Q&A: Haase reflects on season and possible changes to philosophy
Stanford played its way into the "bubble" for consideration to play in the NCAA Tournament and of course will never know if it did enough. Everything in the world seems to have come to a halt due to Covid-19, but head coach Jerod Haase spoke with Cardinal Sports Report about a season that was mostly a success and what they hope to accomplish this offseason.
What are your thoughts on the season as a whole now that you’ve had time to reflect?
“I think we took a major step forward as a program. We could go back and look at certain games that were hugely disappointing, end-of-game situations that were disappointing in a variety of games, but as a whole I thought we took a major step forward this year.
“I thought the buy-in continued to be good. We played extremely hard. The pieces fit together better.
“We became an elite defensive team -- seventh in the country -- and we have a young group with everyone returning. And recruiting is going well. So, there are many, many reasons to be excited and optimistic.
"Looking back on the year I think there were more positives than negatives and the bottomline is that I think we took a major step forward as a program.”
Obviously what the offseason is going to look like is a big to-be-determined, but when you think of the things that you want to see get better in the program do you have in your mind yet some of the steps that you, the staff and the players will be taking to address those?
“A lot of it is wait and see because of the coronavirus and when we will get to see our guys.
“I do know that offensively we have to get our turnovers down. We need to make sure that we find a way as a staff and then communicate that to the team to be able to reduce our turnovers. I would love to increase pace next year, but that has a lot to do with our depth. Depending on exactly what our roster looks like it will be fun to play a little bit faster offensively.
“And defensively we’re hoping to maintain what we’ve done on that end of the floor. The physical part of it is probably the No. 1 priority in the offseason. Without access to gyms or campus that will be a challenge, so our ability to do that better than other teams I think will be important.”
What do you think the keys are to maintain the elite level of defensive play season to season?
“We need to maintain the pride and understand how important it is and continue to get better. The reality too is when we make changes philosophically it will impact everything.
“For example, if we want to become a great offensive rebounding team that is going to hurt our defense. We’re not going to be back, we’re not going to be set. We felt like if we were set and we were playing five on five we were pretty darn good.
“We had great transition defense because we didn’t go aggressively to the offensive boards. In the offseason we will have to make a decision about if we want to increase tempo. Do we want to go to the offensive boards and turn that into a great positive knowing that it can impact our defense in a little bit of a negative way?
“Do we want to play ball screens the same way? Do we want to be more aggressive with trapping? How are we going to double the post if we continue to do that? A lot of those philosophical questions will play into how good we are defensively. I would look for us not to change a ton, more to tinker.”
Is it fair to say that if there are changes that affect the defense in a major way it will be connected to the changes you make to the offense?
“Yes. I would agree with that. Big picture we want our defensive philosophy to generally fit what we’re doing offensively. It’s silly to have an offense that plays really, really fast and shoots quick and then defensively try to slow it down. We want to have consistency on both ends of the floor.
“I do think that in the game of basketball what you do on one end of the floor is tied in a number of ways to what you’re defensively as well. We’ll evaluate all of that. We can’t really do that yet because the roster is still being situated and we don’t know exactly who we have. Ideally we’ll get them on campus, work everybody out and see what they can do before we really start talking about those kinds of specifics.”
Who would you identify as the players who took the biggest leaps this season?
“From last year to this year, Oscar (da Silva) made a big step forward mainly with his consistency and understanding how and where he could score. I thought he had flashes in the past but wasn’t necessarily consistent. I thought this year he was very consistent and obviously became an all-conference player.
“I think Bryce (Wills) made great strides on the defensive end and learned as the season wore on to play to his strengths (on offense) really well. This offseason will be important for him to continue to work on his shooting and consistency there. I thought he made great strides from a leadership level and being an effective player.
“Throughout the season I think Jaiden (Delaire) made great strides. His upside is very high and I think there is a long way still for him to go.
“When you look at all the freshmen as well … I think all of them really did a nice job embracing the grind and mentally embracing the grind as well.”
What are the next steps for Lukas Kisunas and James Keefe?
“With both of them we need to get to the point where they’re reliable offensively in terms of finishing around the rim, have the ability to score over length, and try to be efficient from six feet and in if we’re able to get them good looks in there.
“On the defensive end so much of what we do right now is communication and ability to defend ball screen coverages. We made great strides there and they did a nice job, but there is still more room for that (to get better) as well. It’s such an important part of our defense.
“And just continue to get bigger and stronger. Those are two guys who as time goes on we’d love to think that they can be the strongest player in the Pac-12. That should be their goal that they can physically get to the point where they can become dominant physically.”
There were high expectations for Tyrell Terry but do you think it’s fair to say he surpassed what many of us thought was the most reasonable best case?
“I think that’s accurate. It was hard for me to really have an idea of what to expect from him in terms of his production. He certainly was fantastic in many ways.
“The exciting part is I think he’s just scratching the surface of what he can be in college. Physically he needs to get stronger and with that I think you’ll see on the offensive end the ability to get to the spots he needs to get to to be even a better facilitator and playmaker. This year he was more of a scorer and could get the ball into the offense, but we want him to be able to get downhill, get to the paint and not only score for himself but find the other guys. As that happens we think it will be really good.
“And obviously we think with increased strength defensively we think he can take a real step forward as well.”
Switching to the incoming freshmen, what are your expectations for the three you’ve signed so far based on what you know about them already?
“One thing that is consistent for all three of them is that for their positions they’re bringing a lot of shooting to the team. With that it spaces out the floor and it’s going to give other guys driving angles and that kind of thing. For all three of them their shooting ability is going to be something that’s really, really good.
“With all three of them physically, getting to the spot of being able to compete consistently at this level is going to be important. The offseason will be important for them to get bigger, faster, stronger.
“You don’t really know until they get on campus and you see them in a five-on-five setting with the current guys to know how well they’re going to be able to adjust. It would not surprise me if they’re able to contribute. I don’t know exactly what that means yet in terms of minutes and numbers of shots, but I do have an expectation that all of them can contribute right away.”
Spencer Jones seems to be a great example that you don’t know what will happen until they start playing.
“Exactly. With him you saw what shooting can do for a team. The other thing was that physically he was in a pretty good spot. He did wear down some as the season wore on and I think that will not happen next year. I thought he was obviously a tremendous piece and had a heck of a year.”