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2014 Wooden Legacy: Tim Floyd Talks About UTEP's California Adventure

Last week Coach Tim Floyd spoke on a conference call about tomorrow's Wooden Legacy Classic. Here are the texts of his conversation with Tim Simmons and other media members.

TIM SIMMONS:  Our next coach is Tim Floyd from UTEP.  Welcome.  Give us some thoughts about your team on the preseason and entering the season, maybe some strengths and concerns that you might have.
TIM FLOYD:  I like our team probably more so than any of the four previous teams we've had at UTEP.  We built it four years ago with ten freshmen that we brought in.  We have an older team now.  We also have a mix of youth that we need with the addition of some guards that we brought in four guards this year.  But we have size, 7'1" center Matt Willms, who I think is going to play for money for a long time.  6'10", 240 pound Cedrick Lang, who has started probably 75% of the games he's been in over the last three year.  Hooper Vint is another 6'11" player who has been here for four years.  We redshirted him for a year.  Hooper had 26 points in our exhibition game in 21 minutes and has a lot of ability.  He hasn't had a lot of playing time, but took advantage of the time he had in the exhibition game.  So we have size, and I love our wings.  Vincent Hunter is a guy who had a big summer working at Kevin Durant's camp, and Lebron James' camp.  He's 6'8", and a legitimate small forward. The guy who is being looked at by a lot of NBA people, in Julian Washburn, who is just a terrific player, an all-conference player at 6'7", a big guard who can post and shoot the three and has a mid-range game.  Where we really helped ourselves was in the back court.  Like I mentioned previously, some guards that give us a chance to play.
SIMMONS:  Coach, any surprises that you've had in the preseason leading up to your opener?
FLOYD:  Not really.  Everything has kind of gone according to schedule.  We haven't had any disappointments.  Those are just surprises that you don't want.  Our guys have been really steady and focused.  We've had a very good preseason.
SIMMONS:  Obviously you won this tournament when you were at USC in 2007 and participated in other ESPN events.  How do you like the format where you play two days, off a day, and then play the third game?
FLOYD:  I like it.  I think that you get a chance to look at every true champion in these type of events.  I think all coaches like to feel like they're better with a day of preparation.  That's not necessarily the case why I think it's a good format.  I think it's great from the standpoint of the kids having their legs underneath them.  And you're generally at special sites with these ESPN events.  A lot of our kids have never had the opportunity to go to Disneyland, and we intend to take advantage of all the amenities that go with the tournament.
SIMMONS:  Coach, you obviously play Princeton in the first game of the tournament and all that stuff.  Any thoughts on Princeton or have you just been focusing on your first couple of opponents?
FLOYD:  We've been looking at our first couple of opponents.  But I'm so familiar, as most basketball coaches are, with the Princeton method, which I think is really special.  I'm a big fan having read Pete Carrel's book, "The Smart Take from the Strong".  I was a fan of their offense when I was with the New Orleans Hornets.  I think it's a very cerebral way to play the game.  I think it's a fun way to play the game.  I think it's a very difficult opponent to prepare for because so many of your kids have never seen anything like it.  The preparation time is important.  I'd rather play them on day one than day two or day three.
SIMMONS:  What about your possible second round opponents, San Diego or Xavier?
FLOYD:  We played Bill in this tournament in 2007.  I think it was his first year over there at San Diego U, and they had no expectations.  They took us to the wire.  Really I think should have won the game.  They're extremely well prepared.  He's just an outstanding coach.  His background at Gonzaga all those years and helping lay the foundation for that great program speaks for itself.  He's going to give his teams a chance to win, is what I recall about Bill, regardless of style of play.  Whatever he thinks he has to do to give his team a chance to win is what he's going to do and he's going to do it well.  Xavier we had a chance to watch last year out in the Bahamas and I was so impressed and familiar with that family of coaches.  They've always hired from within.  Have kept it going, generally have done it with great, great guard play.  I know they lost Mack from a year ago, but I'm sure they just plugged in another piece.  And they've had a history of great, great power players going back to Tyrone Hill and David West and on and on with some of the other guys that they've had at the inside spots.  But we'd be expecting a very difficult game.  That's what you get in these tournaments and that's why you go to these tournaments.

SIMMONS:  Coach, you obviously coached at USC for a number of years and all that stuff.  Any special meaning coming back to Southern California with your UTEP team?
FLOYD:  No, not at all.  All those days are history.  They've moved on, we've moved on.  I have great memories.  I've been back many times recruiting through the years.  So it really will not be any factor.
SIMMONS:  Obviously this tournament has John Wooden's name on it, and I think you coached with one of the great coaches, Don Haskins and so forth.  Any comparison between those two gentlemen?
FLOYD:  Well, I think that the legacy they left was something that all coaches try to strive for.  Coach Haskins name to me is special in that he's the only boss I've ever had.  Laid the foundation for everything I tried to do in my career, learning that discipline was not a bad word; that it was a good word.  The defense could help you win games.  The versatility of his teams being in a tough place and having to play different ways offensively to give you a chance to win, based on who you were able to find.  In Coach Wooden's case, it's so well documented.  And most recently Seth Davis' book that is just a tremendous read.  I think anybody that goes into the coaching profession, regardless of what sport that you've chosen, you have to look at the foundation for his teams, what they were about, what they represented, and what he taught, how he taught.
SIMMONS:  Did you have any interaction with Coach Wooden when you were out at USC?
FLOYD:  I did.  I had a chance to visit with him on two different occasions.  One was around the tournament.  But I actually had a chance to even play for Coach Wooden, believe it or not, as a 14 year old kid at the Campbell College Basketball Camp in Buies Creek, North Carolina.  It was one of the great, great basketball camps in the country.  Pete Maravich having been an idol, I used to mow yards every summer just to go out and watch him along with 1,500 other kids. But Coach Wooden was one of the other coaches in the camp and had a chance to play on an all-star team in the camp, and it's something that I've never forgotten.
QUESTION.  Coach, I'm doing a story about team camaraderie in the smartphone and social media era.  I'm wondering over the years that you've been a coach, have you found that players don't communicate as well with each other as they used to or sort of the bond of friendship, if you will, off the court has been weakened because of Twitter and texting and noise cancelling headphones and things like that?
FLOYD:  I really haven't noticed that.  I can go back many years as a player and as a coach.  I think the assumption is that when we didn't have phones that guys were sitting around singing "Kumbaya" all day together, and that wasn't necessarily the case either.  There have always been distractions and guys are always going to occupy their time in different ways.  So I think that has more to do with who is on your team and the kind of people that you have, the kind of competitors they are and how much time they spend in the gym.  The lonely hours that they spend together in the gym in the summer I think is when the real bonding occurs.