Feb. 12, 2013
LOGAN, Utah -
On San Jose State trip:
Well, San Jose was good. We went in there and did what we needed to do. We played hard and played pretty well. It made for a nice three-game road swing and hopefully gave us full momentum going into this weekend."
On this weekend's games:
"We've not a number of really tough games coming up and the best thing to do is just try and focus on the first one. Denver has just basically been carving people up with their personnel and their Princeton system. From a purist standpoint, when you watch them you have to appreciate what they do. They get a lot of layups and they make a lot of threes offensively. Defensively they just give you fits with their match-ups, switching to man-to-man, half-zone, half-man, nobody really seems to know exactly what their rules are. They do a great job on both ends of the court.
"They're having a great year. Last time we played them they basically carved us up. That's what we're up against. It's hard to simulate their system with your scout squad because there are so many reads and so many little intricate things that go into it. You just do the best you can trying to prepare your guys. Their system is a big part of it, but they've also got veteran, good personnel with a player of the year candidate at the 5 position in (Chris) Udofia. They have great shooters in (Brett) Olson and (Chase) Hallam. They shoot at a real high percentage from three. They cause a lot of turnovers. They've been forcing people into 15-16 turnovers a game in league. That off-sets their rebound disadvantage. When you look at the number of threes they take compared to their opponents, it's almost shocking in league play.
"That's game one, then we turn around and have New Mexico State on Saturday night. Both teams are right at the top of the league with Louisiana Tech. There's quite a separation in our league right now, top to bottom. There's really three premiere teams and we're facing two of them this weekend.
"We're excited about playing. Our guys are playing hard. They're enjoying playing basketball, they're enjoying each other, which is what it's supposed to be all about. Sometimes in the pressures to win and the business side of it, you lose sight of what it's really supposed to be all about, especially at this level. These guys aren't playing for money. In a sense they are, when you talk about budgets and all that, but this is really about enjoying playing basketball and trying to win games, enjoying your teammates and having a quality experience. We all know that a lot of that is not reality, but it is what it's supposed to be all about. Our guys are enjoying those things right now.
"We've played really hard and now we're stepping up a level in opponent. The thing we need to make sure of is that we don't lose how hard we're playing. The problem with Denver is they can frustrate you. They swarm the post, for example and that's just one example of what they do. If you're a big guy down there, you can get frustrated by double and triple teams. They're also very good at just coming and taking your ball. They have a tremendous knack for running over, taking the ball and apparently not fouling. You watch film and think they might be fouls, but they're good at it. I've got great respect for what they've got going. That's where it's at.
"I touched briefly on New Mexico State, but our focus right now is on Thursday's game. We'll move to Saturday's game after this one. Most of our prep will take place on Friday and Saturday for them. Obviously they are physically gifted. With LA Tech, they're the most athletic team in the league and certainly the biggest team in the league. They present a whole different set of problems. We have two very contrasting games this weekend."
On Spencer Butterfield being WAC Player of the Week:
"That happens. It happened to Preston and Kyisean earlier. I don't think I even congratulated Preston. I really have to remind myself. Over the years I've tried to do it in front of the team and talk about how because we won, we got a player of the week, so it's kind of a reflection on everybody. A lot of times in the hubbub of everything you're doing, you forget to even think about it. He's playing well. We wouldn't have won games without him. It's certainly a nice honor for him, and like I said, for our team in general."
On if the contrasting styles of play contribute to DU and NMSU's successes:
"You always wonder about that with travel partners and how that affects every weekend. Back in the old Big West days, when those teams were used to driving on the bus for a few hours at most, then they had to come and play Idaho and us, get to Moscow and here, I never thought it was a disadvantage, I'll put it that way. I think travel partners can sometimes play out to help you. Mostly I think it's about quality teams and coaches doing a good job, and having really good players, and all that. I think it's odd that they're so polar opposite in how they play the game."
On adjusting to DU's double and triple-teaming:
"We can't avoid it, you just have to handle it better. They're going to do what they're going to do. That is something we work on about every single day. We call it `swarming the post.' What are you going to do when you can't just start spinning around? You can't just start dribbling, you have to chin the ball, see what's happening, you've got to keep your composure. The best way for us to get that done is through lots of reps in practice. We try and give our big guys lots of reps. We have some inexperienced guys down there who are getting better at it as they go. Jarred (Shaw) is passing the ball a lot better out of the post, Ben (Clifford) has the ability to pass the ball well out of the post, he just needed more touches and experience and he's getting that. Jordan (Stone) is strong down there, he just needs to slow down. Matt (Lopez) has had trouble with turnovers, so hopefully he's gaining ground as well. Anytime you have something that's a problem, you're going to address it.
