Saturday, November 10, 2012

Chatting with Coach: Head Coach Jim Hayford talks about the Eagles taking on the Washington State Cougars

"I think you'll find it's the exact same measurements as our gym back in Hickory."  Coach Norman Dale (Gene Hackman) from the movie Hoosiers.
Head Coach Jim Hayford
photo from
OK, so one of my favorite movies of all time is Hoosiers.  Something about the story of the small school taking on all the big time schools and winning just gets me excited.  Last night I had the opportunity (again) to talk with EWU Men's Basketball Head Coach Jim Hayford and we talked Eagle Hoops, the upcoming game against the Washington State Cougars, Red Shirts and more.

Like the Hickory High School team from that film, Coach Hayford and his team are going to meet their challenges head on.  Previously I asked Coach about the challenge of replacing so much experience with the graduation of Cliff Colimon, Cliff Ederaine, Laron Griffin and Tremayne Johnson, "The hard part about experience is getting it.    Well our guys are going to get it right out of the shoot."

On Saturday the Eastern Washington Eagles, lead by second year Head Coach Jim Hayford, will take on the Washington State Cougars for the 66th time.  The Cougars hold a rather commanding lead in the all time series between the schools with 54 wins and have not lost to the Eagles since the 1996 - 1997 season.  Last year Coach Hayford's Eagles got run out of the gym in Pullman to the tune of 75-49.  So what's different this year?  I got the opportunity to talk to Coach Hayford about just that.

Click on through the break to find out more and find the audio as well.

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I asked Coach about the challenge of heading to Pullman and he acknowledged that the all time record against the Cougars was not something he is willing to accept.  Speaking about last year's contest, "We feel that our worst game of last season was at Pullman ... So we're going down there to try to right that wrong."  It would be unfair and dishonest to suggest that the Eagles have maintained a rivalry with the Cougars over the years, but I get the feeling that Coach Hayford believes there should be a vibrant rivalry.  When I moved the conversation on to discuss the Cal-State Northridge game Coach responded in part, "Washington State has really had my full focus right now."

In order to do that the Eagles will have to go on the road and prove that they belong in that conversation, I asked Coach about how he prepares his team to play on the road, "You're gonna have to play road games so every game you use it as an opportunity to get better as a team.  So you take it on as a challenge and enjoy it.  You know I don't do as well as I should, but I do better than I used to is what are the things you can't control and what are the things you can.  Well, what is under our control is the rim is 10' tall and the courts are the same size and so take all the other stuff out and get on the basketball court and play."

Naturally Coach was a little reticent to discuss the tactics he plans to employ against the Cougars, but he did discuss his impressions of the Cougar team.  He pointed to Brock Motum (#12) Senior Forward, who was the leading scorer in the PAC-12 last year and Royce Woolridge (#22) Sophomore Guard who transferred from Kansas as players to keep an eye on.  He talked about the Cougars ability to put Motum in places where he can succeed offensively and said that they can't get too gimmicky with their defense.

As for the Eagles starters on Saturday afternoon, Coach let me know that he enjoys that WSU will only find out ten minutes before the end of warm ups and that he could go with a wide variety of looks from 3 guards to 3 bigs.

We also discussed some things to look forward to with Eagle Basketball this year including Red Shirts and we got into some depth about Coach's thinking and approach to the game.  And now without further disclosure, here is the audio transcript, hope you enjoy it as much as I did!