Sunday, March 25, 2012

Transcript of end-of-season interview with coach Jones

By René Reyes/DFP Staff

On expectations coming into the season

“Coming in, the goal is always going to be to get to the NCAA Tournament. I don’t think that’s ever going to change. To be honest with you, I really wanted to, at the end of the year, feel like we played as good as we were capable of playing. That’s really what you want to get to. I felt like we had hit our stride in the middle of the conference season. We’re probably playing our best ball. The last stretch, I felt we were inconsistent down the stretch. That’s what you hope wouldn’t happen and that we’d be playing our best ball by the end of the season.”

On the progression of the team in general

“You can’t put your finger on it. If you look at your body of work and being logical about things, we probably had one of the tougher non-conference schedules in the country for where we are. We had the 79th hardest schedule in the country, as compared to Vermont that was 212 and Stony Brook was in the 300s. There was a crazy distribution between who were playing and who our counterparts were playing. I really thought we held together through a touch stretch of games. D.J. being injured going into the Vermont game didn’t help us. We weren’t at full strength the first game of the conference season at Vermont, which is a big game obviously. We got it going and played pretty well during the stretch. I don’t think you can put your finger on one thing why you didn’t achieve what you wanted to achieve. The bottom line I though when we really broke it down was we didn’t get timely stops when we needed them late in the game against New Hampshire, late in the game against Stony Brook and late in the game against Hartford. At Hartford, we didn’t get the timely stops and we didn’t really execute down the stretch or score late in games.”

On not having a killer scorer down the stretch

“We had the Player of the Year on our team. We had I think the best point guard in the league. We have two guys who are very capable of getting the job done. We have some other guys should be capable of making plays late. Why it didn’t happen? I don’t know. I can’t put my finger on it. Sometimes it’s just what happens. I felt like we had good enough players to get it done down the stretch. We just didn’t get it done, whether the ball just didn’t go in or we didn’t get timely stops. We didn’t get the job done.”

On the positives of a non-conference schedule and if he plans on scheduling tougher ones in the future

“I don’t know how much it helped. It obviously brought us closer together because every night we went out, we were playing against teams. We had 14 non-conference games. I don’t know if we were favored in three of them. The other games were on the road, too. It’s hard to be favored on the road. We really only had four home games for the non-conference schedule. I thought it brought us together for sure. I just remember the feeling that we had on the road and playing in the tournament in Rhode Island. We really came together. We fought through some tough times and I think that helped us. How much that helped us? I don’t know. I know winning helps.

“Going forward, we’re going to play a competitive schedule. The schedule will be more balanced in terms of having more home games. If we would have had more home games in the first semester, I would have been very happy even if we would have played the competitive schedule that we had. The fact that we had no home games on top of what we were doing, it was a tough year.”

On fan support

“We have to do a better job of that. I was pleased at some games. I thought we had some great support. In others, we didn’t. I have to put that on myself, my staff. We have to do a better job of getting out into the community and building fan support. We can’t wait for other people to do that. Obviously, the Northeastern game was unbelievable. It was a tremendous experience. We have to win that game. Most of that is on us, not anyone else. We have to find ways to get people out more consistently.”

On how his first year at BU was different from his other years coaching basketball

“Every experience is different and similar in the same respect because you’re still coaching young men and you’re in athletics. There are definitely similarities there. Here, you’re being left a very good team and a very good program. That’s the thing that is different. The other places I’ve been at I’ve really had to start from scratch in terms of recruiting and bringing in talent. Everything here, you’re way ahead of the curve in that way. That’s probably the difference. This was the first time I came into a situation where the program was successful when we walked in. When I was at Hofstra, the year before they had a tough year. When I went to Villanova, we had lost three NBA players and that was my first year at Nova. At Columbia, we were 2-25. At BC, they had won 14 games the year before. All those places, you’re coming into a situation where the program had a tough year. That’s really the case most of the time where you take over a job somewhere. The guy’s leaving because either he didn’t do as good a job and they let him go. Or they won, and the program’s in good shape.”

On what surprised him about this job and his team in particular

“I really liked the guys. I don’t know if that surprised me as much as I enjoy it. I really enjoy players, coaching them, getting to know them. The atmosphere surprised me around the campus being an urban school. There’s a lot of pride here. Kids really enjoy being here at school. The athletes more than anything overall surprised me. They’re just so friendly. It just seems like everyone’s a good person here. I love the coaches here. They’re all really nice. The atmosphere is what I’ve enjoyed the most.”

On the loss of the senior class in regards to next season and how team can make up for that loss

“First of all, those guys were great. Great leaders. They’re terrific ambassadors of the program, of the university. Everyone has nothing but positive things to say about those guys. Their teammates just love them. The group welcomed me with open arms and our staff. They’re veterans. We’re going to miss their leadership and their experience and the way they carried themselves and their confidence in themselves. Just all those things that help good programs. We lose that. We’re going to need to get that a lot. Jake’s going to have to fill that gap. That sophomore class is really going to have to take that huge step in that way. They’re going to need to be the leaders of the program. I think they’re prepared. They’ve been around some guys that have led well. They’ve obviously been around a lot of winning. They know what goes into it. I full expect those guys to step up and become leaders.”

On the difficulties of implementing his own system and changing certain aspects

“Whenever you win, when you walk into a situation where you’re taking over a program that’s won, the adjustment is going to be different. You have guys who have had great success doing things a certain way. It’s just human nature. It’s harder. If you take over a program that’s losing, guys are more open-minded about stuff. I thought our guys did a really good job. It’s a transition that needed to take place. We really embraced the history of the program when we got here. We embraced what they accomplished last year. We wanted them to know that. But there were some things that we wanted to do different that we thought would make the program better. We made some good strides. I love our guys. We have a great relationship but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t take time for kids to really understand. It’s more of an understanding of what you’re trying to do than anything else. The terminology is different. There’s some confusion. We definitely went through a stretch where there was a disconnect because of all those changes. It takes times.”

On if he would consider the year a disappointment

“I don’t think any time where you feel like you’re good enough to win the championship, you don’t ever feel like it was a great year. You’re competitive. If you look at it soundly and say to yourself, ‘OK, you’re going to play the schedule that you’re going to play and that you’re going to have three games without D.J. Irving in that stretch.’ I don’t know if I’m really worried about the overall record. I’m not saying to myself that we’re 16-16. I know that if we would have played the schedule that most of the teams play at our level, we would have won 20 games this year. I don’t look at the schedule or the record as much as I look at, ‘Did we get to where we wanted to be at the end?’ And the answer is no. That’s the thing that’s more discouraging, not the record. We were 12-4, two games out of first. Is that the end of the world? We were 12-4 last year.”

On losing crop of senior class and the immediate future of this program

“I’m very excited about our recruiting class. You have to wait until they get here. Kids have to prove themselves. I know enough. I’ve coached seven guys that played in the NBA. I’ve coached over 25 kids that played over in Europe. You have to wait until kids come and prove themselves. I think this team could surprise some people. I feel like we have a chance to expand on some of the things that we were trying to do this year. Getting Jake back is a huge piece. We’re just starting to work with him. I’m very, very excited about the future of the program. Where we end up, who knows? It’s too early to tell. There are a lot of pieces here, and I feel really good about the future.”

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

BU grad here. Good luck Coach Jones. Excited about the future.

PS Will the A-10 ever let us in (damn them)!