ISU coach Dan Muller gives his views on a number of topics in this installment of Lefty's Corner. (Photo by B Corbin/WJBC)
By Bryan (Lefty) Bloodworth
We'll start off with a bit of little known trivia regarding ISU coach Dan Muller.
Remember Markku Larkio, the left-handed shooting starter from Finland during the 1993-94 season, who quit the team on the eve of the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament?
Well, had Larkio not quit the team, Dan Muller would have never been a Redbird.
"That's right," said former ISU coach Kevin Stallings, who we caught up with earlier this week for an interview that will air Thursday during the ISU pre-game show starting at 5 pm. "We would never have recruited Dan if Markku had stayed."
"I will always be appreciative of Markku," said Muller.
I wouldn't want to think about how the face of ISU basketball would not have turned had Larkio stayed.
Speaking of Stallings
It's always nice to chat with Kevin. We always had a good relationship and we appreciated him taking the time to talk with us about Muller.
Kevin gave us his insight on Muller and why he will be a successful coach; about his "father-son relationship" with Muller; what kind of bench coach he believes Muller will be and if Vanderbilt will be able to survive without him.
"Despite what Dan might think, we will be successful without him," said Stallings.
Kevin also told me his son, Jacob (a catcher), played in the short season with the Pittsburgh Pirates and was called up to AA for a few games. He will report to spring training with the Pirates, but in the mean time he is coaching an eighth grade basketball team outside of Chapel Hill. He also got married a few weeks ago.
Muller's thoughts on Santa Barbara game
"I thought we played very unselfishly," said Muller. "I thought we played with a sense of urgency and a high level of intensity, especially to start the game. I thought everybody who played did good things.
"We did not crash the boards hard enough and we have a lot of things we need to get better at, but overall I wasn’t disappointed at all. I was happy with our performance."
What about the nine-man player rotation you used the majority of the game, Coach?
"I’ll play nine guys most nights, but there will be some nights when we play 10. The way we play, as hard as we want to play and as fast as we want to play, we could play six perimeter players.
"It’s hard to play more than four big guys. We could play six perimeter players some nights, which would get us to 10, but I expect to play nine most nights."
Muller said the rotation and starting line-up could change throughout the season or it could stay the same all year.
"The personnel could certainly change just as it’s been doing up to now," added Muller. "I am going to reward guys who perform in practice and who perform in games. I want the guys who did not play as much to believe and understand they have every opportunity.
"My job as the head coach is to play the guys who have played the best and who have good attitudes. It’s a long season. If we stay with the same nine and the same starting lineup that would be fine with me. But if other guys start playing better and other guys start playing worse and our rortation and lineup changes, that’s fine with me too."
Muller did say that rarely will Jackie Carmichael and Tyler Brown be off the court at the same time.
What about the silver uniforms?
Muller said he isn't sure how many times the Redbirds will wear the silver uniforms they debuted Monday.
"I'm not sure, but I wanted to wear them for the first game," he added. "But I told our players 'don’t think we’re just going to wear the silvers on big games because every game’s a big game.' I like them and I think they look nice. We’ll switch it up. What I won’t do is not wear them. I don’t want to spend the money on them, have them and never wear them."
Personally, I'm not sure how I feel about them. They looked more gray then silver to me and reminded me of Ohio State. Maybe a silkier material would have made them look more silverish.
Muller said when he became the head coach he wanted another set of uniforms.
"It was a decision between black and silver, so I asked the players what they wanted. Some wanted some of each, but the majority wanted silver. They also give us the opportunity to wear them home or road which I like because it can be a light or dark color."
What about bringing the players through the student section?
"I haven't completly decided if we'll do it all the time," Muller continued. "If school isn't in session and the students aren't here, we probably won’t do it."
Muller said the idea came from assistant coach Torrey Ward.
"I thought about it and decided if the student section was going to be good we’d do it. If the sttudent section wasn’t good we wouldn’t do it. I'm glad the student section was good.
"I actually didn’t tell the team about it until right before we headed out of the locker room for the game. They were fired up about it."
Was Muller pleased with the crowd?
'I thought the people that came were great," said Muller. "It was a good start (5,845) , but it wasn’t enough. The crowd was awesome, but we need more people.
"For those fans who did come, we need them to spread the word. We won’t win 100 to 70 every night, but we will play the way we played, the guys are going to play hard and we have a good team."
Muller's impressions of freshman Kaza Keane?
"I've been pleased with his progress. He can pass the ball and what that leads to is that it keeps guys happy. Guys run harder because they know if they do, he’ll get the ball to them. He doesn’t care if he scores. In fact, I’ve told him he needs to look to shoot a little bit more to keep teams honest.
"He’s plays hard. He’s tough, physical and he’s all about the team. He’s going to keep getting better because he works hard and I’m hard on him."
Got questions, comments, suggestions about ISU basketball or sports in general Lefty can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org