Conversation with CSU basketball coach Larry Eustachy

Basketball
Basketball (Photo credit: mvongrue)

Grabowski: How has your fall semester been as far as adjusting to Fort Collins and coaching a new team?
Eustachy: I think we all have learned and continued to learn, and by all, I mean our staff and the players. I’ve learned outside of the basketball program that this is the greatest place I’ve ever lived, and the greatest people I’ve ever worked for. That makes your job nice when you’re comfortable where you’re living and who you’re around. I’m still learning a lot about this team. Still not sure who fits where, but like I tell our players, give me a little time and I’ll figure it out.

G: Has it been difficult installing the system you want to run and the attitude you want them to play with?
E: Not at all; it’s all about “will the player cooperate?” and its proven to them time and time again, when we play the way that we should play, and the way basketball really should be played, we’re successful; and when we get away from it, like at Colorado, they beat us at our own game. They were more physical, they took better shots, they got the loose balls, they stayed composed. It’s the only way to play. It’s the hardest way to play, but it also the most enjoyable way to play. We play the whole court. We play every inch of it.

G: How have you handled all of the outside expectations on this team?
E: As a head coach it’s unique because usually I’ve come into programs coming off poor years, particularly my last three jobs. They had basically a miracle year last year. They had to have everything go right for them to find the tournament, and everything did go right. Give them all the credit in the world, the past staff and the players. I asked the Wyoming coach, Larry Shyatt, a long time ago in the summer, “Would you be shocked if this team didn’t go to the NCAA Tournament?” and he said, “No.” It’s such a fine line in this league and I agree. To get to 68 teams out of 344, it’s very difficult. Expectations are what they are. I can only control the things I can control, and that’s practice and trying to get the team to play the right way.

G: What did the team do well during its 6-0 start and what broke down Wednesday night against CU?
E: I think what happened in Boulder was we got in the environment. It was a record breaking crowd. I’ve been in a lot of places and that was one of the top five places I’ve played as far as noise and enthusiasm. I’m talking about Fogg Allen. I’ve been to Rupp Arena. That was not us, and Colorado had everything to do with it along with their fans. We’ve had success because we’ve defended and rebounded, taken care of the ball, taken good shots, gotten to the foul line and made them, been physical and like I said, sometimes you can’t explain situations. You cannot create that situation in practice, but it was great for us because that’s what we’ll see in several league games.

G: How do you learn from the loss and improve in the next stretch of games?
E: I told the team we’ll find out about us really when it goes bad. This is our toughest non-conference stretch. I would rather play Colorado and have what happened to us than play Chadron State and have a false sense about us. We don’t have a false sense about us. We know who we are and what we’ve got to do better at. We saw the film, they get it, and now we have to take it from the film room to the practice court and over to Chicago. It’s a learning experience.