Jan. 22, 2013
LOGAN, Utah -
Opening statement, addressing USU's injury situation:
"I'm not really sure where to start. Obviously yesterday our concern was with our own team and trying to make adjustments and figuring out who is going to play where and where we are at in all different areas of the game. When you have a point guard playing the back-up two, in terms of TeNale (Roland), when you have a true five man in Jordan Stone playing some four, it goes on and on. When you have a walk-on who is now all of the sudden going to have to be ready to check into games. I mean there is a lot of different scenarios there. One thing that you guys should probably be aware of is that Quinn (Taylor) is not a candidate for coming off of a redshirt year. He is qualified for academic aid, he got some academic aid and when you get any academic aid at all as a freshman, you cannot play. It is kind of like having an extra scholarship so you are not allowed to play. If you maintain your high academics you could potentially stay on academic aid and play, but not your first year. So that is not an option. Had it been an option we sure would have looked at it. We are down in numbers and all of that. It's a big challenge, I would be less than honest if I didn't say that. It is as weird a situation as I have ever had in 27 years as a head coach. Cody (Fueger) and I were talking on the way over and you actually with the five guys hurt could have had a pretty dang good line-up, if you decided to play Preston (Medlin) at the one, Danny (Berger) at the two, Kyisean (Reed) at the three, Brady (Jardine) and Shawn (Harris) in the post, that would've been a pretty good team. That's the guys that are unavailable to play. Now Brady, we knew that (he wouldn't be able to play) coming into this year and then the four guys this year that are basically out and our pretty much for the season. Except for the slight possibility that Preston might be back. So that is where we are at and we will go play with the guys that we have got."
"As I have said, I expect them to play their tails off. I expect them to do their best and we lost 31 points or so offensively in Kyisean and Preston in terms of league games and that is obviously a challenge to try and make up those points. So we have got to try and be better defensively than we have been. I have been harping on that for a couple of months now and harped on it some more yesterday. We've got to find a way to be tenacious defensively if we are going to give ourselves a chance. We are going to need to be more consistent on the boards, obviously you have got to find a way to score and guys that are getting that opportunity have got to step up and believe that they can play but that is where most of our focus was yesterday. It was on our team."
On preparing for this week's games against UT Arlington and Louisiana Tech:
"Obviously we have started our preparation as coaches for UT Arlington and LA Tech, more Arlington right now. I haven't watched a second of tape on LA Tech so if you ask me about them, I don't know. Just being honest with you. I know that they are good, I know that (Raheem) Appleby is a great player but I don't know the specifics yet. I will start watching them after practice today. As far as Arlington, as Al (Lewis, KVNU) and I talked about on the radio show last night a little bit, they are a little bit odd with their road record and their home record, they have been awfully good on the road. They play very good defense. It is pressure man-to-man on the half court, they press you and cause you problems. They will double the ball on an inbound pass. They will run and jump, if we are not solid with the ball they can cause a lot of turnovers. Their man-to-man defense is their base and they are very good in it. All you have to do is look at the field goal percentage they are holding people to and their very good in it. They have very good balance in their scorers. They have a lot of guys averaging between nine and seven, if they were to say what their challenge has been I think they would probably say, shooting the ball from the three has been a little bit of a challenge for them at times. We got a feel for them last year and I was really impressed with them when I saw them in our tournament with the job that is done coaching-wise and with how hard they play. So we kind of got a little bit of a feel for what we are in for."
On practicing with limited numbers:
"You better not stop by, you might have to practice. We are in a scramble mode, the problem is you can potentially get 10 guys out there with Connor (Garner) and Quinn but that is with each guy playing their natural position. Now when you have to move guys around, it causes some problems to get TeNale a little bit of time at the two and Spencer (Butterfield) is starting at the two but needs some time at the three and Jordan all of the sudden is playing at the four but he has got to get a little five time. So our scout squad ends up having to play some defense. We go blue versus white and we will have a scout come in and we will move some guys around and we will play in the half-court. It is a little bit of a puzzle, but one time I tried to figure out how many practice plans I had done and approximately you do 80 to 90 a year and you know you do the math, I have done a lot of practice plans, trying to figure out how to do that is something that I have done a lot of. Not with this many guys out but we will do the best we can and that is all we can do. Like I said, it is a challenge. When I mentioned last night (on the radio show) that I would like to believe that this team could still find a way to contend, that is me expressing some confidence in the guys that are going to be out there playing. Obviously we have got to figure out if we can be competitive before we can figure out if we can contend with these changes. I expect and I told them in meetings yesterday what I expected from them and they need to expect a lot from themselves to. We need to go out and play and play hard."
For the record, you do a different practice plan for everyday? You don't repeat them?
"No. No. You know I had an assistant ask me if, because somewhere he had been before they all had a lot of input on the practice plan and I laughed and said, `no, you have no input.' The practice plan is mine. There are some things that are mine, there are some things that determine how your team plays and practice plan is one of them. I know what I want to get done in practice and they have a lot of input in a lot of areas. My assistants always have had a lot of input but when it comes down to putting that input into a practice plan, you don't need to many chefs in the kitchen."
