Q&A with Dave Krauth

Dave Krauth is 492-215 in 24 years as Augustana coach, but before this year, most of those seasons ended in disappointment, at least to some degree. Never had the Vikings won a conference title or regional championship, though they’d come close enough times to get sick of being reminded. Six times Krauth’s teams finished second in the NCC or NSIC and six times they finished third. And about half of those second and third place finishes came in the pre-Division I era, when NDSU, SDSU, USD and UND — all women’s basketball powerhouses — were in the NCC.
So while this year’s Vikings team isn’t probably Augie’s best, it is certainly it’s most accomplished, having won a school record 27 games and capturing the first conference and regional championships in school history.

Sure, there’s a good chance the Vikings season could end tomorrow at the hands of undefeated Clayton State, the No. 1 team in the nation, but Augie seems impressively relaxed and confident. And proud, too. They know what they’ve accomplished is special, particularly since Krauth has come so close so many times.
And while Krauth himself isn’t too keen on making himself the focus of the Vikings exploits, he tepidly addressed the scope of this weekend in a brief interview this morning after Augie’s 8 a.m. practice.
Some of his comments will make it into my column and preview story for tomorrow’s game, but I thought I’d post the entire thing here.

Matt Zimmer: What have you seen from Clayton State?
Dave Krauth:They’re a fast team that will press you and try to turn you over and look to create easy shots for themselves using their athleticism. You really have to do a good job in the possession game, taking care of the basketball.

MZ: How unique are they in that regard — are there any teams you’ve gone against that are similar?
DK: Not really, they’re a Nolan Richardson, 40-minutes of hell kind of team, and then when they get a rebound they try to throw it long. I mean, it’s just constant, so you know you kind of wonder, should we try to run with ‘em? I just think we have to be aggressive and take advantage of opportunities.

MZ: Is there really any way to try to prepare for that this late in the season?
DK: We don’t really have much time for any preparing. We’re scrambling from meetings to press conferences and events and then this morning we get 55 minutes to practice. You pretty much just hope you’re ready at this point. You go through a scout, but mostly you just put it on the floor and go play.

MZ: Does their style put pressure on (guards) Emily Schulte and Shaunteva Ashley?
DK: We’ll try to alternate them a little bit so one doesn’t have to handle the ball for 40 minutes and we’ll kind of do the same thing on defense. They have a quick point guard and we’ll switch off on who has to guard her.

MZ: Is it hard to balance preparation with properly celebrating and enjoying this experience and what you accomplished to get here?
DK: Well they’re all looking forward to playing. When do you celebrate your achievements, whether it be a conference tournament championship or a regional tournament championship? I mean, it’s not like we’ve had any time to — they had to get back and try to catch up on classes, and now they’re missing some more. It’s not like we’re sitting around thinking, ‘Should we be celebrating today?’, but we’re proud of where we’re at and what we’ve been able to do and are looking forward to another challenge.

MZ: Have you taken a moment, though, to kind of appreciate what this is, considering all the success the program has had and this being the first time at the Elite Eight? It’s a big deal, right?
DK: Yeah, I think it is. And it may be one of those things that down the road can really have a positive effect on your program. You can maybe be more successful with a recruit that sees those kinds of things and is influenced by them. But yeah, it’s definitely going to create some memories for all of us involved.