The Dunk City Podcast

One on One: A talk with new USC assistant coach Kurt Karis

September 06, 2023 USCBasketball.com Season 1 Episode 5
One on One: A talk with new USC assistant coach Kurt Karis
The Dunk City Podcast
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The Dunk City Podcast
One on One: A talk with new USC assistant coach Kurt Karis
Sep 06, 2023 Season 1 Episode 5
USCBasketball.com

USC Director of Scouting turned newly-minted assistant coach Kurt Karis joins the fifth episode of the Dunk City Podcast. Karis talks with Chris and Mark about his journey to USC, his favorite moments as a Trojan, his thoughts on scouting opposing teams, his basketball dreams, his views on the coming season, plus an update on Bronny James (among other topics).

Thoughtful in The Dark

Thoughtful in The Dark began as a blog composed of material I wrote during my junior...

Listen on: Apple Podcasts   Spotify

The Dunk City Podcast is the podcast of record for the USC basketball community. You can find all episodes at DunkCityPod.com, USCBasketball.com or on Apple Music, Spotify and Amazon. Contact us at USCBasketball.com@gmail.com.

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

USC Director of Scouting turned newly-minted assistant coach Kurt Karis joins the fifth episode of the Dunk City Podcast. Karis talks with Chris and Mark about his journey to USC, his favorite moments as a Trojan, his thoughts on scouting opposing teams, his basketball dreams, his views on the coming season, plus an update on Bronny James (among other topics).

Thoughtful in The Dark

Thoughtful in The Dark began as a blog composed of material I wrote during my junior...

Listen on: Apple Podcasts   Spotify

The Dunk City Podcast is the podcast of record for the USC basketball community. You can find all episodes at DunkCityPod.com, USCBasketball.com or on Apple Music, Spotify and Amazon. Contact us at USCBasketball.com@gmail.com.

Speaker 1:

Welcome to the Dunk City podcast. Change direction by backhand for the first and final round El Paso For the Alists and then the show. It is on the Trojan Tundra.

Speaker 2:

USC is on to the sweet 16 for the first time since 2000.

Speaker 1:

All right, kurt Karris is in his sixth season with the USC Men's Basketball Program. It's his first as an assistant coach. He was elevated to the position on August 2nd. He spent the previous three seasons as director of scouting and following two seasons as a graduate assistant with the USC Men's Basketball Program, and we are very glad to have him on the program. Kurt, thanks for coming on.

Speaker 3:

Thanks for having me On today, guys.

Speaker 1:

So tell me, how does a young man from Northbrook, illinois, who went to Chicago State, find his way over to Los Angeles and USC?

Speaker 3:

With a lot of luck, but it was more. When I played at Chicago State I was able to gather enough film to kind of send over to Coach Enfield and check me out as a preferred walk on and I kind of was able to. He liked what he saw and kind of just hit it off ever since after that. So it just kind of fell into place where when it needed to fall into place and I tried to be as helpful as I can while I was here and I think that worked out for me. But it came with, came with luck for sure.

Speaker 1:

Did you grow up a Northwestern fan?

Speaker 3:

Not so much. Actually, my dream school was always the University of Illinois. My brother, my two, my oldest brother went there. I'm one of 10, one of 10 kids. So, wow, he went there. He was the oldest one, he went. That was the first school that he went to. So everyone was kind of Illinois, illinois, illinois. So that was my dream school. I was actually decided when I was transferring I was going to go to Illinois and I wasn't going to play basketball or do anything, I was kind of just going to go to Illinois after I was transferring and then the USC opportunity came up and I couldn't pass at it. So I've been here ever since.

Speaker 1:

You guys could play. You could feel two squads in your family.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, yeah, yeah, two platoons.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, exactly, do you have five on five family games?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, we had really good one on one games. Let's keep it at that. We had points where my dad was like I stopped rafting because someone would always end up in a bush or someone would be in a fight, so he was done with it. But there's definitely some good one on one battles.

Speaker 1:

Is your last name Greek?

Speaker 3:

Yes, my dad was 100% Greek. I'm 50% Greek, my mom's Italian, but yeah, so yeah, I'm Greek.

Speaker 1:

Awesome. We're going to ask you more about that when we ask about the Greek trip. Mark, I think you got a couple questions.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, kurt, mark Backstrom, thanks for being with us. What are some of your best memories playing basketball for USC?

Speaker 3:

I think the first you had when I was at Chicago State. You know you always to get to the tournament you had to win your conference tournament, right? And that was always a dream of mine, getting to that tournament. And then my first year here, when I sat out, we went and I didn't I actually wasn't traveling with the team at the time because I was red-shirting but that just even be around a program that was at that level was really really amazing. And then the next year we went again. We fell short of the sweet. We should have went to the sweet 16. Baylor got hot at the end of the game and ended up beating us.