On any possibility of asking practice players to come out:
"It might come to that. We've got a season to finish. We had a guy walk on a semester, Levi (Pace), but he's not a candidate right now for getting any playing time. I wouldn't want to do that. I wouldn't want to hold a tryout and have three or four kids think they are going to play and all they are is practice fodder. I wouldn't want to do that. If we had two or three more injuries, I guess we wouldn't have a lot of choice. I played Don Haskins one time in El Paso, he had six guys. It was one of the dangdest things I have ever seen looking over at that bench. There were a couple of assistant coaches and one guy. Five guys on the court and one guy suited and there was no other redshirts, he had six guys and damn near beat us. I'm like, what's up with this? But the six he had were pretty good. What you worry about is are we going to have to finish a game with four? There is all kinds of goofy things that could happen. I'll be talking in the officials' ear that you can't be fouling us out."
On a few football players that have played basketball, if there any possibility of asking them to come practice with you:
"Not right now. Like I said, I don't know their ability level, and it is too hard for them to learn the whole new system. We've got eight plus one, one walk-on and if he has to go in, he has to go in, so we got nine available."
On how with the way the season has gone, are you going to have to change the way you recruit next year:
"Kyisean was our only senior and we've signed some guys. I don't ever rule out in the spring you are going to add somebody, because you never know what will happen. You never know if a guy will flunk out of school. You never know if a guy will look at playing time and say I want to go somewhere else where I can play. There is always a possibility. Danny (Berger) is going to be back. Preston (Medlin) is going to be back. With Sean Harris, we'll see. He's a potential, he has one year left and had two ACL's. So whether he is going to be a medical or whether he is going to try and play is to be determined. Will we continue to recruit? Yes, but we were already recruiting."
On if in all of time coaching, if have ever seen anything like the last two years, where a total of 13 guys could have been here and playing but are not:
"There is some transition in coaching. That is natural in college basketball anymore. Kids want to play. In my opinion, that is the main reason guys leave. When they look at it and say well I'm not looking at playing time. Especially, I think the two guys this year the truth be known - that would be the main reason they left, Riley Bradshaw and Quincy Bair. Often times that is the case anymore. Guys are not very patient, everybody wants to play immediately with a lot of the freshmen being able to play. It is what it is, more than I would like - I know that."
On what are the big strengths of the team now:
"Our size has to be a positive factor for us. We have got to be able to throw the ball, Jarred (Shaw) has got to step up his production a little bit. We have got to be able to throw the ball to Jarred, Matt (Lopez), Jordan (Stone), to Ben (Clifford) and get something done. We just have to get better defensively. Our `five' guys, we pointed out to them yesterday that they have a couple of assists and about 23 or 24 turnovers in league, our post guys - not just our `five' guys. So their passing obviously has to improve for us to have a chance to be successful. One thing we've always had, when you go back and look at all our post guys through the years, is really good post passers, all the way back. We've run a lot of offense through guys like Tai Wesley, Spencer Nelson, Nate Harris and so on and so forth and even our `five' guys have been often times really good passers. That's been a struggle at times for us. Denver caused us to have eight turnovers and zero assists from our two five players and that was a factor in that game. So, we have got to pass the ball better. I think it remains to be seen. We need a guy like TeNale Roland come in the game and score, believe he can get some things done. I'd like to see him be more physical, I'd like to see him be tougher, play the game tougher. He is a great kid, but you almost have to get him mad before plays quite physical enough. If he could do that, that would really help. I'm not going to go through every one with you, but I went and wrote down a list and told every guy what I thought he needed to do for us to have a chance. That was an example of TeNale. I don't think he'd care that I told you that, I certainly tell him that about 200 times. There is not anything that they heard yesterday that I haven't told them a lot of times. The reality of it is, you have got to go out there and see what happens. We're playing with some different people. You've got to go see what happens. We are at home. We'll see how our fan base reacts. We hope that they will jump in and help us, that is what Aggie fans are usually all about. So, we kind of are hoping for that, because we need it, we definitely need it and we'll see."
On if the players who are left look at this as an opportunity:
"There are sad about losing their teammates. They are not stupid. They know that Preston Medlin was averaging over 20 (points) in league, a first-team all-WAC player, they know how good he is. They know Kyisean's ability, athletic ability. Kyisean had done such a great job this year, compared to a year ago and the strides he had made. They understand all that, but you know every guy wants to play and thinks if he gets more minutes, more opportunity he'll show you what's up. So show me, great, I'm all for it. I got some belief that these guys are going to try their tail off and that's all I can really ask. I can live with the results. If they are doing everything they possibly can to compete, that's all you can ask and we'll live with the results."
On if he has challenged Ben Clifford to be more physical offensively:
On if there is any one player from UT Arlington they are concerned about:
"No, I mean I think it is hard to be concerned about one guy. They have too much balance and you might say well guys are scoring 10-9-8, 8-7-7 a bunch of guys getting that, I've always thought those kind of teams are harder to prepare for because you've got to be concerned about them all. A lot of guys are capable of having a big time night. I am concerned about them offensively, but I'm really concerned about them defensively as well, because they just really, really guard you, do a good job defensively."
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