Mizzou Basketball Meets The Media

MUTIGERS.COM Jabari Brown talks to the media before Tuesday's workout.
Jabari Brown talks to the media before Tuesday's workout.

Oct. 1, 2013

Columbia, Mo. - Mizzou Basketball Press Conference Quotes
Oct. 1, 2013

Frank Haith
Missouri Head Coach

Opening Statement...
"Yesterday's first practice was enthusiastic. I thought we competed. Five years ago that first day of practice really was the first day of practice, but we have been working with our guys. You have those team workouts two or three times a week based on the two hours and how you want to use them. We have had practices with everyone, but obviously yesterday was new with the length and type of practice. I thought our guys handled themselves very well. In terms of a team, we have good size, our guard play is good and we are big. We are pretty athletic. I am excited about working with this group."

On a new "feeling" this year with all the new guys...
"It has been new every year. We had a new group last year. We have a new group this year. I will say this, the feeling is different in that we do have more players returning this year than we did last year. Last year, we only had Phil Pressey returning from the year before. That was pretty unusual. One player returning, you usually have one starter returning (and some other guys) and we had one player (total) returning. So, this year with guys like Stefan (Jankovic), Earnest (Ross), Jabari (Brown), Tony (Criswell) and Ryan Rosburg, we have guys that were on our team last year and that helps."

On this being the first year that Coach Haith has recruited every player on the roster...
"From day one when I got the job, I thought this was our team. I don't really look at it that way or look at those things. As for you guys, you have obviously figured that out. I think for us to have the kind of team we had for those first two years, we looked at those guys as our guys. This team is no different from our first year team or last year's team. They are all our players."



On expectations about the coming season...
"Our goals are the same every year. We want to play in the postseason. I don't think we will ever waiver from that in terms of recruiting and how we recruit. We want to get quality student-athletes that give us the chance to compete in the NCAA Tournament and play in postseason and win games in the postseason. That is our goal every year. We are not backing off of that for this year's team. Now, this year's team we only have two seniors, we have a lot of unproven (guys). Our front line, I believe, is talented, but we still have to see those guys do it with the lights on."

On Jordan Clarkson taking a leadership role this season...
"I was reading something the other day and watching Coach Krzyzewski talk about his team and how the leader of their team is (Rodney) Hood, who transferred from Mississippi State. It is unique to have a guy who set out that you would consider a leader of a good team. I think (Jordan) is going to have to take a leadership role with us, but his experience has been at a level lower than the SEC. I think there is still that curve of learning about how he is going to respond to this level of competition."

On his expectations for the newcomers this season compared to the newcomers of last season...
"My expectations are for us to be successful and compete. As a coaching staff, we are not going to waiver from that. You still have those guys and the difference is the roles they played at their previous institutions. They had to come here and buy into a role that is different. For the most, we did a good job with guys buying in."

On the differences of the screen and roll offense this year...
"Jordan has the ability to make plays like Phil. Maybe not (completely the same plays), I mean Phil is as great of a passer as I have ever been around, but I think Jordan does have a feel to hit open people. You look at his size at 6-foot-5. I think with Jordan, we have looked at the angles of our ball screens because when he gets going downhill, he is a great finisher at the basket. At times, Phil kind of struggled doing that. You have to pick how you are going to defend a great pick and roll in terms of what you are going to try to take away. I think Jordan will do a good job of finding, in terms of taking advantage of the defense, what they give him."

On Jordan's size on defense...
"He is by far, and also including Wes Clark as a freshman defensively, Jordan is our best defender. He is really good on the ball. He is good off the ball. He has great instincts. He runs down loose balls. That is a great quality to have, as your point guard, and as a defender. A guy (like that) who is at the front line of your defense, it starts with him. Wes is our other really good perimeter defender right now. Now, both of those guys are really committed to defending. That really helps your defense."

On replacing the toughness and rebounding efforts of Alex Oriakhi...
"Alex was great. His last few games, 10-12 games, he was great. The thing that I will point to that Alex did as well as anyone in the country was rebound in traffic and going to get tough rebounds. We need a couple of guys that can go do that. Keanau (Post) and Ryan (Rosburg), Ryan has had a great fall and summer. He has made great strides and we anticipate him being a guy that will give us some really good minutes. Another guy is Torren Jones and he is a specimen. He reminds me so much of a young man that we had at Miami, he played football last night, Jimmy Graham, in terms of his tenacity and going after loose balls. He doesn't know what he is doing. He has no clue, but in terms of toughness, grip and physicality, he has all those intangibles."

