Story by Luke Nankivell
Photo by Joel Venzke
Times-Delphic: Looking back this season, what is the one area of the game that needed work?
Ray Giacoletti: We needed to be better defensively. That’s the biggest area we need to improve upon. In saying that, you try to be the best you can be with what you have. To me, that’s the bigger question: Did we make the most of that group?
Having Gary Ricks go down was not great. In hindsight, it’s a blessing we’re getting him back, especially with five freshmen coming in.
TD: The opposite of that: What was the biggest strength of the team?
RG: I think these guys did a great job buying into a new staff, a new style of play. And right from the get go. I appreciate those guys buying in right away with new things. So many times today there’s banging heads, saying, “I don’t want to change.” They weren’t that way at all. This team fought through a lot of adversity.
TD: What do you hope the incoming freshmen can bring to the table?
RG: This next year is the first year that we’re trying to build something, plant seeds with Jacob and the five freshmen coming in.
I’m not trying to win and take another job. We’re doing it with high school guys, with guys that are going to be here four or five years. We got what we were looking for in a Drake student-athlete: obviously someone with great character, somebody very academic-oriented and someone who can help you win games in the Missouri Valley Conference.
Iowa is obviously very important, and we got two guys here. I think it’s a great class for our first year, and I credit this staff for finading these guys.
TD: Do you think the new practice facility will bring a more basketball-focused culture?
RG: Absolutely. It’ll be 24/7 access for the men and women’s teams. What we want to create is a place where the guys can go with a teammate and get 500 shots up. If it’s 1 a.m. on a Friday, that place is a much better place to be than someplace where they can get in trouble.
I tell people that and they look at me like I’m crazy. I watched it for six years at Gonzaga. Those kids weren’t out drinking and partying. There were five or six guys practicing in there at a time. It’s a culture of improving your craft, and it becomes contagious.
TD: What are you most excited about going into the offseason?
RG: After being here for a year, it really just flew by, you know as a coach, and as a staff, if it’s going in the right direction. We are just so excited that there are so many positives that you keep trying to keep that momentum going.
First off, once the freshmen get here, we need to grow them into the best players they can be. Also, getting scholarships filled in the 2015 class. And if we get a class similar to this one, we’ve given ourselves a heck of a platform.