Gaucho Hoops ("GH"): Thanks for the interview, Coach Williams. You've had a full week of practice. Let's start with who's not on the roster--Keegan Hornbuckle.
Bob Williams ("BW"): Yes, Keegan had surgery on his ankle in June and it just didn't respond well. So he decided it was best that he finish school and graduate and move on with his life.
GH: Given Keegan's no longer on the roster, does that mean Alex Hart may not redshirt?
BW: We won't decide on who redshirts until mid-November. Because of the new rules, we've been able to evaluate players since August, we should be able to make good decisions on the lineups. Alex is a good shooter and passer, but he is not physical enough at this stage. If we believe he will be in the regular rotation of top 9 - 10 players, he will play. If he does not crack the top 10, he will redshirt. Whatever we decide will be what's best for Alex.
GH: Is the situation similar to former Gaucho center Greg Somogyi?
BW: With Somogyi, he would have benefited from a redshirt year, but we just didn't have the depth in the post at the time.
GH: Speaking of redshirting, will TJ redshirt after the dual hip surgeries?
BW: TJ is recovering nicely and doing water work, but he just hasn't played at all for several months, so in all likelihood, it looks like he will redshirt.
GH: Which brings up the point guard position. Where does Eric Childress fit into the Gaucho plans?
BW: Eric is very good with the ball, handles defensive pressure well, makes good decisions, shoots well, penetrates well, uses on-ball screens well, is good in and around the lane, and is a tenacious defender. The battles in practice between Eric and Zalmico Harmon have been epic, because both are extremely competitive. They raise the level of play of each other in practice. To answer your question, no, Eric will not redshirt.
One area of improvement for Eric is he has to become a bigger voice--a more vocal leader.
GH: Speaking of Zalmico, how is he progressing?
BW: Zalmico is physically mature, tough, tenacious, and is a natural pleaser. He wants to make sure his teammates are happy. He has very high standards for himself. He and Eric are similar in many ways: both are unselfish, pass-first point guards. Zalmico is just ripped and very strong, so we can go small and have Eric run the point, while Zalmico can slide over to the off-guard position, because he is strong enough to defend the opponent's off-guard.
We should be good at the point guard position, with Zalmico, Eric, and Duke DaRe. Both Zalmico and Duke are big enough to play both point guard and off-guard, as they can both defend the 2. So we'll have versatility with our three point guards, with the ability to go with a small or big lineup.
GH: How is Kyle Boswell's left shoulder?
BW: Kyle is recovering from shoulder surgery, and he is practicing, but his shoulder is not at full strength. Therefore, he has to wear the gold "Peyton Manning" in practice, where other players must avoid physical contact with him. Even though he is a right-handed shooter, he does use both arms, so the injury did impact him. But his shot is as good as ever, and his range as deep as before. He just needs to regain full strength in his shoulder for a complete recovery.
GH: How about Michael Bryson?
BW: Michael is more mature, is stronger, and his shot is more consistent. He had a break out game in the Big West Tournament, making the all-tournament team. We expect that type of performance to carry over into this season. He also gives us versatility, as he can play the 2, 3, and 4.
GH: Kinda like former Gaucho star James Nunnally?
BW: Yes, although James played a lot at the 4.
GH: Where is Taran Brown?
BW: Taran is improved, he's making better decisions, is shooting better, and is on-balance.
GH: What does on-balance mean, Coach?
BW: Our focus this season will be to play tougher, and be more physical. We will be more fundamentally sound. We may have gotten away from that last year, because we had such talented teams previously with OJ and James, so we let the players have more freedom--because the young players were so athletic.
We will rein them in more this season, focusing on sound fundamentals. This includes individual skill development on things like ball fakes, pivoting, footwork, and being in balance, instead of getting caught in the air. Taran would get caught in the air sometimes, shooting when he was off-balance.
GH: How is John Green coming along?
BW: We're being cautious with John, monitoring him closely. We're limiting him to one hour and 15 minutes of practice, with shooting drills afterward. We want to limit the pounding to his feet. But John is such a natural player, that he may be our best offensive weapon, despite sitting out two seasons. He just picks things up so quickly despite the long layoff.
He gets his extra conditioning on the elliptical machine, on the stationary bike, doing his water work, and we've also implemented special warm-ups in order to reduce injuries.
GH: What are these special warm-ups?
BW: Most of these exercises strengthen the hips, and the players are also doing yoga 2 days a week. Ross [strength and conditioning coach] also has the players receiving extra ice treatments after practices.
With John, his offensive skills are so well-rounded: he has improved his back to the basket moves, he has a mid-range game, and he can shoot the 3.
GH: Yes, I noticed John's shot had improved over the summer. A couple years ago, when I was shooting around with him, I noticed his shot went back over his head. While he was accurate, his backspin was kind of a cork screw. With his recent shot, his release is more in front of him, and he has the proper backspin. Was that a change your shooting coach instilled? Who is the shooting coach?
BW: We decided to change his shot by committee, so we all took turns on coaching John on his shot.
GH: Let's cover the front court. Will Drew Dickey figure in the plans?
BW: Drew has had back ailments, so he hasn't been able to play lately. We'll have to monitor that situation.
GH: How does Sam Beeler look?
BW: Sam is stronger, and his back-to-the-basket play is better. He's still competing hard.
GH: What about Mitch Brewe?
BW: Mitch has leaned up. He's moving better, quicker laterally, and running faster.
GH: What about Alan Williams?
BW: Alan is in better shape, and quicker. He's shooting better.
GH: When I saw him play over the summer, Alan was developing a nice mid-range jumper around 12-15 feet. He wasn't shy with the shot.
BW: No, Alan isn't shy about shooting. Our front court also allows us some flexibility. Alan normally plays the 5, and if we want to go big, Mitch can play the 4 with Alan in lineup. And if we want to go really big, we can slide Alan over to the 4, and bring in Sam at the 5.
Alan will start, but Sam and Mitch are also capable starters.
GH: OK, that wraps it up, Coach. Thanks again, and we look forward to the season.