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By LARRY VAUGHT
Here is more of my conversation with new Morehead State coach Sean Woods, who I think will do a terrific job with the Eagles.
Question: Will it be harder to win at Morehead in the Ohio Valley Conference than it was at Mississippi Valley State?
Woods: â€œIn every conference it is hard to win no matter where you are at. Just a different level, different beat, different type of players, different coaches. Conference play is always tough. I could go to the SEC and come back down to the Sun Belt and it would still be tough in conference play. Nothing changes. It’s hard to go unbeaten in any conference.
“Morehead has some great pieces coming back. Donnie left some players. I have got to solidify the guys he had recruited and let them know it is okay to still play for me. I have to sell them all over. But the kids that are left and the way they play fits real well with the way I play. I like that.”
Question: How much would you have liked a chance to play UKâ€ˆin the NCAA last year?
Woods: “I would have loved it. I would have loved beating Western. That burns my belly more than the opportunity to play Kentucky that we didn’t get because we lost. We were right there. I wouldn’t change a thing. Those kids played their hearts out all year long. To win 19 of 21 games like we did at the end was remarkable with those kids. For them to have one bad three-minute stretch in the year, come on. What more could I have asked? Nothing against those guys. We overachieved, did something no one at our school had ever did and raised bar. They left their legacy.”
Question: Did you learn things from that loss that made you a better coach?
Woods: “It has already helped me. First, it was that team and those kids first time on that stage. Playing in front of the president of the United States. How many teams get to do that? Those kids outplayed Western Kentucky for 36 minutes in front of the whole world. To have a bad stretch, partially due to fatigue, was not what we wanted, but I was proud of my guys. No one every thought we would reach that pinnacle.”
Question: Has the amount of media attention you have received now and every time you have been back to Kentucky surprised you?
Woods: “It has been really good for me and the program. I have not been back in Kentucky for so long. It has just reminded me how passionate the commonwealth of Kentucky is about basketball and guys that play at Kentucky. I am humbled by all of this. It is a great opportunity for me to come back and coach at Morehead and do my very best. There is even more pride for me being back in the state of Kentucky.”
Question: Since you played high school basketball in Indiana, why do you keep refering to â€œcoming homeâ€ when talking about Morehead?
Woods: “I lived here. My mom is from Lexington. My roots are here. Since I put on the blue and white Iâ€ˆhave considered myself a Kentuckian. We all go off and then come back to Kentucky. We all consider Kentucky home. All who play here feel that way. My wife is from Lexington. My kids were born here. I am all about Kentucky and glad to be back home.”