Catch The Wave RSS Feed - SportsNOLA.com
Tulane Green Wave Coverage at SportsNOLA.com

Video: Conroy, Stockton Speak at Tulane Basketball Media Day

TULANE MEN COACH ED CONROY’S COMMENTS FROM MEDIA DAY

Conroy, entering his second season at the helm of the Green Wave, addressed the media at annual media day

Opening statement…

“We started on October 14th and that first weekend we kind of did it like a training camp and had two-a-days on that Saturday and Sunday. We have 11 new faces and are really trying to acclimate. The focus of the first two phases of our practices has been on the teaching. All those guys come from different backgrounds and trying to get them all on the same page and talking the same language and doing things our way, takes a little bit of time. We now enter the third phase of our preseason practice and what I want to see happen today is to put in more of our package and start installing more things and start to compete a little more in practice. Early on in practice sometimes competition can get in the way of learning a little bit and these guys, because we have so many new faces, it is wide open as far as who’s going to play and comprise our rotation. Now we had into that and see if we can’t start to figure out some kind of rotation. That will be a work in progress. Other than Kendall Timmons and Jordan Callahan, our early season schedule will be really interesting to see who emerges game in and game out. I kind of set it up that way. We have a number of games, many of them at home, in November and early December because I wanted to maximize practice time and put these guys in as many game conditions as I can so we can find out more about them. Then we move into our December portion of the schedule and hopefully our rotation will take shape and we really test ourselves. We have Georgia Tech at home and we go to Wofford who’s been in the NCAA Tournament the last couple of years. We have a road game against a top 10 team in Syracuse. I think our schedule lays out nicely for this particular team. As far as individuals, Jordan and Kendall are both improved, but I’d like to see them both advance a little bit in their leadership of these young guys. That’s a tough task because there are so many new one’s out there, but we need to have them help us in doing that. Along those lines Ben Cherry, who’s been with me for a couple years, is back to being close to 100 percent and is doing a great job with the leadership role at practice. His knee gets stronger and stronger all the time. Josh Davis, a young man that sat out last year, along with Trent Rogers are the returning guys and the guys kind of leading the way right now. I’m anxious to enter this next phase and see who sets up.”

How does the offense morph with the addition of the newcomers…

“No question we are a lot bigger that we were. We are longer, more athletic and are taller, which is a good thing. We have some depth at the center spot and hopefully we will be a more balanced attack.  Especially come late in games when you has the other team in foul trouble or you are in the bonus, the ability to score inside or outside in key. Hopefully we can progress to that point. Tomas Bruha is not our there practicing five on five yet, but he’s coming back and our other guys – Lotanna Nwogbo has done some good things early on and given us some inside scoring. Kevin Thomas has improved and put on a little bit of weight and has a little better ability to score around the basket. We’ve got some guys we can go into the post, but also Josh Davis gives us better size at the other forward spot along with Tre Drye. They have the ability to play with their back to the basket a little bit. I think you will be a more balanced offense, at least I hope you will, at least if these guys progress the way I think.”

Does the tempo change any…

“I think we will have more depth and if anything we will be able to pressure more on the defensive end and we will be able to push it more in transition. I’m really looking for Ricky Tarrant to help spell Jordan a little bit out front along with Malte (Ziegenhagen) and Jay Hook and other guys like that. Ben Cherry being back healthy. So more depth a different spots we will be able to press a little more and hopefully we will be able to push it more consistently during a game.”

On playing non-conference quality opponents…

“I wanted to make sure that we were able to get at least one marquee series where we bring teams into Fogelman and we were please Georgia Tech agreed to do that with us. The Syracuse game is just a one-time deal that kind of piggybacked with the football game. That was the end of Honeymoon gift from upstairs, but we get to go play that game in Syracuse. But I think that is a great one for us. I like the game. We have a lot of fan support up in New York and just before we go on Christmas break we get that change. I like the series with Navy and Wofford. My biggest thing with scheduling is I didn’t want to get into any series that didn’t fit us long term because I really would like to add some of those quality opponents.”

On what needs to be done to win more games in conference and finishing games…

“Great question. Number one, is why we set up the schedule the way we did, is you have to be deeper. No question we had some key injuries and they all came at the third perimeter spot. Jonathan Frye went down and Ben Cherry went down and we kept reinventing ourselves. Then Aaron Holmes steps in and starting doing a great job when he wasn’t getting much time early in the year. There we sit 2-1 at East Carolina with the lead with a minute to go and Aaron goes down. Chance to go 3-1 in the league and we really couldn’t withstand that blow. But those things happen. No excuses. You need to have the depth. So all of the early season games are to hopefully develop some of these young guys. I think a number of them can step forward. In addition to that our size gives us the ability to score in different ways. When Aaron went down we became very one dimensional with the three. We became very good at it, but we were one dimensional. Developing that depth early on and developing our size and our inside attack as we go along will help us finish games.”

