Mark Montgomery and Kathi Bennett – along with some of their players – gave their season outlook during Tuesday afternoon's media day at the Convocation Center. Here are some notes on both programs.
Montgomery on how he will use senior forward Tim Toler: "I told Tim he needed to be 75 percent inside. But at the same time, we're going to have some specialty things where he can step out. I'm not going to have a guy who shoots 49 percent from the three not take some threes. In the first scrimmage, he was 1 for 2 – that's 50 percent. He's one of our best shooters, I have no problem with that. But we need someone down low, and he has the best size and the best feel in there to create opportunities not just for himself, but for his team. So I want down there, and from there he can open his game outside."
Toler on his different role: "Last year was a transition for me because that was the first time I'd ever really played significant minutes on the outside. So I'm actually getting back to my home roots. I'm used to playing in the post. I'm ready to let the Huskie fans see what I can do down there."
Montgomery on Antone Christian's role: "I told Antone Christian he should be a 30-minute-per(-game) guy because his motor is always going. So he's got to be in the best shape of his life. He can be a good shooting guard, he can be a good point guard. I need him to be my best defender too. He has to be an extension of me on the floor, a coach on the floor, a coach in the locker room. He's the captain, so he has to make sure that when he talks, everyone listens. So that's a pretty big role."
Christian on leadership role: "I just let everything come natural. It's not about me. It's about us. I don't change a thing. I just check up on the young guys, make sure everybody is coming together. Everybody checks on me, checks me if I'm wrong. I don't really see myself as having to step up. I just let things come natural, and it's a blessing."
Christian on Xavier Silas' absence: "Last year, he provided a lot for us. This year, everybody shares the load as far as scoring. Scoring is not a big concern because we have the talent to score. We're very unselfish. Everything is going to go well with scoring. That's not an aspect we're worried about because we push the ball anyway. Defense is going to create our offense."
Toler on Silas' absence: "It's kind of crazy getting rid of X because he was one of those players you could just give it to any time, or almost anywhere on the court. You could expect him to get a basket for you. But with this team, we have a variety of guys who can go out there and get a bucket any given time. So I think we adjusted to that pretty well."
Montgomery on improvements since practice began: "They're getting a better understanding of where they need to be defensively. They understand where the help line is. They understand that when that ball goes up, they have to make contact and rebound the basketball. They understand on offense that we want good spacing, that we've got to make the extra pass. So I think in a short amount of time – we've just had 11 practices – they're trying to figure it out. They're figuring out they've got to be competitive every day."
Montgomery on freshmen growing pains: "They just have nothing to measure up to. To them, they're going hard. But I say, 'What can you compare it to? In high school, you're the best player. Now you're going to be playing against juniors and seniors that have already been through the league.' But the growing pains is not a lack of effort. Sometimes, it's a lack of knowledge. Maybe sometimes not enough skill, or sometimes they're just moving too fast. But as long as my guys are going 100 mph, we're going to get there."
Montgomery on differences between him and former coach Ricardo Patton: "I don't know what was here before me, but I'm used to very, very competitive practices. We're going to compete on every possession. I'm used to making sure they watch film, come in extra and do that. I'm used to guys coming in extra shooting. I'm used to 2 1/2- to 3-hour practices. Now they're starting to get used to it. The good thing is, the young guys, they don't know anything. So what we're putting in this year, that's what they're going to be used to the next three years."
Christian on freshman class: "Very talented group. They did a great job of recruiting the freshmen. They're humble. They're like sponges. They take in everything. They don't talk back too much. They're always, eyes open, ears open, just ready to soak in whatever is thrown at them. That's a blessing to have a very humble group."
Toler on changing the program's culture: "The young guys are really playing their butts off. I haven't seen a group of guys so hungry to change a program around. With this group of guys, the foundation is pretty much being laid – with both the seven freshmen and the returning guys. We're very excited to get out there Nov. 4 (exhibition) against Carthage and see what happens over the course of the season."
Kathi Bennett on her players: "The commitment that I see, the hunger, what I saw going on this summer, the hours put in the gym, the desire I see night-in and night-out at practice, this group wants it."
Bennett on program expectations: "We talk about coming together and touching greatness. ... Talent-for-talent are we there yet in the MAC? Probably not. But I will tell you this, if you have a group that pulls together, and I believe we have that. I've been watching them for a while. We have a group that's willing to pull together and then they play together, you're going to have the opportunity to touch greatness. For us, that means winning a MAC championship. For us, that means getting to the NCAA tournament. I don't say these things lightly, but we really believe that we have the opportunity to do that in Year 2, with all of these young players, with all of this inexperience."
Bennett also said she has received three verbal commitments from the 2012 recruiting class.