Atlantic Coast Conference Operation Basketball

Wednesday October 25, 2017

Tyus Battle

Frank Howard

Syracuse Orange

Q. Tyus, you have, including yourself, four returning players. You have four incoming freshmen. You have a grad transfer. What can you say about the dynamic of the team this year going into the season?
TYUS BATTLE: Well, we're definitely young, a lot of new guys. But I think we had that time over the summer to really get to know each other and gel well as a team. I think this year we really -- I think we really generally like each other. We really gel well as a team. So I think we're definitely going to surprise people. All the guys get after it every day in practice. Every time they step on the floor, we go hard. I think we really accepted what we have to do to win this year, which is be a defensive stopping team, so I think we're definitely going to surprise some people.

Q. With you guys losing so many guys, especially as far as offense, where do you look for yourself as well as your teammates to kind of step it up as far as the guard position is concerned?
TYUS BATTLE: Well, I think we really do have really good guards this year, me, Frank, Howard Washington, who's a freshman this year, and Geno Thorpe, who's a transfer. So I think we really do have some really good guards, and Frank and I are definitely going to have to step up and take that leadership role that we were kind of missing last year.

So I think overall we'll definitely be fine with scoring the ball. We just have to step up to the plate, and I think good things will happen.

Q. I was wondering, you mentioned surprising people. Are you a player that kind of thrives off being underestimated, having low expectations, things like that?
TYUS BATTLE: Yeah, I think just as any competitor will play, playing with a chip on my shoulder, being motivated. Yeah, in a lot of ways we might seem down roster-wise, but as a competitor, I never feel that way every time I step on the floor. I think we can go out there and beat anyone we play against. So we're definitely confident as a team when it comes to that.

Q. What are some of the words you would use to describe Frank Howard and what he means to the team in your opinion?
TYUS BATTLE: A leader, competitor, and he has a lot of basketball knowledge. He's one of the guys -- one of the only guys on the team that was a part of that Final Four run, so we're definitely going to be looking for him for a lot of knowledge and just being that floor general this year for our team.

Q. You mentioned defense, and it's rare that one team focuses just on one type of defense. Every day in practice you guys run that 2-3 zone. What's it like day in and day outrunning the same defense every day?
TYUS BATTLE: A lot of you guys don't know this, but we actually practice man-to-man sometimes occasionally. Hopefully, you never know, we might switch into it this year, we'll see. We practicing 2-3 zone, it's definitely a lot to work on, especially when you first learn the zone. It's a little complicated at times, but as you learn to understand the principles and where you have to be and in certain situations, your instincts take over, and you just start moving together with your team.

When you're moving like that, it's hard to stop. This year I think we have the length, the size, the athleticism to go back to the traditional Syracuse 2-3 zone, and I think it's going to be definitely tough to beat.

Q. How does Geno Thorpe fit into the team as a guy that came in with a good amount of experience, and what kind of player do you think he can be at Syracuse?
TYUS BATTLE: I think he can be a really good player. He adds extra scoring to the team, and again, college experience, like I said before, we have a lot of young guys, guys that have never stepped on the college floor to play a college game. So just having that college experience and college knowledge to help share with the group, I mean, it's very helpful for this young team. He can take it to the basket, knocks down open threes. He'll definitely help us a lot this year.

Q. Your freshman year, 43 steals, that already puts you third all-time at Syracuse. What makes you such the ball hawk?
TYUS BATTLE: I think it's just the zone, understanding the zone. When you're moving like that, we trap a lot, so a lot of that is just anticipation and just reading the defense, reading where the ball is going to go. So I just have to credit that a lot to my teammates and just the zone principles.

Q. Frank, same as Tyus, what you can say about having four returners, including yourself, four freshmen, and having the grad transfer in Geno Thorpe, just what the dynamic of the team feels like for you.
FRANK HOWARD: I think we have a great dynamic right now. We're young, explosive, athletic. College basketball right now is filled with young guys, so I think we'll adjust well, get a few games under our belt. You know, we understand it's a process. We have a young group, so we know we probably won't hit the ground running from the beginning, but we did my freshman year, and you've got to see what happens. I think we'll get it together and got a lot of young guys that's ready to work hard and learn.

Q. Are you a player that kind of thrives off low expectations, being underestimated in that way?
FRANK HOWARD: Yeah, I mean, definitely. We understand what the narrative is of our team, and we play with that chip on our shoulder every day. I feel like even if we came out the No. 1 team in the country, we would still have that chip on our shoulder. We just want to come out, work hard, and just prove our team to ourselves. We`re not trying to prove it to anybody, want to be the best team we can, and I think we will be.

Q. You talked about how it is you will bring the freshmen along. What was it about your freshman experience that will allow you to know when it is that the freshmen get it, that they are in the system and it all makes sense to them?
FRANK HOWARD: I definitely played with two great leaders this year, Mike Gbinije and Trevor Cooney. They taught me how to be a leader, and I learned from them on and off the court on what to do and how to lead by example. This year I'll definitely be more of a voice to the team and the younger guys and kind of explain things more in depth. I learned how to be a leader from them, and I just want to be the same thing to the young guys now.

Q. What would be some words to describe Tyus Battle and what he means to this team?
FRANK HOWARD: This year he'll be the guy we play through. I think last year was a little confusion, and I think that overall hurt our team. Everybody didn't kind of know their roles, so we know our roles this year, and he's going to be the guy we play through.

Q. Do you look at the schedule as a whole? I know it's a game by game and you take it one game at a time, but do you look at the breadth of the schedule early on in the season?
FRANK HOWARD: I want to look one game at a time. It's always guys talking about the November game or the December game, and I'm worried about our first exhibition game. I just want to take one game at a time. I know it's a long season, and I think this year that's the maturity we have as a team, and we kind of have that understanding that it's a process and that overall it's all about the end of the year and how we overall finish. We just want to keep learning, keep growing as a team, and just want to get better every day.

Q. You and I spoke about the era of what you're trying right now with having No. 1, now you're No. 23. You wanted that to signify that you're starting a new chapter, new era in your life. Just expand on that a little bit more.
FRANK HOWARD: Yeah, definitely. I think my first two years were definitely great for me. I learned coming into college, having a new position I had to learn. I didn't understand that I wasn't ready to kind of accept that, that I had to take some time. But the coaches understood that, and now I understood and I learned everything, and I'm ready to hit the ground running.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports
Rev #1 by #166 at 2017-10-25 14:16:00 GMT

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