LINDA BLAKLEY: Welcome to DePaul Download. I'm your host, Linda Blakley, vice president of University Marketing and Communications.
On April 7 in Wintrust Arena, DePaul athletic director DeWayne Peevy held a press conference to introduce Tony Stubblefield as DePaul's fifteenth men's basketball head coach.
Tony - or Coach Stubbs as he prefers to be called - brings nearly two decades of collegiate coaching experience to the Blue Demons. He comes to DePaul after spending 11 seasons at the University of Oregon, helping the Ducks make it to 10 post-season appearances. This included eight NCAA tournament berths, four regular season conference championships and three conference tournament championships.
He also is regarded as one of the nation's top recruiters. He helped assemble 5 recruiting classes that ranked among the top twelve nationally. This included future NBA players Troy Brown Jr. and Louis King, and NBA draft choices, Brown Jr., Bol Bol and Payton Pritchard.
Coach Stubbs, I want to personally welcome you to DePaul University and to the DePaul Download Podcast.
TONY STUBBLEFIELD: Well, thank you so much, Linda. I'm very excited to be here. I'm really looking forward to this great opportunity and just ready to roll my sleeves up and get to work.
LINDA BLAKLEY: So, let's start with an easy question. You've been in Chicago for a few weeks now. How has your transition to the Midwest been so far and what about your time so far as a Blue Demon?
TONY STUBBLEFIELD: I tell you what, it's been great. The city of Chicago is a great city. DePaul is a great university. Just the people, the energy around campus, around the city, it's all been very, very – great restaurants. Probably too good of restaurants. I've been eating very, very well. It's much different than Eugene, Oregon. So, it's been a great time so far and the people have been very welcoming.
So, just really excited to be here and excited to be back in the Midwest.
LINDA BLAKLEY: So, what attracted you to DePaul and this position?
TONY STUBBLEFIELD: I tell you what, there is many things that attracted me to DePaul. First and foremost, it's a great opportunity. Growing up in Clinton, Iowa, you know, hour and forty-five minutes, two hours away from here, I grew up watching the Blue Demons. So, I was very familiar with the history, the tradition, the success that DePaul basketball had had, watching it on WGN Channel 9.
So, I was very familiar with the tradition of DePaul, the city of Chicago being one of the best cities in the world, a great city to live in, was very attractive. And just the education that a young man can get from DePaul University. The Big East Conference which is a great conference. So, there were many attractions to DePaul, to being here.
LINDA BLAKLEY: So, what are your short-term goals for the men's basketball team?
TONY STUBBLEFIELD: Short-term, you know, I just think it's important to get the right guys here that believe in our vision, believe in our culture of helping turn this program around.
Again, you know, we're not reinventing the wheel here. DePaul has had success before. So, we can do it again. So, getting guys that want to come here, want to work extremely hard, want to get a great education from DePaul.
So, you know, my goal is to put the best team on the floor that can help turn this program around right away.
LINDA BLAKLEY: So, where do you see the team one year from now?
TONY STUBBLEFIELD: Well, I see it being a team that is very, very competitive, that is going to play very hard, night in and night out, and that's going to be challenging to win games on a consistent basis.
So, I do think we can make great improvement over the course of the year. I think with the transfer portal, with some of the kids that are still available, it helps in rebuilding a program a little sooner than what it was, you know, three or four years ago where guys had to sit out. I think there's options for guys who can come play immediately and I think there are still some good high school talent out there.
So, I do think we can make a step in the right direction over the course of the next year.
LINDA BLAKLEY: Recruiting has been a huge part of your career. What three things will you do to recruit the best players for next season?
TONY STUBBLEFIELD: You know, recruiting is a big part of any successful program, I feel. First of all, I think you've got to get young men in that can fit the style of play, to fit the system and to buy into your culture.
So, I think that's extremely important. I think it's also very important to get the best players that you can get in your area. So, recruiting Chicago, recruiting the suburbs, recruiting the state of Illinois, there is a lot of talent in Chicago. There is a lot of talent in the state. So, I think it is very, very important to try to keep that talent at home.
With that being said, DePaul is a national brand as well. So, I think you can go to other parts, to New York, to Philadelphia, to Jersey and those areas, to D.C., and be able to attract talent from there as well and I think we've got to keep our options open internationally, you know? That's one thing that we had great success with at the University of Oregon is being able to recruit internationally.
