March 4, 2013
Q: Talk about Thursday’s game and your mindset going into it?
“We have a couple home games left to close out our conference schedule, and I think it’s a team that’s tied with us in the standings, tied for 10th. We had a rough couple games in the Bay Area, but now it’s an opportunity for us to have a couple good days of practice and try to shore up a couple areas we have been deficient in. Rebounding and turning the ball over once again will be keys against Oregon State with their length and rebound ability. So it’s right on cue, it’s not like some areas that need to be fixed and all of a sudden we’re playing a team where we don’t have to worry about those things. They create a lot of turnovers with their length and different defensive looks. So it’s going to be a challenge for us to try to fix what’s broken heading into the final couple weeks of the season.”
Q: Is the goal to finish as high as you can and get that 10th seed if possible?
“For sure. I think building a program is about improvement. I think we’re considerably better than we were a year ago and I think the league is considerably better than it was a year ago. I don’t want to end up in the same slot we were a year ago. It would be nice to move up the ladder even if it’s one notch. It’s about gaining ground on where we want to get to.”
Q: Does it make it even more frustrating to know that you are so much better than a year ago but record-wise in conference it’s very similar?
“I wouldn’t say frustrating is the word. The season isn’t over at this point. That’s probably something to go back and reflect on when it’s all said and done, when you add them up and talk about ‘woulda-coulda-shouldas’. I think everyone in our league is trying to improve their position. Whether it’s feasible in terms of moving up from fifth to sixth, or becoming a team that’s playing better basketball heading into the tournament, the goal is the same. If you can address those weaknesses and improve on the style of play and what you’re doing on the court, that can lead to a win. That improves the standings and accomplishes the goal of getting things clicking heading into Vegas.
“I don’t know if it’s really as much about momentum as much as we have got to start making more plays and playing more consistently. We had 16 great minutes of basketball against Cal and were up 24-19. I thought a lot of facets of our game were really clicking. Offensively and defensively we were right where we wanted to be. Then the turnover thing rears its head. We end up allowing them to get on a 15-0 spurt going into halftime and that’s one of those things that punches you right in the midsection. When you’ve got a five-point lead, and instead you go into the break at halftime…we’ve been talking about our four-minute increments being really important…so the consistency of not being able to put an end to that run…more than momentum it’s about finding consistency and playing better for longer stretches. At this point we’re probably not going to gain a lot of momentum heading into Vegas, but we can feel better about how we’re playing the game and hopefully not making some of those mistakes.”
Q: Going back to the Stanford game, did they provide a matchup issue up front for you and do you feel like that’s a challenge going forward?
“Stanford has presented that problem to a lot of teams. We have watched enough Stanford tape and there’s been two or three teams that completely changed their lineup so they could guard them. You leave the arena wondering about some of that, but when I watch it on film it’s not as confusing. Our bigs actually did a pretty good job matching some of their smalls with the exception of a couple of moves. [Dwight] Powell leads their team in scoring and he’s one of the better bigs in our league. He hits a ‘3’ and a jumpshot and that’s what we were willing to live with. What we can’t live with was the pump-fake and drive right. So he got production out of multiple things. But watching our defensive breakdown, we need to get back to training camp starting today, in terms of the simple fundamentals of defense. We had a number of close-outs where we did not close out properly. We let people get into penetration mode and then we sucked in from places we shouldn’t be helping from, and gave them the opportunity to score a lot of those 3’s. Rebounding was fairly close, that didn’t get us. They went through a hot stretch where they made a bunch of shots. Then we had a stretch right before halftime where we got them to miss those shots, and I assume we all thought they would continue to go in, so we didn’t remember to rebound it. But it wasn’t any more of a matchup problem. Stanford has had our number and beat us worse than any team in our league, but it’s not time to recreate the wheel here and abort the plan and come up with something new. It was an eye-opener for me watching it that we’re just not doing the simple things like closing out, jumping to the ball, blocking out, all of the shell stuff we did for weeks prior to Brazil. We have to revisit that and get back to some basic stuff.”
Q: Do you feel that those are things you were doing earlier in the season?
“We did it a lot. We built it and were really efficient defensively, and we hung our hat on it. Then maybe as a coaching staff, and maybe that’s my fault, you assume that’s in the bank, and then you move on to more gameplan things. We played more zone, we spent a lot more time on offense. After you score 48 points vs. Cal and you have a few days in Stanford to practice, some of our focus, with Dakarai’s injury, we had to switch gears. With Jordan at the 3, what did we want to do offensively…you want to assume that defensive effort is still in bank, but it’s not. We’ve got some young kids and we’ve got to get back to some fundamentals. Part of it is how we’ve evolved as a team and maybe we’ve lost sight of the fact that that’s the most important thing, some of the basics. You can even switch it over to the offensive side, passing and catching the ball. Forget what you’re running, at the end of the day if someone’s open in the post and you can’t get them the ball because of our inability to pass it in the right spot or our inability to go get it when it’s being passed to you, a lot of that other stuff is out the window. So I think we need to revisit some fundamental stuff moving forward.”
Q: Can you talk about what you did right during that nice run to start the second half against Stanford and then what happened with the turnaround?
“We started the second half in man-to-man. I thought our guys were juiced up to play, and we talked at halftime about just getting back to guarding people and [putting in the] effort. We got a nice lift from a number of people, we got them to miss shots and we rebounded. For a short period of time that’s what got us back into it. It’s a prime example of what happens offensively when you do that. We got misses, we pushed it out, we shared the ball, moved the ball, close it within four, we had an opportunity to pull within two and we had a turnover. It transition, we made a pass over the top to Jeremy and it went about four feet too far. It’s a fine line. That’s the situation you put yourself in. If we didn’t have those turnovers and cut back into the lead…whether it’s the skills of a simple pass and catch or the ability to go get a sure thing instead of a 50/50 play, that’s going to be the difference whether we continue that run or lose the momentum.”
Q: Do you expect a lift from the guys on Senior Day?
“It’s an important thing. We’ve talked about it being the culmination of each of these guys having their own story and how they ended up a senior. We want all those kids do well but we still have to approach the game in the same way. It might be fitting that the bullet points we’re talking about this week – playing your tail off, making simple plays and being fundamental – I don’t think we want to blow it up and put pressure on our seniors to have an extraordinary performance. Let’s just keep things simple and focus on what we can control. When the game is over they will have played [their last home game]. Beyond that, it will be fun, we’ll have some nice things for them and hopefully the crowd will recognize them. But at the end of the day we need to keep it simple and try to win the ballgame.”