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College Preview | Top 144 Previews | More Interviews

By Shawn Siegel

October 25th, 2006


Robert Morris Head Coach - Marck Schmidt


After breaking .500 for the first time at Robert Morris, sixth year head coach Mark Schmidt has a legitimate chance at his first conference title in 2007.


Shawn Siegel (CHN): What should we expect to be the strengths and weaknesses of next year’s team? 


Mark Schmidt (MS): We have a solid core returning this year, including two All-Northeast Conference players (F A.J. Jackson - First Team & G Jeremy Chappell - NEC Rookie of the Year), that really will be the centerpiece of our club. We proved last year that we can be a dynamic offensive team at times, and having each of our top four scorers back, I have a sense that we can remain and exciting offensive club. One of things that really stands out with the returning group of players is the fact that we are an unselfish team. Each player is willing to get the others involved, and I think that bodes well for what we're trying to build at Robert Morris. In terms of a weakness, we feel we've addressed that with the addition of our two center recruits in 6-10 Aaron Agnew and 7-0 Bas Rozendaal. We're looking for them to give us a presence on the inside that we may have lacked in recent years, and we're hoping they step up to help us both offensively and defensively.


CHN: Discuss the incoming newcomers.  Who do you think will make the biggest impact? 


MS: The best thing about our incoming recruiting class is that each of them are hungry and want to play. Having four returning starters, which is a positive, means that our new guys are going to have to push our veterans in order to play. Competition is always good, and I'm especially eager to see how our new guys react in practice and see how well they'll push some of our established veterans. In terms of picking any one player out, it's tough, because we see a lot of potential in everyone we've brought in..


CHN: Talk about a player or two that stand out as being an unsung leader and contributor? 

MS: Tony Lee has been a pleasure to coach the past two years and I'm
fortunate to have him for two more seasons. He's tough, aggressive, is a
pit bull and does all the little things that you need in order to help the team. He's unselfish, he's vocal, he's a natural leader and has been a key part of the success we've had in the last two years. He can score, he can rebound, he gets his teammates involved and is tenacious on defense. He's gotten much better at the skill aspect of the game of basketball, which really excites me because that means he has the ability to get that much better. We wouldn't be where we are without him.


CHN: How does this year's schedule compare to recent seasons in terms of its difficulty? 


MS: We always play a tough non-conference schedule because we feel it helps prepare us for the bulk of the Northeast Conference schedule.  Marshall will be a tough game, as will Pittsburgh. It was important for us to try and solidify some non-conference home games this year, and I think we've done that with the likes of Duquesne, Florida International and Youngstown State. I always try to put our players in situations in regard to the non-conference schedule that if we play well, no matter if we're at home or on the road, we have a chance to win. I don't think that's any different this year.



CHN: Realistically, what are your goals for this season? 


MS: Our goal every season, from the time we return to campus until March, is to represent the Northeast Conference in the NCAA Tournament. We have a solid group of returning players that understand what it takes to win, having gone through that last season. We certainly may have surprised some people last year, but all that does is makes us more a known this year than an unknown. In order for us to take the next step, we need to show consistency, and that's our job as a coaching staff to make sure we get the best out of the players not in the games, but in practice, as well.


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