VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY BASKETBALL MEDIA CONFERENCE
April 8, 2019
MALCOLM TURNER: Welcome, and thank you so much for being here. I want to make a few brief remarks about our search before formally introducing the new head coach for our men's basketball program.
When we embarked on a new direction for this program, it was important to find someone who we felt really represented Vanderbilt University well, a strong leader who communicates well with student-athletes, who has a passion and affinity and track record for development, and an engaged teacher who supports excellence on and off the court, with a proven ability to win with toughness, with competitiveness, with command, with presence.
Interest in this opportunity was substantial. We heard from all corners of the basketball community. We are so grateful and honored for the many fine and excellent coaches who expressed interest in this opportunity.
There's a lot of great history associated with Vanderbilt basketball. We are really grateful and really hopeful that Vanderbilt basketball has great history, but it shouldn't be relegated to just history. There's a bright future ahead for this program.
With all of this in mind, Jerry Stackhouse emerged as a top candidate very early on in this process. Jerry is someone who has competed at the highest level of the game, whether that's under legendary head coach Dean Smith at North Carolina or his two-decade stint with the NBA.
He is someone who coached and developed young players with great success at all levels from AAU to the G League to the NBA. Jerry is someone who has consistently turned heads throughout the basketball community with his ability to connect, his ability to relate to players at all levels, and his ability to make players better, and ultimately his ability to win games. His teams play hard. They compete. They are well prepared. They have great culture. They develop and they win.
This is an exciting day for Vanderbilt basketball. I couldn't be more thrilled to have this announcement today. Jerry Stackhouse is a great new leader for Vanderbilt University and our men's basketball program. He's a highly skilled leader with an exceptional basketball mind, a unique feel for the game that's unparalleled given his extensive background, and he is otherwise a new, dynamic and relevant voice within the game of college basketball. He's committed to winning the right way.
It is my pleasure to introduce the head coach of our men's basketball program at Vanderbilt University, Jerry Stackhouse.
JERRY STACKHOUSE: Thank you, Malcolm. Good morning, everyone.
I am ready to anchor down, get it going. I'm incredibly humbled, joined today by my beautiful wife Ramirra, my oldest son Jay, and our friends, to be part of this moment for me today.
I want to thank Chancellor Zeppos, Malcolm, Candice for all they've done to give me this opportunity to come here and coach at Vanderbilt University.
As a head coach, I want to teach. It didn't matter what level that I got in. People felt that I was on a trajectory in the NBA, but when I had an opportunity to come here and met with Malcolm and talked about this excellent university, what it stands for from an academic standpoint, the confidence that we play in the SEC, playing at the highest level, it was just an opportunity that I couldn't resist.
I played for and coached against a lot of great coaches. From those coaches I've taken things that I like, some things that I didn't like to try to formulate my own system of how I feel the game should be played. That's what I'm going to try to do with these kids.
It's really gratifying to see kids get it. I mean by 'getting it' understanding what it takes to be successful and understanding how. A lot of things kids have to be taught what they need to do and how they want to do it. That's one of my strong suits, being able to develop not only individual skills, but have an understanding of the game and how it should be played.
I played against some great people, some great coaches. I'm just excited for this opportunity, to be able to blaze a path at this university. I coached in AAU basketball, coached in the G League, coached in the NBA. There's not a moment more proud than I am to be at this university today.
My family, my mom and dad, because of health reasons, aren't here today. I'd be remiss without thinking about them, what they meant to me. I just want to thank them for rolling me out of bed every morning at 5 a.m. to get on my knees, say my prayers, waking me up every Sunday morning, we was in church every Sunday morning, Bible study, everything. That's why I'm here. That's what they're getting.
Obviously I've been able to have some success at what I've done in basketball, but those are the two people that Vanderbilt University are getting. What they taught me, the value of integrity, treating people right, and teaching is what I'm going to try to bring to these kids.
