Q&A with Mark Byington

Layne Saliba

1. How would you rate your success so far this season?

Well, we’ve done well to this point. And the one thing is you have to know what you’ve done, but more importantly, you have to know where you’re going. So, we’re off to a good start. We’ve played well, but by no means are we where we want to be or where we need to be. So, we’ve got to keep growing and get better.

2. What does the Sun Belt ranking mean to you?

At this point, it just means we’re off to a good start. And besides that it doesn’t mean anything. You want to be off to a good finish. So right now we have a lot more league games, and it’s a long way away. So what we got to worry about is staying in the moment and getting better game by game. At the end, they’re all going to add up anyway whether we worry about it or not. So, we got to just worry about each game individually.

3. What has been the highlight of the season?

There’s not a particular highlight, but I really like the togetherness of this team; the chemistry and the toughness that we’ve shown. So, there’s been certain characteristics that I think are great qualities in a team, and I hope we can maintain those throughout the year.

4. What do you think about the team’s dynamic?

I’ve been around a lot of teams, and this team has very good leadership and very good chemistry. And the leadership that Jelani Hewitt, Trent Wiedeman, Eric Ferguson, Angel Matias and Curtis Diamond have shown has been great. And the fact that our young guys have not only played well when asked to, but at the same time have had great chemistry with the older guys. And that’s a good reason I think we’ve been successful.

5. Have the veterans met your expectations this season?

I think one thing you’ve seen with our team, even though Jelani scores a lot of points, we’ve had different guys step up on different occasions. And whether it be guys making defensive plays, rebounding or different guys on different nights scoring the ball too. I think this team is deep, it has a lot of talented players and any night could be somebody else on the team’s night.

6. Is there a team motto?

One thing that’s a reoccurence is “find a way.” It’s been a good characteristic of this team. You know, when things are bad we want to find a way. When we’re facing adversity, we want to find a way. So, that’s been a good thing that this team has picked up on and they also live by.

7. What is the younger player’s role?

Well, I’m starting two freshmen right now. And, on a team that’s won this many games already, that’s probably rare. But Mike Hughes and Jake Allsmiller, they act like seniors and they act like veteran guys because they’re both very intelligent, they pick up on things quickly and they both play well in big moments. So, those two have been important. And we’re trying to develop some of the other guys to keep them going because it is a long season and have them ready. But, those two being in the starting lineup as freshmen is unusual.

8. Where does the team need improvement?

Offensive execution, we’re working on that. And we’ve got to be ready for different styles of teams, so going against different defenses and different coverages. And also working on special situations because a lot of games come down to a possession or two at the end of the game, and you want to be ready for every situation before it occurs.

9. What are some differences between last year’s team and this year’s?

It’s just the familiarity and having older guys. You know they’re familiar with my style and my system. And, it’s different when you have guys in year two who have heard it for a year. So, now they can help and things move quicker. We’re able to get more in detail and work on some of the finer points that last year we couldn’t get to because everything was new for everybody.