On Harrison Barnes:
“Harrison did sprain his ankle in the UNLV game. We held him out of practice today. If we had played a game today, he would not have played. I’m hoping that he’ll be better, to say the least, for Wednesday’s game.”
Did you feel that UNLV picked up Kendall Marshall aggressively early in possessions?
“I did think that and the best way to counteract it is to not let them score to begin with. They can’t press if they don’t score. It’s got to go through to give them time to pick up. Kendall’s got to attack harder. We’ve got to do a better job of getting spacing so that if it does go in to ‘Z’ – it’s pretty easy if a guy fronts Kendall and doesn’t let him come to the ball, you should throw it to the big guy and Kendall goes to the other end. You can’t be on both sides of it. And if they double team him, get it into one of the other guys and then you can go, so you’ve got four against their three. First of all, we’ve got to do a better job defensively so that they don’t make shots and then secondly, try to get the ball in quicker and get better movement.”
By not calling the timeout early in the second half, what kind of lessons did you want your players to learn?
“I asked them in the locker room, ‘Why do you think I didn’t call a timeout?’ And Justin Watts said, ‘We need them at the end of a close game - we’ve all seen teams lose because they don’t have a timeout.’ And I said, ‘Yes, Coach Smith taught me that and I still believe it’s the best way.’ And I said, ‘Give me another reason.’ And ‘Z’ said, ‘We’ve got to be able to fight through that ourselves and be able to get what we do in practice every day so it’s learning.’ And I said, ‘Guys, I wasn’t coaching just to coach against UNLV. I was coaching this team for this year for this program.’ And then today Bobby [Frasor] brought something up. We played N.C. State here and they had it 12-0. I didn’t call a timeout and I said if they scored the first 50 I wasn’t going to call a timeout. I didn’t get us in this dadgum hole, you did. Get us out of it. And it was a way to get that team to play through it.”
Can you explain the help defense against UNLV?
“Help defense – I would like to explain it but I didn’t see it Saturday night, so it’s hard to explain it at that point. We didn’t get where we were supposed to be. The crazy thing is I showed the tape today and I said look at this possession right here. The ball is on one side and we have two guys over on the other side hugging their guy. And then the very next possession down, it’s the same identical [situation] except it’s on the other end of the court, we’ve got the ball inside and Vegas has got those same two players in the middle of the lane. And then you don’t have dribble penetration and one pass and a shot. So we’ve got to get better. There’s no question about that.
“I’ve said I think this team has a chance to be really good defensively. We’ve got to do a better job of guarding the ball in the middle of the court. We work on it every day. Every day, every night, every minute. I ask the guys, ‘What do we need to get better on?’ ‘Guarding the ball.’ So we work on it. And at the same time, we’re working on bluffing early sometime if you’re guarding a good shooter. If you’re not guarding a good shooter, get all of the way in. And Vegas exposed us a little bit. We weren’t satisfied [in the first five games], but everybody thought Ol’ Roy had those guys playing better on the 3-point line this year shooting 29 percent. And now Ol’ Roy doesn’t know what the dickens he’s doing. But it is part of what we’re trying to do.”
On the crowd atmosphere and the postgame activities:
“There were some things that you don’t enjoy, and I told the press this afterwards, let’s not paint everybody there… some guy had been drinking too much and he came down and yelled at me behind the bench. And I just turned around and laughed at him. Then he comes out on the court as they’re storming the court and he tries to come up there and I was laughing again because he was spilling his beer all over himself. And then another guy had physically pushed one of our female managers. It’s a tough situation where somebody could get really hurt in there, but that was two people. I don’t want to categorize that as a bad crowd because it was a marvelous crowd, it was a wonderful crowd.
“To be honest with you, I’m trying to work very hard not to categorize a couple of things that happened with the Tar Heel people that I wasn’t pleased with. This is very easy for me. I’m there, this is my life, my career, it’s what I chose to do. I am not friendly with anybody else on the other team and for some of our fans to get their tickets through the Ram’s Club and sell their tickets to UNLV boosters that are sitting right behind our families, I don’t like that. And if the shoe fits, wear it. I don’t care who it is, I’ll tell the sucker face-to-face, I do not like that, will not like that and don’t ever forget it…
“And then for somebody else to sit there right beside one of our coaches’ wives and to be mouthing the whole game negative stuff – negative this, negative that. My high school coach, who is the least confrontational person I’ve ever known in my life… I’ll fight somebody at the drop of a [hat] – well, I would in my younger days and I’d always get whipped, but I would fight somebody at the drop of a hat – but he is non-confrontational. For him to turn around and tell someone, ‘I’ve listened to you all I’m going to listen, it’s evident that you don’t know what you’re talking about.’
“It’s the same thing. If the shoe fits, wear it. Do not come back to my games. Don’t act like you’re supporting us. Don’t act like you’re supporting us by showing up. If all you’re going to do is sit there and be so negative and yell negative things and say negative things beside one of our coaches’ wives… So I’m more disappointed in that, and at the same time, I’m going to use the same philosophy. Ninety-nine percent of the Tar Heel people that were there were cheering like crazy and trying to help us through a tough situation, but it bothers me more about some sucker – and I don’t care, if it ticks somebody off, that’s fine – if you sell your tickets that you get from the Ram’s Club to somebody else and they come in cheering for UNLV, then I’ve got no use for you. And that’s as blunt as I can put it.”