The appeal of this university, obviously like I said before, the academic standards, that's what we're going to do. We're going to graduate student-athletes that not only are going to have success on the court but they're going to have success in life and be people that we're going to look for as some of the best leaders in the world off the court as well. I'm extremely excited about that.
We're going to play hard. We're going to play tough. We're going to play the right way. I'm extremely excited to get started with these guys.
THE MODERATOR: We'll open it up for Q&A.
Q. You mentioned that you just want to teach, whatever level it is. It was presumed you would be on the fast track to be an NBA head coach. How far back did you have aspirations of maybe coaching in college?
JERRY STACKHOUSE: Well, obviously I think North Carolina was kind of following Dean Smith. Once I got in there, he's my role model. He taught me the game. There's mentors before that, too, like my junior high school coach, Robert Murphy, who was a big conditioning guy. I got something from a lot of different people.
Rick Carlisle was a guy that kind of changed my game when I started coaching with him. I was averaging probably about 30 points a game.
He came in and told me, If you could average about 23.
I'm like, Huh?
You know what I'm saying? We went from a 32 and 50 team the year before to a 50 and 32 team. Sometimes less is more.
North Carolina, I was leaving almost every day. That first year at North Carolina was tough with Coach Smith, him telling me me and Brian Reese could be the best small forward tandem in the country. I feel like I can be the best small forward in the country by myself (laughter).
Those are the lessons and things you couldn't see as an 18-year-old. I think those stories that I can share with young student-athletes now should resonate. You hear a lot about the one-and-dones, all those different things. I was in those situations, so I understand the emotions that go with that from a student's standpoint, from a family's standpoint.
I'm excited to be here. Yeah, the NBA was where I've been for the last few years. It was an easy transition from my playing career. I got away from the game, did some broadcasting, did some of the things you guys are doing right now. I quickly got away from that and got back into what I love and what I have a true passion for, and that's teaching and coaching basketball.
Q. Malcolm called you a new voice. You said you have a clear idea of how the game should be played. What's the essence of modern basketball?
JERRY STACKHOUSE: Everybody talks about pace and space, play an up-tempo style. No one wants to play at a quicker pace than me. We want to get out, run, rebound the ball. At the same time if you don't have good opportunities, we want to work the defense. I want to make sure that we're getting great opportunities, high percentage of shots on the offensive end.
I'm not coming in necessarily with an offensive philosophy. I think a lot of that is based on your personnel. So if I got a guy that I can throw the ball to, I know everybody wants to shoot a ton of threes, if I have a guy efficient on the block, we want to take advantage of that. If we have shooter, we want to take advantage of that.
I think all those things are changing depending on personnel. What we are going to do is defend. We're going to defend a certain way. That requires a toughness and a level of togetherness and competitiveness because you're not going to make shots every night. What you can do is give yourself an opportunity to win by being real staunch on the defensive end. That's where my teams have been in the past.
I pretty much got the identity as a scorer, I figured out what I didn't like to see as an offensive player, kind of incorporated those things into a defensive philosophy that had bode well for me and my teams. It should bode well for here at Vanderbilt, as well.
Q. You have experience at the AAU level with the Stackhouse Elite Program. How do you feel that AAU program can help you transition into getting a feel for the college recruiting game?
JERRY STACKHOUSE: I think that's a great point. Those experiences and those relationships, everything is based on relationships. Fortunately for me, I was able to have and forge a lot of relationships with a bunch of AAU programs, a bunch of AAU directors. It's great to have the talent scouts and everything. At the same time there's always still a degree of separation from just those players and how you can actually get those players.
Fortunately those relationships that I have from there will bode well for us to get those type of players. Obviously it's a little tougher to recruit here because of the standards that we have. We're proud of those standards. We're going to find those athletes that fit the bill, not only on the floor but in the academic arena, as well.
We're excited about that and excited about the possibility of getting out on the road, getting into living rooms and telling kids how we can help them obviously off the court, but on the court as well.
