Ray Giacoletti Press Conference Quotes - 3/28/13
Announcement of Ray Giacoletti as Drake Men’s Head Basketball Coach
March 28, 2013 • Levitt Hall
Comments from President David Maxwell
“Thank you all for being here. It is wonderful to have you here. This is a very exciting day, not just for Drake basketball and Drake athletics, but also for Drake University. I’m going to turn the podium over to Sandy Hatfield Clubb in a moment to make the announcement that I know you’ve all been waiting for. Before I do that, I want to congratulate Sandy and the other members of the Drake staff who have brought us to today, in doing a wonderful job in finding somebody who is so perfectly aligned in our aspirations for Drake, Drake athletics, and our student-athletes. It is a great day, we’re delighted to be here, and with that I want to turn it over to Sandy.”
Comments from Athletic Director Sandy Hatfield Clubb
“Thank you David. I too want to thank the members of the Drake family that have been so instrumental in moving this search forward in an expeditious manor. I want to say a quick thank you to Eddie Fogler, who is a partner in Fogler Consulting, who helped us with this search, and was able to attract our very top candidate for this job.”
“This is a really big day for Drake Athletics. We have a very bold vision. We want to be an institution that sustains competitive excellence in all of its programs. Drake men’s basketball is a leader for Drake Athletics. We want to be a place that focuses on the holistic development of the student-athlete, we want to be a place that is run with ethics and character, and we want it to serve as a source of pride and joy for this institution, and this community.”
“We searched the entire nation to find somebody with the experience, passion and desire to share in this vision and be the person to move us to the next era in Drake men’s basketball. I could not be more excited to introduce to you right now the new Drake men’s basketball coach, Ray Giacoletti.”
Comments from Drake Men’s Basketball Head Coach Ray Giacoletti
After sustained applause
“I hope we’re all that excited after the first loss, because there will be one somewhere down the road.”
“The first thing I’d like to do is to thank President Maxwell for this great opportunity and also Sandy Hatfield Clubb, who I’ve gotten to know over the last week, and who has unbelievable passion for Drake University. The first time I spoke with her, I got off of the phone – over the years I’ve had the chance to visit with a lot of AD’s – but she was different, special, unique and passionate, I was blown away. We had to go to film right afterwards and all I could think about was my conversation with her, her excitement and doing things the right way. I want to thank both of you for this opportunity.”
“The second thing I’d like to do is to introduce my wife Kim. This is a great opportunity for us to lead Drake basketball. I was raised on Missouri Valley conference basketball. I remember sitting in the rafters at Robertson Memorial Field House in Peoria, Ill., since I was a little boy, watching great teams come through there, great Drake teams. Lewis Lloyd is someone I remember vividly. It has always been in my mind to have the opportunity to get back to the Midwest.”
“This position is one that meets who we are at this point, as far as where I’m at in my coaching career. As far as my development as a head coach, the last six years having a chance to be at one of the most successful programs in the country, watching how they were able to do it, and to be able to put that together and hopefully bring that to Drake. To be the best that Drake can be, not try to be Gonzaga or somebody else, but let’s be the best that Drake can be.”
“I’m 50 years old. You’re getting the best 28 years of college experience. I couldn’t have said that maybe 10 years ago, but you’re getting the best coach and person from me that you possibly can at this point. I’ve been very fortunate to be a head coach for 10 years, to be an assistant before that, but the last six years really opened my eyes as far as what it means to be a student-athlete, to do it the correct way with character and work ethic, and it’s the same morals and values that I know Drake basketball envisions.”
“With that partnership, I’m excited and I’m looking forward to getting started. The most important thing right now is these players. These players for the last couple of weeks have been searching for some leadership and the first thing that I want to do is have a chance to meet with them, hopefully get started on the right foot with a plan, to get that first brick in the foundation to take the next step in the spring.”
“Another thing before I open it up is that I had a unique experience. In the middle of your career, whether you’re a lawyer, doctor, whatever you are, you get very few chances to learn again. I had a unique experience six years ago, after being released at Utah after three years, two years after taking a team to the Sweet Sixteen, I had an experience that, at the time was devastating, but has made me a better person and a better coach because I had a chance to learn a new system. If I had stayed a head coach the last six years and had 16 years of head coaching experience, I would not have been the same person, coach, that I am today without the experience I had at Gonzaga.”
“Gonzaga is truly a unique and special place, Drake doesn’t want to be Gonzaga, Drake wants to be the best that Drake can be. That experience for me has really opened my eyes up more to reinforce that what we were doing was correct and how to even be better in a different way, to be better at the craft of coaching. With that I’d be more than happy to answer any questions and go from there.”
You’ve had other opportunities in the past six years, why Drake and why now?
“You know, not to sound arrogant, when I went to Gonzaga, Mark (Few) is one of my best friends, and I wasn’t going to leave in the first two years. The last four years I’ve had a number of opportunities, but it was really, truly trying to find the right fit, a fit for the true student-athlete. You change as you grow. Sandy and I were talking about it this morning. I wanted to be the head coach of Notre Dame growing up that was my goal and vision when I was in high school. It changes, bigger is not better, and I don’t mean that bad against Notre Dame, but as you grow and get more experience you try to find ‘how can I make the biggest impact on a situation and what kind of situation does that have to be’ and Drake is that place. It’s a place that has a real opportunity to grow the basketball program, that is to take nothing away from the history of basketball, but we were looking for a place where you could grow it, and grow it the right way. Grow it with good Midwest values, character and work ethic, being a student first, and Drake has all of the qualities.”
What is your basketball philosophy? What style do you like to play?
