Quotes From Bob Bender's Annual Press Luncheon
Nov. 2, 1999
GENERAL REMARKS: "It's great to get going again. I'm not going to make any huge statements by saying this is a year of change. How we deal with change is one of the most challenging and important questions we will answers as a team over the next few months. We have two players that meant a lot to our program that are no longer playing with us. Because of the production those two players brought to our team we've got a lot of young players on this team who are going to have some wonderful opportunities.
"This isn't unfamiliar territory for us. We've been in this same exact position three years ago. At that point Mark Sanford had opted for the NBA draft and Jamie Booker had finished his eligibility. They were our two leading scorers and our leading rebounder. At that point it looked like a very daunting task to replace all of those numbers and leadership and that's the same thing we're trying to do this year. That year, after those guys had left, was the first year we went back to the tournament. We've talked about that with our team. We talked about the fact that we have experience in this regard and can we have everyone seize the opportunity and make it a success. The one thing as a coach is that it's exciting to watch this develop.
"There is sort of a stereotypical style that you are associated with. For us it became an inside oriented team because of Todd. Now the basics won't change. We'll be a man-to-man team and a motion offense team but we have to change our style in the sense that the strength of this team is the perimeter. Without, at this point, a proven inside presence we've got to spread the floor to take advantage of increased athleticism and the fact that we want to play a quicker tempo. I've been very pleased with the way this whole group has adjusted and their willingness to be open-minded and their ability to concentrate on the change. We have a very good mix of experience and new players."
ON THIS YEAR'S SCHEDULE: "It's the one tough thing about being in the Key Arena. There are three teams that are trying to get dates and that's compounded with your opponents and how flexible they are and what worked out was that we would be on the road to start. It's not quit as brutal as the travel we had last year. That's just the way it is. If we were at home in Hec Ed it would be a different scenario but we don't have that flexibility."
ON THE CENTER POSITION: "Without question, the most improved player this year has been Marlon (Shelton). Marlon has put himself in a position to play quality minutes. He's proven a lot in practice, his next step is to prove it in a game. David (Dixon) has come in and really made strides in the last four days. The two of them know that a lot of the spot light will be on what they do and how quickly they can get things done. We've go to be patient, it's not going to happen overnight but they've got to give us some minutes."