I don't think there's really a coach in the country that has a better blueprint of what's needed and what is prepared to go to that next because I've done it. I see the kids coming in, see the development that's needed for them to have success.
In the G League, a lot of those kids are maybe just a smidge under those 60 players that got drafted. Some of them did get drafted. I see a lot of them. There's not a big difference, a lot of gap. They're right on the precipice of being a lottery pick. A few little things, nuances, that if they learned it at the college level could have been a difference in them being drafted or not.
Hopefully I can bring that to the table to help out our prospects to have that type of ability.
Q. Obviously recruiting is the lifeblood for any strong athletics program. From your background and skills, what will help you and your staff be competitive in the SEC?
JERRY STACKHOUSE: I just think the fact that, again, there's select players that we will target. Again, those relationships. I know what it looks like because I've had all these college coaches calling me when I was running my program, understand that dynamic. I understand the dirty world of it, as well. We're going to always be above the fray in that. We're going to do it the right way.
Like I said, still to Coach Smith, always reference him because I know he always did it the right way. He sold me on the program. He didn't promise me anything, didn't promise me I was going to come in and play 30 minutes a game, which I didn't. But he promised me that he would be a foolish coach if he didn't play his best players. I took that challenge.
I was getting promises from everybody else: You're going to come in and play 40 minutes a night, do this, do that. I took the challenge of going to a place where things weren't promised to me, that I had to work for.
That's what we're going to be here. We're not going to try to fool anybody. If you want to come to a place that's second to none from an academic standpoint, that's second to none from the level that you play in the SEC and in this conference. I feel second to none in what you're going to learn about the game and how to play the game the right way and play it at a high level.
Q. You've talked about Dean Smith a lot. When you look back at your time as a player, what specifically from his coaching did you see that you still carry with you now?
JERRY STACKHOUSE: Well, no middle. We're a no middle team. A big article came out this morning about no middle impact line. We're a no middle team. On the post, on the perimeter, we're a no middle team. Those fundamentals.
Again, treating people the right way, man. I think there's still a hierarchy when it comes to players. Your seniors are your leaders. They teach the younger ones. That's the way it was. The freshmen, they got to come in and earn things. They got to carry the bags. They got to get the older guys some donuts, all that type of stuff.
It's going to be a good mix of a little bit of NBA hazing, you know what I'm saying, and college. Whatever we can do to make it tough on them to let them know they're not going to come in here and have their way, that you earn things by doing things the right way, by having tenure. By the time you're a senior, you understand what we're doing, now it's your responsibility to give back, 'each one teach one', we're going to live by that.
Q. I know you can't talk about specific players, but have you talked to any of your current commitments? Have you reached out to any other kids that the previous staff was not recruiting?
JERRY STACKHOUSE: Yeah, actually I'm still getting and evaluating everything. Everything has been a whirlwind the last few days. After this press conference, we'll try to figure out the scholarships. We have some guys in the portal that hopefully we'll be able to get back and things like that.
For the most part I'm just focused on the guys that we have right now. I was able to meet with the team yesterday. It was just exciting to see the excitement in their eyes about getting going. I couldn't help myself. I saw that big whiteboard, I started drawing up plays, started talking about our defensive schemes, things we're going to do offensively. Everyone was engaged and excited.
After that, I was still taking a tour of Memorial. Next thing I know, I saw a few guys out there on the court shooting around. I think they was getting kind of pumped up and ready to go.
That's what it's about. Have them understand what's required of them, for them not -- initially to be me and the coaching staff hold them accountable. But on great teams I've been on, players, they find a way to eventually hold each other accountable. Those are the teams that have the most success.
Q. You know Malcolm from the G League. How much was his presence here a factor in your interest in this job?
JERRY STACKHOUSE: Very much so. Like I said, he's a lot older than me (smiling). He came out in '93, I was just coming in. We didn't overlap there.
