Loyola-Chicago head coach Jim Whitesell appeared on Comcast SportsNet's Chicago Tribune Live on Tuesday afternoon. As usual he was very candid as he answered a number of questions about the upcoming season, Friday night and even Chicago college basketball in general. Overall he seemed very relaxed. The highlights from the interview are below.
On Friday's Midnight Madness:
Whitesell: "I always tell [players] it's the NBA All-Star Game. It's a lot of scoring, not a lot of defense. We can play defense on Saturday."
On the regulations during this time of the year. (Coaches are only allowed to work with players for two hours.):
Whitesell: "You feel a little bit incomplete because you can work with them for a short period of time and you feel like you're almost getting there and then you have to stop."
The most telling moment in the interview came moments later when Whitesell was asked if he thought other schools bent the regulations. "We better not be now with all the stuff going on now," Whitesell replied. "We put the clock up on top and let the clock run."
I assume that the response was alluding to the problems currently plaguing the program at former America East favorite Binghamton.
Read more after the jump.
Another revealing moment in the interview came when Whitesell was asked about what could be done to revive college basketball in Chicago. He outlined a three-point plan - one that was quite similar to something this site has championed in the past.
"I think one of the things is that one of us has to have a breakthrough year to get to the tournament and go a long ways," Whitesell said. "I also think continuing to try and play each other more and more. I think when you had the old days, when you had the DePaul-Loyola rivalry, and you had more of those then because there were no conference affiliations you had a lot more flexibility. If you could get some more of that back it would certainly help. We're certainly working on doing that with quite a few schools in the area. And I still think that we want to try to keep the young talent home. ... Those are three big things we have to do to get back to that level."
If Loyola was able to eventually work out a home-and-home, or even a neutral court series against a Chicago program like DePaul or Northwestern it would go a long way towards reviving basketball in the area. The Blue Demons and Ramblers are the two most respected programs in the area and playing each other is a good way to start moving towards reclaiming some of their past prestige.
Whitesell also said that he expected big years from forward Andy Polka and Jordan Hicks. Overall he said, "We're really young. As I keep saying to my wife, 'It's going to be young and fun.' But it's a good group in terms of all the conditioning and preseason workouts and all that. We've got nine of our thirteen guys on scholarship are in their first or second year."
It'll be up to that youth to develop to see what happens to Loyola this season. Overall I think it was a very positive experience for the Ramblers, Horizon League and even Chicago college basketball in general, Whitesell proved again he's a great ambassador for the game in the area.