ˇ?We expected that Kirk was going to be granted the medical hardship because it was obvious that the mono was keeping him from participating last year.? I was confident that would happen, but Iˇ?m glad to see that itˇ?s been done so we can count on him being back.? From the standpoint of his preparation this summer and fall, itˇ?s important that he knows that right now.ˇ±
ˇ?Heˇ?ll be here all summer.? Heˇ?s working hard in the weight room, doing a lot of conditioning so he can get himself back into shape.? The guys play pick-up four or five times a week and heˇ?s playing in that so heˇ?s getting the feel of the game back.ˇ±
ˇ?In a way, itˇ?s a blessing for Kirk.? He really has a lot of potential and that extra year of maturity last year will pay off for him this year.ˇ±
Kirkˇ?s return certainly gives you some experience to lean on, right?
ˇ?Last year we ended up starting two freshmen and a sophomore, and thatˇ?s enough to drive you crazy.? We really have good senior leadership in this group, and thatˇ?s going to make a difference with Bret Brielmaier, Kirk Walters, Daniel Dillon and Jawann McClellan.? Weˇ?ll have strong leadership in that senior class.ˇ±
This yearˇ?s roster features eight underclassmen.? Does the relative youth concern you?
ˇ?Yes, there will be a lot of younger guys in the freshman and sophomore classes, but I think they are very talented guys.? The freshman class thatˇ?s coming in probably was rated sixth, seventh or eighth in the country and I definitely believe they deserve that rating.? That freshman class is going to make its presence felt immediately.ˇ±
Your sophomore class was definitely productive last season.? What are your expectations there?
ˇ?Chase Budinger will be typical of what normally happens between a freshman and sophomore year.? Heˇ?ll be much, much better.? As of right now, Jordan Hill ?C from the beginning of last year until right now ?C has made the most improvement of anybody.? I think heˇ?s going to be a huge factor for us.?Jordan Hill is going to be an outstanding pro, and yet he was someone who was way under the (recruiting) radar.ˇ±
Are you optimistic heading into 2007-08?
ˇ?I feel very good about things right now.? Theyˇ?ve been working very hard in the summer.? Itˇ?s very positive now.? Weˇ?re going to get great leadership and the freshmen and sophomores are going be very good players.? I feel good about the summer.? I think the guys are really committed to getting the job done.ˇ±
ˇ?Kevin is a disciplinarian. Heˇ?s a veteran coach.? Heˇ?s been a Division I head coach for 11 years and in the NBA for seven years with one year as a head coach.? Heˇ?ll be heading up our defense.? Heˇ?s already established a position with the players.? The players already have a lot of respect for him.ˇ±