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WEB EXTRA: Meet Danny Manning

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Danny Manning

An interview with:  New Head Basketball coach Danny Manning.

            THE MODERATOR:  I'd like to welcome you to today's press conference.  Right now I would like to introduce the president of the University of Tulsa, Dr. Steadman Upham.

            PRESIDENT UPHAM:  Thank you all very much.  Appreciate everybody coming out.

            This is a very important day for the University of Tulsa.  Before I get into the basics, I would like to disavow a story in the student newspaper this morning that I was drafted by the New York Knicks.  It was the April Fool's edition.

            This is another wonderful day in the history of TU athletics.  It's been a great process.  I'd like to thank members of the media for their patience.  I'd like to thank the four members of our board and boosters who helped us in the search.  To tell you out about the outcome, let me introduce our athletic director Ross Parmley.

            ROSS PARMLEY:  Thank you for joining us today.  It is a great day for TU.  I want to start by introducing some new members of our TU family.  I'll save the really tall guy for last.

            The wife of Danny Manning, Ms. Julie Manning, their daughter Taylor Manning and their son Evan Manning.

            I can't tell you how much I've enjoyed getting to spend time around your kids today.  Glowing people.  Feel free to rub off on my kids at any time.

            I want to thank a few other people, our search committee and the many people we visited with throughout this process for their time and effort.

            I want to thank the media.  We all have jobs to do, and at times they seem to go in different directions.  You handled this process in a first?class manner, with great respect to myself and this university which has been consistent in this market for some time now.  Thank you very much.

            I also want to thank the fans for their incredible passion throughout these past few weeks.  For you I'm most happy today.

            In my previous press conference I mentioned we wanted to find a person who could better our product, reenergize our fan base, without compromising the foundation and values that have been built.  Mission accomplished and then some.

            We have found someone who will have a great impact on our men's basketball program, but also have an impact on our campus and community.  He brings to us unique experiences.  15 years in the NBA, nine years as an assistant under one of the best basketball coaches in the country, on a committee to help select players and coaches to represent the United States in the Olympics.  He has experiences through the highs of athletics, NCAA championships and Final Fours, both as a player and as a coach, and he's experienced the lows of athletics, three major career?threatening knee injuries.  These experiences have helped mold him into a great teacher and a great coach of the game of basketball.

            After we interviewed Danny the second time I told President Upham, Damn, I can't wait till basketball season.  It hasn't changed since.

            It is my pleasure to introduce our new head basketball coach of the University of Tulsa, Mr. Danny Manning.

            COACH MANNING:  First of all, I'd like to thank all of you for coming out.  I have a lot of thank yous to give out and I'd like to start by thanking President Upham, Ross, and the search committee for giving me this tremendous opportunity.  We look forward to becoming a part of the fabric of the TU family.  I'm so excited.  I don't know what else to say.

            It's going to be a lot of fun.  It will be a lot of hard work.  We're willing to put in the hard work and we will put in the hard work.  End of the day we'll stack up the wins and losses, but more importantly we want to make sure when people leave here they're quality young men ready to take the world on and make someone else's life better.  That's how we're going to build our foundation, from the ground up.

            I'd also like to thank my family for all their support and their love.  I really appreciate it.  Hopefully this is the last move (laughter).  We've moved around a lot.  Hopefully this is the last one for us.

            I have a few other people that are here, family and friends.  Thank you for coming out.  Thank you for your continued support and love.  I love you, we love you.  Look forward to the next chapter of TU basketball.

            THE MODERATOR:  Questions from the media.


            Q.  Was it going to take a special place to get you away from Kansas?

            COACH MANNING:  Absolutely.  Kansas, it's home in terms of I moved there when I was a senior in high school, four years of college, and have been living there in the summers ever since.

            We were comfortable there.  But the more I spoke with Coach Self, the more I spoke with Coach Brown about the opportunity of coming to TU and being a part of this rich tradition, it became a no?brainer.  To get a job of this magnitude as my first job is unbelievable.  It's a great opportunity and I am excited and I'm looking forward to making the most of it.

            We're going to have a good time.  We're going to play hard.  We're going to play competitive.  We're going to be respectful young men and humble, but hungry, hungry to get better as young men and as individuals on the team committed to one goal, which is going out and representing TU to the highest honor that we can.


            Q.  What do you think prepared you most for this very moment, your days as a player at Kansas, an NBA player, or your years as an assistant coach?

