Owl Howl Interview: Head Coach Jimmy Lallathin
Shout out to new Head Coach Jimmy Lallathin for promptly granting my interview request. You can follow him on Twitter under his new name, @KSUCoachL
Owl Howl: Congratulations on getting the job.
Lallathin: I appreciate it.
Owl Howl: Is this going to be a one year prove it deal or is this a secure thing?
Lallathin: We haven’t really sat down to do any kind of contract negotiations or anything like that so there’s not really much to add to that right now. I’m going to be meeting with Mr. Williams throughout this weekend and next week and we’ll get something in place and I think right now I’m just excited to have the opportunity to be part of a great community and university like Kennesaw State.
Owl Howl: Do you find it difficult taking the job from Coach P, the man who brought you to Kennesaw State or is there an understanding that this is strictly business?
Lallathin: I’m indebted to Coach P for many things. I’m indebted to Coach P for his guidance to me throughout my entire career and not just the three years that we had worked here together. He was one of the guys who kind of helped me get my foot in the door. It’s tough. I know as he gets better he’s going to be part of a staff again and do great things because he’s a tremendous person and a very good basketball coach. I’m just humbled to be here right now and I owe him so very much.
Owl Howl: Most people just see the wins and losses, and I do agree that that’s a huge part of it, but he did begin a change of culture to Kennesaw State men’s basketball.
Lallathin: He started a foundation in terms of everything. There’s not one piece of this university in regard to academics, community and basketball that Coach P hasn’t started transforming into a positive. I’m just going to try to do my very best to continue that and to continue to facilitate the progress that he started.
Owl Howl: Now that you have a full offseason to do things the Lallathin way, what’s going to be different?
Lallathin: Different is always a tough word to use. The only person I can be in the offseason is who I am, and who I am is going to need to help and I am really going to look to hire some great people around me to help me facilitate and continue to grow these young men, and that’s the biggest thing. Will it be different? I think any time you put anybody in charge of something it’s going to be a little bit different. I’m going to continue to work to get better and I’m going to put people around me that are going to help me get better which in turn will help the team get better. These young men have been just tremendous so far. They’ve been in the weightroom and working out and that’s on their own; they’re calling us to open up the weight room. I think it’s going to be different in the sense that we’re going to have some older players that have been through the college game and now understand what it takes in order to be successful. I’m so proud of what these guys have done so far with their energy, and I think the biggest difference is they’re getting more mature and more excited about playing the game of basketball for Kennesaw St.
Owl Howl: I know that you mentioned that you will bring in some people who can help. Will there be more than one new assistant coach added?
Lallathin: I don’t want to put any finality on anything. I want to be as transparent as I possibly can be to people. It’s one of those things right now where I have to assess from the top down, and I have to assess myself, how can I get better and how can I help my assistants to help the team get better and if we get our office the way we want it to be it’s going to help the kids. I’d say making comments on staff right now wouldn’t be as valid and transparent as I’d like.
Owl Howl: A common thread that I see and hear is that this team needs to get stronger in the weight room. What’s the plan there?
Lallathin: We’ve had four different strength coaches in a three year period here. Jeremy Gough is here now and he’s been here since last August and the guys now know him and what we expect from them and what we’re going to do and that’s a big thing. The familiarity of having the same strength coaches back is important. Guys want to go to the weightroom and it’s a big point of emphasis in our offseason but again it’s the guys knowing what they have to do and getting in there and doing it and that’s just a huge compliment to the type of young men that we have and their character.
Owl Howl: Why do you think the team began to play more competitively around the time you took over last season?
Lallathin: I don’t think it’s a me thing, I think it’s an us thing. These guys are going to get better as they play, it’s just a maturity thing. Again, I don’t think it’s a me thing or a Coach P thing or a Coach Krzyzewski thing, I think it’s just that these guys will continue to get better as they continue to play and understand the game. So I think that’s the biggest thing. I’m just thankful I continue to get a chance to work with these guys, I love working with these young men and I think it’s important that these guys stay together, and they’ve shown a great amount of togetherness off the floor and I hope that that type of camaraderie starts producing the wins that we want to see on the floor.
Owl Howl: How do the players feel about everything that’s happened over the past few days?
Lallathin: I think they feel like myself; we all love Coach P and we all want him to be the best for himself and for his family, and whatever that is, he’ll do it. We’re all torn with that, and we just want the best for Coach P right now.
Owl Howl: I noticed in the post game press conferences that you stressed the fundamentals, what are you going to be pushing this offseason?
Lallathin: I don’t think you can ever be good enough in your fundamentals. Like I said, I’m going to see a lot of people that I trust in this business and I’m going to pick their brains on what they think and how they go about their offseasons in developing individual guys and I want to continue to get better. I believe I have to foster that environment to want to get better and I believe it trickles down to our guys. But yeah, fundamentals of course, but you know, everything, we have to become better basketball players and better coaches and we’re going to do that collectively, we’re going to get better together.
Owl Howl: There’s a trip to Italy coming up at the end of the summer.
Lallathin: I don’t think that could come at a better time. We’re going to get to play 5 games in 10 days and we get 10 whole practices leading up to that event. The camaraderie that it will provide for us but also the chance to practice for four months and then compete together. I don’t think it could come at a better time. I’m excited, Vaughn is coming with us, it’s going to be a complete family affair.
Owl Howl: A year before you arrived at KSU, the guys went to Canada but Italy will be a whole different experience.
Lallathin: When we put this together, we thought what are we here to do? We’re here to win basketball games, we’re here to help young men get their degrees and we’re here to give them experiences that they might not ever get and I think that is what’s so unique about being a student athlete. This is one of those great opportunities; when are they going to get a chance to go to Italy again; hopefully they do, but not everybody gets that opportunity. From a student’s perspective, it just gives us a great opportunity to get closer and closer together and foster that tightness, that us mentality.
Owl Howl: Thanks for taking the time to speak with me Coach, we’ll have to do this again before the season.
Lallathin: Any time