Just having an opportunity to see him work, the innovative things he did for the G League while I was there. I think the things I was able to do in a short amount of time, there was just a mutual respect there.
I can't really say there's too many college situations that I was looking to go to. Again, with my trajectory being what it was in the NBA, I was on pace to sit down and talk for a head coaching job in the NBA this off-season already with a couple of teams, had those interviews lined up.
But when Malcolm approached me about the possibility of this job, just being here, all encompassing with this university, it was hard for me to say no to him. I'm super excited that they feel that I'm the guy to be able to bring the magic back to Memorial. I'm truly, truly excited about that.
Q. Another G League related question. Jerry, how do you feel that league prepared you for this? How difficult is it to get a team to play the way you want them to play in the G League? Malcolm, how much of what you saw there led to this?
JERRY STACKHOUSE: I think the thing about it is I started in the G League, and I had 15 guys that I knew nothing about. We had to build a team. We had to build a culture. We had to build a way of doing things. We were able to have success with that. We were able to win a championship in that very first year.
Then the next year, we come right back. I have 15 different guys, different players. I think that's parallel to what I'm coming into right now. I'm having 15 guys I didn't recruit, that I don't really know. But we can build. For that team I had the second year started 4-10. We wind up 32-18. But we were consistent every day. The fruits of the labor doesn't always come right away sometimes. You have to continue to just kind of stay steadfast.
We had some real tough moments, some tough conversations. I told those guys if they stick to it, continue to come to work every day, focus on the things that they need to do to get better, we would come out of that. They believed it, and we did. We made another trip to the finals. Unfortunately we lost in the finals.
But for a team that started off 4-10, to get it right and make it back to back-to-back finals, pretty much 30 totally different players, I liken that to this situation and being able to have some immediate change and success.
MALCOLM TURNER: For me, that was my opportunity to see Jerry work. His professionalism, his passion for development, his connectivity and relate-ability with players, his teams played hard. There was great culture.
Jerry is exactly right, rosters can be very fluid in the G League. We always joked, Your success is your demise. As players develop and move on, rosters change a lot. Jerry was always very professional, and his teams always played hard, were connected on both ends of the floor.
You talk to opposing coaches, they would always comment, You had to coach harder and play harder against his teams, were some of the things I observed for sure.
It was a real opportune, now that we're sitting here today, window for me to watch him work, watch how he goes about his business, builds culture and chemistry, a culture of accountability and an environment for teaching and development.
I saw that firsthand. Again, the more and more G League coaches you talked to who coached against Jerry, the more NBA GMs and coaches and others who you talked to, I just became very, very impressed with him and his contributions to the league.
Just as Jerry referenced earlier, an opportunity to watch me work, I had that same opportunity and couldn't have been more impressed.
Q. You've been down to Memphis the last few months. Any chance that you've talked with Penny and Mike and learned about the transition going from the AAU experience, NBA coaching, to now dealing with the NCAA and that whole rule book?
JERRY STACKHOUSE: Yeah, absolutely. I reached out to Penny probably about two weeks ago. We texted back and forth. I wanted to see what that looked like, transitioning out of his relationship with the grassroots program, with the NCAA rules and everything. We're scheduled to connect.
I think it's maybe different. It's just more about getting with our compliance people and figuring out how all that transitions out. He definitely was open to sharing anything that he could help. Mike as well. But I did reach out to Penny.
Q. Malcolm, the track record of guys who are 'NBA guys to college' is not particularly stellar. Did that give you any pause? What sold you so specifically on Jerry? From a fundamentals aspect, on the schedule two games left, he has to pass the compliance rule book things. What kind of hurdles does he have to pass to really get going to be your head coach today?
MALCOLM TURNER: There are clearly some steps. Jerry referenced that earlier in terms of meeting with compliance, ultimately building a great staff around him to facilitate and accelerate his transition to this space. We're addressing that immediately.
