Frank Haith – Missouri
On the early exit in the NCAA Tournament last year and motivation for this season:
We’re motivated to win always; I don’t think that has anything to do with our motivation. That was a difficult moment for us, it was disappointing, but I think our team and our staff are focused on having a team good enough to get to the tournament and advancing in the tournament.
On the Big 12’s and SEC’s difference in culture and style of play:
You know, one thing I’ve done is this summer, I started watching tape of the SEC. One thing that really stands out is the athleticism in this league. It’s a very athletic league. I also think they play a style, in terms of tempo defensively, that’s a little different than the Big 12
‐ there’s more pressing, there’s more aggressive play, and extending your defense in this league than there was in the Big 12. That’s something we’ve got to get used to.
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On impact transfers:
When we got the job, we didn’t have any freshman class. We only had one kid in the sophomore class, and that was Phil. The time when we got the job, we couldn’t sign quality enough high school kids I thought could come help us compete at the level we were playing. We were fortunate enough to get a couple of transfers to help us balance our classes out. I don’t like those large classes like we had with 7 seniors. We were able to balance our classes out and we started with Earnest Ross and Keion Bell at that time and brought them on board and both are doing very well. Keion played in this league before, excuse me, Earnest, at Auburn, very talented player, he’s Auburn’s leading scorer and leading rebounder. And then we signed Keion Bell who scored over 1300 points at Pepperdine, very athletic. At Mizzou Madness, he jumped over 7 players, or 6 players! He’s very gifted athletically. We were fortunate enough to get Jabari Brown, a five
‐star kid, a transfer from Auburn. All three of those guys are going to have impact with our team, and Jabari will be eligible in December [to play]. But then, we got a Christmas present with Alex Oriakhi. We weren’t expecting that one, from UConn, very late in the year, after season. All of these guys will have impact with our team, for sure.
Robin Pingeton – Missouri
Advice you wish you had been given in your first year of being a head coach:
I’ll be honest with you. I feel like Bill Fennelly at Iowa State gave me really great advice. He said, “surround yourself with the most loyal people that you can find and job descriptions will take care of themselves.” It’s a tough position to be in and you’ve got to be surrounded by assistant coaches that are very loyal, that are going to work as hard as you do, and have the same discipline and attention to detail as you do. I’ve always felt like that was great advice for me, and I’ve been very blessed because my entire staff has been with me for going on 10 years now.
Challenges of switching to the SEC:
Going into year three in the Big 12 is certainly different than going into your first year at a conference because you get use to styles of play, philosophy. You spend so much time breaking down film, spending time really studying tendencies from players in the league, so as we leave the Big 12 and we go into the SEC you’re looking at learning 12 new systems. So it really takes quite a bit of time, but you know that’s fun too, that’s part of putting the puzzle together. We certainly enjoy that part of it. In regards to how challenging it’s going to be to join the SEC, I’ll start off by telling you how much respect I have for this conference, for its office, for the teams in this league. I think it’s got some outstanding coaches, some great traditions within this league and the universities in this league. But we’re in an awfully tough situation regardless of what conference we’re in. We took over the program two years ago at the University of Missouri, a little dysfunctional, really at rock bottom. So to build a team, not only at a division one level, but in the best conference in the country takes some time. It’s going to take a lot of hard work, a lot of perseverance, a lot of persistence, some patience, which is not my strong suit, but I think I’m in a place that we can be very successful at. We want to certainly build a program and not just have a team, and so we’ve worked really hard at laying that foundation.
A young team in a new league:
I think they don’t know what they don’t know, and you come in with a freshness, maybe a little bit of a different perspective. I think that can definitely be a positive, I also think it allows us as a staff to continue to mold and help them grow and mentor them over the next several years.
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