- Adam Rittenberg, ESPN Staff Writer
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Here's the second half of my interview with new Indiana coach Kevin Wilson. Check out Part I as well.
What do you think it's going to take to turn around the defense at IU?
Kevin Wilson: Well, we'll start with our coordinator and structure, and I'm going to take some time to research and get the right person there, myself being much more offensive-oriented. So we'll take a little time and get the right one there and start with the structure standpoint. From there, I don't know because I've not really had the opportunity with our defense to know if there's physical limitations or concerns with certain position groups that aren't as talented, as strong, as big, as fast as we need.
So we'll start here with our defensive leadership, we'll start with our defensive structure. I've got a couple thoughts, but I'm going to wait until we get our defensive guy on staff and not square-peg or pigeonhole him and give him a chance to get it going. We're going to buy some time from the coaching and scheme standpoint, and I don't know a great deal about our actual personnel as we speak.
Is it a concern for you that the defense has been a problem for more than a decade? Indiana has had the offensive players -- Antwaan Randle El, Ben Chappell and those guys -- but the defense hasn't really caught up.
KW: I don't have a clue what their defensive stats have been. I just know for nine years, 15 spring practices, all preseason, every Tuesday and Wednesday going against coach [Bob] Stoops, with the attitude and the mind-set, I might be known as an offensive guy, but having come from the environment that I just came from, I have a great feel for what it looks like and how to structure, practice, recruit, coordinate, prepare, put a defense in great position.
Because I'm coming from one of the greatest defensive places there is with the coaching and the way that thing has been run with Bob, with Mike [Stoops], with Bo Pelini, with Brent Venables, that's been a pretty strong defensive place. Trust me, the hardest thing at Oklahoma isn't game day. The hardest thing at Oklahoma is Tuesday and Wednesday in practice.
There's a perception that Indiana is a basketball school. How do you deal with that? Was it a concern for you when you started talking about the job?
KW: It really wasn't. Coach [Tom] Crean is a great coach and we do have phenomenal tradition in basketball. He's going to be an extremely positive and avid supporter because this school is such a strong school, I don't think it should take a backseat or not be strong in any department. I don't think our school, the way president [Michael] McRobbie has it set up, he doesn't want to be average in anything.
From an athletic perspective, with our new administration with [athletic director] Fred Glass, with resources and dollars and Big Ten revenue and things we're generating and raising, I don't think we want to be just a member of a conference in any sport. We're pushing ourselves to get ourselves in position to play at an extremely high level, to play at a consistent winning level and start putting our teams in position to play for championships in all sports. It's great we're a basketball school, but what we really are at Indiana is we're a great school. We should be great at all things. We're looking forward to the challenge, and we're looking forward to the opportunity to build this thing and make it into a strong program.
I know you haven't been there too long, but from talking to the players or seeing any tape from last year, how close is Indiana to getting over that hump?
KW: I haven't really studied it. I know we're not playing horseshoes, so I don't want to be close. From what I've gathered, there is a strong nucleus of some talent coming back, sounds like a great recruiting class. I know we've done a very nice job in our scheduling and what we've got nonconference. I know the Big Ten league, I know it's going to be competitive. But I also feel we're going to put a plan in place, a process in place, to win.
We're not trying to win three, five years down the road. In fairness to our seniors, our alumni and our fans, we need to win right now. That's not trying to be arrogant or boastful or making statements that can't come true, but we're going to try and build something. It's a process, it's going to take time, but in fairness to our seniors, we're going to do everything we can to be as good as we can as fast as we can.
When you look at scores and you look at the talent, yeah, they're not far off. But being close is not winning. Being close doesn't excite me. But it does make me feel like there are the resources here where we feel like we have a chance. We tried to start [Tuesday] with a change of mind-set, a change of body language, a change of how we act and carry ourselves to see if we can get this thing going in a positive direction and build something that's going to be special here for our school and these players and for the fans and for the state of Indiana.