Feb. 5, 2013
LOGAN, Utah -
On San Jose State game:
"If you have to go on the road back-to-back weekends, it's a good time to just have one game. I haven't actually seen my players since we got home. We had a chance to give them a day off and we'll go back to work today. That will give us three days of practice before Friday's game. Obviously with our depth issues and the amount of minutes our guys are playing, trying to do everything you can to keep them fresh is very important. The day between games I told them that I'd never practiced shorter in my coaching career. We did the bare minimum between Idaho and Seattle U games. We had some energy, I don't know if it was because of that, but we had some energy in both games. It was a good weekend for us.
"Moving on to San Jose, I think it's easy to look at them and say `Wow, they're having some struggles' and all that in terms of wins and losses. All you have to do is look at the second half against Idaho and see them have 21 offensive rebounds in the game. Watch our game when we were in a dog fight here and at full strength. The last thing we need to do is think we're just going to waltz in there and win. We're not going to waltz in anywhere and win. We have to play extremely hard, get better offensively, do the things we need to do to keep ourselves in games. They are very physical right now, they're athletic. They have a number of players who can step up and have big nights, (Chris) Cunningham in the post, DJ Brown on the perimeter, they have (Louis) Garrett back. I'm sure they felt like they were rolling along until they had the suspensions and that has affected their team."
On the BracketBusters game:
"As far as the BracketBusters goes, I haven't given it a lot of thought yet. That's around the corner. BracketBusters have always been a good event for us throughout the years. A lot of times we've been in the position to have those be TV games for us and its put us in the position where it has helped us and hurt us. The nature of this event right now is that it gives us a Missouri Valley Conference team at home. We have a hard time getting a lot of conferences to schedule us home-and-home. If you take that aspect of it, it's positive for us schedule-wise. I don't know a lot about them yet. We played them a number of years ago in a close NIT game at their place. We'll get familiar as it gets closer. It's a positive game as far as playing a Missouri Valley Conference opponent home-and-home."
On having the two non-conference games right in a row at this point of the season with the BYU and Illinois State games:
"We've kind of gotten used to that with having played the BracketBusters every year. Last year we had a non-Division I opponent that we were able to schedule in there. The BYU thing is odd. Going to their place in February is odd. Obviously, it's always a challenge when you go down there. We'll deal with those games when we get there, but right now we want to focus on conference."
On Jarred Shaw's increased consistency:
"He had the bad-shooting game, then had a very good game. I talked to him in front of the team about needing him to not be a one-hit wonder. I'm not sure he knew what that meant, but I think he got the gist of it that we need him to be more consistent. He's been very upbeat, very positive, trying not to have tough nights where when he doesn't shoot the ball well, he doesn't do anything else. He's been shooting the ball well. We need him to do a lot of things beside score, but scoring certainly helps. Our offense took a step forward last week, so hopefully we can continue that. It helps when we get a third or a fourth scorer. That's certainly a positive."
On what Shaw has done to increase his consistency:
"He's taking better shots. He's being more of a power player. We've worked really hard with him on going toward the basket, not shooting fade-aways, not getting knocked off-balance. He's been making much better low-post moves and being more aggressive, more physical to the basket. He can also obviously hit a face-up jumper. He falls into those a lot, just the nature of basketball. He'll be in a situation where someone penetrates or whatever and he ends up with a 12-footer facing the basket. He makes a lot of those shots, but it's almost better when it's not necessarily just an offensive play and but when he just falls into them. He's got a very good touch, it's just a matter of taking good shots and being confident and being more of a power player. We don't need him to have other people, other teams think he's soft. That's the last think we need him to be. He knows that and has tried to be more aggressive."
On the stretch of games with Spencer Butterfield's impact:
"It sometimes goes overlooked a little bit. He's kind of a jack of all trades. He can score, he can rebound, he plays so hard, he tries like heck to guard. He gives us a lot of things out there. He's vocal and talking to guys all the time about playing hard. Spencer is giving us a lot right now and we need him to. We need everybody to. The more guys that can step up like we had last weekend, the better chance we have."
On the step-ups this weekend:
"Ben (Clifford) had 10 rebounds in a game. There were a lot of ways guys contributed. Marvin (Jean) was excellent on the defensive end and had a number of assists. It always helps, like I said, when you can get a third or a fourth scorer. That always gives you a better chance to win."
On increased defense from the team recently:
"It goes along with playing really hard. They understand that they're in an underdog role. They understood that they were going to have to do some things better after losing four in a row and after Kyisean and Preston went out. They were in games, but weren't quite getting over the hump. I think they were looking for any way to win that they could. It's encouraging to have guys respond that way. Instead of getting all down-and-out and feeling sorry for themselves, this group looked for a chance to win. That involved playing a little better defense. We've done that. It helps when your offense takes a pretty good step forward."
On SJSU's defense:
"They've taken a giant step forward in physicality. Their overall defensive approach is to come out and kind of knock you down man-to-man. They're going to try and knock you around, they'll try to out-rebound you. They were really physical in our game here. It's the best San Jose defensive team I have seen in many years. They've just been a little bit snakebitten in some close games and have had the couple suspensions that set them back a little bit. They are plenty capable of beating anybody on a given night. Their losses on the road don't mean anything to us. It means they're probably more motivated to try and get a win. We aren't playing the previous seven games, we're playing this game on Friday. That's where we're at."
On how having been in a losing streak, how that can motivate teams to play better and break streak:
"I'd hope so and I think so. It's always hard to get inside guys' minds. Right now they've taken a good approach about everything."
On SJSU being the only current team USU will see in conference play next season in joining the Mountain West:
"I'm familiar with a lot of the teams in the Mountain West. Anyone who follows college basketball knows what's going on in a lot of different leagues, certainly about a league you're going to be moving into. It's one of those deals where it's a wonderful thing for our University, our student-athletes and our athletic department, but on the other hand being careful what you wish for. We're going into a league that is ranked in the top three or four in the country. It's a heck of a basketball league. I'm looking forward to the challenge, but I definitely know what we're getting in for and I'm not sure everyone does."
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