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Quotes from Monday's Press Conference with Frank Haith

Quotes from Monday's Press Conference with Frank Haith

April 12, 2004


Director of Athletics Paul Dee

Opening remarks

“Welcome everyone to this important event and the evolution and history of Hurricane basketball. As you know we have made a change in the head coaching position. We have had a search for the past two weeks and as a result of that search we have been able to, and are fortunate to have attracted to the University of Miami the finest associate head coach in the country. I’m pleased with all of the things about Coach Haith that we have learned – his history at Texas, the success they have had there, his success at Wake Forest under Coach (Dave) Odom, at Texas with Rick Barnes. He has been with tremendous coaches and he is absolutely ready for the assignment we have asked him to undertake. His experience in the ACC meant a great deal to me. I think the players he has coached, the people he has recruited and the type of people he has recruited speak well of him and of the program with which he has been associated.”

Head Coach Frank Haith

Opening remarks

“I would like to first introduce my wife Pam and my son Corey. I would like thank Paul Dee and Dr. (Donna) Shalala and the administration here for giving me this unbelievable opportunity. I’m truly excited about what is next for the University of Miami.”

“I grew up in North Carolina in ACC country. We used to watch games at night because it was such an intense league. I was a big “ABC” fan – anybody but Carolina. We used to watch the games and root for our team and I remember Virginia was at North Carolina and Ralph Sampson was at Virginia at that time and North Carolina had (James) Worthy and that crew. Virginia had beaten them that particular night and I got on the bus that morning and I was prepared because I was excited that North Carolina had lost. I was ready for the battle on that bus because I knew (my friends) were going to go at it. I tell that story because we are getting ready to go into one of the most intense basketball leagues in the country.”

“I’ve worked with some of the best coaches in the country in Rick Barnes and Dave Odom. People say ‘You’re an assistant coach, are you ready to be a head coach.’ I would say to them that I have had the opportunity to be with people who let me do head coach-type things. I’ve been very fortunate to have those opportunities. I do have head coaching experience. I coached for 3.9 seconds in our last game at Texas. Rick Barnes got tossed at the end. He wanted me to have some experience to give me a chance at this job and he did.”

“The more time I spent with Paul (Dee) and Dr. Shalala and Ross (Bjork) and the administration here, I knew there was a tremendous commitment here for their basketball program. I will tell you this: being at the schools I have been at, things are in place here. We have a wonderful academic program, a dynamic city, a beautiful arena. There are just some things we have to do – put some nuts and bolts in place and things we have to do to put this thing together.”

“I will put together a staff that is experienced and will come in with the same type of enthusiasm and passion that I have for this program.”

On what challenges may come in the transition to the ACC

“The BIG EAST was good league. We have to somehow get our student body, our community involved with our program. When you go on the road in (The ACC), you are truly on the road. We have to somehow create that environment here at Miami. I’m going to do my part. I’m going to go out to the dorms and try to encourage those students because we have made it very easy for them to get to the games and get to the arena. I’m going to reach out to the community and do what we have to do to get folks into the arena. Once we do that we have to have a product that will make them want to come back again.”

On turning around the Miami basketball program

“I am extremely excited. I have had some opportunities at some other jobs during my time at Texas. I wasn’t going to move unless it was the right job. Once this job opened up I knew this was the job I wanted. I put all my efforts in to really go after this. I want to spend more time watching tapes and watching this team, but I know we are close. We have to improve in some areas. Coach Barnes had a saying that ‘players are made during the off-season.’ I’ve got about two weeks to try to spend some time with my guys to see where they are at and what we have to do. This summer I hope we can get all the guys back – I can’t work with them but Dave (Richardson) will spend a lot of time with them and I want them to be together. This is a family, they are my extended family. Our main theory is going to be that they have each other’s back and I want them to know that I have their back also.”

On recruiting this year’s class with a limited time before signing day

“Obviously it is very difficult. We do know that I have to try because we have the two scholarships left. There are some quality young men still out there, but I am not going to sign a player or bring a player here if I don’t feel comfortable that he will fit into our environment. There are some kids I have been recruiting at Texas, so I am going to follow up because I have some relationships already.”