            COACH MANNING:  I think all of that comprises my experience.  As a player, I'm just going out and knowing the type of effort and work you have to put in to getting better day in and day out.

            As a coach, understanding preparation, understanding you have to build, knowing that each and every day you have to come in and you have to work to get better.  If you lay down the foundation, everything else falls into place.

            Also for me, going through injuries was something that changed my outlook on the game.  I always enjoyed the game of basketball as a player.  Going through injuries, where it takes away some of your athletic ability, maybe you don't jump as high, run as fast, you have to become more of a student of the game to have success.  I started looking at things a lot differently from my injuries.  I think that's really helped me in terms of coaching, sharing my experiences, mentoring the young men I've had a chance to work with.


            Q.  You mentioned Coach Self.  What is the best advice he gave you?

            COACH MANNING:  Win games (laughter).

            No, no, Coach Self and his wife rave about Tulsa.  They rave about TU, the athletic side of it, the community, the university.  They had nothing but love.  That has really made the transition easier mentally for me and I think for my wife and our kids, as well.

            Coach Self has a lot of friends.  We were around a lot of those friends the last couple weeks.  They had nothing but wonderful things to say about TU.


            Q.  Have you always envisioned this is where you would end up as a head coach?

            COACH MANNING:  You know what, I always wanted to be a coach.  My father was a coach.  I've been around the game for as long as I can remember.  My father played professional basketball.  I was always in the gym ? probably not paying attention as much as I should at an early age, but being around it.  Having the experiences and playing for some of the coaches I played for, knowing how they impacted my life, I have a lot that I want to share and a lot I want to give.

            Once we have our complete staff together, we'll all work hard and make sure that our young men leave here prepared for life.


            Q.  Talk about putting your staff together and also recruiting.

            COACH MANNING:  I have two members of my future staff in the audience today.  One is Brett Ballard.  Brett played at Kansas.  He's been at a coach at a small school in Kansas the last couple years.  Outstanding young man, family man, wonderful wife, great kids.  He's someone that we started working on Coach Self's staff together.  I guess, if you will, it was one of those grunt positions.  We kind of worked our way up.

            Brett got to be director of ops for Coach Self, did a wonderful job with that.  At Baker University, where he's been a coach the last couple years, he's done a tremendous job.  Very happy and excited to have him here.

            Justin Bowman (phonetic) is someone that will be on my staff.  He is someone I've gotten to know during my time at Kansas.  He's been at quite a few schools, had success at every one.  He's probably the most organized young man I know.  He's going to make sure we do things the right way in an orderly and timely fashion.


            Q.  How much do you think your name recognition will play a part in recruiting?

            COACH MANNING:  Well, I hope it does a little bit (smiling).  But to tell you the truth, the kids that we're recruiting now, they don't know anything about way back when, when guys my age were playing.

            You know, hopefully it's something where we can initiate a conversation and kind of go from there.  But we're going to hit the ground running in terms of recruiting.  We have to make sure we recruit young men that bring something to the university as well as the basketball court, someone that is serious about their academics, because this is a great academic institution as well.


            Q.  Is there a certain style of play you will bring here?

            COACH MANNING:  We want to play up?tempo.  We want to be a team that plays pressure man?to?man defense without giving up easy buckets, scores in transition, gets down the court, gets into some type of motion offense where the ball goes from one side of the court to the other, give the defenses a chance to break down, then attack.  We'll incorporate a lot of ball screens and give our ball handlers a chance of getting into the paint and create.

            The biggest thing for us is on the defensive end, we don't want to give up any easy buckets.  I shouldn't say 'any'; not too many.  We'll give up a couple, but we don't want to give up too many.  The philosophy is if the team can't score it will be hard for them to beat you.


            Q.  Have you had a chance to talk to Jordan Clarkson yet?

            COACH MANNING:  I had a chance to visit with members of our team today.  It was a great initial meeting.  They all seem like very wonderful young men and were very receptive to me and my family.  We're in the process of getting to know each other.

            A lot of those guys were able to reach out to me during the Final Four with texts, well wishes, good luck.  That was very nice.  That meant a lot to me.  It was nice to finally get here and see a face other than just reading the texts.

            I'm excited.  I think they're excited.  We're ready to get to work.


            Q.  Is it a situation where you almost have to 're?recruit' those players?

            COACH MANNING:  Well, I think that's one way to look at it.  I think they are committed to TU.  They know that we're committed to TU.  It's going to be a marriage that works.  They know we're going to come in and challenge them, push them, prod them to bring out the best in them.