“Winning is a process and there are small gains within the game. One of the things I told the team yesterday; the team that outrebounds its opponents every night wins 80-percent of the time. That’s an amazing statistic on one aspect of the game. We want to be sound in each fundamental discipline of the game, but it’s going to go back to playing great defense to create turnovers and getting stops so that we can get out and run and push the basketball.”
“The next piece is that we’ve got to win the rebounding war. If you’re going to win 80-percent of your games and that’s all that you have to do, that’s a segment that needs to be emphasized and put a plan in place so that you do those things.”
“We want to be a tough, hard-nosed defensive team to give us opportunities to get easy baskets in transition. It’s so hard to score today in the half court in college basketball. If you’re going to get in a slugfest with somebody, half court and half court, it makes it really difficult. We want to try to get some easy baskets somewhere along the way and I think that’s the way young men want to play.”
What are some differences on the court from Utah to now at Drake?
“The plan at Utah was in place. They made a decision, that was their objective, but those young men went on to win 18 or 19 games the next year, won a conference championship, went to the NCAA tournament. We brought nine high school kids in the first two years. That’s going to be the same formula, that’s not to say we won’t take a transfer, junior-college player somewhere along the way, but we want to build it with kids who are going to be in the program for four or five years. The thing that Gonzaga has done such a good job of is being able to redshirt players. You back and look at Robert Sacre for instance, he redshirted one year. Kelly Olynyk, as good a story as there is in college basketball this year, redshirted between his sophomore and junior year. If you can ever get to the point where you can redshirt two student athletes a year, you’re really building a true foundation, that takes time though.”
How will you engage in the community? What will you do off of the basketball court?
“My wife and I are going to try to be as visible as possible, to make ourselves available, to endear ourselves to the community of Des Moines. This is their basketball team and we want to be an integral part of this community. Whether it is speaking or whatever it might be in the community, we want to be a viable part. We need to go out and get people excited again about Drake basketball and tell the story. The university has made an unbelievable commitment with the practice facility. There are other pieces of that that we need to get people excited about. To get people excited in Des Moines, get people excited at the university, create a home-court atmosphere and environment. Those things all fall on the head coach to try to spearhead.”
What was your perception of Drake basketball a few weeks ago? How has that changed?
“It certainly changed the first time I spoke with Sandy, and it took another huge jump when I saw the plans for a practice facility. The first thing we talked about, I have no reason to lie, she asked me a question about an important aspect of a successful program. I asked her if there is a place where the student athletes can have access 24/7. Mark (Few) has created that environment at Gonzaga, a culture of getting better. His favorite line is ‘Did you get your reps up today?’ I could be coming back from a recruiting trip or speaking someplace, I-90 runs East-West in Washington, and I could look over and see the McCarthy Center, if the lights are on I’ll stop in and see who’s in there. There’s four or five of our guys at 11 o’clock at night shooting or working out or something. With that culture of getting better you have to have a place where you can get into, and there’s a basket and a ball, a way to turn the lights on. This practice facility is going to give Drake basketball that opportunity.”
How do you plan on engaging the student body at Drake and get them excited?
“We’re going to have to get out to the fraternities and sororities, the residence halls, and shake some hands and meet some people, get people excited. I don’t want to keep going back to Gonzaga, but there’s a reason why in nine years they’ve lost eight games at home, it’s the environment that the students bring. It must be worth 12 to 15 points a night. I’ve sat there the last six years scratching my head, thinking ‘I’ve never seen anything like this before’ where that kind of enthusiasm and excitement, what it can do to a team. It just creates such a unique environment where it inspires your team to be the best it can be. We want to get the students involved in a big way. It’s their program as well as Drake’s program or the city of Des Moines program. It’s a huge part to this whole process. Our guys need to be able to do a great job within the community, the university, interacting with other students and being a part of the university experience.”
What type of student-athletes will you be recruiting?
“The first thing we need to do is to keep the best Iowa young men, student-athletes, at Drake University. That is the first piece of the puzzle that we need to establish. I think that is as important a piece as there is, establishing new relationships and reacquainting myself with high schools coaches in the state, AAU coaches, and making that a priority. Then you start to branch a bit, getting into Minnesota, the Chicagoland area, Wisconsin, because I think the Midwest has the right values and character that we’re looking for in our program. The first step needs to be making a huge impact in the state.
Have you made any decisions on assistant coaches at this point?
“I haven’t yet, it’s been such a whirlwind to be honest with you, from last Saturday to where we are today I haven’t had a chance to sit down and think about that. I’ve been on a plane long enough to write some notes down and try to have six or seven objectives that we need to try to fill with our staff.”
Junior Guard Richard Carter’s Impressions
“I think he’s a good guy. I did a little research on him before he was hired. He’s building the foundation the right way; I really like him so far. So far, so good. He’s about winning, he’s about getting better as a player and I really like that.”
What stood out from the press conference?
“His will for the players to get better, such as a practice facility, where you can get in 24 hours a day. Saturday nights when you’re bored, you used to not always be able to get into a gym at Drake, but now that they’re building the practice facility you probably can now.”
What’s your goal for the spring and summer?
“Just to get better. To get better as a team, better overall, by myself, just getting better.”
Redshirt-junior Seth VanDeest’s Impressions
“Everyone on the team got a chance to meet with him for about an hour as a group. We were very impressed with what he had to say. We were able to ask him all of the questions that we had. We feel really good about him moving forward.”
Thoughts on his goal for the program
“He’s coming from a winning place, that’s really big, a mid-majority like Gonzaga with so much success, we’re really looking forward to a chance to get to work with him.”
Goal for next season
“We want to win a championship. That’s been our goal since the time we set foot on campus, each and every one of us in the locker room, and we’re going to do everything we can. Work as hard this off-season as we can and try to move forward.”