On his coaching style

“I haven’t watched Perry’s (Clark) team so I’m not sure how (my coaching style) would contrast with what he has done here. My style is based on my personnel. I can tell you how I would like to play down the road. My theory is going to be based on defense. I am going to put a lot of emphasis on the defensive end of the floor. I want to be a team that will change defenses and be creative that way. Offensively, I want us to be a team that can get up and down the court a little bit. I want us to be a team that would be attacking in all out-of-bounds situations and I want us to be an outstanding rebounding team.”

“I learned a great deal from Coach Barnes and one thing he taught me was that you have to be able to adapt and adjust to your personnel. We took a team – when I first went to Texas – that had T. J. Ford and we played a certain style. Next year we changed it a little bit because we had a little bit more depth. This past year we didn’t have T. J. Ford and we had to adjust to him not being there. We didn’t have a point guard so our strength was in numbers. I’m not going to be afraid to adjust to whatever will give us a better chance to win.”

On making the transition from assistant coach to head coach

“The major difference is you make the final call. It’s easy to make suggestions – now people are going to make suggestions to me – but I will have to decide what I want to do. Do I think I’m ready? I think I’m ready. I’ve been ready for a long time. (The ACC) is an unbelievable league. There are hall of famers in this league. I tell you this, I welcome the challenge.”

On hiring a staff

“There are some people I know that I am interested in. I will spend time over the next few days speaking with the staff that is already here. I know some of the guys on the staff here. The next couple of days I will bring some candidates in and hopefully make some decisions. Hopefully I can bring some guys who can help me recruit.”

On when he made a decision to take the job at Miami

“My decision was made when they called me to tell me I was a candidate for the position. I really wanted the job. Paul (Dee) called me after we met Wednesday in Dallas. I got a call back on Thursday and he asked me to be here on Friday. I had planned on doing some stuff for recruiting so I had to change that. I didn’t have a problem getting on a plane that morning. I spent Friday and Saturday here. It was a great meeting. I spent a lot of time with the administration. It was very enjoyable and I liked everything I saw. I got a call back after our meeting and felt very good about everything.”

On what impact the move to the ACC had on his decision to accept the job

“Going into the league we are going into is exciting. There is no question that attracted me to the job, but other things (that contributed) are this wonderful university. When you are in the position of trying to create a basketball team, and I have done a lot of recruiting, you want to have a product, and the product here is unbelievable. When we took over at Texas it was a program where football was really big and basketball was suffering in attendance – they didn’t really have a lot of tradition. Now that program has turned. We weren’t getting a lot of kids from Texas; kids were going to Michigan, going to Indiana, going to Connecticut. We just kept battling for kids and talking about our dream to win it all.”

On his meeting with the current Miami players

“They asked some questions. Change is sometimes tough – I can see it in there eyes and I am very sensitive to that. What I encourage those guys to do – I know a lot of those guys’ coaches, AAU coaches and high school coaches – is to find out about me. I’m going to continue to investigate (the players). I am going to have an open door policy so I will get a chance to meet with them. I will welcome (the players) comments, I may not always agree, but I want them to know they can always come to me.”

“Sometimes those meetings are tough. I tried to get them to talk a little and they did, but we will keep those things in house.”

On recruiting in the state of Florida

“I think there are some guys here in Florida. In particular in the junior class, there are some young kids who can play at the University of Miami. I do think the foundation does have to start here in Florida. I want us to be able to go anywhere because I think we have a well known university. I don’t want us to be pigeon holed to one certain area.”

On building a college basketball atmosphere at Miami

“I can relate to when I was a Wake Forest. When we took over that program in 1989, the program was rock-bottom. We had just moved into a brand new building that year. The biggest thing we did that year was to have a great recruiting class. It started with Rodney Rogers who was a McDonald’s All-American that year and Randolph Childress was also in that class. I have to put a product out there and reach out to the community and I’ve got to reach out to the student body. They have got to see my passion and enthusiasm and see our players enthusiasm. I want our players to be a part of the community and the student body. I want (the players) to get a chance to meet people. I think based on the time I have spent with them, that we have some great kids here. Once people get to know them, I think we can generate interest and enthusiasm for our program.”