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October 14, 1998

Texas Tech basketball coach James Dickey
"I'm happy that the cloud has been lifted off of the department that has been lingering for three years. It's certainly a breath of fresh air in terms of recruiting and dealing with young people. The opportunity to be in post-season and to have the success that our teams have had in the fall is outstanding. Everyone felt like that we'd never go to the tournament again, that we were going to get the death penalty and no one would ever get a degree from Texas Tech."

"With that I'll talk a little bit about our team. We're going to be very simple. I think when you analyze our basketball team last year it is a very simple situation. Attitude is the most important thing. Our players in the past have always felt good about themselves and felt like good things were going to happen. I think in the last couple of years they were thinking 'when is the next negative going to fall?' Our academics are in the best order they've been in since I've been here. That's nothing that we've done, that's something that the players and Steve Uryasz and his staff have done."

"Basketball wise, on the court, we've got to be better defensively. We gave up 77 points a game in conference, 78 in non-conference games. That's way too many points to allow to win. We got out rebounded by four rebounds a game. We gave up an average of 14 offensive rebounds a game last year. That's an area we've worked extremely hard on, defense and rebounding. We've got to get front line production, from scoring, from rebounding, from defense. The last thing that's going to be crucial to this team with six new players is chemistry. If we can have a positive attitude and we can defend, rebound and then have good chemistry, then I think this team is going to be very exciting. Those are the things we're going to work on extremely hard during the year. Opponents shot 44 percent which we'd like to see that less than 40. They shot 32 percent from behind the three-point line and we'd like to see that less than 30. So our defense certainly does need to improve."

"Our shot selection will improve this year. We became a perimeter oriented team the last few games of the seasons. After the Colorado game, it's the first team we've had that just went down hill. We relied strictly on the three-point shot. We were not effective inside. We need to shoot over 50 percent. So our shot selection and emphasis on shooting 50 percent or better is going to improve. The three-point shooting was there. It will still be there. We're going to give players the opportunity to shoot the three. Rayford Young, our second leading scorer is coming back. Stanley Bonewitz can really shoot the basketball. Sixty percent of our scoring is back. Seventy percent of our rebounding is back, but that is 70 percent of something that was not very good. We're going to get started on Saturday morning. Our practices will be open. We'll go back to the format that we used prior to what we used during conference last year. You will certainly be welcome to visit with our players before and after practice. If you need something please let Warren know and we'll try and accommodate you, but practices will be open."

"The six players that we brought in were more athletic. We have the ability to go make plays. We won't be quite as mechanical as we were last year. The guys that we brought in need to improve their strength. Coach Park has done a good job. We're going to extend our weight training program. Where we have gone to two days a week, we're going to continue to go four days a week for probably another month so that we can give the players that have come in an chance to continue to improve their strength."

On Andy Ellis: "He's probably not going to start practice on time. He had arthroscopic surgery again late in the summer. I guess the best way to put it is he's just behind and with only 11 scholarship players we'd like to have everyone out there. Plus I think he gives us some flexibility, being able to play inside and shoot the ball well from the perimeter. There's no magical date with him. The thing we want to do is just get him healthy."

"I like our back court. Certainly Stanley and Rayford have proven themselves. We have four starters coming back and Ross started 12 games for us last year. So we have Cliff and Johnny across the front line and then the two guards. So we have some experienced players coming back, but we're also bringing back four players who only won 13 games last year. So I want guys that are ready to step up and have us make a run at the conference championship and be in post-season. With six new guys I think the opportunity for playing time and competition in practice is really going to be good. The thing that concerns you is that we keep everybody healthy and hopefully injury free so that we can keep them on the practice floor."

"Across the front line we were young. Johnny came in and we just threw him to the wolves. He has really worked hard. He is probably right around 260 and has improved his vertical jump. He's going to be a better offensive player, a better rebounder. Cliff redistributed some of the weight that he had last year and I think that is really going to make him a lot more flexible. At times he was not only a good defender and rebounder, but a very good offensive player. We're going to need more consistency out of Cliff this year. Those two guys have really worked hard."

"Brodney Kennard is a very good rebounder and he's put on some weight, so we need to get him just a little bit stronger. He does get up and down the floor well and that is something that Coach Clark has really worked well with him on and when you put the ball in Rayford's hands, or Stan, or Jevon Banks, they will give it up and really reward all of those guys for getting up and down the floor."

"As I told Ross, he's just got to come out and play as well as he's capable of playing. He started against Iowa State here last year and really had a good ball game. He just has to play within himself and I think we can have a good depth across that front line and really get good play."

On athleticism: "They would have to be awfully athletic to beat '96. But I talked to Cory Carr, Cory came in a week ago, and he said in the years that he's been here he felt like it was the most athletic team that he'd been around. What you want is that athleticism to transfer into production and some wins on the court. There are two things that I really like about this group coming in: one is I like the closeness that they have brought to our basketball team, we're already closer as a team than we were last year; and the second part is they all came from winning, successful programs and they all are committed to doing whatever it takes to win."


 

 

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