Speaker 3:

But I think just being around winning culture and a winning program and seeing the NCAA tournament because the school that I was at, obviously, like when you're at low major, you win your conference tournament and that's it. If you don't, you don't go. And I think just being able to see the NCAA tournament and obviously I think almost now it's like we're like the sense ties to. I'm not, I think it's every year, it's like I try to tell our guys before the year it's the coolest thing that you'll be a part of. I promise you like it's and it still is to this day, like it's just there's no feeling like it. So I think that was definitely one of my best memories is just being able to go to the tournament and just see like that atmosphere and how cool it actually is.

Speaker 2:

You just brought back a memory for me that that second season when you traveled with with the squad, I believe that shot that Elijah hit to beat SMU to take us to Baylor, that was right in front of our own bench, if I recall.

Speaker 3:

Yes, it was right, it was right, actually right in front of me, that's right, that's where I used to sit. So I thought so he was right there and I actually that was. Another fun memory is one Kevin Harlan said my name, which Kevin Harlan's like the voice of basketball. So like that was like really cool for me, he's like when he said my name I was like I never think that that guy, that person would ever say my name in a basketball context. So that was that was really cool for me.

Speaker 1:

What about when Steve Lavin said you had a nice head of lettuce? Yeah, lettuce.

Speaker 3:

My brother. My brother still has my phone. My phone, my phone contact is Kurt Lettuce Karris. So so, yeah, so that that's that has stuck around my family as well, and that was a good one too.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, so um. First of all, you buried the lead by not introducing yourself as Kurt Lettuce Karris.

Speaker 3:

I should. I messed that one up, that's okay.

Speaker 2:

Um, so yeah, being a non scholarship player, though, what was that like?

Speaker 3:

You know to me and coach Emfield is even in my roles that I've been three different, yeah, three different roles. Now he's coach Emfield's always been awesome at being inclusive and and, like I knew my role. Like I, leaving Chicago State, I kind of like knew what I was going to be and I and he, he relied on me for things. And coach Emfield trust me. Like he played me in the first half in a couple of games like Hawaii, he would play me in the first half of an acronym, like he would play me. He trusted me because I knew his offense and he could. He could. Uh, if J Meck needed to break in practice, he knew I'd be able to go out there and get the job done or make sure that, like the offense was still flowing.

Speaker 3:

But being a walk on, I knew what my role was. It was to, you know, like, build, like, keep the team together and and you know, be fun, that wave of fun length or, for some of the players that are, you know, playing those heavy minutes and and all that. So like, being a walk on was honestly a very great experience for me and it honestly opened my eyes. I knew I wanted to be a coach. But I didn't know I want to be a coach at this level. It opened my eyes to be what I wanted to do after college. I knew I wasn't going to play after college and I love. Basketball is my, my passion, and it really made me realize that this was my passion and what I wanted to do going forward in life. So it was very it was eye opening. It was. It was an amazing experience and and coach Emfield made it made it all the worth it.

Speaker 1:

So so that was actually leading into my next question about when you, when you, figured out that you wanted to be on the basketball staff, did you know that happened when you were, when you were at USC, and do you think being a walk on versus maybe a scholar player who played 30 minutes, do you think that would have changed your perspective on on wanting to be a coach?

Speaker 3:

You know, maybe probably a little bit. Like you know, because I saw the outs, like I saw how the coaches were dealing with stuff and you know, and as a walk on, like that's kind of what your job is to, at the end of the bench they come in, they're pissed off and you kind of have to calm them down. That's a big part of the big part of coaches is managing the players emotions during the games, because emotions get high and and you know he might not be vibing with what coaches doing at that moment because he took him out. So you get someone else has talked to him. So, like you get, you get to see that perspective of it. You know it was really cool to see and I'm big on like relationships and building relationships with people and like this coaching staff. Like that I saw it as a player and I was like wow, the coaching staff really does a good job of this. Like I feel like this is like a culture that I would love to be a part of and all that.

Speaker 3:

And obviously I got lucky in my mentor when I was in GA was Martin Bajar and he left to go to San Diego and Andy was, or coach Enfield was. It was Nice enough to keep me on the staff but I mean you never know where you're gonna end up. But I got lucky and I got to be able to kind of wedge myself into this staff that coach Enfield is built and it's obviously been so Successful me don't. You don't really hear a ton about it because coach Enfield's kind of under the radar guy but like what he's done in his tenure here has been pretty impressive and he doesn't get enough credit for it. So I mean, and it's a been hill, even say it's a big, big testament to his staff and and the people that he selects to be around Him. So that's kind of what I saw as a walk on and then as a GA and then as a by move forward. It was kind of just really nice to be a part of that culture.

Speaker 1:

So you've got the fire in the belly. Now You're ready. You want to be a head coach one day.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, yeah, you know the head coach and you go back and forth. You just see how busy coach Enfield is. It's like, hey, maybe, maybe just being under him would be great too. But you know me a heck you. But then you get back, go back and forth. You know you kind of.

