Q&A with men's basketball coach Kevin McGeehan
Just over two months after accepting the job as head men's basketball coach at Campbell University, Kevin McGeehan took the time to discuss the outlook for his team.
Question: How have things been going since you were named head coach on April 11?
McGeehan: "It's been great. I like the group of guys we have. They are good kids and have been very responsive to coaching. Our guys have been working hard and they're learning a lot. We've taught a lot and they've retained a lot in five weeks. To their credit, it's a substantial amount of information to process. Everyone in the community, administration and on campus has been so supportive.
Q: Where has your primary focus been placed over the last few weeks?
McGeehan: "Our biggest focus was adding a couple of players to the roster and implementing a whole new way of playing the game of basketball. We've brought in three new guys who are going to help, including two guards – Quinton Ray and Kyre' Hamer – who are very good and going to have to play right away. Rod Days, who transferred from UCF, is going to be the perfect reinforcement a year from now when we graduate several front court players."
Q: How important is the fact that for the last few years, the NCAA has allowed summer workouts with the coaching staff?
McGeehan: "Summer access has been a huge positive for us. There couldn't be anything more important to our program right now than the opportunity to work with the team. We're teaching a totally different way of playing the game – to keep the court spaced, heels to the sideline, staying wide. When this offense is going right, it's seamless, a continuity-based system, reading what the defense is giving us and making decisions. We've also found ways to go from our motion to a ball-screening offense and back to the motion in the same trip."
Q: With so much to teach on the offensive end, how to do see this team playing on the defensive side of the ball?
McGeehan: "I have the feeling that this team will be able to defend, based on its length and athleticism. What defense we play will usually be based on scouting our opponent. The match-up zone – which really is a switching man-to-man – will be our base. There will be some learning to do there as well, and we'll play some real zone for a change of pace."
Q: You quickly assembled your staff. What attributes were you looking for in your assistant coaches and support staff members?
McGeehan: "Most important was finding the right people, those I trusted, to build relationships in recruiting and all other areas of our program. Our on-the-road (recruiting) coaches – Peter Thomas, Chris Clark and Dan Geriot – bought into what we're doing and believe in it. They know me well, what I'm thinking, can be trusted and will be great representatives of our program and university. Even though they might be younger, they all understand and see the game. In college, all three showed an intellect for the game, which I think translates into being a good coach. They were hard workers and built good careers. Already they are bringing fresh ideas and have the ability to show things in practice, not just tell a player how to perform a skill."
Q: What have you done so far to develop team unity?
McGeehan: "When we brought in recruits for official visits, we've held cookouts and played whiffle ball. We want our recruits and players to feel the vibe of the group and have them want to be a part of it. We want to foster an environment of people wanting to be together. You can do that through ordinary experiences like playing horse shoes, or cooking out. Having a young, relatable staff, it's been valuable for our players to know that they guy that might be pointing out something on the practice court this fall was the same guy who was diving to make a play in whiffle ball. That he has your back and your best interests in mind. One of our strengths at Richmond was getting everybody together either in or outside of the recruiting process, for something like a football tailgate. Something like that lets the team see that the staff isn't all just about basketball."
Q: Where will your priorities lie in recruiting future classes?
McGeehan: "We'll place a premium on skill-level and athleticism. I a perfect world, you'd like to balance your roster with recruits who can learn from the returning players."
Q: What are some of the areas you stress in the recruiting process?
McGeehan: "We've talked with prospects about the fact that it's an exciting time to be a Campbell, being on the ground floor with a new coach and being a cornerstone piece in the program. Also, our facilities speak for themselves. On campus, there's a lot of exciting things happening over the last five years and Campbell is really moving forward. We're heading in the right direction. Our arena is first-class, the perfect size for the size of our school, with a practice facility just a few steps away. To have those two pieces in place is really impressive to our recruits."
Q: Can you give us an early look at the 2013-14 schedule?
McGeehan: "The schedule we inherited is very challenging with games at Cincinnati, NC State, Appalachian State, Robert Morris and UNC Wilmington. We'll have ECU and North Carolina Central at home and have been able to add a home-and-home series with Georgia Southern. That's a good match because both teams have new coaches and it will be similar to adding two conference games. The schedule will be challenging with some winnable games in there as well."