October 15, 2013
Haase Looking Forward to New Look Blazers
The UAB basketball season begins next month, and Coach Jerod Haase and the players are looking forward to a promising season. The team returns five seniors and has added six new players - three from the JUCO ranks and three freshmen - who look to step up and contribute quickly.
"We have our foundation set with our attitudes and philosophies," Haase said Tuesday at Basketball Media Day. "Practices have been good. Our guys have had great attitudes. They are pushing themselves hard."
He believes his team will do well this season. "There is a level of talent and depth this year that is exciting," Haase said. "There are a lot of guys competing for minutes and competing for playing time. We are looking forward to the first game."
Haase added that the team's new locker room, one of the best in the nation, has contributed to a new attitude among the players. "The whole attitude around our program right now is doing everything first class," he said. "Whether it's how we practice or going to class, doing things the right way and being presentable in everything you do is important."
That new attitude is one reason the team has high expectations this season. "We do have high expectations," Haase said. "There is a lot of positive energy around the program."
Haase hopes to instill the same sense of winning that he experienced as a player at Kansas. "Through my entire college career at Kansas, I lost 13 games," he said. "We lost 17 games last year. I don't like to lose. I'm not used to losing. Our guys are very aware of that and they don't like to lose either.
" UAB has a very proud and successful history in basketball and we are trying to build on that to make this a great season," he added. "The level of commitment has been very good."
Haase believes the team's experience will help make the season a success. "I would label us as an experienced team," he said. "We have five seniors and six newcomers, but only three of the newcomers are freshmen. The other three are from junior college and will be juniors on the court this season. They have played at very high-level junior colleges, so they have that game experience."
To make the season a success, Haase believes the team must focus on defense. "Our defensive field goal percentage has to improve," he said. "Allowing opponents to shoot 45 percent last season is way too high.
"We have put a lot of emphasis on the defensive end as far as being tough," he added, "playing without fouling, and we have also adjusted some other things to limit the other teams from shooting so well."
How important is defense. That's what the team focused on to start practice. "The first practice this fall, we didn't do much offensive work. We focused on defense and made sure the guys were bought in to the defensive end of the floor. If we want to be a big-time team, we are not going to be able to outscore everybody, but we are going to have to guard people and be willing to do that."
Two key terms define his goals for the team - fast and tough. "We are trying to be a team that plays very fast, that is fun to watch, and that runs up and down the court with high energy," he said. "That is something that I hope all of my teams have. There is a level of toughness to be able to play fast, to be able to sprint down the floor every time and play unselfishly."
The big unknown, he acknowledges, is the new makeup of Conference USA. "The conference is changing," he said. "As far as I'm concerned, there have been a lot of positive steps taken as a conference. We are adding a lot of teams that have a tradition of great basketball. However, I don't know a ton about the new teams because the focus has been on our guys."
Blazer fans can get a glimpse of the future themselves this Saturday when the team plays an open scrimmage at Bartow Arena. Starting time is set for 11:00 am.
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