Speaker 3:

You see what he like, what he's really good at and then there's also things that, like you may maybe like if you have your own program, you could do XY and Z that coach Enfield night might not want to implement, you know, and, and everyone has their different Styles, you know so. But that's, that's the the only thing that I think about a head coach. I mean you're busy and coach Enfield's always got something on his plate and and all that, so, so it's gonna be fun.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I can tell you, just going back to what you said about the, the job that coach Enfield's done. You know, chris and I have been fans of the program for over 30 years, so you're talking to two people that do understand the magnitude of the limits that that's been down here. Yeah, about scouting, my understanding is that you're still scouting is still under your purview. Is that correct?

Speaker 3:

Yes, okay, yes, yes, yes, no, so some questions about that.

Speaker 2:

I'm I'm the metrics guy. I have all kinds of proprietary metrics that I do, so one of my things I'm curious about is the scouting involve metrics or only video?

Speaker 3:

Both. So coach Evans actually he's a numbers guy like coach Enfield will you show him stats and he'll be able to pick apart all that and but we do watch a ton of film. I'd say it's more heavy on film than stats or Metrics. Like we, we obviously use the basics, that we're not super, super advanced analytics, that we have some that we use, but we use a lot of film. We film every. Obviously this, this, we film every practice. We film. Obviously we get all their game film but we watch. We watch film after every game, before every practice.

Speaker 3:

So we're really going into depth on a lot of things, trying to pick up on tendencies and what plays. They're running a ton and Like, even with the guys like okay, like, obviously, like the scouting stuff, you guys know, like the, he likes to go left, he likes to go right, if he gets in the lane he's gonna Broad, jump into your body and just wall up like certain things. Like that you know, when you start watching a ton of film, you really are able to pick up on what those metrics are kind of saying. So like, basically we use those metrics to kind of add up to what we're kind of telling our guys, if that makes sense.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, absolutely. And when you're looking at other programs, obviously I'm sure that that maybe one or two stand out as maybe being just a little bit doing things differently are really innovative.

Speaker 3:

Mm-hmm. Uh, you know the one, the, the one that really is hard to game plan for, especially when they had to bella's and and Balo and they always had that big front court. And to bells were just so freakin good last year and the way and how fast Arizona plays is like it's hard to game plan for because you're worried about their transition. Then you get into the half court and they're so dominant inside he's so good at using his body that you don't know whether switching is the best thing or which way. Which way is the best way to guard certain actions? So I would say, when to bells was there, that was pretty hard, but I mean, and the way that, the way that they run was, was very impressive last year. So and then.

Speaker 3:

So in a lot of scouting is matchups right, like you, there's certain teams that just have they match up well with you, whether they're three and twenty three or they're 25 and three. You know, like sometimes you just match up well with a team we're all around the board where it just makes it a tougher game and and you see that time and time again where obviously those like where the metrics and all the you know, where everyone else, like the media sees all this team three and twenty three. But no, this team matches up well with you and what you're trying to do, so it's kind of you. You have to game plan against that as well.

Speaker 2:

So you know it's amazing, my, my old roommate was actually student manager for the team back in the early 90s. He said the exact same thing. He said don't overlook any opponent, because it's all about matchups Um.

Speaker 3:

It matchup, matchups is everything I mean. If you look at Oregon State, the last couple years with us, they've always played as well, and I don't know if it's because Tinkall gets them ready to play or just their their play style, but they always play as well and it's. It's maybe just how they match up against us. But there's, there's a lot of, there's a more to Like. Oh, we have a better team, on paper, obviously. I mean, you've seen that, you've seen it a lot of time and time again, where these teams lose and you know, maybe ten nine times out of ten you're gonna beat that team, but they can give you a good run because they match up well with you and people, people look past that a lot.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, and that that's interesting. Bring it up. You know, I think a lot of that stems from Coaches will typically recruit players with specific traits that they value. And and going back to the scouting and recruiting Are there. I'm imagining that when, when you're Scouting recruits, there are some trades that are particularly valued, Is that? Is that correct?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, I mean, there's definitely a lot like things that you will, we, we focus on heavily, and there's definitely a lot of turnoffs when you look at a lot of a lot of these younger players and you know there's there's a lot of people that are in their ear and that's something that we look at. And If you, you obviously, if you, you guys have paid attention to coach Enfield, he likes, he likes long and likes being able to like switch and do all that stuff. So so there's definitely a certain type of player and person that we're looking for, like personality and all that. I think that's something that we actually, and I think that's what made coach Enfield's tenure here so successful, as he's kind of narrowed down that and he's been able to Really find the player that he wants and wants to be, wants to play for him.

Speaker 1:

So who would be the epitome of that type of player.

