I’m excited to be here. I know our guys are too. We’ve got a great group of young men who fit what the K-State family is about. We’re excited to get better every single day. Looking forward to starting the season.
On the development of Ismael Massoud
Both Ish and Markquis [Nowell] have both been invaluable to the program because they understand the family environment at Kansas State. They’ve done a great job helping us recruit the team that we have. And Ish, we’ve challenged Ish and in fact, his mom on the video challenged him to go rebound more. We’re looking forward to seeing that.
On the process of the team coming together
You know, it’s obviously been a process, building chemistry. But when you bring in good kids who care about the right things and that part of it becomes easier. I think we have a team that likes each other. They spend a lot of time together both on and off the court. We still have to work at them understandings each other’s strengths on the basketball court. And that’s going to take time and experience.
On what he was looking for in roster building i
From what was available to us, the number one thing we’re looking for is hard workers, guys who are addicted to the game of basketball. If you are addicted to it, you can’t stay out of the gym. You’re going to keep getting better. Because nobody’s ready right now where they need to be. So, everyone has to continue to get better.
The second thing is toughness. We wanted guys who had been through some things in life and understood how to overcome things.
And lastly, we wanted winners. I think we have eight state championships on the roster, so guys who had won before.
On the health of Keyontae Johnson
I can’t comment on Keyontae’s health things in the past, but I can tell you that he’s very healthy right now. He’s doing a great job and hasn’t missed anytime at all at practice. And he’s getting in better shape and he competes at a very high level. So I’m looking forward to him continuing to get better.
On players that have stuck out to him
I’m going to tell you those two freshmen, Taj [Manning] and Dorian Finister. They’ve both been exactly what I had hoped they would be and even a little bit more in their work ethic and what they’re doing in the weight room. I don’t know if you guys are going to see that this year on the court. But what’s going to happen in this program moving forward, they’re going to play an integral part.
On if the success Iowa State had last year is possible for K-State in 2022-23
Yes, of course, T.J. [Otzelberger] put a lot of pressure on every coach that takes over a program. And the administrations look at it, too, and say it can be done.
Our expectations are that we win every day. If we win every day, then at the end, come March, I think about the K-State family and we’ll all be happy.
On what he took from his time with Baylor coach Scott Drew
Scott is – he’s family. He’s a brother to me. I absolutely love him. The thing that he taught me is servant leadership. His humility, I hope to bring that to the culture at the K-State family.
But I think that’s what K-State was already about. People who serve each other and very humble, hardworking people. And I think that’s why I fit. We’re going to be a great marriage.
On if Kansas winning the national title is good for K-State, Big 12 despite being rivals
It is great for the Big 12 Conference that the last two national champions have come from our conference. In the last four years, we’ve had a team in our conference play in the Final Four because the rising tide raises all ships.
Very much like SEC football, kids want to play against the best. We have the best conference in America. So, we can get the kids to come here because they want to play against other great players.
On joining a conference with lots of great coaches and teams as a head coach
I’ve been in the conference for 19 years, so I don’t feel like I’m coming into something. Just moves over. And knowing all the coaches, they’re great coaches. I mean, not good ones, they’re great coaches in this league. But at the end of the day, none of those coaches take a shot or grab a rebound. It’s about getting really good players that can buy into what you’re about. So that’s the thing that we have to do. We’ve got to get really good players that are brought in.
On what has stuck out to him about students at K-State
The students, we have incredible students. I knew we had incredible students from when we played in Bramlage, had that place was rocking and rolling. Getting to know them and their passion and care for the university, our students, they’re very philanthropic.
I haven’t run into one organization that’s not raising money for something that needs to be touched in our community and in our state. And that’s really – it endeared me to them and them to me. I absolutely love our students. I can’t wait to see them in Bramlage.
On the importance of bringing in experienced players
You win with experience. You look at Big 12 football right now the three teams at the top of the conference all have fifth-year quarterbacks. And experience wins in our league. So you have to have guys that are experienced, but you want to have guys who have won so they understand how to approach every day.
The goal, too, is to balance the roster because you don’t have to lose all your experience after this year and have to redo it all again. Trying to balance the roster is all important.