"The problem we have this time of year, I call it the `dog days of February.' We've been out there a long, long time. College basketball is really a long season compared to anything else. When you figure that they show up at the end of August for individual workouts, then practice starts officially mid-October and we go til mid-March or later. It's really a long season. You have certain periods where it gets lengthy and February is one of them. You get into March with conference tournaments and possible postseason, all that stuff, you get re-juiced a little bit.
"The challenge right now is keeping our energy up by shortening our practices and still doing what we need to do. Plus, we don't have any subs. There are no subs in practice. None. We're just moving things around to do what we've got to do. TeNale (Roland) is our second-team point guard, we're playing five-on-five, how does he play the 2? Probably things you guys never think about, but I do every morning. How do I get him some 2? One of our managers has had to play. Jordan is a 4 on the second-team, but how do I get him some 5? It's a mix-and-match puzzle, and quite a mess, to be frank. It's hard to get guys their reps so they know what they're doing at their positions. We used to prepare 10 guys in our game prep, but we don't have 10 guys, now we have eight guys. Some of them have to go twice. Spencer and TeNale go twice because they play multiple positions. It's just interesting and I've never seen anything quite like it as long as I've been around."
On TeNale's recent impact and become more of a driving and scoring threat:
"We needed him to. He's playing more minutes, he's playing better. The key for TeNale Roland is to play tougher, more physical; don't play the game in a soft manner. His nature is to just kind of cruise along. He's a great kid, don't get me wrong. We don't need him to cruise along. We need him to set his jaw and play hard, play physical and be aggressive out there. He's done a better job of trying to be aggressive and make some plays."
On if there was a major factor in stopping the Princeton offense:
"I wish it was that easy. I remember back when Princeton beat UCLA, way back, some of you aren't even old enough. There are so many stories like that with this system. There are a lot of guys who try to imitate the system, but unless they're in the inner workings of the system, they don't know it as well. I was chuckling watching Georgetown a little bit last night. He's got the Princeton background and they do a lot of that stuff and do it well. Joe Scott is in the inner circles. Those guys protect that system. They aren't giving clinics and telling you all their secrets. I wouldn't either if I were them. They've got something special and they're keeping it underground. It's not like `Well, if we do this and this and this...' For everything you can come up with, that system has a counter. If you pressure, they do this, or they back-door you. If you don't pressure they shoot threes on you. It's a thing of beauty, it really is, when properly executed. A lot of the proper execution has to do with longevity of your players; the longer you have them, the better players they are, the better the system works, just like any system. That's just the way it is."
On Marvin Jean's recent impact:
"Marvin is doing great. I couldn't be happier with Marvin's effort or his mental makeup. He was frustrated earlier in the year, where he wasn't playing as well, wasn't getting as much time. He has responded really well to the situation. He goes out there, at Seattle U he had an unbelievable amount of deflections in a short amount of time. He's active and he can really shoot the ball. He plays hard and his attitude is super right now. I'm pleased with him."
On Danny, Preston and Kyisean's involvement and if having them out there helps:
"They don't really do anything. What's a guy over on the side going to do to help you? They talk and they're good kids, but as far as helping you in live action, probably not. I don't mean that in a bad way. Preston said some really nice things to the team yesterday and that was great. Verbally, yes, but they're not out there banging and what-not, everyday. The physical side of it, they can't help much. Any support they can give verbally is great. They're all trying to remain part of the team.
"Danny is doing a little shooting. Preston can't do anything yet, and we'll reevaluate it with our medical people. Kyisean is doing his rehab. Sean has been doing his rehab for a long while, he's been hurt a lot. Those guys are great, don't misunderstand me. They just can't solve that we have eight players. They can't solve that we don't have any subs. They can't do anything about the physical part of everything. The mental, vocal part of it, they're good. They're trying to help everywhere they can."
On the success and improvement of Butterfield's rebounding:
"He tries to rebound every ball. It's his nature. There's just a few guys that have that in them. It's a special trait. He's gotten more minutes and gotten more rebounds as a result. He was getting rebounds when he was getting less minutes, but more minutes equal more rebounds. He has to beg to come out because he's been playing so hard."
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