April 18, 2012

Dillard talks Iowa hoops

As Sherman Dillard enters his third year with Coach Fran McCaffery and the Iowa Basketball program, he's proud of the progress they have made. He also knows more progress is needed as they continue to build the Hawkeye program. Dillard talks about recruiting, which player has made the biggest strides this spring in workouts, and if they will use the last open scholarship in 2012.

Q: You have had a bit of time to reflect on this past season. What are your thoughts on how the team has progressed?

DILLARD: After a year or two, you can sit back and see that we did show improvement. I think that is certainly what we were hoping would happen. For the most part it was a good year, but we certainly aren't satisfied. We improved our win total and won 18 games. We had a goal to make it to post season play and made it to the NIT. But, we are not satisfied by any stretch. The key now is to continue to build. We have taken some steps forward and in the right direction. Now the key is to continue those steps forward.

Q: You have gotten credit as the guy who found Aaron White.

DILLARD: (laugh) You know what is amazing is that I can only find Aaron White if I am wearing the black and gold and representing the University of Iowa. I think people don't understand that Aaron was being heavily recruited. It wasn't like no one was recruiting him. He had a lot of irons in the fire and wasn't on the radar right away. We saw him and liked him immediately. I have to give the credit to Fran. He did the work to get us in there and Aaron was a great get for us. I think he has a great future with us at the University of Iowa.

Q: How big is getting being able to get back on the road starting Friday at 6 pm and being able to evaluate and see players at AAU events once again?

DILLARD: I am a big advocate of being able to see players. You have to see them play to evaluate them to make good decisions in recruiting. With the April period now returning, it affords us the opportunity to see players that we are either already recruiting or evaluating and deciding if we are going to recruit those players. I was talking to Fran about this the other day, our recruiting list may grow or it might shrink after this first weekend because you actually get to see kids compete. Then we will be out again next weekend. I love the opportunity to be able to get out and see all of these kids compete. I think it's good we have April back to evaluate.

Q: Did it hurt coaches ability to really evaluate kids properly the past few years when you could only show up for an open gym or stop by and watch kids in training sessions during April?

DILLARD: I think it changes your model when it comes to how you are able to recruit. If you are not able to see a group of kids play under one roof in April, then you are forced to run around during July during a fairly narrow window chasing kids that you haven't seen yet. Then in the same breath, you have to move from evaluating those kids to actually recruiting those kids. I think April gives you a little bit of a head start on kids. It is also a function of where you are with your recruiting class. For us, with the 2012, for all intensive purposes we are done. We have one scholarship available and if something comes up we can take that kid. This April period gives us an opportunity to focus on the younger kids in the Class of 2013 and 2014.

Q: Do you sense that you might use the open scholarship for next fall or simply hold it for 2013?

DILLARD: You never know. There is a lot of time to sign someone and a lot of kids are out there who are still available. The key for us, and I know Fran has mentioned this, we want to make sure it is a good fit for us. The fortunate thing for us is we don't have to be desperate. With the five guys that we have signed, they fill a lot of voids for us and fit with what we are trying to do at the University of Iowa. The next guy that we get has to be in a similar mode. He has to fit with us and the scheme of what we are doing. Do we necessarily need a certain position? I would say a wing at this point. Ideally we would like to get 6-foot-6 wing like a Dwayne Wade. If we don't feel like we can find a guy that would fit with our team and make us a better team, then we will hold off and wait until next year.

Q: Iowa fans have heard plenty about Adam Woodbury and Mike Gesell. Tell us about the three other incoming players.

DILLARD: You know what happens, and Fran is big on this, everyone gets caught up in blogs, internet, and media talking about where kids are rated. Fran doesn't go by that. He goes after the players that are the best fit for his style of play and his program. The other three guys are very good players. Patrick Ingram gives us something that we don't have. He is a slasher and a driver that can get to the rim. He can defend and he's got some toughness. Every team needs a guy like that. I just saw Anthony Clemmons team win back to back state titles a few weeks ago. He is a young man who I don't want to call a backup to Mike Gesell. He is a very good point guard and we need two of them in the program. He can get to the paint, create off the dribble, and he can shoot it. Like Ingram, he has some toughness. That's why they call him Sapp, after Warren Sapp. Kyle Meyer is a long and athletic 6-foot-10 jumping jack that has tremendous bounce for a kid his size. He has tremendous ball skills and he is going to be a guy that is going to push the guys ahead of him like Woodbury and Gabe Olaseni.

Q: You guys get a limited amount of time in the spring to work with the team. How have those workouts gone?

DILLARD: It's always good to get into the gym and work with the guys. I applaud the NCAA for allowing some civility and letting us work with our players in the off season. I think our kids like it too. Every player is looking for some instruction and discipline. Being able to work with our kids 20 hours a week, even if it's four kids at a time, we have some structure and discipline to help them improve.

Q: Any players jumping out at you this spring as making strides in terms of improvement?

DILLARD: I think Gabe Olaseni has been the one who has shown the ability to make the biggest jump from this past year to next year. With Gabe, one thing you have to keep in mind is he hasn't played a lot of basketball. A lot of this is new to him and he is trying to process all of it. In terms of his physical skill set and his ability to go from A to B either vertically or horizontally is probably better than anyone in our in our program. He is a kid who really works hard and wants to get better and we see that every day. He is the guy this spring that's taking the biggest step.

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