            On our side of it, we want to make sure that we're prepared going into every practice, into every game, giving ourselves the best chance to be competitive.  But, you know, I see nothing but bright days ahead.  We'll have some bumpy roads because we are dealing with teenagers, that's part of the course, that's part of their journey, the process of growing up.  But I really look forward to getting to know all these young men and playing a big part in their lives.


            Q.  Did you pursue this opening or did they come to you first?

            COACH MANNING:  I believe it was a little bit of both.  The committee, President Upham, Ross, they were very diligent in what they were looking for, what their concerns were.  Spending time with Ross, spending time with President Upham and the committee, I think it went fairly well.  I believe it went very well (laughter).

            You know, I think we have the same visions and the same goals, and that is to make sure that we have quality young men in our program that represent TU in a manner that it deserves.


            Q.  Once you were in the mix, was there one thing that stood out that really intrigued you about this position?

            COACH MANNING:  There are a lot of things that intrigued me.  Beautiful campus, facilities are outstanding, the history and tradition of the program.  You walk the hallways and you see the names and the teams, their records, the success they've had, it's outstanding.

            You go back to Coach Richardson, won a national championship.  Coach Tubby Smith won a national championship.  Coach Self has won a national championship.  This is a wonderful place.  We look forward to hanging some banners of our own.


            Q.  You essentially could be retired by now.  You choose to work, but also choose a profession that is hard work.  Can you talk about that.

            COACH MANNING:  It is hard work.  It's a lot of fun.  I enjoy the game of basketball.  I enjoy learning, figuring out different concepts, techniques and strategies.  That's always been a part of who I am.  I grew up around the game.  I enjoy challenges.

            Any job is a challenge because you want to make sure you put your best foot forward and you want to make sure that you do everything that you can on your side and everything that your group can in terms of your team to be successful.

            It's a work in progress.  It's a recipe.  There are a lot of secret ingredients for recipes.  We're looking to come up with the right one to get to where we want to go, which is to be competitive and, like I said, hang banners.


            Q.  What do you think your father would say about this day?

            COACH MANNING:  I believe he'd be proud.  He got me into the game, showed me how to do things.  He was someone in his professional career that was a journeyman, played on a lot of different teams.  He had to do the dirty work, play the defense, dive on the floor, do all those small things that make teams work.  I learned to appreciate that at a very early age.

            That's one of the biggest compliments I ever heard given a player was someone told my dad, I enjoy playing with you because you made the game easier for me.  I think that's a wonderful compliment.  That's something we want to have as a team.


            Q.  (Question regarding the NCAA tournament.)

            COACH MANNING:  Yes, sir.  Absolutely.  Like to do it next year.  We'd like to.  We'd like to.

            It's a process, we understand that.  But we're going to put our best food forward, build and work every day, like I said.  Hopefully when you count them up at the end, we have the right number to be there.


            Q.  What made you decide that coaching college was a better avenue for you than becoming an NBA coach?

            COACH MANNING:  I enjoy the game of college basketball.  It's a lot of energy, a lot of excitement, a lot of fun.  I also enjoy the off?the?court side of it, spending time with the young men in terms of helping them grow up, sharing experiences.  I think that's pretty much what life is all about.  I've been very fortunate and blessed to have the experiences that I have.  A lot of people helped me out along the way.

            I feel I need to share some of my experiences, the different things I've learned with the next generation.  Hopefully they can do that and it just moves on down the road.


            Q.  You nearly made the Final Four back in 2000.  Do you think there's any reason this team can't go deep in the tournament and be a fixture?

            COACH MANNING:  Well, we'd like to be a fixture.  Each and every day, like I said, we have to come inspect and work.  We have to make sure we recruit young men that come in and fit the profile of the TU athletic family.  We are going to target young men that do that.  Hopefully at the end of the day we have enough wins to put ourselves in that position on a consistent basis.


            Q.  What are your immediate goals in the first weeks and months as head coach?

            COACH MANNING:  Get to know everybody.  That's the first thing I need to do, is let people know that not just me, but the new basketball staff here at TU wants to be a part of the community, wants to be a part of the fabric of the university.

            We as individuals are caring, loving individuals.  You want people to understand that.  We want our team to understand that.  We want our community to understand that because we need their support.  Each and every time we step on the court, we want their support and we're going to work hard to earn it.

            THE MODERATOR:  Thank you.