Tuesday, October 16, 2012

New Look Eagles? Chatting with Coach: EWU Eagles Mens Basketball Head Coach Jim Hayford 10-16-2012

EWU Eagles Head Coach Jim Hayford
photo from goeags.com
I got the opportunity tonight to chat with Coach Hayford about the Eagles Hoops team.  We got to speak for several minutes covering some of what we can expect from the Eagles this season.  I was unable to record the interview tonight, so there won't be an audio file, but hopefully we'll do it again in the future and I will be able to give you all a listen as well.

I took a ton of notes during the conversation, and I'll try to give you a good picture of the conversation, but I will primarily be paraphrasing and not providing direct quotes.

Stick with me after the break:

I opened the conversation by just broadly asking what we can expect on the court this year with so many key contributors from last year moving on.  Coach responded by pointing out that the Eagles have a ton of experience in the back-court and specifically cited Collin Chiverton (#24), Jeffrey Forbes (#22) and Parker Kelly (#10).  And then he went on and said that the front-court is also very inexperienced, but "[Martin Seiferth (#12)] and [Justin Crosgile (#5)] both come from high major programs" and gained solid experience there.  I think we are getting some insight here into the teams construction here, we can expect Crosgile to get the opportunity as the team’s Point Guard this season (more on this later!) and we can expect Seiferth to get the opening nod at the 5 spot.  I see no reason (and Coach certainly gave me no reason) to believe that anyone has taken Forbes spot as the starter in the 2 spot.  I think we are safe to assume Chiverton will retain his role as the starter in the #3 spot as well.  So what about the #4 spot?

I followed up by asking about the incoming Freshmen and some of the strengths they might bring to the team.  Coach called out Danny Powell (#4), Venky Jois (#55) and Thomas Reuter (#13) as being three players at the 3-4 position that should see a lot of minutes this year and should be solid contributors for the next 4 years.  Naturally I asked about what strengths those three in particular could bring to the team and Coach said, “[Danny] Powell is the best shooter, [Thomas] Reuter is the best playmaker, [Venky] Jois is the best rebounder, Reuter is the most versatile, Jois is the most athletic, Powell is the best scorer...”

Wow, a lot of stuff there, good stuff, so I asked Coach if he could compare those three to last year’s team.  Coach was at his best with his response to this question, I really wish I had been able to record the sound bite.  Anyway, he said that I had really asked two questions there, “How do you replace [Tremayne] Johnson and [Cliff] Ederaine?”  He said that he thinks they can not only replace them effectively replace their production and that we might even see better from this year’s team.  That’s pretty high praise in my book.  “The second part is can we replace Laron [Griffon] and [Jordan] Hickert’s production last year with [Martin] Seiferth and [Jordan] Hickert, with another year [of experience]?  That is tough because in the first part of the year [Laron] was so limited with foul trouble, but there at the end he was averaging a double-double for us every night... he was a really key part for us there at the end.”  Coach Hayford went on to point out that we should see improvement in the back-court especially from Chiverton, Forbes, Kelly and Winford.

At this point I got pretty blunt and asked, “So who’s starting?”  Coach chuckled a bit and said, “Well that’s the million dollar question isn’t it? One of the things last year is Cliff Colimon did such a great job of replacing [Glen] Dean, didn’t he?  Can Justin [Crosgile] step up and replace Colimon?”  He continued citing Justin’s experience playing in the Atlantic 10 against top competition and said he expects to see that experience translate really well to the Eagles this year.  I asked him about the pressure that put on Just Crosgile and Coach informed me in no uncertain terms that we need not worry too much about that.  “One thing you need to know about Just is that he doesn’t lack confidence.”  Coach reminded me that Crosgile was highly recruited out of high school, played in the Atlantic 10 and that he had played really well for the Eagles on their recent trip to Canada.

I asked Coach how he felt the Canada trip went for him and the team and he replied rather simply that it was a good time for the trip and that he was able to learn a lot about the team and how the guys will blend together.

Next I asked him if there was a difference between coaching this year’s team with a roster of players that (outside of Kevin Winford and Jeffrey Forbes) were all guys he brought to the program versus last year with most of the roster being players he inherited when he took over.  Coach Hayford took the answer in a different direction than I thought, but his response was interesting, “Well first, Kevin [Winford] and Jeff [Forbes] are going to be the first 4 year guys through here in 6 years and we really want to just draw a line and say ‘Let’s get a base of players to bring through the program for 4-5 years.’  You know, last year all four seniors were JC Transfers, and we like JC Transfers.  We’ll look to bring one in every year, but you’ve got to build a base of guys who will contribute for 4 to 5 years and that’s what we are looking to do.”

I asked him about the apparent connection he has developed with the City College of San Francisco program since he now has 3 players (Collin Chiverton, Ivan Dorsey and Garrett Moon) from the program.  Coach responded that he thought Dorsey really filled a need to help them “get consistent at the 2 position” and that Moon is more of a 2-3 tweener.  He went on to say that he may Red Shirt Moon this year.  “There is a bit of a log jam at the 2-3 position with Forbes, Chiverton, Kelly, Dorsey and Winford.”

Of course, I had to follow up by asking when the Red Shirt decisions would be made and Coach told me that they would be made in the days leading up to the game against Washington State (Saturday November 10th).  Following up on thoughts we had discussed last year I asked him about the possibility of using a Red Shirt year on Parker Kelly, but Coach shot that idea down quickly saying that Kelly was so consistent and so productive.  He cited how well Kelly filled in at the end of the year as Collin Chiverton broke down physically.

Next up, I asked Coach about Jeffrey Forbes, and his offensive explosion in the Big Sky tournament game against Idaho State and whether or not we could expect more of that from him this year.  “We’re going to continue keeping him on the other team’s best perimeter player, he’s just really solid emotionally [and he had] a hand injury last year that affected his shooting.  But that Home playoff game against ISU, I would [give] just about anything to repeat that or you know to guarantee 10 or 12  of those nights a season.”  Naturally I commented that I hadn’t even been aware last year of the injury and Coach responded, “Well we don’t want to give away everything during the season...”

Next I asked Coach Hayford about Kevin Winford, “He’s played a lot for the Eagles and contributed a ton of minutes, but last year he didn’t get on the court as much, do you see that changing this year for Kevin?”  Coach said, “Kevin played really well for us in Canada, the key for him is to play fearless and not fearful.  He has tremendous personal character and I just know it will shine through.”

Last question, “The 4 and 5 spots last year were pretty much all Senior players, with the exception of Jordan Hickert, how big of a challenge is it to replace that this year?”  Coach didn’t let me down, finishing with a bang, “Well the 4-5 spots are the biggest question this year, just based on experience and I’ve said several times in various media interviews that the hard part about experience is getting it.  Well our guys are going to get it right out of the shoot.  We had the Canada trip and even though [it wasn’t at the same level of competition], it was helpful and this was the right year to do it.  We had to battle through 6 games in six days with no days off.”

I want to take a moment to thank Coach Hayford for being so open and taking the time to talk with me so that I could post this content here.  It is incredible how open he and everyone on his staff has been.

That’s all for tonight, I’ll take a deeper look at what all of this means tomorrow!