What made you decide to pursue basketball as a career?
JS: I grew up in Chimacum WA and I was always involved with sports. I played as long as I can remember football in the fall, basketball in the winter and baseball in the spring. I always liked basketball the best and it had been such a big part of my life so such a long time, it just seemed the natural thing. When I was in Western Oregon State College, right between Corvallis and Salem I think I decided that I wanted to make it my career to go into coaching. When I got done playing, I just planned on being a high school coach and I got my first job at West Linn High school in Oregon. I planned on high school coaching and teaching and after I got established to maybe go into administration of some sort, be it AD, principle or something like that. What happened was that my college coach had taken the head job at Idaho State University in Pocatello and he talked to me about coming over there to get my masters and things like that underway and consider college coaching, which at that time I had not even considered college coaching. I didn't really weigh college coaching on the scale at that time as much "this is my coach; he said I should do this, so why don't I go and do it". I went over there, got my masters, we went to the NCAA tournament, we had some success and it seemed like this just might be the path to follow now. After that I went to Chemeketa Community College in Salem OR for a couple of years and we won a NW Championship, had a really good program. I enjoyed myself there and it really seemed like college coaching was taking more of a foothold. Then I had a chance to go to Oregon State and from there it was all college coaching. I was there during the (Ralph) Miller/Anderson transition and Coach Anderson came in when Coach Miller finished his transition.
Why do you and coach Romar work so well together?
JS: I can only speak for myself probably, but for me having been in the system for a long time, coach Romar has an incredible strength and that it that he is such an exceptionally sound human being. Because of that he is not tremendously high and low, not real moody and it's nice if your boss is pretty easy for you to work for. He let's you do your job and at the same time he is a hard worker himself. He is very enjoyable to work for.
How do you feel about this current team?
JS: I think that when you are in the first month of the season, your goal has to be to get better every single day. Once you start playing games I think you have to find a way to get better every week. With us we have 5 freshmen, so therefore you have guys that are processing a lot of information. The only way those guys can get better is if they are working extremely hard. As you become more of a veteran, the way you get better is that you just get in great shape or become a really vocal leader, but when you are a freshman, in order to get better, you've got to work incredibly hard. We don't have any games in front of us for a while, so we've got to keep getting better.
How are you feeling about these young guys individually?
JS: With Jon Brockman it's just how great a motor he has, how determined he is and what a great work ethic and attitude he has. He needs to become a better offensive player, in terms of his shooting and things like that, but he's a great rebounder, incredible competitor, hard worker and he's got all of those things going for him. His shooting is getting better every day because he works. Artem Wallace is an exceptional athlete, runner, jumper, and those types of things. A big part of his deal is to improve his concentration level, which is not atypical for a young guy. He'll be able to play, that's for sure. Justin Dentmon is 6' about 185-190 lbs. He's got a squatty body. He's very, very quick and strong from the waist down. He needs to be a bulldog all of the time, to never quit. I call it the small guard chip on his shoulder. In terms of a talent package, he has a pretty good one. He needs to be a guy that's relentless all of the time, improves his decision making and those types of things. Harvey Perry has a great body, natural basketball athlete but needs to become more of a consistent player and worker. That'll be his biggest challenges. He is more of a perimeter player at the wing spot, than a PG. Joe Wohlfinger is a legit 7' 240lbs. and he has an insatiable desire to work and do better. The biggest thing that he has to do and he knows what it is and that's to get stronger. If Joe can mature physically as he continues to improve, he may have the best chance of all of those guys to play at the highest level. He's got good skills.
What part of the recruiting responsibility do you focus?
JS: We don't focus geographically. Our top priority is the west. One of the goals when I got here was getting into Oregon more, so we've been able to do that to a certain degree with Joe and others that I can't comment on. Other goals were to be able to recruit on a national level, if it fit a particular need and we did that to a certain degree with Justin Dentmon and to expand our role in terms of prep schools, which we've done. To try and take what we were doing, do it better and add to it.
Who works with what players on your staff?
JS: Paul Fortier is working with the big guys and he is doing a lot of work with those guys. I focus a lot on rebounding; I try to help Cameron with some defensive areas and zone offense. I also assist Cameron in areas that he needs me with guard development.
What are some differences in how this team is going to attack another team?