About all the new faces…

“I’ve been in this situation before. This is very similar to year two at the Citadel and also our third year a Francis Marion where we found ourselves very, very young. Encouragement of these guys and their attitude has been great. They are doing a super job of learning. I’m excited to watch them go through November and December. We would all make a mistake is we tried to figure out exactly what our line-up and rotation is going to be because I can see different guys emerging all through November and December, much like last year in my first year. Aaron Holmes came on in December. Johnny Mayhane came on in January even though they were seniors. There is always an adjustment and I think you will see that with this year’s team. You will see different guys emerge.”

On expecting to build on the three-point shot success from last year…

“How we teach every day and how we work on shooting this team has more potential as a shooting team. Young guys have a harder time knowing how to get those shots off in tough conference games and shots selection, but as they go through their career you will say there is are a lot of shooters on this team. Having said that, to get more size on the floor and be better on the boards rebounding and have a low post attack, we won’t have quite as many shooters out there, but no question, shooting will always be a big part of what we do.”

What do expect of Kendall Timmons this year…

“Kendall became a fantastic creator last year of scoring opportunities for himself and for others. That’s continued on this year. We had a practice the other day where he had eight assists and no turnovers in a game. That’s a work in progress a little pit and what I’ve encouraged Kendall to do is trust these guys because they are young and there is going to be a little inconsistency. That’s going to happen and he can’t get frustrated sometimes when he creates a good opportunity and the guys doesn’t finish the play. If he’ll trust that process and keep going to those guys, he will be able to help those guys into very confident good players. You will see us use Kendall a lot like we did last year where we move him all over the floor so he is a tough guard. Where he is most exciting is when we create mismatches for him and let him create off the dribble.”

On the full court press being a work in progress…

“That pressure will always be a part of our package. If things go the way I would like, you will see us do a lot more of it this year. What is come down to last year was the depth at the center spot and the other forward spot. Right now on paper I think we have some depth there so you will be able to see us move guys in and out and really keep that heat up. Last year to ask David Booker and Kendall Timmons, who was playing 38-39 minutes a game, to do full court the whole night because hard. This year hopefully we will have the depth. I know you will see us in early season games try to develop that and hopefully be able to press throughout the season.” 

Stockton discusses 2011-12 Green Wave team as she begins her 18th season at Tulane 

 

LISA STOCKTON

Tulane Head Women’s Basketball Coach

Opening Statement

“I think one of the good things is we just left our new practice facility to come over here, so that was a good way to start the morning. We are excited to get started. This is certainly a year I can stand up here and say I probably have as many questions as I do answers right now with such a young team. I’ve been really happy with the intensity this team has shown. We’ve got seven freshmen on this year’s roster – four true freshmen, three redshirt freshmen. The core that we’re returning, really led by Brett Benzio and Olivia Grayson, I think are two people that set a tone for our play and set a tone for our team. Our returners – Tyria Snow, Janique Kautsky and Brittany McDonald – all of those players have elevated their game. This is a year of trying to develop our team week-by-week.”

 

On Tulane’s incoming freshman class

“Our freshmen are very, very talented. They came from very strong high school programs. They’ve come in and really impressed a lot of the upperclassmen and really have pushed a lot of the upperclassmen. This is a team that, as we go through the season, will develop. The great thing about freshmen is that they learn, become sophomores and get that experience. They’re going to be on the floor quite a bit. We’ve going to play a lot of young players. They’re going to put them on the floor, we’re going to put them in with our veterans and get them better. As we start conference play, I think you’ll see a team that really has a lot of experience behind them.”

 

On the Green Wave’s preseason practices

“Starting with the preseason, we’ll play two closed scrimmages. We play Ole Miss this Saturday and the weekend after that we play Auburn. I think it’s going to tell us a lot. Playing a scrimmage against teams that aren’t real strong won’t tell us much. This will tell us a lot. It’ll also get the attention of our young players, just what it takes to play against an SEC-caliber opponent. We’re excited. We’re kind of tweaking our system as we go and as players really emerge. It’s three weeks away before we tipoff and hopefully we’ll be ready.”

 

On if she relishes teaching a young team or prefers to coach a veteran-laced team

“I think all coaches like to have a veteran team just because you feel like you know what to expect from them all of the time. But honestly, as you say, I’ve coached a long time. I think it’s easier for someone who has coached for a while not to panic when you’re young (as a team). We talked about it as a staff, and we’re teachers this year. That’s the No. 1 thing. We’re teachers then we’re coaches. Our job is to take each individual player and try to get them to operate with what they have. That’s been our focus. We’ve changed our practices, even within practice, with things we need to address. That happened this morning. We’ve got to be able to go on the fly a little bit. I’m really happy to have a veteran staff also because they’re able to do that to. As a coach, you want to be challenged, too. With this group, I think we’ve got a great core of kids and I think they’re really going to develop. We’re excited about that opportunity.”

