Looking 20 years younger than his ‘soon to be’ 75 years of age would have you believe, SMU head basketball coach, the legendary Larry Brown walked onto the practice court to speak with reporters on his teams’ outlook on the upcoming 2015-16 season and he also touched on a few other trending topics.
Coach Brown acknowledged the probable growing pains early in the season with an influx of transfers and freshman expected to play major roles for the team. “I think he can play. He is a great kid who wants to get better” said Brown of Duke transfer 6’8″ forward Semi Ojeleye. He expects the combination of Ojeleye and Texas Tech transfer forward Jordan Tolbert to mesh well, “I would be surprised if Jordan and Semi don’t have an immediate impact on our team.”
Star point guard Nic Moore is off this summer playing for the University of Kansas and head coach Bill Self in the World University Games. Moore found out through a constant flow of text messages between him and Coach Brown that revealed some things both he and Self have in common. “He got the same message (from Self) that I have been giving him and now he don’t think I’m the only devil that’s out there” he said jokingly. A lot is expected from the senior and leader of the team as they play in the steadily improving AAC.
Kimball High alum Keith Frazier is looking to bounce back from a suspension late last season. Before he was excused from the team, the 6’5″ former McDonald’s All American was averaging 10.5 points and 4.0 rebounds while starting all but one game. His near 40% accuracy from 3 point range will be needed to keep the lanes open for Moore to be able to get to the basket with ease.
Tolbert having sat out last season due to transfer rules said he learned much about the system just by paying close attention to what each player did and what all the coaches expected of the players. Maturity from the time he stepped on campus has helped too he said, “Both coaching and the experience of just getting older has helped mature me.” He expects to be a high energy player and thinks Ojeleye will “surprise a lot of people” with his skill level.
Coach Brown took a few minutes to answer a few questions that didn’t pertain to his Mustang squad. When asked about former recruit and the #7 overall pick in this past June NBA Draft, Emanuel Mudiay, he gushed. “I smile because of all the people I told to take him first (overall) now are probably saying that old guy does know something,” as he referenced Mudiay’s stellar play in the Las Vegas Summer League. “I felt if he was here, we might have won a national championship,” he praised of Mudiay’s extraordinary talents.
As the topic turned to the saga of DeAndre Jordan and his decision to return to the Los Angeles Clippers after agreeing to sign with the Dallas Mavericks on July 3rd, Brown said that’s just how things work and he doesn’t blame the Clippers for their continuous efforts to keep him. “I feel bad for the Mavericks but let’s face it, the Clippers got him to where he is worth all that money and when you have that much invested, why not keep trying,” said Brown. “Dallas will bounce back, they are resourceful.”
After the 13 minute interview, Coach Brown hurried out the door and made his way over to the other court where his players were having a shootaround. I watched as he quickly assembled his team for what appeared to be the start of some drills. The legendary coach who can be seen walking the Katy Trail daily, looks like he can lead a group of young men like the 11 he had on court with him for 20 more years. Given his track record of short stays at his many coaching stops, that probably won’t be the case. SMU can only hope the instant credibility he brings to the program helps restore its once proud tradition before he is no longer gracing the campus with his omnipresent presence.