Nine Days: Head Coach Larry Hunter Talks on SoCon Teleconference

CATAMOUNTSPORTSDOTCOM Head coach Larry Hunter talks with the media nine days before the season opener.
CATAMOUNTSPORTSDOTCOM
Head coach Larry Hunter talks with the media nine days before the season opener.
CATAMOUNTSPORTSDOTCOM

Oct. 30, 2013

Cullowhee, N.C. - With nine days left before the opening Western Carolina men's basketball game against Wittenberg University on November 8, head coach Larry Hunter answered questions on the Southern Conference's preseason teleconference Wednesday morning.

Hunter discussed the preseason with the season opening countdown now in single digits.

"Things have gone pretty seamless, really; we've got a real veteran group back," said Hunter. "They have demonstrated to us all spring, summer and here into the fall -- which has carried over into our practices -- that they one, care about each other; and second, they care about the program. Third, they have a great desire to be as good as they can be. I am really pleased with the daily work habits, the eagerness to reinstitute our system and to get better not only individually but as a group."

Hunter later went on to add that he feels the team's veteran core and depth will be a strength.

"This has probably been the best group I have had at Western Carolina with putting our system back into place," Hunter added. "I would say we have everything in that we need to have in place to start the season. I don't know if we are executing as well as we need to at this point. I'm not sure anyone knows that until they play real competition and find out what are your real weaknesses and strengths. I think we have been able to do all of that because of our depth especially at the perimeter positions. At the point with Trey Sumler and Rhett Harrelson; they have had a really good battle. At the wing positions Tom Tankelewicz, James Sinclair, Brandon Boggs and Mike Brown are really going at each other. I think there is some really talented basketball players in that group."

 

 

When asked about the change in officiating with defenders not being allowed to make any type of contact with the ball handler or cutters on the offensive side, Hunter said," the officials have been dictated to call it and to take some of the physicality out of the game; the hand touching and the displacing people on cuts and drives and those kinds of things. To give some of the advantage to the offense on block/charges for it to be easier to make some of those calls and in our one scrimmage it was very evident. Certainly I think there are going to be a lot of fouls in the first half of the season and with coaches and players adjusting I think our depth will certainly help us."

Hunter enters his 34th year as a head coach and his eighth season at the helm of the Catamount program.

"The key to longevity? I'm not sure," said Hunter. "I worked at some great institutions and had some great ADs. I have been very thankful for their leadership and for the people I have worked with. We have just tried to do things in a very classy and solid way. We have tried to very consistent in how we administer our program and how we put it together. It has just kind of allowed me to stay in the business a long time. I am very fortunate and blessed to be able to do that."

The Catamounts open with back-to-back games in the Ramsey Center on Friday, November 8 against Wittenberg and local mountain rival UNC Asheville on Monday, November 11 before playing six games in ten days all on the road.

On the preseason with a veteran group:
"Things have gone pretty seamless, really; we've got a real veteran group back. They have demonstrated to us all spring, summer and here into the fall, which has carried over into our practices that they one, care about each other and second, they care about the program. Third, they have a great desire to be as good as they can be. I am really pleased with the daily work habits, the eagerness to reinstitute our system and to get better not only individually but as a group. They are just working really hard. I mean we have had injuries here and there were guys have been out, but nothing serious. We are at the point now where we have had one scrimmage and have another one this ready, but our group is pretty much ready to get it going."

On the progress of implementing his system with five seniors:
"This has probably been the best group I have had at Western Carolina with putting our system back into place. I would say we have everything in that we need to have in place to start the season. I don't know if we are executing as well as we need to at this point. I'm not sure anyone knows that until they play real competition and find out what are your real weaknesses and strengths. I think we have been able to do all of that because of our depth especially at the perimeter positions. At the point with Trey Sumler and Rhett Harrelson; they have had a really good battle. At the wing positions Tom Tankelewicz, James Sinclair, Brandon Boggs and Mike Brown are really going at each other. I think there is some really talented basketball players in that group. We have looked at using a lot of different combinations; giving them a chance to blend with each other and seeing how that is all going to fit together. I am very pleased with how that is going."

On senior guard Trey Sumler:
"I think what makes him special is number one, his motor. He plays every day whether it is practice or a game. I mean he walks on the court with a great approach about competing and playing. His motor never stops until a practice is over. He doesn't like to step out of any second of any practice and pretty much the same way with games. He wants to be in the middle of it, and works really hard at both ends of the court. He is a great example for our other players about standing tall every second of every day about how you compete. His will to win is very strong and as good as I have seen in people in a long long time on a consistent basis. We had a number of meetings on how to improve as a leader, and he has really taken some of those things to heart and really worked at it. I think he is doing a better job of overall leadership. He leads by example, but being a better vocal leader and being able to control his own approach to other people in a better way. He has done a good job of that."

On the new officiating rules and how it will affect the team and games this season:
"It is very evident that the national rules committee and it has filtered down into all the supervisors and Mike Wood at our coaches meeting really emphasized that the powers to be really want there to be more balance and to take some of the physicality out of the game and more balance with the offense; to have more offense in the game. The officials have been dictated to call it and to take some of the physicality out of the game, the hand touching and the displacing people on cuts and drives and those kinds of things. To give some of the advantage to the offense on block/charges for it to be easier to make some of those calls and in our one scrimmage it was very evident. Certainly I think there are going to be a lot of fouls in the first half of the season and with coaches and players adjusting I think our depth will certainly help us."

On his 34th year as a head coach and the differences in coaching in 2013:
"The same part is you are working with people and teaching the game and hopefully having, in some small way, an impact on their development as a young man and as a basketball player. It is all about teaching life lessons and about teaching basketball principles and ways to play. That part has been really fun. The rule changes over the years, the improvement of individual athletes and players, strength training area and the specificity of sports over the years has changed - you don't get many dual sport players any more. The key longevity, I'm not sure. I worked at some great institutions and had some great ADs. I have been very thankful for their leadership and for the people I have worked with. We have just tried to do things in a very classy and solid way. We have tried to very consistent in how we administer our program and how we put it together. It has just kind of allowed me to stay in the business a long time. I am very fortunate and blessed to be able to do that."

Fans can keep track of the Catamount Athletics through social media outlets on Facebook (fb.com/catamountsports), Twitter (@catamounts), YouTube (CatamountSports) and Instagram (wcu_catamounts). Additionally, CatamountSports.com will be updated throughout the 2013-14 athletic year.

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