 

On how the team’s identity will change with so many new faces

“The nice thing is, I think Olivia Grayson and Brett Benzio have been huge parts of our game throughout their whole careers. If I’m not mistaken, I think Olivia Grayson played the most minutes the last two years of any player. She’s somebody that this is her time now. And I see a big change in those two in that it’s their time to take the lead here. It will change. Our system will change. I think in the past, we’ve had more of an equal opportunity type of system. We had so many different scorers that whoever was hot we could go to and wherever the ball went we could go to. We’re going to have to run things a lot through those two players. Of course, we’ve got Whitney Bibbins who is a great player, too. It’s going to have to start with them as the other players come along.

 

On what has surprised her in preseason practices to date

“The one part of our game that in three weeks of practice has really impressed me is we had more outside shots in this couple of weeks than we probably did the whole year in practice last year. I think we can extend the defense a little bit to enable somebody like Olivia Grayson to get to the basket and also for Brett Benzio to not get double teamed. I think we’ve got that outside shooting that we didn’t have in the past, even though the 3-point line has been moved back. That was a concern going into the year with the line moved back and how we would shoot out there. I’ve been pretty impressed so far.”

 

On what the next step is for Tulane’s program and how the practice facility figures into that

“What you want your team to be is a contender each year. When I say contender is to try for that conference championship. The last two years, we’ve been in the conference finals. Two years ago, we won both the regular-season and conference final. You’ve got to get your team where you’re one of the best teams in your league consistently. That’s certainly a goal and what I want to accomplish. One thing that we haven’t achieved here, and we’ve been to the NCAA 10 years, but I’d love to see this program break through and be a Sweet 16 type of program. That’s my goal. As you say, that’s a long-term goal. I’d like to have a team that is in contention and we get in the running. Part of that is seed – getting into the NCAA Tournament and getting a seed to where you can succeed. That’s a goal for us. If we can get this program to the level that we’re consistently in the Top 25 or Top 30 RPI, then I think that’s achievable for us.”

 

On if those goals are something that can be achieved this season

“I think the thing with this young group is they’re tremendously competitive. If we can bring these kids along with a couple of the kids we have committed for the class coming up, this is a group – because they’re so young – we may be able to develop them to try and be a contender through their careers. It may not be this year, but it could be something. They’re going to get so much experience this year that they’re going to come in as sophomores and really have a lot of experience for a group of sophomores.”

 

On the importance of a healthy Brett Benzio to the team’s success

“The health our team is important, but the health of our returning players is huge – especially early in the season. These players have to set the tone for what it’s like to play at this level. It’s very difficult to go from high school – and we play LSU in the third or fourth game of the year – and go and match that type of intensity. Those returning players have to show them the way. It’s not about the coaches telling them. The success of the team, especially in the non-conference, has to come from the upperclassmen and their health is really important. This is the best condition Brett has been in. She went through (last summer) with the injury so we’re hoping this could really be her year. One very important statistic when it comes to talking about Brett – and she’s been a four-year player for us – but she’s on pace to get 1,000 points and 1,000 rebounds in her career. That’s a goal for her and it’s achievable. I’ve never coached a player that’s done that. For us to be successful, she needs to get that. She needs to have those rebounds and those points because we need to have her on the floor.”

 

On if she can provide names of some younger players who have stood out in practice

“One thing about freshmen is some days there are names and some days there aren’t. They’re a little inconsistent right now. But I think this group is tremendously competitive. I can say that. Jamie Kaplan is a point guard from Florida who is tremendously competitive, has intensity and is really doing a great job there. Danielle Blagg is about a 5-11 guard who can really shoot. She’s a very good athlete. We had a scrimmage the other night and Tiffany Dale, one of our freshmen, was the second-leading scorer in the scrimmage. That kind of came out of nowhere, but sometimes when the lights are on some of those kids really come out. She had a great scrimmage. And our Nigerian (Adesuwa Ebomwonyi), someone who was supposed to play on the Nigerian National Team, has been out of practice for a couple of weeks but she’s back now. She’s kind of that broken-play player. I think all of those players are going to kind of fit in and they all complement each other pretty well. I think you’re going to have good games from them, then maybe slide and then come up again. The nice thing about these freshmen is that I think they’re going to come in and contribute. Sometimes you get freshmen, you bring them in and you say, ‘We’re going to get them some minutes when we can.’ I think they’re able to come in and really challenge.”