Oct. 10, 2007
Head Coach Mack McCarthy
"We are anxious for this week to get going, but we have been working hard since day one. It's been a tumultuous summer to say the least. However, the great thing is that we are starting with a blank slate. It's almost like the Patty Labelle song "We got a new attitude." These kids do have a new attitude. They are competitive, hungry and have a positive outlook on the season. I think if you ask every one of them right now, they would say that they are in a good spot emotionally, physically and basketball-wise. They know that they are capable of doing some special things. They also know the challenge ahead of them."
"I think the one thing that has impressed me as the fall has gone on is that they know when to work and be serious but also when to have fun and relax. They have great camaraderie, great chemistry and a wonderful attitude. We are working to improve their work ethic and mental attitude and I stress it every day. I have been pleased with them and am excited about our staff. I think we have a very complimentary group in that there is a good mix of youth and experience."
"We understand that the season is going to be tough. The good news is that we have 19 home games but the bad news is that it is one of the tougher schedules ever played here at ECU. We have ACC teams visiting Minges for the first time so that is exciting, but we are also excited about the other games we have on the schedule. We have the No. 1 team in the country in our schedule in Memphis but our league is getting better. Everyone in this league has made a real commitment to getting better in basketball and people are beginning to see the fruits of that labor."
On the adjustment og taking over as head coach
"It really isn't much of an adjustment because I have done it before. The way our staff was structured before, I was involved a lot in the decision making. The main difference is that now I am actually the spokesperson for the program. Behind the scenes, a lot of the things I am doing now were in my responsibilities anyway."
On this year's team compared to last season's team
"I think we have a deeper team. It is positive because we have more competition at each position. There is competition for playing time, earning starting status and just trying to improve. The past two years, we haven't had a lot of competition at practice and it hasn't been as much of a learning experience. But from day one this year, guys have gotten after each other. They have pushed each other in the individual workouts and that alone will make us a better basketball team."
On closing practice this season
"I want to give our players the best opportunity to learn. We are going to be throwing a lot of new stuff at them so they do not need to be distracted. We do have some experienced returners but nine out of the 14 players are either freshmen or sophomores. That usually isn't the formula for success but I want to give them every opportunity to earn that success. I want them to have my full attention and me to have theirs."
On a change in playing style
"I think our style of play will change due in large part to our numbers. We have 14 guys and the difference between number one and 14 is not that great. Because of our depth we can keep fresh people in there. We will probably play faster in both directions. We want to pressure teams more but not necessarily press. We want to extend our defense with our athleticism and get easy baskets in transition."
On the expectations of a number of wins
"We really haven't talked about it in terms of winning or losing. What we want to do is get better every day. I know that that's an ambiguous statement but we want to be playing better basketball in December than we were in January, then February and so on. Regardless of how the wins and losses fall, we will see whether or not we are making progress. So far, the work ethic and attitude has been outstanding. We will have some bumps in the road and we will see how we respond to that. That is where the mental and physical toughness comes in. Our goal is to win and go to the NCAA tournament but we also understand that if we commit to getting better, the wins and losses will take care of themselves."
On the challenges of reviving the program
"The other two places I have been have had more of a winning tradition. At Chattanooga, they won four of the last seven championships and were second the other three times. Then, at VCU, they have finished in the top-10 in the regular season over the course of their history. However, every job is tough because everyone is trying to compete. Conference USA is a new league so everyone in the league is committing resources that they haven't before to keep up with Memphis. It is making our league better."
Sophomore John Fields
How do you feel about the team this year?
" I feel like we are ready for the season. Last year was a disappointment, but I think we are going to give the fans something to cheer about this year."
On having Chad Wynn available to play this season
"Chad Wynn is going to be a great addition, which will allow me to play some of my natural positions. Wynn is going to be a dominant down low scorer, and I will be able to just feed off of him."
How do you feel about the schedule and all the different teams you will face?
" I am ready for the ACC games; Clemson and N.C. State. It is going to be really exciting, and if we win one of those games, I think it will help get this program back on track."
Senior Darrell Jenkins
On the level of competition
"I am really surprised with the four freshmen. Last year we didn't have this type of competition in practice, so it's a big change. Last year I had a manager guarding me in practice, but now I have a player like Brock Young, who challenges me everyday, guarding me. Young shows no fear. He is excited to be out there on the court and he pushes me. I think all the freshmen push the older players because we all want to play."
On his experience and being in a leadership role
" It helps to have the experience from last year. I know we only won six games, but I do know what it takes to win. I came from a winning program at Southern Idaho and I know how serious you have to be to win. You have to approach this as a business, not only as something you love to do, but something that drives you. Our team has to be about business this year. Not only do we have to talk about winning, but we have to act like we want to win. We can't be scared to play the teams, we have to go out there and know we are going to beat those teams."
Biggest thing you learned playing in C-USA last year
"The biggest thing I learned last year is that attitude is key. Last year after we lost a couple of games in a row, we got down on each other, and we started to lose a lot of confidence. I think confidence and attitude are just the way you approach the game."
On expectations from fans, media and opponents
"I don't blame the Conference USA people for picking us last. I wouldn't be surprised if we were ranked last. This year we just have to have the mentality to go out there and prove people wrong. I know I have a chip on my shoulders and the players from last year have a chip on their shoulders. We are tired of getting laughed at; it is embarrassing for us. It has been a long spring and a long summer. I think we are just excited to get out there and prove people wrong. We are working hard and we are taking the correct steps to win."
Freshman Brock Young
The making the transition from high school to college
"So far the transition has been pretty good. Being on my own for the first time has been difficult. I've had to discipline myself to to become a better player."
What's the reason that brought you to Greenville?
"ECU gave me the best offer as a freshman. I wanted to be able to play and get out on the floor my first year, and ECU has given me that chance."
Feelings about the team after playing with them a few times
"Everyone on this team competes hard, wants to play better, and wants to win."