Oct. 28, 2010
Juice and Shurna Take Over Big Ten Media Day
Watch Big Ten Media Day Highlights
Northwestern head men's basketball coach Bill Carmody addressed the media Thursday as part of Big Ten Media Day held at the Crowne Plaza O'Hare. A complete transcript of Carmody's news conference follows.
THE MODERATOR: Now up is Northwestern head coach Bill Carmody. We'll start with an opening statement and then go to questions.
COACH CARMODY: Like all teams right now, 335 or so Division I teams, we're excited to get going. As mentioned, we're a veteran team. We're going to try to build -- two years ago, 17 wins, and that was good for us. Last year, 20 wins.
And we were going pretty strong for a while but then we faltered in February. And now the focus for us is just to recognize that it's a long season and you have to finish the race.
But we have some good guys back. Our practices have been very good. And so just anxious to get going. And I think we have some talented guys. And they just seem more focused than they have been and hungrier than they have been in the past, which is a real good thing.
THE MODERATOR: Questions?
Q. Can you talk about John Shurna and his involvement in U.S.A. Basketball. I know he was a member of the Select Team that trained with the eventual gold medal-winning championship team and how that's improved his game, what you've seen from him since then.
COACH CARMODY: This year being on the Select Team was sort of a continuation of the summer before when he was chosen for the Under 19 Team which won the gold medal in New Zealand.
And for him to make that team was an accomplishment. This is after his freshman year, because they basically picked 12 guys and eight of them had already been chosen for the most part. He just had a terrific tryout. They kept him.
And he was an important contributor to that team. And so guys had seen him and it carried over to last year, when he just seemed to make this big jump, because as a freshman I think he averaged seven and a half points a game and last year close to 20.
So he was feeling better and better about himself. And then just playing with those guys, you know, I guess he was out in Vegas for maybe ten days or so in July.
And we talked. We happened to be out there recruiting at the time. So I saw him. And I asked him: How are you doing today? How did it go today in practice? Well, (Lamar) Odom was guarding me. I said, How'd you do? He said, Well, he didn't really guard me, so I just shot the ball and a bunch of them went in, which was good. So he feels good about himself.
He also said that anytime he put the ball on the ground guys were all over him attacking him, the speed and the strength.
I just think that he's a pretty humble kid and shy kid. But he just needs to be growing, not just physically. But he sees himself a little differently because of that experience.
Q. Can you comment on (Michael) Juice Thompson's presence as a floor leader and his leadership as one of the returning seniors on the team this year?
COACH CARMODY: Mike, he's always had that leadership ability. He came in as a freshman. I just gave him the ball. And early on if something would go wrong or he would call the play that really wasn't what to call, he'd be looking over at me all the time, and I just told him: Hey, kid, forget it. Just take over. You know what you're doing.
He's always been a leader and a terrific floor general. The thing that's been great about Mike is he's just improved. He's a guy you've got to guard now. He's not like one of these old-fashioned point guards that just brings the ball down the court, starts the offense and is never heard from again.
He shot over 40 percent in his career from the 3-point range. And I wish he was a little more vocal at times, because he knows what to do. But he's just developed into one of the elite guards in this league, for sure.
Q. What's your take on the discussions about the July evaluation period and what would you like to see happen there?
COACH CARMODY: I'm not too sure what the alternative is. And you know we had a coaches meeting last night down at the studio. And we talked for an hour and a half. And there were a lot of different ideas about what to do.
And I think sometimes in the past with recruiting, you know, there have been some knee jerk reactions, and then a year later the rules changed. So I think people they recognize that there's a need to do something here. And I think just more thought has to go into what's the best, not just for our conference, what's the best thing for college basketball.
And the NBA's starting to get involved a little bit, and, you know, there's some discussions going on. But even last night we couldn't really come up with an alternative that we could all agree upon.
And there were some good ideas. So I think it's great that we're tossing it about, because certainly there's some things about it that have to improve.
Q. The relative depth of the Big Ten and especially that top half, what does the next group need to do in order to compete with the Michigan State and Ohio State and Purdue top 3?
COACH CARMODY: I've been saying for five years that it's like one of my favorite movies, Usual Suspects, that's what you have here. And so some of these teams have been up there for a long time. And until someone does anything about it and breaks into that, then those are the teams that are favored.
And I just think it's consistency. There's some teams that are on the verge of breaking through, say into the top 5, which basically guarantees you a place in the tournament.
But to say what do you have to do, I think it's about getting better players and more depth, more good players. Because there are no bad coaches in this conference. You don't really out-coach too many guys. Occasional game here and there. But it's about the players and that's the way it should be.
So I think just recruiting and going through a full year, going through a full year and having your guys play it out.
Q. John Shurna said a little bit the other day about Drew Crawford and his development. What have you seen in him since last March?
COACH CARMODY: Drew was I guess Co-Rookie of the Year last year in the league. And he just looks better. I've had guys in the past when they take their shirt off I don't enjoy seeing it. But he went to work in the spring, the summer, he looks good. And we spent a lot of time on his ball-handling in the spring because he's good along the baseline, but now you have to...we've always tried to develop our guys.
And that was one area where, you know, improvement was needed. So he's really worked hard on that. So I think I can throw him in the backcourt this year a little bit. Although with Mike back there, you could play in the back court and do okay.
But Drew's really improved, I think. And last year he had some tremendous games. And he was responsible for some wins in conference. But he was a little bit like a freshman, a little up and down. So just the consistency that every night you gotta be on.
And in the first week and a half of practice he just seems like he's ready to go.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach.
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