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Q&A: Josh Eilert discusses dealing with life as WVU’s interim head coach, a brand new offense and preparing for the season

MORGANTOWN — Save for a couple of framed photos and a few finger work from his younger kids perched on the mantle of his fire, Josh Eilert’s workplace within the WVU basketball apply facility continues to be slightly naked.

A thick binder stuffed with WVU’s performs sits in a file organizer on high of a cupboard that in any other case is empty.

“My six 12 months previous insisted I put these up,” Eilert mentioned of the finger work. “How do you flip down a six 12 months previous?”

One practice of thought would have you ever assume the setting is becoming, as a result of Eilert is just the Mountaineers’ interim head coach who’s about to embark on a season that would go any variety of methods.

It will be straightforward to say the journey begins Monday, the primary day of full preseason apply for the 2023-24 season, but Eilert, his workers and his gamers have seemingly already been on a journey of a thousand miles.

It started with a summer time of confusion that noticed former head coach Bob Huggins resign in June following a DUI arrest in Pittsburgh, however even that easy assertion doesn’t come with out controversy.

Within the days that adopted, Eilert was named the interim, charged with taking up a group with a roster that resembles little or no of what it did a season in the past, all whereas a authorized battle between Huggins and WVU stuffed the background on whether or not or not he formally resigned within the first place.

Simply to get to this primary day of apply, Eilert needed to resolve on a workers, recruit new gamers to exchange ones who had transferred, block out the noise that got here with Huggins’ resignation and one way or the other put his stamp on a program that will or could not even be his seven months from now.

In a sit-down interview with The Dominion Put up, Eilert mentioned the ins and outs of all of it, together with his optimism for the brand new season, one by which he has utterly modified the Mountaineers’ offense.

Eilert mentioned WVU’s offense will look utterly totally different from seasons passed by, which is the place we start the interview.

The Dominion Put up: What are the early obstacles you could overcome with apply beginning?
Josh Eilert: I’ve thrown loads at them thus far. We’re making an attempt to determine how far I can push early to choose up a brand new offense. I’m not carrying over something we did offensively, thus far anyway. We’ve taken a complete new strategy on offense.

It’s bought a whole lot of NBA affect to it. Primarily Da’Sean (Butler) and I’ve sat down from Day 1 and grinded out a whole lot of totally different actions we’d like to focus on, primarily primarily based on the personnel we now have so we are able to maximize their strengths.

TDP: I hear NBA and I begin pondering nook 3-pointers and point-guard play, is that what you bear in mind?
JE: It can look totally different. Prior to now, coach Huggins had his offense, and, in all probability in my thoughts, it lacked a whole lot of spacing. Typically that’s good and generally that’s unhealthy. In case you have a look at it analytically, I need to get to the purpose the place we’re getting much more open photographs.

Lots of ball screens and the corners can be stuffed, simply much more spacing.

TDP: “Head coach” Josh Eilert, has that title actually sank in but?
JE: There’s days I get up in some form of trance and I shake it off and understand the issues I have to get finished that day and it hits you. It’s like, ‘I’m the pinnacle coach at West Virginia.’ I smile and get excited and prepare to assault the day. I’m excited, clearly, and really grateful to tackle the chance.

TDP: The chance got here after Bob Huggins’ resignation on June 17, going again to that day, did you understand how a lot that second was going to alter your life?
JE: I by no means actually put a lot thought into being the subsequent head coach right here by any means. My quick thought was, ‘OK, what do I bought to do? What’s finest for my household?’ I instantly began doing injury management with my household, as a result of they’re those who depend on me every single day. I used to be making an attempt to inform them every part could be high quality. Dad was going to determine this out.

I’d have a job whether or not it was right here or someplace else. In the identical breath, I’m additionally pondering we’ve bought all of these guys who I’m additionally liable for. That they had simply as many questions. I needed to have simply as a lot foundational help with them as I did my household. I attempted to tackle each of these roles instantly.

TDP: How have you ever been capable of transfer ahead in issues resembling recruiting with the interim tag?
JE: We’re transferring on like we now have the job long run. We’re treating it no totally different than if I had a five-year contract. The large query clearly is will Josh Eilert nonetheless be right here subsequent 12 months when he’s bought solely seven months left on his contract? We don’t have a look at it like that. We have a look at it like I’m going to be right here with a long-term contract. That’s the one manner I believe you may probably strategy this case and achieve success.

After we discuss to recruits, actually we handle the elephant within the room, however we additionally painting our confidence within the scenario. Actually recruiting can be a problem, as a result of different groups are going to level at West Virginia and ask guys what they’re doing? Why waste your time? Will they be there subsequent 12 months? We’ve bought to hit that head on and it’s actually a problem.

TDP: James Dickey was introduced on the teaching workers as an advisor, however what is going to his position really be?
JE: I believe coach Dickey is like the last word glue man. I all the time say, when constructing a roster, to by no means underestimate a terrific glue man. He’s that for us. He’s been down each street and seen each problem there’s to see on this enterprise. He completely has zero ego. He simply needs to be the man who might help information myself or our assistant coaches and he sees issues with a special lens. Not solely has he been a head coach, however he’s additionally been assistant and in help roles. He’s been superior and we’re excited to have him. He’s previous nation boy at coronary heart. I’m previous nation boy at coronary heart, so we hit it off in that regard. He has a large amount of data and knowledge to share.