Speaker 3:

Go all across the board. I mean like, thank you, if you look at like the D Anthony mountains and Kobe Johnson, like that's a, that's a coach Enfield player, you know someone that you could play in multiple positions. He's long, they're long, they play on both ends of the floor, they're smart on both ends of the floor, great family, you know, like that type of, that type of player. And then what's the great thing about both of them, those, both those players that I wrote? Obviously there's more than that, but both those players were three star recruits and you know, coach and that's another thing that coach Enfield doesn't look past is like talent shows and talent outweighs those numbers that people see and that the media puts out.

Speaker 3:

But we, those two players, were three star players coming out and coach Enfield saw something in them and they're they're blossoming at the right time. I mean, obviously D Anthony is playing in Philadelphia right now and I played with the Anthony like I, we used to always joke or like everything he did was if there was something happening in the possession. The Anthony was a part of it, so and the Kobe's the same way. So I mean that's just, that's the type of player that coach looks for and numbers. I mean, obviously you're going to have to those five stars and four stars, but, coach Enfield, it's not gonna look past anything yeah, you interesting.

Speaker 2:

You brought up Kobe Johnson and his first season. You know, at times I saw, okay, maybe there's something here. But you know typical freshmen, there's moments that are great, moments that aren't. But man, what a big jump he made last season. And I'm wondering you know you've been with the program in different roles for over seven years now which player have you seen make the most progress as long as you've been with the program?

Speaker 3:

he's, he's got to be up there. But I also think, like, if you really look at Isaiah Mowbly's trajectory here, like he didn't his freshman year he didn't play a lot he believes playing strictly five and then his last year here he was, you know, basically our everything. You know we ran our offense through him. He brought up the ball. You know he like kind of like was able to do everything and he was able shooting it a lot better and and like that was a great he, he was, he's a great. I mean obviously he's a five star.

Speaker 3:

But like he came in and you know that whole story was great, like on Yaka came in and he wasn't all McDonald's, all American or anything, and he came in and just took us by storm.

Speaker 3:

We every day we're like, oh, we should like really like this year he's on our team, like thank god. You know, like he was amazing and and Isaiah was completely cool, was coming off the bench as the the higher recruit, quote-unquote, and you know he just got better and better every year and got drafted and just kept working. You know, and and there's a lot of me this that happens a lot here too, because we've had it every which way, we've had one and done's, two and done's, three and done's and four and done's. So like a we've we've been able to work with people and that's kind of our priority is obviously. Now you can go on the transfer portal. We've we've taken our select few guys, but we try and get the young guys and develop them and and try and build them in our system and we really try and we don't. We're not just saying that, I guess obviously people, I think, just say that, but we really really try and work and develop and keep them in our system.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, as an accounting major. I'm very partial to Isaiah because my understanding he was an accounting major too, so I think he's probably got his head on straight you make a good point.

Speaker 2:

It's, it's. I never thought about this before, but thinking about you know just how incredibly Harold and his older brother or his younger brother was and being in the same class as own, yet that that takes a special kind of guy to hang in there and not just say, you know, screw this, I'm tired of this, I'm tired of that. You know, I do my meme all day and he just seems like you really just just put his nose in the grindstone. He just said I'll just keep working.

Speaker 3:

Exactly, and that's exactly what he did, like you is not. All of his numbers went up and we I mean like, if you probably look at its Usage rate I don't know exactly what it was his last year, but I guarantee you it was probably one of the highest in the country, just like based on how we used them and where we used them at.

Speaker 2:

So so along those lines, to my eye and to my metrics too, I'm looking for another one to another person, especially big man might make a leap this season. It looked to me that kejani, from the Oregon State game forward, just became a different kind of guy. It just seems like he, like the switch, just went on. You know he's not the biggest, longest guy. He's a good defender, which I think my impression from you know home and in the metrics is that he's just a smart guy as much as anything else, because he's not the longest or the highest jumper. Am I being too optimistic? Or the numbers?

Speaker 3:

No, I, that's it's funny you say that and he's he's had a great end of the summer. He was good in of the Europe on the Europe trip. He's really bought into what makes him good as a player and I think that's really helped them. I think when he got here he didn't know where he wanted to, where he wanted to play at, and he's gotten better Finishing around the room, finishing outside the paint. He's physical, he has big hands, which is good, and, like you said, he's really really good defensively. He knows his spots, he knows how to the ball screen coverage and you could switch him onto a guard because he can move his feet pretty well. But yeah, that's a. That observation is accurate because he had a. He had a great end to our summer training and now, leading up to our full training camp, he's. He's gonna be, hopefully, a big piece of what we, what we do and why we're special this year.

Speaker 2:

I love that turn.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, sorry, go ahead. And if we, I mean we'll get problem. Sure, we'll get into him, but when you have a guy like Isaiah Collier, you're gonna get a extra extra couple points just cuz cuz he's, he's a magician, so he's, he's special.

