I recently caught up with Marquette Men’s head coach Tom Crean and was able to ask him a few questions regarding the upcoming season…
Q: What are your expectations this year, considering you guys are still relatively young?
A: Well, I think we’re very young. I think at this point we have to learn a lot about playing through fatigue and making each other better. I think right now the main goal is to get better every day, and if you do that enough, and you do that long enough than you’ll have a chance to have a good team.
Q: From a coaching standpoint and maybe a players standpoint, what are some of the similarities and maybe some differences that you’ve seen coaching in the Big East compared to Conference USA?
A: Well, that’s a great question, it’s a very physical league, but it’s an extremely athletic league. A lot of things happen in a short period of time and when people go to the rim they don’t lay it up they usually dunk the ball, so to me, you got to have a mentality, an attack mentality, and were trying to develop that but we still got a long ways to go in that area, to be as good as some of the better teams in our league. This league (Big East) is going to bring out the best in you or the worst in you every night no matter what.
Q: Do you see a difference in the recruiting process being in a bigger conference, in that it’s harder or easier to get recruits?
A: Well, your name value is a little easier and with what Dwayne Wade has done, in Miami, that helps, but the talent pool is smaller because there’s less and less players as you go up to the level of the Big East that can play in it. And certainly the ACC, the Big Ten, the SEC, and the Pac 10 they have the same situation, so we have to be very careful with who were trying to sign and get people who have a real high degree of character and intelligence and who really want to get better.
Q: Who are you looking this year to really step up as a leader?
A: Well, I don’t know, I think we have to have a group of guys that step up in leadership, because I’m not sure we have one player on our team right now that I would say is the leader of our team. The leader of your team is usually the person who is the hardest worker, plays with the most energy, and does the best job of bringing out something better in everybody else, everyday and that takes time. You have to gain some experience to be able to do that.
Q: And is it going to be really hard to replace Steve (Novak)?
A: No question about it, Steve was a great leader as well as an excellent player and we’ll miss a lot of things about him.
Q: Last question, do you think it’s harder to replace smarts or skill on the court?
A: I think it’s much harder to replace smarts, that’s a great question which no one’s ever asked me before, I think it’s much, much harder to replace smarts because your intelligence and your instincts can carry you a long way not only for what you do, but for what your teammates do, and I think that’s the one thing we have to continue to get better at.