Nov. 26, 2012
Coach K Presser - Nov. 26, 2012
On the home-and-home series with SMU
"I've known [SMU head coach Larry Brown] for quite a while. We wanted to get a home-and-home specifically with someone to simulate our conference season where we had an opportunity to play them, then take a few weeks break and get back and see what we can do the second time around. It was more of a timing situation, they were looking for games and we were looking for games. Maybe there were some similarities with the levels our programs are at, coming into new situations, with new players and things. I've got a lot of respect for him, coaching against him will be a heck of a challenge and I would think it would be of interest locally for some people in Salt Lake City to come out and watch their team play down the road.
"We were looking for a home-and-home against top-level team, and I think it's pretty obvious that they're a really good team. They're 6-1 and have a lot of different weapons at different positions. They defend really well. It's an opportunity also for us to get down to Texas for a couple of days and tighten up some connections there."
On what the team can gain from going on the road
"[This trip] is not just about the SMU home-and-home, but with SMU Wednesday and Texas State Friday it [simulates conference play] you've got two days between conference games. It's good I think when you take off for 4-5 days. We've got a couple weeks before finals and we haven't been on an airplane or in an airport with the guys since Brazil. So I think we can flash back to that, there's team-building and when you get away it creates very much of a family atmosphere. It reminds you that even though you don't have your classes and your own dorm or apartment, we are going to jump on the bus and head to the airport. It solidifies a lot of what we are building on in our culture of getting to know each other better and at the end of the day you have to go into a couple of hostile environments and try to play basketball. I think that challenge is a big one for us. Obviously it's something we need to do, not just win games but learn to compete on the road in a different environment."
"I would say the biggest thing that was most positive was the fact that we played three different styles of opponents. That's not what you plan when you go into it, but it was perfect. Idaho State zoned us every time they made a basket and they manned us every time they missed, so we got a combination game where we had to flow from an offensive idea every time down the floor. Then we played Central Michigan which played some full court pressure, some 3/4 court pressure, but 9 out of 10 times it fell back into a zone, so we had to play an entire zone game like last year where Arizona State zoned the whole time. Then we had just the opposite end of the spectrum with Wright State playing man from pretty much start to finish. They were a physical team and they played a heck of a lot of pick-and-roll. I didn't count the number of pick and rolls on Saturday night but it had to be right up there with as many as you could have in a game. So with all those different elements, it's hard to write that script ahead of time, but it exposed us to a lot of different things. I think we were in different positions, trying to protect leads, trying to get leads, trying to get back into games, so I think we took a lot away in terms of experience.
"Overall I thought it built [as it went along]. Against Idaho State we didn't put together a very good game but we captured the second half, where we started to get our identity and things started to become easier. Central Michigan was a game where I thought we clicked offensively against their zone and the basket opened up for perimeter shots. That was the first time this year that we were hitting some 3's, we were hitting the 3's we were presented. Earlier in the year we were taking those same shots but they weren't going in. So that gets you in a little bit of a flow. Then I thought we finished it off Saturday night, with the exception of our turnovers. We turned it over on 25% of our possessions Saturday, and that's a stat that we can't have. We have to be down to turning it over on 16-18% of our possessions at most. But all the other facets of the game I thought were good...rebounding, defense, moving the ball...both of our point guards had seven assists apiece. The other element was that we had three different leading scorers in those games. So if you look at our season stats, it's somewhat balanced at the top. I know it's early but at this point it's what you want as a coach, I think. Not that we wouldn't want someone scoring 30 points on our team, but I think it's good to have that kind of balance and it makes it harder to prepare for us knowing that some guys are gaining confidence."
Thoughts on SMU
"They're really solid defensively, they're aggressive, they get into you, they've got some athletes across the board. Two things stood out when looking at their season stats were rebounding - they've got a big advantage in their games - and free throw disparity, they get to the free throw line a lot. I think in seven games they're over 200 free throw attempts. When you see a team with a high number of free throw attempts like that it typically means they're aggressive. They're really good at crashing the glass and getting extra possessions and putting you in a predicament where they're coming at you. You don't have to worry about them not coming at you. Those are the things that stick out the most. [Coach Brown] is not running a complicated offense, he has been involved in enough games to know to put his best players in a position where they're going to succeed. They run a handful of sets and they run those sets really well."