So, I think those are, you know, three or four of the main goals, the main ideals of the areas that we're really going to look to attack from a recruiting standpoint.
LINDA BLAKLEY: So, can you tell us just a little bit more about how you plan to recruit local Chicago athletes to play for DePaul?
TONY STUBBLEFIELD: Well, again, like I said, I think it's very important to try to keep the local talent but I think a big part of that is building the relationships, building those relationships with the high school coaches in Chicago and the surrounding areas, building those relationships with the AAU coaches. That's very important. There's very good coaching in Chicago, in the suburbs, in the state.
With that being said, I think you've got to start at a young age of really expressing the interest in these young men. I don't think you can wait until their senior year. It happens as soon as they step on their high school campuses from freshman year and you have to be visible at the high school games, at high school tournaments, all of those things. You've got to be – you have to be very, very visible.
So, those are three or four of the main areas that I think we have to try to attack to keep the local talent and just show them how important it is to stay home and they can get a great education here. We can be very successful. But you really have to be very visible and work diligently to let them know that there is a need for them to stay at home.
LINDA BLAKLEY: Here is another question for you. What would your former players say about your coaching style?
TONY STUBBLEFIELD: Well, I hope that they would say that I'm a very intense coach, you know.
You know, I want guys that will play hard and lay it all on the line. But at the same time, when that practice is over, I'm going to love them hard, you know? I'm going to be there for them and it's like I always tell guys in recruitment...this isn't a four-year relationship with me. This is a lifetime commitment and relationship with me. I'm going to be following you years down the road after you've left this university.
That is one thing that I think has been important with me is just maintaining those relationships after their careers have been over.
But I'm going to coach them extremely hard. I'm a very intense coach. But at the same time, I'm going to love them hard as well and I want to see them be successful in life. That's more important to me is that the young men come, get a great education and live a great life. That's what's important to me. Just maintaining those relationships with them, their parents and everybody that was involved in the recruiting process.
I think those relationships are lifelong and very important to me.
LINDA BLAKLEY: My final question is similar to one I asked DeWayne Peevy, DePaul's athletic director. What is one thing that the college basketball community doesn't already know about you?
TONY STUBBLEFIELD: What's one thing that the college basketball community doesn't already know about me?
I love to eat. I love food. I tell people all the time – well, I shouldn't say – I guess they would know. But I only work out because I love to eat and I love sweets. And that's my biggest thing. I love chocolate. I'm a bad eater. But I just work out to eat. So, again, I love working out but I work out to eat.
LINDA BLAKLEY: Well, Chicago is going to be a great town for you.
TONY STUBBLEFIELD: It might be too great for me because again, there's everything here in Chicago. Again, I lived in Eugene, Oregon which, it was a great place to live as well. There just wasn't as many options as there is here in Chicago. So, whatever you like to eat, it's here for you.
You know, yesterday I found one of the best cupcake places here in Chicago that is right by the university. I wish I wouldn't have found it because I'll be there too much. But I did and I will be there on a regular basis.
The restaurants here are great. And Chicago is a city that has everything here that you want. So, if you want it, it's here for you. That's one thing I'm really looking forward to, bringing young men on visits to see the campus, see the city of Chicago because there's everything here that kids are looking for.
LINDA BLAKLEY: Thank you, Coach Stubbs, for joining me today on the DePaul Download. It's an honor to welcome you to the Blue Demon family and I can't wait to go to Wintrust Arena for a home game next season.
TONY STUBBLEFIELD: Well, I tell you what, Linda, thank you very, very much for having me.
It's a great opportunity. I'm very excited about being here, bringing the tradition, the success back to the DePaul Blue Demons. I'm getting us back to the NCAA tournament, playing deep into that tournament and winning basketball games. And kids here are receiving a great education, leaving here with a degree.
So, I'm just very excited to be here. It's a lot of hard work but I'm ready to roll my sleeves up and get after it.
LINDA BLAKLEY: To learn more about Coach Stubbs, Blue Demon Basketball or find out how you can purchase tickets for next season, visit DePaulBlueDemons.com or check out this episode's related content.
I'm Linda Blakley. Thank you for listening to another episode of DePaul Download, presented by DePaul's Division of University Marketing and Communications.