Feb. 26, 2013
LOGAN, Utah -
On the BracketBusters Game:
"Saturday was a good, solid win for us. We had lots of guys contribute and did some really good things. Guarding that (Tyler) Brown kid wasn't one of them, but we did some awfully good things. I was talking to a friend of mine today that is pretty familiar with the Missouri Valley Conference. He said he felt like Illinois State was the most talented team in the league, or close to it. They're very capable on given nights of beating quite a few people. We felt good about that win. Stepping out of league last week with the tough loss at BYU to bounce back and get that one was positive."
On this week's games:
"Obviously this is a big challenge. Both of these teams beat us at home. Louisiana Tech is undefeated (in conference play) and nationally ranked. UT Arlington has had some really bright moments this year and are tied with us for fourth in the league. They came in here and played well, really defended the heck out of us. We had a hard time scoring against them and that's kind of where they hang their hats. These are two teams that play a lot of pressure defense. LA Tech presses you, then pressures you on the half court and switch a lot of things. When you play Arlington, they don't switch as much, but they press you and pressure you on the half court. Both teams really try to get you to turn the ball over, which at times, has been a little bit of an issue for us. We've gotten better as the year's gone along. We've had two different seasons in a sense, and this group has gotten better as they've gotten a lot more comfortable with each other. That's a big key. Can we keep them off the ball? Can we take care of the boards? They're both very good offensive-rebounding teams. Our focus right now has to be on LA Tech. We'll have a short turnaround to get ready for Arlington. We're excited to go play and see what we can do with this road trip."
On Louisiana Tech's shooting better at home:
"I don't have any stats on that, but most teams do. You watch them on tape and it's hard to tell. I haven't done a home-and-away stat sheet with them. I think you'd find that to be true in almost all of college basketball. You practice in the gym every day and are just really comfortable on your own floor. One thing we were talking about is that they normally haven't drawn great crowds. I'm sure with being nationally ranked and with the year they're having, we'll see a lot better crowd than we've seen in all the years we've been going there.
"This is our last trip to Ruston. It's a long way to go, a hard place to get to. It makes sense for them to be in the league they're going to and obviously for us to be moving to the Mountain West. I won't miss the travel part of the trip to Ruston, that's for sure. I haven't been to Arlington, but I hear they have a beautiful facility. It's brand new, just a year or so old. I'm anxious to see that campus and facility and all of that. If you could just be there and not have to deal with the 10 or 11 hours of travel, that would be nice, but you can't. Long travel day tomorrow."
On the need to start fast against Louisiana Tech and how to do that:
"You play well. That's the best way to get to a fast start. I always get a kick out of watching games on TV when they say `They're hoping to get off to a fast start.' Well who isn't? When are you not? You always want to play well at the start of the game. The reason we didn't start very well against LA Tech at our place is because they're good. They caught us off-guard. We were in the first weekend of trying to adjust to our limited roster. I think we've gotten better since then. We're quite a bit better offensively, but they're on their home court and they're going to play better than they did here. It's going to take an awfully good effort to keep ourselves in the ball game. Taking care of the ball would be the best way we could stay in the game. We need to not turn it over repeatedly against the press. When you look at their shooting percentages, the best thing they're doing is causing turnovers and creating havoc. That's the best thing they're doing to win basketball games. They've had a lot of close games, which you often do when you're in a championship season, but they've won them, and that's to their credit. That's the mark of a team that has a chance to win a league championship is a team that wins close games. You can't win the game if you're not in it. Hopefully we can keep it close and have a chance of it going down the stretch."
On Louisiana Tech's balanced roster:
"You look right down their roster and like (Brandon) Gibson stepping up and hurting us, it's a different guy every night. (Raheem) Appleby's stats are not up to his standard I'm sure in terms of what they expect and what he thinks, but that doesn't keep him from just dropping a bunch of threes at Idaho for them to win. (Kenyon) McNeail can go off shooting the ball, I think (Kenneth) Smith, their little point guard, is an MVP-type candidate for their team. He just does so much for the team both offensively and defensively. They play three `5' guys. They're just running guys in and out constantly and it's hard to keep your match-ups. If you're playing changing defenses like we are and it's a couple possessions before you play man again, all of a sudden they've subbed in three or four guys and they're on the break. You have to really keep talking just to keep your match-ups. They play 11 guys, 11 minutes or more and that's pretty impressive."
On the team's improved ability to handle Louisiana Tech's press this time around:
"We have to handle the press better than we did at the end of the game the other night. We were a little bit shaky. You can't be timid or tentative. You have to attack the thing, use your dribble. A lot of times, the press-breaker is not Xs and Os, it's personnel. It's guys being able to make the right plays against the press. Our point guards are gaining confidence. I think they'll be better against it than they were the other night and probably better than they were the last time we played them. That is certainly a key. A lot of times when we're having trouble with the press, we go with both of them out there (Marcel Davis and TeNale Roland) - though we go with both of them out there a lot of the time anyway because we only have four guys for three spots. We make it a point to have two point guards out there when we're struggling against the press. Hopefully they can do a good job."
On the need to have all five players help against the press:
"They do. Sometimes you need to take the ball up until someone doubles you. Sometimes you take one dribble and throw it to the next guy. That's not the answer, but we're guilty of that sometimes. You have to have guys in the proper areas, then guys have to make the right passes in the right plays. It's the time of year where press shouldn't be as big of a deal as it sometimes is. We've seen a lot of press, it's not something new. It's just a matter of handling it. We can't simulate it in practice. First of all, we don't have a ton of guys. Second of all our scout squad is not very quick. With managers and coaches it is really non-quick. Trying to simulate the press is a slow-motion press at best."
On the condition of Preston Medlin's wrist:
"I think the medical people better talk about it. Everyone gets up-in-arms when I say much. I don't know what's up. I know they're not putting a screw in and that's good news to me. It's a slow-healing wrist bone. I don't know when they're going to reevaluate it. Being a doctor in our modern-day society is a lot like being a coach. A lot of people know how to do your job. That's just kind of the way it is anymore. The last thing I'm trying to do is do our medical people's job. They keep me posted, I listen. I sometimes don't like what I hear. Mike Williams has gotten very used to me not liking what I hear, but what can you do about it?"
On Mike Williams being recognized by state legislature:
"Mike has done a great job for a long time. Mike and I have been together for a long time and we know each other pretty well and what to expect. I've got great confidence in Mike and he proved that on that December day. It's nice for him to get the recognition he deserves, even though he doesn't like it. He's not really into publicity much, but that was a nice gesture of Senator Lyle Hillyard and the legislature."
On the team responding to buzzer-beating loses with good next games:
"I think that takes some character. It takes resilience to be able to move on. We've tried to never dwell, especially this time of year, on a tough loss. We just try and move on to the next thing. You can't always control that as a coach. It has to do with the mental make-up of the kids you're coaching. This group has been good that way and I'm very pleased. I can't be displeased with much so far since we've had all the injuries. We'd like to make a basket here or there that might have got you a win, but this group has tried really, really hard. They've been resilient. For the most part they've practiced well. They've dealt with adversity the way you should deal with it, not the way you always do. I'm proud of this group to this point. I can't see them changing no matter what happens wins and losses-wise. They're going to try the next time out, so let's go on the road and see what we can do."
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