Basketball: College tips off

College basketball returns to Kaplan Arena today. The Flat Hat Sports desk sat down with head coaches Ed Swanson, Tony Shaver, junior guard Marcus Thornton and senior forward Kyle Gaillard to preview the 2013-14 season.

Find the full transcript of Swanson here, and the full text from Shaver, Thornton and Gaillard here.

Head coach Ed Swanson

On Swanson’s first year at the College:

Swanson: “I think the challenge is the unknown, and that’s one of the things I really think any coach has when they take over a program at any level. And to the players’ credit on this team, they’ve been a welcoming group to what we’re tying to do. I think we have a terrific foundation here.”

On graduating five seniors:

Swanson: “It’s okay that we’re starting off kind of fresh so we can mold the players into how we want them to play. Now, we lost 68 percent of our scoring and 51 percent of our rebounding, and that’s a lot. But there are a lot of candidates to make up for that. This team has an opportunity to be a good team, maybe not as successful as some individuals in the past, but a good team. And that’s what we’re trying to focus on right now.”

On a new style of play:

Swanson: “Organized chaos is probably a good term. We’re going to try to use the full 94 feet, and we’re not going to give up easy baskets. We’re going to switch defenses up a good deal throughout the course of the game. For an opposing team, that’s challenging because they need to figure out what we’re doing. We’re going to try to cause a chaotic brand of basketball for the other team. Meanwhile, we’re going to be as organized as we possibly can.”

On the offense: 

Swanson: “A big part of our offense will be our defense. I’m hoping that we can rebound, get the ball into [junior guard Anna Kestler’s] hands as fast as possible and get up the floor to [junior forward Jazmen Boone and junior guard Kyla Kerstetter] who can attack the rim. In the half-court set, the post players have to get touches. If you don’t score the ball inside and your shot’s off a little bit, you’re going to have those long lulls in your offense where you can’t put points up.”

On Swanson’s expectations: 

Swanson: “My expectation is the same every year: to be playing our best basketball that first week in March … I just look at how we’re playing on a weekly individual game basis. I want us to stay the course, continue to get better and get ready to explode that first week in March when it really counts.”

Head coach Tony Shaver, junior  guard Marcus Thornton and senior forward Kyle Gaillard

On the offseason trip: 

Thornton: “I always talk about how close knit of a group we are, but stuff like that — you can never be too close. It brought us together a lot. It was great for our freshman to have that, the preseason practices, and basically get a jump start this year in college basketball. We had a fun time, on and off the court, and won some games out there.”

Shaver: “It was a great trip. We had a great trip — the basketball was good. One of the neat parts of the trip was the ten days of practice beforehand. We got to work the four freshman in a bit, and played four games over there and had some success in those games too. And we had some fun too — took the team snorkeling.”

Gaillard: “It was just a great experience. I’ve never done anything like that, and I think it was the first time for Coach Shaver. It was great. We got 10 days of practice beforehand, so that was really good to get some extra work in as a team. The trip itself was amazing. On and off the court, it was a great experience.”

On the loss of Matt Rum ’13:

Thornton: “[Rum] was a great leader, very vocal, great defensive mind. He didn’t shoot the ball that well last year, but was already our rock for us defensively. We’ll definitely miss that, but we have some guys who can step up.”

Shaver: “[Rum] was one of those glue guys. He’s one of those good leaders who did everything well for us … it’s a loss certainly. I don’t necessarily look for a replacement for [Rum] as much as a guy to bring his own quality traits to the team, to the starting lineup. After one game, Terry Tarpey has been that guy. [Tarpey] can be a good defender, a very good rebounder, good feel for the game — maybe not quite the shooter [Rum] was from the perimeter. We think a lot of Terry, and think he’s going to have a very good future for us.”

On home-court advantage:

Shaver: “We’re real excited, and we’ve been excited about this season for a long time. It makes a whole lot of a difference. To get the decisive home court advantage is really a neat thing in college basketball. We’d love to see everyone come out and support us.”

Gaillard: “It means a lot. Our fans are great — when we get that place filled up, it’s a great atmosphere and environment for us to play. It really motivates us to play hard. We love it.”

On the defense:

Shaver: “Making teams uncomfortable to play against us. We just want to be more aggressive on the defensive end, take more pride on the defensive end, because ultimately that’s what’s going to win us ball games.”


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