Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Weist's focus in on Memphis, not future at UConn

If the strain of his uncertain future was weighing on the mind of UConn interim head coach T.J. Weist, he did a masterful job of masking it during Tuesday's press conference.

Weist was asked whether he was given a timetable for the naming of a head coach and said he was not before quickly saying all the right things about how that process is out of his hands.

"We will finish off with three wins and see where it stands," Weist said.

"These situations are always tough on any staff. Our guys have done a great job, both offensively, defensively, and on special teams. It's not easy. It's never easy. I commend them for working hard, for staying together, for being aggressive with their players, keeping them together, for coaching hard during a game and at all times in practice. A coach can easily give up, just like a player can, on a season. Our guys have not done that. They've worked hard, they've been loyal to the university, moreover to me and us, to our staff, and to this team. So I'm proud of them from that standpoint. They've done a really good job. We've got one more game to go and then we'll see from there. We're not basing whether we get the job or not, whether I get the job or not, on our effort or our performance in practice today or the game Saturday. That's how we have to look at it as coaches. All the coaches know that if we want to continue working here, the best bet is to do a great job while we're here."

When Weist was announced as UConn's interim coach, AD Warde Manuel was asked what Weist needed to do to earn the job on a full-time basis and responded with the word "win."

Well, UConn lost the first five games with Weist at the helm but have showed signs of life in the last two weeks posting wins over Temple and Rutgers. I spoke to Manuel after UConn's women's basketball game against Ohio State and asked him if the back to back wins have increased the chances of Weist being a legitimate candidate for the UConn job.

"I loved T.J. from the time I put him in and it hasn't changed from the day I appointed him as interim (coach)," Manuel said. "He is a great person, a great coach and he has done a hell of a job leading the team and we will see where it goes from here."

So that was Manuel's take on the job Weist has done. How about Weist's take on his own performance?

"It is easy to say I have gotten better as a head coach because we are winning games, that is the ultimate deciding factor if somebody is doing their job better," Weist said. "It is hard for me rate myself. It is easy for me to be critical of the things I do because I like to believe I put as much pressure on myself as anybody, I want to win more than anybody, more than any fan, more than any other coach or anybody else, try to be smarter, more efficient in everything I do, also be aware of the factors that are involved in coaching. It is a learning process for me, it is the first time I have done it. I think we’ve won some games and we’d like to win one more. There are a lot of things I’d like to take back, a lot of things I’d like to change, a lot of things I have learned from on the field that I think I can get better at whether it is time management, calling plays, making better decisions, motivating the team or finding ways to win."

Manuel did not give a concrete timetable for when he'd like to have a coach in place.

"The sooner the better but there is no timeline," Manuel said. "I want to find the best coach for UConn and for our football team moving forward. I am very proud of what T.J. has done but we want to do a national search and we will see where it goes."

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