Jan. 2, 2013
LOGAN, Utah -
"First of all, it's an odd set of circumstances when you play seven games in a little over two months. We were 6-1 going into our Christmas tournament. Now we will have played seven games after these two in a little over two weeks, so that is odd.
"This is a quick turnaround from playing Saturday and Monday starting league to turn and play Thursday and Saturday. You're always worried about your preparation time, your energy level, all those kind of things. They always concern you as a coach. We should be in good spirits, should be excited to play. It's our home WAC openers this weekend.
"These are two teams that certainly concern you. I've watched them play each other. That's the good thing about conference play is you sometimes get to watch your opponents as they play each other. The difference with their schedule is that they aren't playing four games in eight days because they aren't each other's travel partner. They only played on Saturday, no Monday game, then they come play Thursday and Saturday. I don't know what that means, but it's the situation they're in. Their last game was last Saturday against each other. It was a very good game. Both teams played well and it was a close game. Either team could have won. Idaho hit a few threes at the end to get a good road win at Seattle.
"Seattle always concerns you with their talent level and their athleticism. Last year they gave us fits in Seattle. They pressured us and pressed us and caused us all kinds of problems. That's an area we've been trying to get better at is taking care of the basketball. That will be a big part of the game. They're the best offensive rebounding team in the league, so that is another area of concern. We have to take care of the ball then block off and rebound it. We slipped a little bit in a couple games rebounding and bounced back against Texas State. Those are areas of the game that jump out at you when you play Seattle U, their athleticism which translates into causing turnovers and rebounding the ball offensively, and then our ability to do what we need to against their press and blocking off. They have a pretty good balance on their team. There are about five guys averaging between eight and 11 points a game. It starts with their post guys, but they're very aggressive in terms of pushing the ball on the break. There's a lot of one-on-one defense when you're guarding their personnel. They will post their 2-guard a whole lot. They try to play to each of their players' strengths which is what you want to do.
"Then we have a quick turnaround and play Idaho on Saturday. It's an Idaho team we're very familiar with as they have a lot of personnel they've had in the past. Their system is familiar to us. As I watched them play yesterday, I recognized a whole lot of things. Some of it is stuff we run now, some we ran when Don (Verlin) was with me for 15 years. He's done a real good job up there. They're shooting a high percentage, they're solid defensively. Both Seattle and Idaho are +7 on the boards. It has to be a big rebounding weekend for us if we want to be in the ballgames. They have a premiere post guy in (Kyle) Barone. There are very good shooters on the perimeter surrounding him, makes it hard to double him too much, because you're going to potentially leave a three-point shooter open. They'll be coming in from San Jose. It's odd to have San Jose as a travel partner, doesn't seem close enough to be a travel partner. At least somebody has to get on a plane and get to Salt Lake then Logan. I hope they get good and tired on that day in between. You don't really wish other teams ill will, but you don't wish them any breaks either. That's just the nature of conference competition."
On the Seattle's press compared to Texas State:
"Their press has been more token than I think it will be against us. They've picked up full in kind of a zone press, then they trap you maybe once. Then when you break it they skedaddle back and get matched up man-to-man. That's what they've done so far. Last year they just were flying around pressing us up in Seattle. Going into that game last year, they had not played one possession of zone defense the entire year and zoned us the whole game. That just tells you we could see just about anything.
"Really, from these two teams we can see about anything. Coach V (Verlin) in the five years he's been gone, has tried to do some non-traditional things against us - a box-and-one, triangle-and-two, trap our first pass, a variety of things to take us out of our flow. He knows that when we get in a good flow we're pretty good offensively. I can see him trying to do a variety of things. I can see Seattle with the success they had up at their place try and do something different than what we've seen so far. That's the downside of just one day of prep. We won't really have a chance to look at those sort of things. The other night we put a press-breaker in during a timeout, drawing it out on the board that our guys had never ran before. It's simple, but still they'd never ran it. It helped us handle Texas State's press. We're going to have to handle some things on the fly I'm sure, just like we did in that situation."
On the current pace of the game:
"I like to think we can play at different paces. If you want to play fast, ok we can play fast, especially on our home court. Sometimes on the road we may not. We have to take advantage of the break when we get the opportunity. We actually had a lot of out-of-offense type of plays, just good basketball plays, in the Texas State game. It's always good to see our team make basketball plays. We've started shooting the ball at a pretty high percentage, and hopefully we can continue to do that. I normally tell my teams from day one, the first meeting of the year, that we'll be fine offensively. We need to worry about defending and rebounding the ball. Sure enough, here it is in January and the same speech is going on about every day. We are usually pretty solid offensively."