JS: We're going to have a more balanced attack. Jamaal averaged about 9-10 last year and he's a guy that could jump that up to 14-15 ppg. Hopefully a guy like Jon can grind out some points. We had 4 high level perimeter scorers last year and that's one area that we should maybe become more balanced. Bobby and Brandon will be out there on the perimeter and they will have to take advantage of their strengths. Those two guys have terrific size for the perimeter, so we'll have to take advantage of that somehow. We'll have to be able to do all of the things that don't change. We'll have to be able to rebound, manage our possessions and take good shots. What are good shots for this team may be a little different than last year's team, but at the end hopefully they'll be able to understand what they can do and do it at a high level. On defense we have to make sure that we have good pressure out front and take away easy passes. We front the post any way, so that eliminates the quick easy pass inside. By the time we get into the heart of our schedule, we'll have Mike (Jensen) back, which gives us more size. Mike is 6'9" 250, Jon 6'7" 249, Jamaal is 6'5" 240 and Artem is 6'8.5" 235. Because none of those guys are skinny, that equates into inches, so it can make you play a little bit bigger.
What would it take for you to leave UW and take a job elsewhere?
JS: It would have to be the right type of head coaching opportunity, or even though I've never had any opportunities in this area, if something in the NBA presented itself I would consider that. Those would be the only two things. I wouldn't have any desire to go anywhere as an assistant coach.
What was it like working with Ralph Miller?
JS: The whole Oregon State experience was great. People were great, we were a good program, we had good players and it was my first experience with big time basketball. My contact was mostly with coach Anderson, but I was very acquainted with his system. He just had a very simple approach to basketball. We did the same thing from practice 1 to practice 100, which is very unique. We did the four major drills. We played full court 3 on 3 with and without dribble. We played full court 5 on 5 with and without dribble, and then we did time and score. We literally did the same thing every single day. That would be the most vivid memory, if you say anything about Oregon State basketball during that era that stuck out in my mind; it was just that same thing every single day. The other thing that stuck out in my mind was recruiting came to the forefront and being successful depending on your recruiting. He had a recruiting philosophy which was good. He believed in recruiting quick fast guys that were interchangeable, that had long arms to get to balls. He wanted only tough aggressive athletes that could shoot. I always remember in the back of my mind, if you get tough aggressive athlete that can shoot things will work out pretty good.
What do you look for in a prospect?
JS: All that and good character, plus toughness. I think those things will get you in and out of a lot of problems. If you recruit kids that have a high level of character, the problems you're going to have to deal with are usually ones that are common problems and manageable problems. If you're recruiting tough kids they will be able to deal with adversity. If you don't have either of those two you're really running up hill, if you only have one of those two, you better know what risks you're taking and why you're taking them. If you have both of them, even though it's an inexact science, you're probably taking about as safe a risk as you can take.
How do you think the Pac-10 stacks up?
JS: I think anytime most of your good players are coming back, the league will be better. AZ has just established who they are and what they do and that never changes, because they are able to recruit at such a high level. ASU are a mystery to me. UCLA should be a lot better just because they bring back so many guys that have quality experience. USC is way better than people think, because I thought that their freshman guards Pruitt and Young were guys that had the potential to be pro players. I think Stanford or AZ would be who I would pick initially to be 1st. If Grunfeld can make it back to 100% then I'd pick Stanford, if not AZ. Cal to me is a much improved team just because of the Leon Powe factor. Anytime that you can throw it in to somebody that two people have to guard, you have an advantage, just check Miami and San Antonio. OR should be a lot better, same theory as USC, they had talented guys that played too much their first year, but that's a great way to learn and grow. I think Oregon State established themselves last year as a team that doesn't lose at home, so that gives them a great thing to build on. We lost a lot so we won't be as good, especially early. Hopefully as we mature, Mike gets healthy, some of those things, we could be a team that does more of an ascent. Last year we had to be what I call a maintenance team, the type of team that was built to be really good early, which we were. This years team has to be a step ladder team, which if it keeps getting better it could be pretty good team at some point in time, but if it ever stalls or goes backwards it probably doesn't have the margin for error to do that very often. For WSU, as long as he's the coach there, they will be very much the same. They will be very good, very dangerous because every single game looks the same, whether they are playing AZ or Cal Stanislaus. The game looks very much the same. He has a little bit of that system that I was talking about with Oregon State. I bet you that they do the same thing everyday.
Is there anybody on the staff that could earn minutes from coach Romar?
JS: I don't think so. He has put on a couple of pounds, but Fortier might. Paul still looks pretty good. If Romar sill had the game that he had when we were at St. Louis then he could start for sure.
Could you get any minutes?
JS: Not unless you need somebody taken out, one hard foul and I'd be on the bench.