Speaker 2:

He is Sorry to cut you off there. I love that term that you used. I wrote it down he's he bought into what makes him good as a player. That is so perfectly said.

Speaker 3:

I think that's the struggle I see With the younger players is just just exactly that concept that you said it's so much better than I could ever say, and and the thing is, but that is like a lot of these, you know, these younger guys again have people in their ear.

Speaker 3:

You need to do this than this to get to the league, or you know, like everyone said that bigger thing, but sometimes, like, you have to polish what you're really good at and what gets you on the floor, because what gets you on when you're on the floor, that's what people are watching, right, so you got to be able to get on the floor and then you could start expanding. And that's that's what we work at is Get. We're trying to make you really good and then we'll let you work on things that you might not be as good at. But Buy into what gets you on the floor and what makes you, what makes, what helps you win, because if you're, if you're, winning, people are lit, people are watching and that's what gets you to that next level and that's what gets you where and that's what some of these younger guys need to understand.

Speaker 2:

So you know, that's why I said it like and I'm guessing to your earlier point about you know Young men that are coachable and come from good families. I'm sure that's a part of it, because I'm guessing a lot of these guys we're the best at basically everything they did, they had the best handles and they were the most athletic and they were the best shooters, they were the best everything and it's kind of a come to Jesus moment to say this is what you are at this level. That can't be the easiest thing in the world, I'm guessing I Know.

Speaker 3:

I mean so, yeah, exactly, and. But they and I always make the Comparisons. You want to play at the NBA level, right, so you think about it this. But you're gonna go in the NBA and let's say you do get drafted in the first round to a team that team, I can almost guarantee you that that teammate or that, that that team has a person that's getting paid 40 million dollars a year to do what you think. You're coming in the coming into the, the league to do. So, for you to be able to get on the floor, you're gonna have to find something that sticks, and whether it's defense, whether it's rebounding, whether it's being a 3 and D guy or whatever it is, you're coming into a team that has seniors and you have to find a spot that gets you on the floor as a freshman. So, and I think that's like a good way to look at it, because not everything, not everything you don't. You might not need to do everything just yet.

Speaker 2:

Stuff at some point you will, but right now maybe not yeah, so and then just draw on the, the lens back a little from the team just to more of the season, based on the, the tape that you've seen what teams look the most impressive that we're gonna face head into the season. I.

Speaker 3:

Think Oregon's gonna have a really good good squad. Arizona's gonna be sneaky good. I you see a. So UCLA is gonna be an interesting one. You know those guys, those European guys, are ready to play, so they're gonna be good. But I think that's. And then I think Cal's gonna have a she better team than people are probably thinking about. I think Marks done a great job over there. So I think I think I mean the, the pack toys got a, got a good season ahead of us. And then non-conference I mean we open up with Kansas State is gonna be awesome. At Auburn is gonna be awesome, we have a chance to play. Or in San Diego that I mean we've our slate is going to be really good this year. But just in terms of conference, I mean those top four teams are be really good. Organs can be really good this year.

Speaker 2:

Interesting. Just one more thing on that about just on the, the schedule you're talking about from a metric standpoint. I'm already having nightmares about the North Texas transfer to Kansas State. I don't know if you've seen him yet, but my gosh.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, he was. He was great. You have 9-3's in their last game and they're on their foreign tour and he's gonna be a, he's gonna be, he's gonna be a good player with what will game plan for him and we'll, we'll be all right.

Speaker 2:

We've been known to defend now and then right.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, exactly, I mean we're, we'll go ahead, sorry.

Speaker 1:

All right, I think the one thing all the listeners want to know is how that European trip went. A lot of people watch the games from here is a great opportunity to watch all the games for once. What was your impressions of the trip? What kind of fun did you have? You got to go back to your ancestral homeland and yeah, so that must have been pretty fun.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, I mean the trip was amazing. The, the travel days were a lot. He's getting a Europe from LA is not great, I'll tell you that much, but that's besides the point. But the trip itself was was really, really awesome. And you know, it was very the trip to me.

Speaker 3:

I mean it was great, the basketball was great, but it was honestly really awesome to see just our guys, you know, in their element and coach Enfield gives them freedom out there but like being able to. You know we have boosters on the trip and, and you know, just see them like just really have a great time together. And I think that's what's also very special about this team is you see how well they all get along together, and I think that was this. This trip played a big part in that, and I think that was more of like my highlight of the trip was like kind of just seeing them like you know, like they're cliff jumping and doing like stuff that they might not have like never done before, you know, because like two guys jumped off the cliff, so now six guys jumped off the cliff, you know, so like it was just kind of really cool to see all that from like just a sitting back perspective, and then that's basketball aside.

