Dec. 17, 2012
Q: How did the week of practice go?
“I think it was positive. We practice two days and took a day off, then practiced two days and took a day off, and now we’re in that last stretch. It’s a long time, 10 days between games. I think we were able to get some guys healthy who had some bumps and bruises. At yesterday’s practice it looked like we had some fresh legs. Guys were getting up and dunking the ball. We had a theme each of those individual days. We worked quite a bit on our zone offense, rebounding and transition. In each of those two-day segments we were able to have a theme. So without playing a game it is a little nerve wracking to have much of a gauge, but I think our guys are in a pretty good place to have a couple more games before Christmas break.”
Q: Has anything changed with SMU since you played them earlier this year?
“It’s interesting, we’ve played three games since we played SMU and had a 10-day break. They’ve played two games. So they have had even more of a break since that game. One of those games was at Hofstra where [Hofstra] had four players suspended, so that’s not a very good gauge. That was a 30 or 40-point win and not much changed. But we were eager to see what happened at Rhode Island. That was the longest break before they played. They were in a close game until the end, for about 30 minutes it was very competitive. Larry Brown is a little bit of a creature of habit. They’re 8-2 and I think when you go into the Rhode Island game at 8-1, it wouldn’t make a whole lot of sense to change what they were doing because it was pretty productive for them. But they ran into kind of a buzz saw with Rhode Island, they put it together offensively probably better than they had all year and did a nice job.
Q: Do you look at the seventh win of the season as any kind of milestone [after going 6-25 in 2011-12]?
“We had this philosophy last year, and I think you need to keep in consistent, that you keep trying to get the team better. We are addressing weaknesses, trying to put little fires out along way and working with the guys to not make the same mistakes. Hopefully as the season evolves, those issues become fewer. I’m a firm believer that the wins and losses will take care of themselves. Never once have we talked about a number of wins as a goal. That was a question earlier this season, ‘How many wins will equal a successful season?’ That, to me, is really unimportant. I know things weren’t positive last year in terms of wins and losses, but I’ve never had as much fun dealing with a group of kids, knowing that we squeezed all the juice out of the lemon. We took advantage of the number of wins we did have, and that was rewarding for everyone. Our seniors graduated. So there were a lot of positive things that took place, even though the win total wasn’t where we wanted it to be. So I would hate to put a number on it and say ‘If we win 12 games this year it will be successful’, because we may not be validated for that and feel as good about it. So we will just keep plugging along. Hopefully seven wins happens pretty fast but really nothing but a number.”
Q: The BYU game was stinging a little bit last time we talked. How have you been able to turn that around and use it as motivation?
“I think when you have a game with that much energy and emotion, with the crowd and the rivalry and all those elements I think it was just a natural hangover for us. It was a little bit of a letdown. We played a lot of games in a short period of time. I think we played six games in two weeks going back to the Thanksgiving tournament, so we were grinding pretty hard and it was kind of the end of that stage of the season. So that hurt Monday but it hurt a little less Tuesday, then it was pretty easy to get back in the saddle Wednesday because it was far enough of a memory. But I think we learned some things about our team. There were a couple of things we were exposed to that hopefully we are better at the next time around. That’s what the process is all about, when things don’t go your way you figure out why and fix them. Then you hope when you’re presented with them next time you’re able to overcome them.
“So I think it was a great learning experience for us. It was a great in-state game. But right now I think we’ve got SMU and Cal State Northridge on our minds. Then we can digest everything over the holidays and start over again.”