BLOG: WKU basketball media day

BLOG: WKU basketball media day

Jonathan Lintner

-So ends festivities in the media room today. We’ll have more coverage of media day later today.

-Pettigrew said he talks to Jeremy Evans all the time.

“He said he’s been loving it,” Pettigrew said.

“He said he’s added a couple pounds. He says that to us all the time,” he added, laughing.

-Kerusch on Juan Pattillo: “He has the shot-blocking ability of Jeremy (Evans).”

Kerusch said Pattillo has an attitude about his game.

“Juan has one of those hearts where he just hates to lose,” he said.

“If he was the enemy, he might actually make me cry.”

-Dickerson, as a sophomore, on being somewhat of a veteran with seven newcomers: “It’s a little different, but I still feel young. That’s just the truth. I just feel like I need to show leadership by example to the new guys and help them out when times get tough.”

-Kerusch said he was worried most about missing his cartoons every day when practice started at 6 a.m.

“Boot camp has created not only a better team, but a better brotherhood,” he said.

-Pettigrew: “Coach Mac has helped my game a whole lot. Coach Horn was more working inside the whole time and not working on the perimeter a whole lot.”

Pettigrew is the only non-Ken McDonald recruited player left for the Toppers.

None of McDonald, Kerusch and even Pettigrew himself said Pettigrew ever has a “bad” practice.

-Kerusch: “We got complacent…It was just the wakeup call that we needed — the fact that we didn’t make the NCAA tournament and we lost six in a row.

“I think this year’s team is just taking on the mentality that last year was a failure.”

Kerusch was named the Sun Belt’s Preseason Player of the Year yesterday.

“I was shocked,” he said. “If I had to give my preseason pick, it would go to (Steffphon) Pettigrew.”

-Sophomore Caden Dickerson and seniors Steffphon Pettigrew and Sergio Kerusch are at the table now.

-In the Toppers’ exhibition Sunday against Campbellsville, McDonald said he wants the Toppers to set the tone defensively.

He said the rotation for Sunday’s game isn’t set now and won’t impact much down the road.

“We’re not going to get caught up in that,” he said.

-McDonald said there are some walk-ons practicing with the team but didn’t give away any names.

“They’re doing a good job other than messing up drills,” he said with a laugh.

-McDonald says he has “a lot of respect for Juan (Pattillo) and his approach to the game. He’s a very competitive kid.”

Pattillo will be a senior after sitting out a transfer season last year.

“Last year at times, I could kind of see it wearing on him. I think he’s seeing the light right now where he’s pretty excited.”

McDonald says Pattillo could be the best defender in the country.

-McDonald on senior forward Steffphon Pettigrew: “He is such a reflection of what we want our program to portray. I never have to worry about him doing his job…at the highest level of his ability.

You almost forget about him because he’s so good in terms of his intensity.”

With that said, McDonald insists Pettigrew isn’t WKU’s only leader.

-McDonald said WKU is talking about bringing in more bleachers for the Louisville and South Carolina games at Diddle Arena.

-McDonald said he hasn’t done a “good enough job in years past of handling” preseason predictions.

“In retrospect, we weren’t mature enough to handle it last year,” he said. “It’s the truth.”

Right now, McDonald says he has “no idea” whether or not WKU is the best team in the Sun Belt’s East Division, as the Toppers were picked yesterday by coaches.

“There’s a lot of ifs with this team that we’ve got to address,” he said.

-Talking Caden Dickerson more, McDonald said Dickerson’s confidence was what helped him most last year as it evolved through the year.

“There’s more competition at his spot this year. Last year we had an injury to Sergio, and we really couln’t absorb that injury…this year we potentially have more depth so we could absorb that injury.”

McDonald jokes that Dickerson is a “Ken McDonald-type player.”

“He does the things you appreciate as a coach.”

-McDonald said defense should be what keeps the Toppers in games this year.

I want (defense) to be our theme pretty much for the year — understanding that we have a lot of potential in that area.”

He said the words teamwork, pride and toughness should be used to describe this team.

-Ken McDonald at the table. Second question was about the point-guard spot.

McDonald said “You came at me right between the eyes” with the question of whether Jamal Crook or Ken Brown will get the nod this season. He said he still doesn’t know.

McDonald said sophomore Caden Dickerson could also play some at the point, mostly in half-court situations.

“We want Caden to continue to get better with the ball. He’s not a guy who’s going to push the ball in transition.”

-Women are done. Next up should be men’s coach Ken McDonald.

-Johnson says “we go crazy on Taboo” — the Lady Toppers play games and do “fun” things rather than decide to work out together.

-McNear says she’s changed “dramatically” since her freshman year.

“Chaney (Means) calls me her big sister actually — from another mother,” McNear said.

-Brown: “I took age into consideration (on deciding to come back).”

Brown said she took some “Arnika time” and relaxed some in the offseason to get ready to play.

“My teammates — they think it’s funny that I’m going to be 24 and still playing…It’s fun, but I feel pretty old.”

Brown says her goal this season is to get 30 rebounds in one game.

-Senior guard Amy McNear, senior forward Arnika Brown and junior center Jasmine Johnson are now at the table.

-Cowles said that as a team, WKU hasn’t put down its season-long goals on paper yet. She said they’ll do that before the season-opener and let the players establish them.

“That’s more led by their charge and not so much the coaching staff,” Cowles said.

-Cowles said “a team cohesiveness and leadership has probably been missing” over the last two seasons.

“While you have to compete every day, that doesn’t mean you’re against each other,” Cowles said. “You’re with each other.”

She said the Lady Toppers realized this over the summer, and it’s been beneficial this fall.

-Cowles on the Lady Toppers’ non-conference schedule: “No one game on our schedule is important than any other. It’s extremely important that we can’t look ahead to when we play this team and this team. We have to take it one game at a time.

“We’re not going to prepare for Duke any different than we’ll prepare for Lousiana Tech or Middle Tennessee.”

-Talking Janae Howard, eligible after a transfer from Louisville, Cowles said Howard has an “athleticism and length” that will allow her to play in the post and the perimiter.

“She brings about different things,” Cowles said. “What I think Janae adds more than anything is that she can shoot.”

When the Lady Toppers guard Howard, Cowles said they should be glad Howard is on their team.

-Cowles said she likes what she sees from the guards, namely freshman Chaney Means. She said Means will accompany senior Amy McNear well on the court this season.

-Cowles says “Yes, we do have a strong presence in the post this year, and we will take advantage of that.” Other than Brown, Cowles said junior Jasmine Johnson has come on strong.

-Women’s coach Mary Taylor Cowles is at the table now. She says senior Arnika Brown’s hamstring is healed and that Brown was back at practice on Monday.

Follow along with the Herald’s live-blog coverage Wednesday of WKU men’s and women’s basketball media day. Festivities should begin around 12:30 p.m. CT.