Speaker 3:

And then when the basketball did end up coming and we played and and just see how excited they got because like the first three days like they didn't touch a basketball, and then we got the Tameca nose and then we finally had a shoot around and they just how excited, and like they sparked up and we're ready to play. And you know it's, it's, it's a lot and it might not seem like you know, like everyone thinks you go to these, these trips and you should kick the crap out of like these teams and these teams want to be too just as bad and they've probably been practicing and and obviously we had our 10 practices before we left, but it was, it was a to see them get out there and go and just like you know, they were just enjoying themselves and enjoying playing and you just saw it in their, in their energy and the way that they were playing and it was just really, really cool to see.

Speaker 1:

So who impressed you the most. Besides beyond, you know the headliners who really grew the most on that trip.

Speaker 3:

I thought he, johnny, was great. Josh had a couple moves and I was like, wow, josh was, josh was doing some stuff that you know that was. That was he had that rip through dunk and dunked on a Eurus plazovic, who played at Tennessee the year before, and you know that was great. We had a and Kobe was looking like great offensively, you know. So we just had guys that came in and they're just ready to play and and it was a I mean all across the board. I think everyone had like a had some some great impact on the games.

Speaker 1:

So how do you look at those games you? Do you just not read too much into them, or do you? Is it hard to not pick the things you really like and then I think, then have them mean something yeah, it's, it's funny.

Speaker 3:

It's funny you ask these.

Speaker 3:

You like, when I was free watching him, it's like you know, like, like I'm so used to like going into depth and and watching him and pulling stuff and this it's like I gotta remember that, like I say, is a freshman and he's only had ten practices and DJs, only been in our system for three months, and you know so, like there's things where you like, oh wait, kurt, like like slow your roll, like okay, we get, we could talk about this, but we don't need it, we don't need to really lay into it yet.

Speaker 3:

You know like what, maybe if when it comes to October or something now we could stare at, or November, we could start laying into him a little bit, we got some more practices and and games under our belt, like that's when I so. So you, you, you definitely weigh on it a little bit and there's certain things that we need to clean up for sure, like offensively, we weren't polished, defensively we weren't polished, and there's certain parts of your we're good but we're not at the spot where we need to be yet yet. Like our freshman need to be better, but that's just all comes with coming in a training camp and all of that like and we'll have them, have them ready to go by season, and and everyone just needs to buy into the, the full concept, and but. But you definitely don't weigh into it too hard just yet.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, that makes sense when, when we were gonna do our interview before we were gonna be before the trip and of course the incident happened with brawny. I know you can't go into much detail on that and you know I want to ask you to, but in general sense, how? Do things feel. Do you think, should USC fans be optimistic about seeing brawny contributed to the team this?

Speaker 3:

year. I mean you'd be optimistic. Yeah, just like others there. His family's been great, he's been great and I think that more stuff will be put out and more stuff to come, and I think optimism's what everyone should be right now. So, or optimist, excited, what everyone should be and never should be positive and keep giving him the positive energy that he needs going forward. And. But he's been in great he's, he's been a great spirit. You know he's been both football games and and and he's working as hard as he can, and our, our staffs working as hard as they can, and and he's he's doing everything right. So I'll put it at that, and you know you guys will probably the more more to come.

Speaker 1:

So we'll see, yeah, now that you've seen the team play out in Europe, did you find yourself envisioning where, where, if that ever did work out well with brawny, where you'd plug him in?

Speaker 3:

yeah, he's gonna be a. What if, let's just say optimistically, he will help our team a lot. And you know he's. He knows how to play offensively and defensively. He's athletic, he. He's a great player, he's. Everyone loves to be around him, which is great, and and I think there's always a spot on the floor for someone like that and and he was he was hitting a stride and and he's a he's, he's gonna be ready to go.

Speaker 1:

So all right mark.

Speaker 2:

So after I graduated, a young man named Desmond Farmer came to the squad and you work with him now and I think you practice with the squad with him from time to time. What's it like to work with him?

Speaker 3:

Des is great. You know he brings that, that silliness for lack of a better word that you need around. You know, and he's, he's a great to be around and he's great with the players and you know the players trust him on a lot of things and and he's, he brings that aspect of the you know to the work office and to the players that that when they need it, you know, because it the season's grueling, it's long, and you know and you can get thick of hearing the same thing over and over again and from the same people. So it's nice to have like he's and does, is, does, is good at that and making sure that like he's able to talk to him and and and do all that. So that is that is great to work with.

Speaker 2:

It's same thing. When he was a player, he always brought the energy he was the one guy.

Speaker 3:

Exactly, he's great, great energy, he has a great energy beer and he always brings a smile to your face and and it definitely, that definitely hasn't changed. So.

Speaker 2:

You know? What's even better is I'm sure he's told you about this probably once or a hundred times. He did very well against UCLA. My Bruin buddies cannot stand the guy. They just will point out whenever they see him.

