Below is the transcript from Fred Hoiberg’s Big 12 teleconference that took place on Monday morning.
Q: On Sunday, you talked about how you needed to start developing your bench. How do you go about doing that?
FH: This will be a very important week of practice. I am excited about having more than one or two days to get ready for the next game. I have really had to take it easy on our guys. We haven’t gone much more than 45 minutes this past week because of the short turnarounds with our games. The fact that we will have a week to prepare for this next game will be very important for our bench guys to get some game reps in practice. I have been very pleased with the play of our bench at times. I thought that Calvin Godfrey was very important in our win yesterday. He came off and gave us great energy off the bench with his rebounding and was a very good defensive presence. I think just to get guys like DeMarcus (Phillips), Jordan (Railey) and Bubu (Palo), to get those guys more game speed reps will be very important for them leading into our game with Dartmouth next week.
Q: Is there anything specific that you are looking to see from those bench guys that will make you trust them a little more in significant situations and for longer time periods?
FH: I think that the biggest thing is consistency. I thought that Jordan had his two best games against Northern Iowa and Cal, when he went in there and gave us great minutes, especially with Jamie Vanderbeken in foul trouble. He went out there and got himself to the free throw line. He gave us some great minutes on the defensive end of the floor where he had multiple blocked shots in those games. Then the next few games, he went out there and picked up three fouls in just a couple minutes of action. The big thing for the freshmen and the guys who haven’t gotten a lot of minutes is that this will be an important week to show that they can go out and give consistent minutes and you can trust them at positions. The fact that we will be able to go over a lot of our plays and a lot of the spots that they will be executing in game-type situations instead of doing it in dummy offense situations. It will be an important week for these guys.
Q: You guys have the best scout team in America. How much has that helped you guys in practice?
FH: The thing that I am most proud of with that group is how they have gone out and embraced their role. They really take a lot of pride in going out and getting our players prepared to play in games. Bobby Lutz is in charge of our scout team. He gets them here before practice and runs through plays with those guys and then they go out and execute it to perfection. If our guys go out and play against those guys, very rarely are they going to see that type of talent in a game situation. They have embraced it. They have done a tremendous job. They went out the day before the Iowa game and just kicked our guys’ butts. They just had their way with them. But it gets them prepared. The thing that I love it about it is that those guys are sitting in the front row of the stands and yelling at our guys what the play is and where they need to get to. We just keep talking to them. I bring those guys into my office a lot and just talk about how quickly this season is going. We’ve already played a third of our games. Next season will be here before they know it. Those guys will be out there playing and they see how much fun our guys are having right now. We talk about how those guys are the future of our program. They are excited about what they are doing right now but obviously, they are more excited about getting on the court next season.
Q: I assume that they are kind of treating practices like their games then right?
FH: Absolutely. It is tough. We’ve talked about with those guys how tough it is. This is really the first time for several guys since first or second grade where they haven’t been competing in game situations for the winter months. It is very difficult. Those guys are competitors. They want to be out there helping the guys. I have a couple of them come up and give me suggestions at halftime or they go talk to an assistant coach. It is a good group of guys and the fact that they are going to be with us next year, I think that the future is bright for our program.
Q: From what you saw of Scott Christopherson last year, how much as he improved or is he just playing really well right now?
FH: He is playing with so much confidence. That is such an important factor as a shooter, to go out there and play with confidence. I know that first hand. If you are out there and whatever you throw up you think is going in, that is a pretty easy role to play. There will be times, I know I went through times, when that rim looks like a thimble. It is not much fun when you start questioning if that shot is going to go in. Right now, he thinks that every shot he takes is going in. I had that same feeling. I have 100 percent confidence that Scott is going to take the right shot and if he is open, I’ll take that shot as much as I would take a wide-open layup.
Q: How pleased are you with how things have gone up to this point and time with your team?
FH: I am very pleased with where we are right now. It eats my insides away to think about those two games. I felt that we gave them away, especially the Northern Iowa game when we shot 33 percent. We had so many good looks that we normally knock down. We weren’t able to convert that night but our defense kept us in the game. We held them to 32 percent shooting. They made the necessary plays down the stretch. Those are the ones that I think about but we learned from it. I don’t know that we would have won the Iowa game had we not had that Northern Iowa experience where we didn’t close it out because we talked a lot about that. We watched a lot of film on it. We got better from it. To lose that one, I think was a factor in us winning over in Iowa City, which was huge for us, that our team was able to go out and close out a game in a very hostile environment. I think that will help prepare us for the Big 12 season.