On learning how to win games
"We're hopeful to get wins with the schedule we have, but when you look at some of those teams, I thought we had to play pretty well to get some of those wins [at the Thanksgiving Tournament]. We have earned them in a variety of ways. The Sacramento State game slipped away from us but I'm a firm believer that it was a game we needed to experience at some point in the season, where we had a lead, up 12 with 10 minutes to go. It was uncharted territory for a lot of our guys and our coaching staff. I learned a great deal from that game too. I think that was one of those necessary evils that was going to take place. Looking back maybe it was good that it took place early on. But the feeling was good, it validates what we're doing, but we understand the price of poker is going up as we go out on the road and the schedule gets more challenging as we move forward. It's a fine line, one of those things where you're never as bad as you think you are and you're never as good as you think you are. We had to remind ourselves of that last year, we told our guys a lot that we weren't as bad as our record. And I'm not sure we're as good as our record right now. But that doesn't mean we don't continue with the day-to-day grind, and the challenges, and we keep addressing what we're not doing. It's a big key to look at wins and losses, but at the end of the day I think as long as we continue to improve that's the big thing. I think everyone probably slept pretty well after getting three wins in four nights because it was a challenge. To get prepped for three different styles and come out and have that kind of energy on three consecutive nights was big for us. At the end of the day, it's no different than what we did the morning after the Sacramento State loss. You turn the page and it's a new challenge. It's a fine line between having confidence and winning and making sure you understand you still have a long way to go."
On the progress of Dallin Bachynski
"I think he's insatiable in terms of wanting to get better. From the day he showed up he has wanted to get better. I've talked about it before though, the same thing that makes you laugh will make you cry. I told Dallin that before our game Saturday night. His energy that he brings to the game is fantastic but at the same time there are mistakes being made defensively. He was unfortunately a guy who led us in defensive mistakes per minute, but it's not for a lack of effort and determination. It's kind of like having a young horse that is just ready to run but you have to start plugging in some of the mental aspects to it and know when to slow down. And that's where we are now, trying to curb some of that enthusiasm. But from a coaching perspective he's everything we want. Some of the things we need to work on are fixable. You can't get a kid to play harder, typically. You try like heck all year long but you can't coach effort, and we know with Dallin that's never going to be an issue. So what we need to improve on is kind of right before our eyes, and he is eager to get to it."
On things the team needs to address before Pac-12 Conference play begins
"We just had a coaches meeting and without a doubt it's taking care of the basketball. We haven't played a high-pressure team that's really looking to get into you and get after you and have a lot of energy when you try to run a pick and roll, that will trap you and blitz you and different things. We're turning the ball over a lot more than I would like to against some zone teams and teams without that pressure. So this week we have to simulate some of that pressure in our practice and put guys in that sped-up situation where they have to face some pressure and make plays. As most of us know, when you head out on the road, you can't defend turnovers. It's really a bad thing out on the road to let your opponent get easy baskets off your turnovers. It gets the crowd going and it's going to be a big thing for us. We also have to get better with our rebounding. I'm pretty pleased with our offensive rebounding for the most part, but defensively we are going to start seeing a different player at our positions, a three-man, four-man, five-man, where we aren't going to be in a position to out-jump anybody. We're going to have to get to some bodies and finish off possessions defensively with better rebounding."
On how to fix the turnover problem
"I think it's happened a little bit, from two or three weeks ago until now. There was some uncertainty going through our sets, guys weren't always sure what to expect, where the option was, and some of that just comes with some time. As teams get better defensively, you have to be able to move on to option B, option C, even option D, and make a play where there isn't structure. So some of the early turnovers I think were the result of some of that structure and guys not knowing where it was. Now I think we are getting comfortable with that and now our turnovers are 20 seconds into the shot clock. So we just have to clean that up, put ourselves in position in practice where we are going through it. That means we have to be better defensively in practice too. When shots present themselves in practice early, you can't get to the point where you need to make plays late in the clock. Some of that will be done in film work, we'll do some of that in practice today, we will have a scout team looking to get into people and get steals and run, jump and trap, and put guys in positions to have to make a play. I think when you do it enough and succeed, guys put that in their memory banks and hopefully they can make those plays when you're on the road."