Speaker 3:

I can imagine. You know he, you know the thing is he still you can. You can only imagine how well he shot back when he played. He still shoots it just as good. So he's, he's, he's. He's fun to have up here and I'm sure I'm sure a lot of the Bruins don't like him for that.

Speaker 2:

So yeah, goes without saying. So, speaking of which, then if you go one on with him, one on one with him, you've got the youth, he's got the size, and you say you still got the touch. So who wins between you two?

Speaker 3:

That's a tough one. He he could probably shoot me out of the gym. I never was a great shooter. He's a better shooter than me, but I think I'm a little bit faster than him, so I know he'd have problems staying in front of me. It'd be a good one, but depends on how many dribbles I got. Just keep it at that.

Speaker 1:

Kurt beat in the pack 12. You know those teams inside it out the familiarity is a factor both ways, for both the player and coaches perspective. How much with the lack of the familiarity with opposing personnel and the early going and their way of doing things, you know, not to mention a whole new slate of unfriendly arenas. How will that affect year one of the Big 10 next year?

Speaker 3:

I think the arenas is more what I'm worried about, you know, because they're gonna. Hopefully we can start packing out Galen, but they might. They might have more fans here than we would, but that's gonna. That's gonna change this year and we're our marketing team's doing a great job and I think we got a. We're adding some stuff to the Galen Center that's gonna make it more appealing for fans to come.

Speaker 3:

But, you know, I think I honestly, though, help a little bit like a fresh, fresh eye on things and, and you know, and everyone you know, a big thing is everyone asked like are you gonna change the way you recruit? And you know the answers, probably, probably know, because they have to guard us, they have to guard how we play and if they guard, how we recruit too. So I mean, obviously you're gonna try and you're gonna have to go and it's gonna be a big test here and see what you need and what you need to do. But I just think that a new faces and new, new schemes and new, I think that's all all, all good stuff. You know, and the good thing about that league is you could be at the eight, nine or ten and you're still going into the, the tournament to being at eight, nine or ten, not saying that we want to be one, two or three or we want to be one.

Speaker 3:

You know just that that league is just so highly acclaimed and your, your quad one wins every night in and night out and we're packed. Well, you really don't. You don't get that. You know, your, your, your quad one wins are elite teams where sometimes I mean big ten teams are elite, but those low, not lower tier I don't for lack of a better word but our lower tiers, the, to make or break your season if we lose to. You know, 11 or 12 in our, in our conference, that could make or break your season. You lose to 11 or 12 in the big ten, you're fine. Just another quad one loss. So that's a, that's a positive way of looking at this transition to as well from a cat scouting perspective.

Speaker 1:

Do you have to kind of reset your your knowledge base and start accumulating knowledge of of these programs after this season?

Speaker 3:

yeah, you probably start start looking at them. You know we played Michigan State last year. I have a buddy who works at a University of Illinois so like I'm kind of familiar with and I I'm a basketball junkie, so I watched as much basketball as I can and you know a lot of those coaches are, you know, hall of fame coaches and and so I've been watching them for a while. So you know I'm familiar with it, I'm familiar with the territory, but I definitely need to touch up and and watch a little bit more and that'll come as as we start to transition here what are you looking forward to the most about the move to the big ten?

Speaker 3:

that I get to go home more. But no, I think just like the basketball and like those arenas are just I mean like that's another part of like you. You asked me my memories and stuff of being a player and what my favorite members are like going to like I've looked at multiple people during that star spangled banner and I'm like this is why I love college basketball. You know, you just see the fans and you see, you know the pregame rituals that other arenas have and all that. It's just like it's unmatched and you get the check at the chills thinking about like that type of stuff. So like a being able to see the arenas and all that. I think that's like gonna be pretty amazing arenas that like I grew up watching and you know as aspiring to play there. I'm coaching there now, which is like really, really cool to me all right.

Speaker 1:

One last question tell us about an instance when you think a properly scouted game helped lead USC to a win.

Speaker 3:

I think UCLA we did a great in the second half. So we switched the game plan. We started switching everything. Ucla last year, when we actually had the game one, jaylen Clark missed a shot or they missed a shot, got a rebound Jaylen Clark hit the three at the top of the key. We switched our game plan, simplified it and we started switching and we started hedging screens and fronting the post and then we also made it harder for Jaime and I think when we key in a play like how do I think Jaime that game, he got a little bit. He scored a late, like early, and then score a little bit late. But I think we held them in check for the most part. So I think that was a good one.

Speaker 3:

I mean, we should have won that game. We should have been used to like twice last year, but that three-point shot that Jaylen Clark was it was was a dagger, but but I think that was a great example of switching the game plan and not sticking to what we were. You know, we kind of got into him at halftime and we switched up what we needed to do and and it worked for us, we got back into the game. We had the game. We actually were up with the lead we had. All we had to do is secure rebound. We would have won the game at Pauley and and we just felt a little bit short. But it was cool to see and see them buy into what we were trying to do and and seeing that it worked was a was a great, great, great situation to be in as a where do you see yourself in ten years?

