Jon Teitel interviews the new Penn head coach to complete a series of all 8 Ivy League head coaches.
1. What are your team's goals for this season?
A: I want our team to practice hard every day, improve as a team, and focus on the day-to-day work of implementing a new system. If we do all that, I think success will take care of itself. We cannot get wrapped up in all the expectations that come with being the defending Ivy champions.
2. What facet of the game is most important to your team's success this season?
A: We must be a good defensive team if we want to have a lot of success, and we also need to play unselfishly when on offense.
3. Which non-conference opponent do you think will be your biggest challenge this year?
A: All our non-conference games are challenging, and the entire team is embracing the challenge.
4. Which of your three incoming freshmen (Justin Reilly, Andreas Schreiber, and Darren Smith) do you expect to make the biggest impact this season?
A: We need all three of them to contribute to our success. Last year's weakness for Penn (if any) was the lack of depth toward the end of the season. We are still looking to increase our rotation, and would like to play 9-10 guys every game whom we have confidence in.
5. In light of the success of Ivy players from other countries, do you think it is crucial to specifically recruit foreign-born players (like Schreiber), or do you just want to get the guys who can best help your team win?
A: We recruit nationally, and if we find kids overseas who want an Ivy education and are good players, we will try to recruit them as well. We need to develop our foreign recruiting efforts further if we hope to get more guys like Andreas, but ultimately we want to get the best possible guy.
6. Do you expect the fans/media to compare you to former coach Fran Dunphy (school-record 310 wins and 10 Ivy titles in 17 seasons), and how do you hope to be measured as a coach at Penn?
A: I am my own worst critic, as I put a lot of pressure on myself to be successful. I cannot help but be compared to Coach Dunphy, and it will take a lot of hard work to keep Penn at the high level they have been at, and hopefully improve on that.
7. Do you consider this season to be the usual two-team race between Penn and Princeton, or do you think another team can win the conference title this season?
A: The last few years have shown more parity/competition among all eight teams. Columbia and Cornell have gotten better this year, and Yale has been solid over the past five years.
8. After being named unanimous Ivy Player of the Year as a junior, how high is the ceiling for Ibby Jaaber in college and beyond, and after getting off to a hot start this year and leading the league in scoring, how high is the ceiling for Mark Zoller in college and beyond?
A: Both will be marked guys, and the opposition will be well prepared for them. I am pleased so far with our well-balanced team, as we have several double-figure scorers, and we hope to spread the wealth even more as the other guys develop. Jaaber is learning how to play the point on the fly, and continues to improve every day.
9. With three seniors who were named All-Ivy last year (Jaaber, Zoller, and Steve Danley), and only one junior who scored at all last season (Brian Grandieri), do you feel pressure to win the Ivy title this year before the departure of your senior leaders next May?
A: I feel pressure to win every year, but I really want the seniors to go out on high note. As they have played in the NCAA Tournament in the past, it would be a major disappointment if we did not go back this March. It is also imperative that our younger guys gain some experience now so that they can take over next year after the seniors have graduated.
10. What kind of advantage (if any) do you think that your assistant coaches' experience of both playing (Perry Bromwell and Mike Martin) and coaching (Chris Sparks) in the Ivy League gives them over coaches who got their start outside the conference?
A: One of the most difficult aspects of the Ivy League is recruiting, and the experience of my assistants is valuable both in knowing what kids to recruit and how to get them. I am very pleased with the class that we have coming in.
11. As one of the best coaches in Brown history (with 93 career wins), how do you think you will feel this winter when you walk back onto campus to face your old team?
A: I am not looking forward to it, as there will be a lot of attention put on the situation. I will be happy to get the first game out of the way, and then it should be like any other game in the future. I also think it might be difficult for Coach Dunphy to come back to the Palestra with his new team at Temple. The game should be more about the players than the coaches, but I don't know if the first one will be.
12. What was your reaction to the shooting of the Duquesne basketball players, and how do you try to keep your own players safe when they are off the court?
A: It was a tragic situation. I think it is important to be careful what environment you put yourself in, and I try to be in constant communication with my players, giving them advice without being overbearing.
13. Whom do you consider to be the favorite for Ivy Player of the Year?
A: It is usually the best guy on the best team, or the best guy on a team that is battling for the championship.
14. Whom do you consider to be the favorite for Ivy Rookie of the Year?
A: It is usually a talented guy who gets a chance to make an impact by getting some minutes. We have some good freshmen here at Penn, but they might not get a lot of minutes due to the seniors we have leading us.