Saturday, January 26, 2002

Five questions with Louis Orr

By Neil Schmidt
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        In his first season coaching Seton Hall, Louis Orr has found South Orange, N.J., to be an East Coast version of Cincinnati. The Withrow High grad and former Xavier assistant tabbed longtime Withrow coach George Jackson to come with him as an assistant, and they work with three other people with Queen City ties: Ty Shine, who played for Jackson at Withrow, is a senior guard. Athletic director Jeff Fogelson served the same post at XU for 15 years, working there with Orr. And David Grant, who played for the Bengals in their 1988 Super Bowl season, has been Seton Hall's strength coach the past few years.

        “When we're all together, (Cincinnati) comes up either collectively or individually,” Orr said. “I've been away from Cincinnati basically since 1994, but every time I go home there's people I like to see and places I like to go.”

        Orr's team is 10-8 (3-3 Big East) entering a game today at Notre Dame. He took time this week to answer five questions from the Enquirer's Neil Schmidt.


        Q. How would Louis Orr the Syracuse star, circa 1980, fare in the Big East today?


        A. I'd probably depend more on my smarts than my athletic ability. Fundamentally sound players with good basketball IQ will have success in any era. But in general, players today are so much bigger and stronger than when I played, because of all the weight training going on now.


        Q. How much do you play now?

        A. When I coached at Syracuse (as an assistant from 1996-2000), a couple times I played pickup ball just for fun, but I don't anymore. Every now and then I get out with our players, mostly just for demonstrations at slow speed.

        I shoot around, but it's different now. I don't have the same fire or zeal for it. When can't do it like you used to do it, you stop doing it.


        Q. Your stepdaughter, Monica Mack, is a freshman guard at Fordham, playing 20 minutes a game and averaging 2.6 points. How do you keep up on her progress?

        A. I've probably been to three or four games. She's a 45-minute drive away; that makes it convenient.

        She was able to come to Cincinnati when Fordham played Xavier, and her dad in Cincinnati got to see her play, so that was neat. (Mack's biological father, Michael Mack, is a minister in Cincinnati. When Orr married Monica's mother, Yvette, then-8-year-old Monica went to live with them on the East Coast.) She has two dads; she calls us both “Dad.” We're both very involved in her life.

        My son, Chauncey, is 8, and he likes to play, too. He's coming along.


        Q. Ty is in an unsung role for you as a senior backing up your top scorer, Andre Barrett, at point guard. (Shine is averaging 7.9 points in 18.9 minutes.) Talk about his play.

        A. He gives us a lot of experience, another offensive force and another ballhandler. We play him and Andre together quite a bit. It's not always easy being a senior and being asked to provide a lift off the bench. It's not something everyone can accept and do, but he has the ability to do that.

        We still have a lot of basketball to go, and we hope his talents will continue to rise. He's been solid.


        Q. Your team has had some fine efforts, almost beating Duke and nearly breaking Michigan State's long home winning streak, yet it has also struggled in stretches. How has the season gone?

        A. It's a process. We're all growing together. We've had some good moments. Change and growth take time. We're headed in the right direction.

        Every day that goes by, I think we're more comfortable with everthing: the team, the system, the chemistry. In this league, if you play hard, play defense and stay together, you'll be successful. That's our goal: to play to our potential every night out.


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