Question and Answer with Jay John
Oct. 8, 2002
Corvallis, Ore. - Men's Basketball head coach Jay John met with in-state media representatives Tuesday prior to the official opening of practice, which begins Oct. 12.
Q. Have you been pleased with what you have seen in the offseason from your players?
A. 'In the six months that I have been on this campus I have been pleased with the incremental growth and development of this team. This is an exciting time of the year for coaches, because we can start to coach. There were many benefits from making the trip to Australia, one of which was our players had a chance to get on the court and learn what to expect and learn more about the coaches.'
Q. What are your expectations for this year?
A. 'I want to develop what I consider to be attainable goals. I want to set priorities for today and go out and execute those to the best of our ability. To sit here and say that we should be here or there at certain times - I don't think that's the right way to go about things. I want this team to go out and execute the best that they can everyday, and we'll go from there. If we can just be as ready as possible to play every game, then I can live with that.'
Q. Can you talk about the bonding that has taken place in this program?
A. 'The bonding that has taken place has really been in existence since I was hired. We discussed with the team that we wanted them to communicate more. For the seniors, this will be their most memorable year, just like it was for them when they were seniors in high school. The trip to Australia gave a lot of the team members a reason to be excited about this year, and gave them something to look forward to with a new start.'
Q. The players seem to be pleased about you and your staff coming to Oregon State. Can you elaborate on that?
A. 'The team is thrilled to have a fresh start. The style of play that we will have at Oregon State is different than most of these individuals have experienced in recent years. This will be a fresh start and I think it will be enjoyable for the players to be a part of this season. We are taking the approach where we are going to play faster, and if they have an open shot it will be okay to shoot the ball. We have skilled players, and I want them to be able to use their skills to their advantage. I think it will be fun for this team, but at the same time there are responsibilities with this new style. Australia was a great experience because this team learned if you want to run, than you have to run back on defense.'
Q. From a strategic standpoint, did the Australia trip give you a good idea what you want to do with your personnel?
A. 'Fortunately, I found out the style of play that I want to run at Oregon State will work with the individuals we have in the program. That was a very nice thing to learn. We have some strengths - we have big guys, so we need to use their strengths. Jimmie (Haywood), Philip (Ricci) and Brian (Jackson) are proven players in this conference, we need to find ways to highlight them, and I think what we are doing is going to help them be successful.'
Q. How much of a benefit is it for you that you are familiar with the Pac-10 Conference?
A. 'It's a tremendous benefit. I think it's critical to have the knowledge of how other programs play, their personnel, and how you can play against them. You know when you go to play at USC for example; Coach (Henry) Bibby has 30 or 40 plays he can use in one game. Coach Bibby is as good as anyone and picking a corps group of plays that will work against that particular opponent, and I know that. I know a lot of the players in other programs, because I have seen them in recruiting. I think it's important to know how games are officiated in this league. Overall, it's a huge plus.'
Q. What do you see at point guard for your program?
A. 'Jimmie Haywood can play some point, but I don't want him to play that role. Jimmie can do some things in the open court with the ball playing point, but I want him to be on the wing, using screens and working to get shots - he is by far our best shooter. Lamar Hurd, Chris Stephens, and Mike Cokley are the individuals who will be competing for the point guard position. I feel good about that position for a number of reasons, but one is I don't require scoring from the point guard. The point guard position on this team needs to be able to defend the opposition's point guard, be able to run the offense without turning the ball over, and make free throws at the end of the game. The point guards don't need to make a basket the entire game as far as I'm concerned, if they do then that's a bonus. We have enough guys who can score, I don't need our point guards shouldering that load.'
Q. You have two freshmen and a player who hasn't seen a lot of minutes at point guard. Do you feel comfortable with that situation?
A. 'I can answer that two ways. Yes, and we don't have any choice.'
Q. How has Kevin Field developed?
A. Kevin and Lamar are two individuals who are perfect examples of how the new NCAA legislation has benefited true-freshmen. These two individuals were on campus during the summer for five weeks, they earned nine hours of credit, and they learned what was expected of them. They both went home between summer school and the start of fall classes and they worked their tails off. They learned how we are going to do things from the upperclassmen on the team. Kevin had done a good job all summer, and I think he is going to find a way to be a contributor for this team this season.'
Q. What will Beaver fans be surprised to see this season?
A. 'I'm not sure how to answer that question. We are going to play a game with more possessions, and that is something this program hasn't done for the last couple of years. Once again there are responsibilities with that. You are not going to win games outscoring people; you have to score and stop the other team from scoring - pretty simple really. We are not going to be as concerned about the shot clock as maybe this team played the last several years.'
Q. Does your team have the depth to play an up-tempo game?
A. 'I think we do. This is a direction we are going to go with this program. I don't know how many minutes that means to individual players, but you certainly need a lot of players to play fast. We train differently than this program has in the past, because we are training to play faster. As the season progresses we will certainly get better at playing the style that I envision, but keep in mind it will be far from a finished product at the start.'
Q. Floyd North and J.S. Nash saw a lot of minutes as freshman last year, what are your thoughts about their games?
A. 'Players tend to make their most improvement from their freshman to sophomore years. I imagine Floyd will be improved at all parts of the game as a wing and likewise for J.S. J.S. shouldn't have to play point guard, which should benefit him. There will be a lot of competition in practice, and that is what makes you improve. Guys will need to be ready to practice everyday this year or they will get beat. One of the biggest things I'm excited about is we have competition in practice - that only makes you better as a team.'
Q. How excited are you about getting your first head coaching chance?
A. 'I have had a couple of opportunities that I let pass, but I'm loving everyday of this opportunity - this is a chance of a lifetime. I'm working at a great university, with great tradition; people care about the program. The thing that impresses me is as down as this program has been over the years; the fan base has stayed. I consider myself very fortunate and I can't wait to get started.'
Q. Have any of the returning players surprised you?
A. 'We went to Australia and I thought we found five guys who really understand what we are trying to accomplish; Jimmie, Brian, Philip, Floyd and J.S. Jarman (Sample) and Derek (Potter) were hurt, so I really didn't get a chance to get a feel how they can help this program. Jarman practiced real well before he got hurt, but I still don't know about him in game situations. Jimmie and J.S. can run forever, which is great to see. Floyd is a better rebounder in traffic than I anticipated. People have a hard time stopping Philip even if you double-team him. Brian smiles all the time, especially when I told him he can shoot it when he's open. Overall, I like the enthusiasm of our student-athletes, this should be the most fun of their lives. I think they have the passion and drive to be successful.'