Sunday, December 08, 2013

UConn's T.J. Weist has little to say on coaching situation

On his weekly day-after teleconference with the Connecticut media UConn interim head coach T.J. Weist had to know that questions regarding his status as a candidate for the coaching job was going to come up.

Still, when inquiring minds wanted to know if he interviewed for the job as reports said he was going to be, there was about a six-second period of silence.

"I’ll let Warde (Manuel) handle that," Weist said. "I talked to Warde this morning, we had conversations. He really didn’t give me a timeline. He said he is going to interview some people and we will talk some but I will let Warde handle how he wants to handle it."

Weist said that Manuel, UConn's AD, said a few words to the team at this morning's meeting.

So what did he say to the squad?

"General announcements," Weist said. "He's looking for the right coach, being deliberate about getting the right person, he is starting the process now and he didn’t start it before. I’ll let him handle the rest of it."

That led to an obvious follow-up question about whether he appreciated that Manuel was true to his word and waited to do the interview process until the season was over.

"I respect the decision," Weist said. "I agree with it because I think it allows our staff, me and our players to just focus on the season and not worry about any of the other things that go on. I think it is very respectful of him to us and this program to handle it that way. I do appreciate it from the team standpoint that there weren’t distractions. I always talk to the players that we don’t need any distractions and everything worked out. Our players did a great job of not having distractions, they had good practices and everything on the outside, Warde included didn’t distract from what we were trying to do. I respect him for the fact that he did what he said he was going to do, he was going to wait until the end of the season and you know how these things work and that is what he did."

Also, we spoke to Weist yesterday before Yawin Smallwood came out and informed the media that he was declaring for the NFL Draft so I asked him for his take on the decision, the way it was handled and the impact Smallwood had on the team this season.

"I think he handled it very well," Weist said. "We were in the process of talking about it, me, him and Coach (Jon) Wholley just about what his options are and because he was graduating, he had accomplished a lot of things and he thought it was time. I agree with him, you don’t want to take away an opportunity from anybody, everybody’s got to make the personal decision. I would have loved to have had him back selfishly from a team standpoint but it could be a great thing for him, we will see how he does.

"The letter (on his decision to turn pro) that he wrote was the best I have ever read. The way he articulated it. I will tell you this, I couldn’t have written a better letter than what he wrote to the team. I was not a part of that. I didn’t see it before, he didn’t tell anybody, he did it on his own but I could not have written a better letter than that, articulating the words, the context and the things that he wanted to say shows the depth of his character and the respect that he has for this program, for his teammates and his coaches. That is exactly what you would want any player to say and I will use that letter as an example for the rest of my career in how to do it the right way.

"He didn’t have to write a letter, he didn’t have to say a word to anybody, he could have walked up and say ‘I am done, I am out.’ For him to write that letter, make it public and say the things that he said to the right people with dignity and class, I am very proud of him for doing that. After we met with the team he asked me if he could pull the team up. He pulled the team up and told them what he was doing. I think it was the right thing to do because it allowed him to basically finish off his career and the players wanted that too."

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