Alan Major took a sip of his tall coffee from Starbucks and sat down in a chair by the window in his corner office. Despite the fact that he has started his tenure at Charlotte with back-to-back losing seasons, he seems relaxed.
There is a reason that he isn't jittery from his coffee. He feels extremely good about his team in a number of areas. Moments after their 80-64 loss at Saint Joseph's in the first round of Atlantic 10 Tournament in March, Major began to convey his message for 2012-13.
Major had a simple message for his team following that game.
NinerReport: Following the loss to Saint Joseph's in the Atlantic 10 Tournament last season, what message did you leave your team with to start the offseason?
Alan Major: Probably two words, number one is everyday...meaning just develop a level of consistency across the board in terms of handling the daily process of being successful. Obviously that doesn't mean guys are going to be perfect but the idea is just to have the intent to be consistent. If you're consistent academically, off the court, in how you handle yourself in the community, in the way you run, in workouts, in everything we do, then what you do is develop this habit of being consistent. In a nutshell, everyday. In a sense it was the first word I said to them as soon as the game ended. It's kind of ironic you bring that game up because that was the first word out of my mouth.
The second one is finish. Just develop a mindset of [finishing] whatever you set out to do across the board, [in] all of those same things you talk about being consistent at. Then finishing, [such as] touching the line in the gym. If's it's 12 reps in the weight room, you do 12, you don't do 11.
NR: As a staff, how do you evaluate yourselves and what things did you do to try to improve?
AM: I think as you go back and watch games you try to figure out when we were good, why were we good? And then if we struggled, why did we struggle or why [did we struggle in] certain situations. You try to find certain patterns of both success and mistakes. I think that's the biggest thing looking back individually at the season.
The thing I love about each coach on my staff is that those guys love to learn. All those guys in their own ways went on their own personal mission of improvement whether it's watching video or going to Florida. Coach Oliver went to a Florida clinic. Coach Vandross did a study of three to four different teams from a defensive standpoint, teams that kind of defend like we do and looking at some common threads and some differences. Coach Odom, every time he talks to his dad that's a coach's clinic. He's got instant access anytime. So all of those guys...found their own individual ways in addition to watching games from last season.
NR: Anything in particular stand out to you during the offseason workouts?
AM: One thing I think I really liked and I probably noticed this coming off the Bahamas trip, I really like our chemistry. I think guys enjoy spending time together. They had a great time down there, spending time together, that's why I think the timing of that trip was appropriate for the age and development of this team. Our workouts have a little bit more pop to them in terms of energy.
I think individually [guys] have improved in their own ways. For instance, Terrence Williams was better about shooting the basketball. E. Victor Nickerson is stronger. Pierria Henry is continuing to develop his basketball IQ in terms of almost taking a quarterback approach to the point guard position. I could continue to go down the line, Braz (Chris Braswell) had a great experience at the Amar'e Stoudemire big man camp, which is good for him. DeMario Mayfield is better about his free throw shooting. You can just go down the line, I hate leaving guys out, but everybody in their own way has found a way to improve one little notch.
NR: You briefly mentioned the Bahamas trip, did anything else stand out from that experience and what would you like to see improve?
AM:I think the thing I was really impressed with was the way we shared the basketball down there. I believe in our second game we had 24 assists. We really moved the ball well, especially in the second game. They had a nice rhythm out there that I didn't maybe expect to see right then. Again, the competition was good, it wasn't off the charts. I thought we moved the basketball well for having [to play under] FIBA rules. We went from practicing with a 35 second shot clock to a 24 when we got there.
I thought our guys adjusted on the fly and they did a pretty good job of grasping what we're trying to do offensively in terms of getting the ball inside first and then taking open, easy 3's, [and also] trying to get the ball to the paint and to the foul line. I think coming out of the trip one thing we'd like to develop early on in the year is more balance in terms of our scoring. I think we have a team that can do that. Those two games weren't enough of a pattern to maybe see that. But that's what we want to do. For instance, this could be a year where Chris (Braswell) may not average as much but we end up being better because there's more guys chipping in...and more guys developing confidence in their offensive game. That's not a detriment to Chris, he knows he's our primary post option and that's going to continue. But we want to develop a handful of committee guys around him. We want more balance.
Look for part two of our interview with Alan Major Friday