Ken McDonald talks 2010-11 basketball schedule

7 09 2010

A few comments from McDonald this afternoon on his team’s slate for the 2010-11 season:

– On the schedule as a whole

“There’s a lot of challenges each and every night. We’ve tried to make it a very aggressive schedule and stay with the philosophy that I believe in, in terms of getting the team ready for March. We’ve got some built-in home games that I think will be great for fans to enjoy with two or three of the bigger games here in recent history with Louisville, Southern Illinois and South Carolina coming in. … But we also go on the road and take on the best of the best, St. Joseph’s on the road and some big time games in Puerto Rico. … A lot of challenges for our seven newcomers, but we like that challenge.”

– On the challenge of getting a team full of newcomers to mesh with such a difficult early season slate:

“Each team’s different, but you look at your team and you have to figure out what they can handle. No question there are people that will look at this and see that it’s a challenging schedule and might get down about it, but at the end of the day, it’s about how you’re playing in March. I do think the team will be up to the task of becoming a team. That’ll be the challenge. The chemistry, the cohesiveness, the things that are important to team basketball will help us in these tough environments. And we’re going to have to get there in a hurry, you’re going to have to watch a team with seven new guys mesh with the returning nucleus we have back in hurry to figure out how to win high-level basketball games.

“We’re going to get back to playing defense the way I want to play defense. Like we did my first year here. I felt like (then) we had a very tough defensive mindset and we got away from that a little last year. We’re going to get back to that. We potentially have a very good defensive team. And if you have that night in and night out, you have a chance to win a lot of basketball games.”

– On how difficult it has become for WKU basketball to schedule non-conference games:

It’s challenging, we wanted this done a while ago. It wasn’t as hard my first year here, a lot of friends were putting their hands up wanting to play. But we’ve gone out of conference (recently) and beaten some teams. Beaten Vanderbilt, beaten Mississippi State last year, beaten Louisville the year before. Teams start to take a look and make sure that they’re not putting themselves in position to get beat. Everybody had their poker face on this summer, no one wanted to schedule games. We were able to get it done, could it have been better from a (time) management schedule? Yes. But sometimes you have to go with what you can get. But we’ll make it work. It’s not as jammed up as last year. Last year we had a lot of Thursday, Saturday, Monday stretches – a bunch of games in a short amount of time. We’ve got more preparation time this year, I’m happy about that and there won’t be any whining (about that).”

– On having a home game with South Carolina on Thanksgiving weekend and a home game against Louisville during Christmas break:

“It’s tough. I think that Louisville game could potentially be the highest profile game in probably 20 years, when Louisville was here before. We’d have to go back and look and see if that’s the case. But you hope the students come back for that night and enjoy what should be an incredible basketball environment. And I know they will. Our students will turn out and I know we’re not going to have any problem selling it out. … (With the South Carolina game) there’s always story lines, and some might be as relevant (Darrin Horn coaching against former players) now as they were last year, but it’s an SEC opponent in our environment for our home fans. That’s how we’ll approach it. They got us pretty good last year. I hope that’s on the minds of some of our guys as they’re motivated to prepare. That’s where leadership comes into play, guys talking about what it was like to go to their place and get beat pretty bad.

“We’ll have all the motivating factors we need. … That’s a big game for our program, and we’ll treat it like every other home stand. You want to take care of the games you have at home to give yourselves a chance to finish strong at the end of the year. With an SEC opponent coming in, we’re going to try to take advantage of that. … And when games of that magnitude come into this arena, this fanbase really embraces it. We hope that will be no different. We’re going to try to sell it out.”

– On how the Sun Belt schedule plays out:

“As long as we get Denver at home (I’m good), it seems like we always play them at Denver. It always works out in the end, sometimes it’s a tougher finish. As you coach for a while and understand championship basketball, it comes down to the end. Last year’s race was a race to the end. We had to fight to stay away from four games in four days and it almost fell our way. That’ll be no different – but four (straight conference home games in February) will be good for the fans and good to get some momentum going.

“(North Texas) is a good team, it’s good to get them at home, they’ve gotten us out there the last few times. It’s good to get them on our home court.”

– On not having to play Middle Tennessee twice in a week

“I’ve gone back and fourth on whether it’s good or bad. It’s a good rivalry, and a week is probably not spread out enough. So we’ll see how it goes.”

– McDonald added that the SIU game will start a four-game home and home series; the Murray State game will end the current series – McDonald said ‘we’ve got to figure out what to do with that game’ in the future; Memphis is a lone-game scenario; Vanderbilt is a lone game scenario – but McDonald hopes to get something set up in the future at Bridgestone Arena with a Tennessee area team; Bowling Green State is a two-year home and home series.




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