Johnathan Williams III
Freshman Forward

How does it feel to be here and have practice underway...
"It's a blessing to be here. I will just continue to work hard and stay humble."

Has anyone taken you under their wing and helped you adjust...
"All the upperclassmen have taken me under their wings and told me the team works hard, practice is going to be hard, so basically all the upperclassmen have been there supporting me."

What are you looking to bring to this team this year...
"Whatever the team needs. Scoring, rebounding and blocking shots. I'm just going to try and be active around the rim."

What factors played into your decision to come to Mizzou...
"The academics, the coaches and the family atmosphere. Everything went well on my visit, so that's why I chose here."

There are a lot of new guys on this team, how are you all gelling together so far...
"We hang around each other on and off the court. We help each other academically and just try to be around each other, going to dinner together, going to breakfast together, even lunch sometimes. Just hanging around each other helps that aspect."

You guys have obviously worked some over the summer, is this team developing an identity yet...
"Not quite. We have to continue to work hard. We have to continue to keep on working before the season starts before we have an identity. That takes time."

On the biggest adjustment you've had to make coming into Mizzou...
"Basically the game is so fast now compared to high school. Just slowing the game down in my head, and just make my moves."

Keanu Post
Junior Forward

When you signed you and Coach talked about conditioning and getting in shape, how has that progressed...
"It went really well this summer, especially with the (strength) coaches. They really got me in shape and got me in the weight room. I feel really good physically. I'm really proud of myself."

What's the biggest part of your game you focused on in the off-season...
"Getting in shape. Personally it was getting in shape and stuff like that. I had to work on my body and become more aggressive. I still have to work on it, but with the help of this team and the help of everybody I'll take care of it."

What part of your game do you hope makes the most immediate impact...
"I hope defensive rebounding. I want to bring some offense and help out there as well."

Shane Rector
Freshman Guard

How are you adjusting at this point...
"I'm getting used to it, but we just started official practice yesterday, so that was something new for me, but I'd say I'm adjusting to it pretty well."

What are your goals leading into the season...
"Just to get better and get ready for the season. I want to be ready to help my team during the season. Whatever Coach needs me to do I just need to be prepared to go out there and do it."

Jabari Brown
Junior Guard
How important is your early-season work on the defensive side of the basketball...
"It's a big emphasis, especially when you want to go out and win on the road. Your shots might not fall because the gym is unfamiliar, so you have to be able to lock down and get stops especially in the second half."

How do you guys replace what Alex Oriakhi gave you especially toward the end of the year...
"That'll be hard because he was such a great player for us. But we definitely have guys that are capable of doing that. Keanu (Post), Torren (Jones), Tony (Criswell) and Ryan (Rosburg) collectively, I feel like they'll be able to fill the void and do what Alex did for us."

Jordan Clarkson
Junior Guard

Working with Phil Pressey last year were you able to learn anything from him...
"I learned a lot. He's a great point guard, I think one of the best point guards last year in college basketball, so I learned a lot from him, just being around him and all the experience that he had."

Anything in particular that he was able to pass off to you...
"Just really his ball screen stuff, being able to make reads off there. Just watching him as a leader, handling everybody on the team, I learned a lot from him in that way."

Have you accepted a role as a leader on this team...
"Yeah, along with all the older guys out here. I feel like we all have to step up and be leaders for this team. We have a lot of young guys and we are a young team, but they have to listen to us and they'll follow us."

Do you think the team has found an identity...
"As an identity ours needs to be toughness and defense. We have to be better than we were last year. We've got a lot of strengths, so I feel like a lot of people really don't know what we can be so I think that's good too."

Phil (Pressey) was really the only ball handler last year. Can some of the young guys take some pressure off in that area in this year...
"It's a lot of help. You can't play the whole game, so having Shane, Wes, even Jabari, he's able to handle the ball, and sometimes Ernest being able to come in there, is really going to help us a lot this year."

What's realistic to expect from this team this year...
"Our goal is just to go out there and win every game really. We're not shooting for a number, we're just trying to put it out there every time we're on the court, give it our all, and we know something good will happen."

What attracted you to Mizzou in the first place...
"I used to watch Mizzou my freshman year at Tulsa because of Phil. I knew him through high school and when we were younger. When it was time for me to transfer he just said, `You know you might as well come stop through and see how it is' and this was my last stop."

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