for-19 and you have Lance (Harris) go 0-of-3. Those guys were really the guys who shot the ball really well for us in the Marquette scrimmage. Dave (Hoskins) has been pretty consistent. When Dave doesn’t shot it in, he can get to the basket better than any of the other guys can. Actually, Akeem (Wright) shot it really well against Marquette, and he didn’t play very well or shoot it very well (against Washburn). We didn’t play Blake (Young) very much, and he’s the one guy we have that can create offense. Jermaine (Maybank) has never played point. I thought he looked like a deer in headlights. When that happens, you’re going to struggle. We need to make some shots. We had good looks. Cartier had good looks it wasn’t like he forced it a bunch. They were shots I thought he could make.”

 

On Cartier Martin’s shooting...

“He works at it. That’s the thing about Cartier. He’ll shot it fine. I’ve got him all screwed up. I’ve got him trying to guard, rebound, and do that other stuff.”

 

On William & Mary...

“They play really hard. They will play some man, some zone, and some three-quarter court press against us. They’ve got four of their top five scorers back. They’ve got a veteran bunch. When you look at teams, if you have your point-guard back and your center back, you can generally fill in around them. They have both of those guys back, and in fact, their center is one of their all-time leading scorers and their point-guard is good. They’ve got good freshmen freshmen that can shoot the ball. They don’t conceptually do the same things that Washburn did, but it’s kind of the same idea. They try to spread you and isolate the guy in the post and try to take your help away. Hopefully Saturday will prepare us a lot better even though they run flex. They run flex a couple of different ways. It’s not textbook flex sometimes. We’ll just have to do a better job guarding, and we’ll hopefully make some shots.”

 

On keys to improvements...

“We were getting ready to play North Carolina in the elite eight one time. My dad came up to me before one practice and gave me an index card that had these things on it that he thought we should work on. I was looking at them, I had my practice schedule, and I said Dad- I think I’m getting better because I have all of these covered.’ He said Well turn the card over.’ I went in before the game and put all of these keys on the board. I was still writing and (Nick) Van Exel just said Screw this. Let’s just go win.’ They all started jumping up and down and ran out. I looked over to Steve Muller, my assistant, and said We’re not supposed to win, but we might.’ I just thought that they would, and we were a great defensive team. We just have to get better at guard, and that was painfully evident. You expect some game slippage from practice to games, but you don’t expect that much. That wasn’t slippage. We just totally forgot. We didn’t play very good team defense and we didn’t rebound. You have to give (Washburn) a lot of credit because they were small and not extremely athletic. But, they out-rebounded us. You can’t have that. It drives me crazy when anybody out rebounds us. If we defend and we rebound, we’ll have a chance. We have to shoot it better than what we shot it. I can’t imagine we’d shoot it any worse than what we did on Saturday.”

 

On this week’s efforts in practice...

“It has been easier to see better effort from Jason (Bennett) because he didn’t get off the bench. I told J.B. You’ve got to play, man. Otherwise you’re going to be the tallest cheerleader in NCAA history.’ He’s worked hard this week. He’s had a really good week. Blake’s had a really good week. He has been banged up like everyone gets this time of year. He was really good the last two days. When he’s really god, then we are a lot better. He is our most athletic guy in terms of try to get the ball where it’s supposed to go.”

 

On Clent Stewart...

“I thought he was (limited) until I had to play him 40 minutes. That’s probably enough. Clent tries to do what you ask him to do. I didn’t think I had a whole lot of guys doing what I had asked them to do. So I kept playing him. I thought he was fine. We would all like for him to make a few more shots. He made more than most, actually.”

 

On the team’s mentality before the Washburn game...

“I don’t think they came ready to play. Honestly, I don’t think any one of them came ready to play. It’s hard turning it on and off. It’s kind of like when I used to play golf. I’m one of those guys where if I stink on the front nine, I’m not a whole lot better on the back nine. I have a hard time making the turn because I get frustrated. I think a little frustration set in with them. They just weren’t very good and they know it. I’m not telling you anything that they haven’t already expressed themselves. They want to do right. They understand this is it for them. They all have a greater sense of urgency than what a freshman would have.”

 

On the college basketball Hall of Fame in Kansas City...

“It’s probably long overdue. It’s kind of like around here. I keep looking around, and I guess the Final Four trophies are over in Vanier. I don’t know what the hell they are doing over there. I think we ought to display the history of this great game. It was like that for awhile in Cincinnati. I couldn’t find the Final Four trophies. They were in a closet somewhere and a couple of them got broken off. I think you ought to display that heritage and history. I, for one, am very grateful to the people who did this a long time ago. They didn’t get paid very much and worked just as hard. Hopefully they have the same of even greater impact than what we can have today. I think it’s long overdue. I think Jim (Haney) and Reggie (Minton) are doing a great job over there. We need a place. We have the basketball Hall of Fame, but we really don’t have anything for the people to go see the history. Kids today don’t really have any idea. I was talking to a guy one time about Oscar (Robertson), and he said Who’s that?’ I was telling them about Al McGuire and they all looked at me like I had six heads. They didn’t know who Al was, and that kind of blew my mind. People don’t have any idea how much those people meant to our game. Particularly today, there are more guys to use basketball as a profession and they really need to understand the people that made it possible for them.”

 

On Saturday’s events...

“I think it’s terrific. I feel bad for Ron (Prince) because they play last. I’ll do it and be over with it, and I’ll get to go enjoy watching them he’ll have to worry all day. If it was the other way around, I’d have to worry all day. I’d have a hard time enjoying the (football) game. I think it’s great. It’s a great place. There are a lot of places where I wouldn’t want to do this in all honesty because somebody is feeling like somebody else is infringing on their day in the sun. Everybody here is so much on the same page and going in the same direction. I told our guys after the game that I hope we can improve as dramatically as what the football team has improved. (Prince) has done an unbelievable job. He’s getting those guys better on a week-to-week basis. Hopefully we can do the same things.”