Speaker 3:

10 years. If I had it my way, that would be that USC, still in a higher capacity and just making my way Again, that head coach and all that. That's like I like. I think a head coach would be amazing. I'm grateful to be where I'm at now and I just got to keep keep my head down and keep working and hopefully, 10 years from now I could be a head coach somewhere. But I love USD and I love where I'm at and and that's that goes without saying.

Speaker 1:

So just keep that head of lettuce fresh.

Speaker 3:

Exactly, got to get a, keep it fresh, got to keep it, keep it permed up.

Speaker 1:

So Our mark got anything else to ask her.

Speaker 2:

You know just one other thing when you talked about the scouting, when what was really interesting to me was you didn't mention and I'm wondering if this is part of that, that's saying Scouting that you mentioned. The analyst I forget who did it said that we did a great job of denying the entry pass from the free throw line To the interior. Do you remember that at all as part of that, that game plan?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, so that's, we want to make it harder to Like. We always want to make it hard, especially that elbow. We always want to we. That's one of the things we teach is make sure that we don't want people to get the ball in there. Right, you get the ball in there. You kind of have your there's whatever you kind of want, and they're they were good at getting it there. If you get it to the elbow, then I make it get the high low.

Speaker 3:

So we trying to make sure that they weren't able to get it that elbow spot because and also Jaime was good at isolations in that spot, so trying to push him out was a big, big portion of what we were trying to do make him being spots that he wasn't necessarily comfortable in. So, like, definitely that's, that's part of, that's always part of our game plan. But we definitely emphasized it more during that game, especially at the end, because you know when you're, when you're trying to come back from a deficit like you got to, you got to really start Making it harder for fit people, making people uncomfortable, and you know, I think that's like what a lot of teams like to be comfortable, and and that's Pushing them out and making them uncomfortable is always good for good, for game planning, so exactly.

Speaker 2:

It seems like a lot of the next level defense is not even not to let somebody get where they're they how do I say this where they want to get their shot off. It's almost making it. You know, and you see this with your really good defensive teams you know, not even letting them get to the spot where they can make the ball. You know, not even letting them get to the spot where they can make the pass to where they want to get to. That just seems like that next level at defense.

Speaker 3:

Exactly, that's a. That's people. That's another thing that goes overlooked is like people think, like on ball defenses, you know, makes you a good defender, like if you watch the great defender, like they know where to be, pay attention. Like if you just pay attention to Kobe Kobe's great on the ball, but Kobe off the ball Even sometimes, where it's like you watch Kobe and film, you're like, oh Great. Like I should probably tell him that he couldn't turn his back here. But he's so good at reading situations that you can't really tell him to not do what he does because he had 73 steals or 71 steal, I forget what it is, but he had, he was the top in the nation steals and and you can't really tell him to not do what he does, you know.

Speaker 2:

So exactly, and that's. It's hard because I don't want you know schedule these teams like you do, but I can kind of recognize where we wanted to go with the ball and you can tell the elite defensive teams that we play, because it's To that point. We can't even get the ball to the point where we want to make that pass.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, yeah yeah, well, because you have to think like that's part of the offense, like that that maybe that first pass, but that third pass is where the entry starts like okay, you know that going into it, so we're gonna make that pass extremely hard to get or we're gonna push you out so that that fourth pass, where that when is, where is the actions happening, is the hardest pass of all. So like that's kind of the part of game planning. So that's, that's, that's definitely right, and you're right in saying that.

Speaker 1:

Kurt Karris, the newest USC Trojan assistant coach. Thanks for coming on the Dunk City podcast. We really appreciate it. Hope you enjoyed the rest of your summer and that your preparation for the upcoming season goes well. We're looking forward to it. I think most USC fans are probably looking forward to this season more than any in recent memory, so thanks for taking the time.

Speaker 3:

Thank you, and thank you for having me, and you should be excited. It's gonna be a great year and we're working hard over here, so we're excited. Thanks for having me. Fantastic, thank you.

Speaker 1:

Thank you, kurt. Well, that wraps up another episode of the Dunk City podcast. Remember you can find us at DunkCityPodcom. Would you also get to through USC basketball comm? Be sure to find us also on any of your favorite streaming platforms Spotify, apple music, google Play any of them. Please be sure to like, subscribe and rate us so we can feel the encouragement and keep on bringing you good content. Thanks to Kurt Karris for coming on the show On behalf of Mark Backstrom and myself. We'll see you next time.

Conversation With USC Coach Kurt Karris
(Cont.) Conversation With USC Coach Kurt Karris
Scouting, Matchups, and Player Traits
Player Development and Impressive Opponents
Memorable Trip and Basketball Performance
Transition to the Big Ten
USC Basketball Coaching Strategies and Goals