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Selected audio clips from today's news conference featuring University President Dr. Shelby F. Thames, Director of Athletics Richard Giannini and new Head Men's Basketball Coach Larry Eustachy.
Southern Miss Head Basketball Coach Larry Eustachy's Introductory News Conference -- Thursday, March 25, 2004
Southern Miss Head Men's Basketball Coach Larry Eustachy
"First I would like to thank Dr. Shelby Thames and Richard Giannini and everyone else in connection with the hiring process for the opportunity to coach again and also for believing in me. I assure you; I will not let you down. About a year ago, I saw Richard on the coast at a Southern Miss function, and I had come down for the sole purpose of attending my first AA meeting and understanding that alcohol had become a real problem in my life and while I was here, the story broke. I want to tell you that it was the greatest thing that has every happened to me, and I really mean that. Sometimes, until you totally bottomed out, you don?t really see what?s going on in your life. I hit rock bottom with no one to blame but myself and no one to hold accountable for my actions. It could have gone one way or the other. Well I chose to step to the plate and I enrolled in a 28-day rehab program and get enough "tools in the toolbox" as we say to deal with alcoholism. I am a recovering alcoholic. It?s constant maintenance and it is constant work. But where I have found myself at now, I have never felt better. I told the players that I just met with now, they are going to get my A-plus game. I am rested and I am ready to coach. I am excited about it and I have not had a drink in a while, and this April the 23rd, it will be a year since I have had a drink.
"It is nice to be here. I think there is a good group of guys in this program. They have had some tremendous wins. And there has to be some talent or they would not have won the games like the one that they won at Marquette.
"This program has tremendous, tremendous potential. They have already won, not too long ago, a conference championship. It?s got great coaching traditions. I think James Green is an excellent, excellent coach. Coach (M.K.) Turk was here forever. It isn?t like there is no tradition, which makes it a lot easier to rebuild a program.
"So I am looking forward to it. There is a tremendous fan base and a great alumni group, and it is just going to be a matter of time before we become a national basketball college year in and year out."
Did you think you would get back into coaching this quick?
"I was hoping. I kind of had my own gauge. I didn?t know. Ten months ago I did not know if I would be ready. I have taken a lot of time traveling around and seeing a lot of coaches I really respect. I just knew I would know when it was time and if it wasn?t. I did not have a plan in stone. I just let it come to me. It was a wonderful year and it was the best year I have had in many, many years. I had a feel for it and it was time. I am very excited."
Did you talk to someone like Eddie Sutton or somebody that has been through a similar situation?
"I talked to Eddie Sutton a lot through this. I went and watched his practice. He is a huge mentor of mine and my life. He is a great person. I talked to a lot of great people have recovered from alcoholism."
What makes this situation in Hattiesburg a good situation for you basketball and family wise?
"My wife is from the south, and it is an opportunity to be closer to family. If you have ever been to Moscow, Idaho or Logan, Utah, you would know that they are both beautiful places with great people, but the proximity of players is not a lot. When we had our championship teams in Idaho, we had 15 scholarships and 13 players who were from the south. And if we can get them to Moscow, Idaho, then we can get them right here. There is just a tremendous player base. There is enough to go around for everybody. I like the fan base, and I think the fans are itching to go to the next level."
The attendance has been down here in recent years. Do you have ideas as to how to get fans more involved in attending the games and how would you turn that around?
"You have to put a winning product out on the court. I am going to really try to create some energy and enthusiasm more than I have at any other place that I have been. We are going to start in Hattiesburg and expanding out as far as we have to go throughout the state to re-create interest. You are not trying to do something new. You look back in the old Metro days or during the championship season and the crowds were up. I will do everything that I have to do. We are speaking Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of next week. I will go anywhere, anytime to sell some tickets and to create some excitement. The way we play is a very exciting style of basketball. We are going to put a premium on defense and rebounding. But we are going to play as fast as our talent allows us to. As I told the players, we are going to play around their capabilities and as fast as their talents allow us. And if you can make a shot, you can take it at any time on that shot clock. Sometimes there is a disagreement between what the players think they can make and what they really can make. And that is how you play basketball. It?s simple to play but very hard to teach. As I told the guys in the meeting just a minute ago, that it is easy to sit up in the stands as a coach and roll the ball out and "say okay, you guys do this for an hour and I will go in" and you do that everyday and that will be a lot easier on the coach. But that cheats the players and the fans and that is not how you do it. It is very, very difficult to teach basketball the right way and it is very, very demanding job. So we will play basketball the way it should be played. Fast pace style, assuming we have the talent and the athletes."
Have you had the opportunity to talk to Tim Floyd?
"Yeah he has called about six times today. I talked to his mom and she was not feeling well enough to attend the news conference today. Tim has been my biggest support. He has not only been through bad times but good times as well. This guy calls me when he should be worrying about himself. He is a tremendous, tremendous support and is a special friend."
When is your first day on the job?
"In a day or so because I have some paper work to finish."
How did you become the leading candidate to become head coach here today?
"I came down to see Tim in New Orleans. Then all of sudden some schools were calling and flying in to visit with me, and I was going there. And there were other opportunities. My meeting with Richard (Giannini) really opened my eyes. I had always heard about Southern Miss with being with Tim and his background. I have always thought that it would be a fantastic job. My connection with Richard is what really got me extremely interested. Then he put the full court press on and I was trapped. And I am glad he trapped me because it is going to be a win-win for everybody."
Have you talked to Bob Boyd?
"Yes I have talked to Coach Boyd. He is doing great. He and Tim are like brother and father to me. We talk all the time."
What about staff?
"We have a hiring process here. We have a 10 day process. I have guys in mind but with equal opportunity and state laws, we have to go through the correct hiring process."
What do you need coach to make this program go?
"I would not have taken the job if I did not think there was enough here right now to be successful. It is not the greatest budget in the world, but that is okay. I really like the fact of taking a program with so much potential and so much upside. Budgets will increase through winning because more people will come. So to answer your question, we have what it takes -- the renovation of the arena, the 10 million plus that is going to go in it. The potential of the players. It is there. It is just the matter of putting the energy into it. So do I need a new gym or a practice facility? We have everything that we need to be successful. It is just going to take time and it is going to be a slow process. I think everyone has to be patient with that. We are not going to cut any corners. We are going to think very long term. With that, we may not win so many on the front end, but the benefits will be there in the future. We need more players to fill out our squad and time."
"When I got this job, I really wept. I cried out of joy. It is just so neat to have a group of people behind you. They believed in me. The alumni and fan base believed in me. I just want to thank everyone, and I will not let you down."
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