But no hurdles whatsoever. I mean, what I admire about Jerry, there are a lot of folks I consulted within NBA circles, but Jerry even as a player began to develop a penchant for coaching. He was not one who wanted to skip steps, resisted this notion of not paying your dues. That's not Jerry. He had a real interest in this space and invested in it, invested in himself. Had no interest in skipping steps in order to do so.
I think he comes here enormously well prepared from that perspective. Again, his track record of development and coaching excellence in this space speaks for itself.
Well before his playing career ended, Jerry was already starting to think like a coach and do some coaching things in that regard. So I think he comes here enormously well prepared.
Q. Malcolm, this is your first opportunity as far as having to fill a position. As an AD, when you took the job, obviously you knew there would be days like this. From a philosophy standpoint, do you approach it with a clean slate or in your mind with all positions underneath your realm do you have individuals that you have in mind to fill future openings, like in the case of men's basketball, could be baseball one day?
MALCOLM TURNER: I came in with certain ideas, for sure. As I've also said a number of times, I'm never one to walk into any situation with all the answers to the test. I did have a few ideas in mind but was intent on very specifically taking a look at a broad range of different candidate profiles that we could go after.
I had a lot of folks who I could consult with in terms of developing a candidate list. Certainly there were some names that I was familiar with. But always intent on I want to do a complete and thorough search. I want to understand all names out there.
Yes, I have current relationships, but there's some relationships and connections I may need to make. There were a number of people who I consulted with in that respect. It was starting from a clean sheet of paper. Yes, I did have some initial ideas, but took great care not to jump to those ideas too quickly.
Whether I see Will Perdue or Shan Foster in the room today, or whether it was sitting college coaches, highly respected and successful coaches who I could use as a sounding board, other highly successful and respected coaches who are not currently in coaching relationships that I could tap into in terms of here is Vanderbilt, here is our need, fit really matters.
There were a number of people who I consulted with. Brad Stevens. His transition from college to the pro game certainly offered some very thoughtful, insightful comments for me along that way. It was a thorough, comprehensive process.
Yes, I did have a few ideas going into it, but again took great care not to jump to that end game quickly, wanted to canvas and understand different candidate profiles who I thought could fit here. Obviously we emerged and landed in a great spot. Couldn't be happier to have Jerry Stackhouse as the leader of our program.
Q. What specifically appeals to you about coaching at the collegiate level?
JERRY STACKHOUSE: I mean, I like coaching. It's not so much at the collegiate level. It's just about coaching basketball. I mean, I hear all the different things. I'm trying to figure out: Is there going to be another basket out there? Are they going to start running backwards, double dribble allowed, something? I don't know. It's basketball to me. It's teaching and coaching basketball.
I played there, too. I played in college. I understand what was there, the transition to this game. Like I said, I understand the recruiting piece of it is a huge piece of it, making sure that you are able to acquire talent. I think we have a great sell. We're attractive. We got the blueprint. I know what they're looking for. I know what the workouts look like when you go to a pro team. I don't know if all coaches have that.
I can get any coach in the NBA on the phone. I can get pretty much any GM on the phone. So can this guy right here. I think we offer a really attractive situation here now, and at the same time you're going to get one hell of an education when you come here. That was our pitch, and that's going to be our sell. Not much more than that.
Q. You mentioned how you would adapt offense to personnel. I assume defense will be the same way. When you get your kids in, is it going to be all man, pressing, some zone? What would you like to run?
JERRY STACKHOUSE: I think we run a base off a man defense. I think a lot of teams you see right now, they're doing a lot of switching, doing all those type things. Those are things that we will eventually get to. But our base would be on man-to-man defense. Will we play a little zone? Absolutely. Will we try to disrupt teams out of their timeouts, ATO's, a little full court press from time to time? If we are not making shots, may get down big, try to get back in the game certain ways. We're going to try to cover the gamut and schemes we need to have success.
Our base of who we're going to be on the defensive end is man-to-man.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, everyone.
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