On the point guards against the press:
"They're doing fine. Those two point guards get a little more comfortable every time. They're both new, but they're starting to settle in a little bit. I'll have a conversation with Marcel (Davis) in about mid-February about not hitting the freshman wall, that's that not allowed at Utah State. We don't believe in that. He'll just nod and say `Ok,' and that will be about what that conversation is. They're both settling in. TeNale (Roland) sometimes gets loose with it early in the game. He's had a couple of turnovers that he shouldn't have had. Hopefully he's learning from that. You can't expose the ball when the defender is right on you, you can't cross over right in front of him. He's learned that the hard way. The press-breaker isn't all about them, it's about all five guys on the court functioning to break a press. What we can't simulate ever with our scout squad is the quickness we face when people press us. Teams that press are generally pressing because they're more athletic than you are. If the teams we're facing are more athletic than us, certainly our scout squad isn't near as athletic as them. You do the best you can in your prep for getting pressed. We'll spend about 10 minutes on it today and make sure our guys understand what we're going to see."
On being out-rebounded against Seattle both times last year:
"It's an emphasis for them every day in practice, I'm sure. They're playing to their strength with their athleticism. It's easy to say `You go block this guy out,' but then when you go to block him out and he's quicker than you, it's easier said than done. It's a big part of their game plan. They exposed us a little bit with the rebounding last year. We're a little better of a rebounding team than we were a year ago though. Hopefully that will help us."
On personnel concerns on Seattle:
"It starts with (Clarence) Trent. He's a handful. He's an inside-outside guy, kind of a 4-3 type player who can post you up, drive by you, shoot threes. Their other post guy (Deshaun Sunderhaus) is their other leading scorer. He seems to be real good at the low post and very active on the boards. Their point guard is a great penetrator, and there's number 5 (D'Vonne Picket), number 0 (Prince Obasi). Their 2-guard posts up and backs you down. He's about 210 pounds. You'll be impressed with them athletically. Then their 3-man, Rasmussen, sixty-five of his 81 shots this season are threes. Anytime you're playing a guy like that, you better know how to guard him and get him off the three-point line. It's not always easy to do, but that's what you have to try and do."
On Preston Medlin's offensive improvements:
"He's a really good player. We're always going to run things to try and get him looks. What happens sometimes in the course of the game is you go to who's playing well. When he gets on a little bit of a roll, we're going to run things to get him looks. Same thing with when we get Jarred (Shaw) posted up and scoring. We're going to try and get him (Medlin) looks. That's just the nature of basketball and our system. He's been very aggressive. It's been a state of mind, along with our play-calling. He's been very aggressive and positive about the things he can do out there. He carried us at times this weekend, no question. Idaho, as you'll recall, he had an incredible game against them last year here. He'll probably be a real focus for them. He's going to be the other team's best perimeter defender every night out. That's good news for Spencer (Butterfield), because he's not playing too bad either. You want to put your best defender on Preston and Spencer could potentially cause some problems."
On Spencer Butterfield's play lately:
"Part of his success is something I love in any player. He believes he can play. He's very confident and he's looking to make basketball plays. They're not all just shots. He'll hunt some shots, but he had nine assists and one turnover. He'll make the right basketball plays most of the time. He's at a disadvantage sometimes defensively, quickness-wise, but he makes up for it in effort. I had to take him out last game when he was giving the white flag sign because he'd been playing so dang hard."
On similarities of Butterfield and former Aggie player Brian Green:
"We said when we recruited him that he had a little bit of Brian Green and a little bit of Tyler Newbold, kind of a mix between the two. If you can have half of each of those guys, that's a pretty good whole. Those are two hard-nosed, gritty competitors for us and he's kind of cut from that same cloth. At halftime of both of these last two games and when the other team's on a run, he seems to be the guy who makes a big shot for us. What goes un-noticed a little bit is how good a rebounder he is. We always try to get two guys back when we shoot, but against good teams that like to run, we usually try to get three back, but we still only get two guys back because his nature is just to go to the boards. He's not trying to defy us, it's just his instinct. That's just him and you love that about him. You better block him out, in practice he tests a guy's block out daily."
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