TDP: In the course of the transition, simply how loopy was it in making an attempt to maintain the roster in place?
JE: The issue with the entire scenario was all of our guys had been up for grabs. Everyone throughout the nation knew in the event that they wanted yet another piece, they might have a look at our roster as some sort of buffet so to talk.

I hated the way in which it went down. I had a whole lot of guys coming to me who weren’t even within the portal and saying, ‘Coach, I’m getting hit from all angles.’ What occurs is I believe guys are utilizing third events to succeed in out and see if there’s curiosity in different faculties. I don’t assume there was direct contact from different faculties, however they discover a option to get it round it. All of our guys had been up for grabs with different faculties. That offseason was actually the wild, wild West in some methods.

TDP: Was there a second the place you felt it needed to place your stamp on this system?
JE: I believe nearly all of the stamp is already on the market. They know what to anticipate now. I’m going to carry them much more accountable with what we’ve been instructing within the preseason. I’ve made it clear that we’re simply not going to maintain instructing the identical issues time and again.

I believe they’ve an thought of how my practices can be structured and what we anticipate. There was some extent when all the noise was occurring after I sat them down and mentioned, ‘I’m not going anyplace. I’m your head coach. I’m going to be right here for you.’ I put it within the perspective in saying we all know who the chief is and we’re transferring ahead.

TDP: Is it troubling in any respect for you that this job didn’t are available in a extra conventional method?
JE: No, as a result of I bought the chance. I’m fairly positive a whole lot of younger individuals are informed to be prepared for that chance. In case you’re not prepared for it, you then’re not going to see success. I’ve all the time informed our guys, no matter job you’ve, do the most effective you completely can, as a result of that’s the way you’ll get seen. Don’t get too wrapped up in the place the subsequent step is. Care for the step you’re on.

TDP: Is it bizarre simply sitting on this workplace behind Huggins’ previous desk?
JE: I’ve sat in virtually each workplace on this constructing, so that is in all probability my fourth workplace I’ve had since I’ve been right here. It was slightly emotional. So many instances I’ve sat on the different facet of this desk and appeared throughout at a Corridor-of-Fame coach who gave me my begin. Coming in right here to clean partitions and recent paint and making an attempt to show that web page, it was awkward. It was awkward, due to the way it all went down. I didn’t get it the standard manner, which is how life occurs generally.

TDP: So far as the roster, RaeQuan Battle continues to be ready on phrase from the NCAA over his eligibility waiver, what are you able to inform us about that?
JE: RaeQuan could be very particular. We’ve bought that waiver hanging over our heads and we’re ready to see the place that’s going to land. From a apply standpoint, we’re working for each situations. We’re making an attempt to get sure guys some extra reps to make up for that void if we do run into it, which might be a crying disgrace if (the NCAA) doesn’t approve his waiver. If he doesn’t get it, he must sit out and play subsequent 12 months.
It’s all within the NCAA’s palms at this level. They sort of gave us a path, if we submitted it in a well timed style, which we did, they might have a call earlier than the primary competitors. I’d assume we’d know by the charity exhibition. That’s my goal. I’d get slightly antsy if it goes previous that.

TDP: From the fellows who performed final season, who has proven enchancment?
JE: Kobe Johnson has in all probability made the largest enchancment from final 12 months to this 12 months. Final 12 months, there have been instances we couldn’t get him to take two photographs. There’s days now the place he’ll go 4 for five from three. His confidence degree has drastically improved and that’s one thing we’ve been in search of in him for fairly a while.

TDP: Jesse Edwards and Kerr Kriisa are two new guys this season, are there any comparisons to be made to previous WVU gamers?
JE: We haven’t actually had a Jesse. We haven’t actually had a Kerr and we haven’t had a Jesse. Kerr is completely pass-first and generally he’s very reluctant to take a shot. He simply needs to run the present.
Jesse is extra of a prototypical NBA large. We’ve had the old-school bigs right here earlier than with guys like Devin Williams and Sagaba Konate the place we may throw it on the block and allow them to pound it and drive our will. Jesse isn’t that man. He’s a protracted rim-runner who could be a lob risk. You possibly can’t isolate him and he can beat you off the bounce on the high of the important thing. To discover a comparability, I’d have a tough time discovering one. It’s a factor of magnificence to look at Jesse and Kerr function within the pick-and-roll.

TDP: Lastly, throughout every part that’s occurred, have you ever ever let your self marvel what if this works out and also you develop into the full-time head coach?
JE: Actually, I don’t consider the choice. I’m below the impression that it will work out. I’ve had a few individuals inform me how may I ever see this as one thing aside from enjoying with home cash? They’re proper, I’m enjoying with home cash.

Somehow, I’m going to have an absolute nice expertise and I’m going to pour my coronary heart into the job and do the very best I can. I’m going to do issues the suitable manner. If issues don’t work out and I’m not the suitable individual for this job, I hope individuals can look again and say he did every part he may to maintain every part intact and we recognize his service and I’ll go away quietly. However, I’m not going to go away quitely with out doing every part the suitable manner and pouring my coronary heart into it within the course of.