Opening Comments -
Needless to say, it's a better feeling right now than we had last night. But last night's game had a great effect on how we played today. We were all extremely upset and extremely mad, however you want to describe it. But really wanted to focus on today's game and have a different energy level. I think we did.
But we were more gifted than they are too. I felt badly for (Chaminade coach) Eric (Bovaird). He really does a nice job with his team, but we were sharing the basketball tonight. I thought at halftime we had 17 assists out of 26 baskets, I think or 24 baskets. And four or five of those were steals and breakaway lay ups where you cannot have an assist. So we had 17 assists out of 19 baskets.
Second half I still thought we passed it very well, but didn't have as many assists listed by them. But for us, it does make you feel better, but you also have that hurt that you know you didn't play as well as you wanted to play all three days. We didn't get what we wanted out of the tournament, because we wanted to win the championship. We didn't get what we wanted because we wanted to get better every day, and we didn't do that.
Still I feel really happy for our guys right now, and I feel sad for Eric, because I think he does a nice job and he's got a good club. It just happened that they caught us on a bad night for them.
What do you think you learned about your team during this West Coast swing?
We're responding pretty well in a tough situation and adversity last night. I think that was good for us. I also think that they understood what we were talking about all the negatives that we had last night and they were willing to try to work on them.
I think we found out that going small sometimes might be one of our better lineups, particularly on the offensive end of the court. We played P.J. today as a four. We played J.P today as a four. Only had one post player in there. So I think we found that might help us down the line as well.
But I think each and every day trying to practice and go through the games and teach. And at halftime, we were still teaching. At the end of the game when I put Code Blue and Jackson in the game, I had Joel out there and I was talking to him still trying to teach. So I do believe most coaches feel the same way. We're teachers and still trying to teach regardless what the score is so we have more opportunities.
Can you talk about what went into the decision to start Brice Johnson and how you felt he performed in his first start?
We've done some different things. We started Desmond maybe every game, but I'm not positive about that. We started somebody different in the second half three of the five previous games. We thought Brice did a better job than any of the other guys in the game last night. It was a tremendous match up problem because you look at their starting lineup, and they list four guards and a forward. So it's hard to match up and use our big guys. When we had John and Tyler Hansbrough, and Zeller and all those guys, we didn't mind them going out and chasing little guys around on the court, because those little guys couldn't guard them on the other end.
So it might be a match up problem for them on one end just like it was for us on the other. Right now, with Joel catching the ball, making a quick decisive move in the post is not like Tyler Hansbrough. So matchup concerns was part of the reason to go for Brice was well. You look down, 7 for 8 from the floor, two blocked shots and everybody should be pleased with that. He is going to get better and better.
He's just got to increase the intensity and tempo of his own game, because right now his intensity level is different from what I visualize.
Luke was 7 and 1 assist-turnover in 14 minutes, is he starting to prove to you to be a valuable option there?
He gave us a little lift last night in the game when he was in there with that group. Luke works on it on so, so hard. I'm tough on point guards. It wasn't just that - Marcus's back was bothering him. So I went with Marcus, and didn't play him after that. He tweaked it a little bit in last night's game and just didn't feel good today.
Having Luke to get extra minutes is going to be something that will help us down the line. Hopefully not like it had to last year. Remember last year we were starting the game to go to the Final Four and we had our third point guard starting, and our backup was our backup power forward. So we've got to have some guys that can get some minutes at the point guard spot.
It obviously doesn't get any easier next with Indiana and that road trip. How prepared do you think you are for that? What will be the practice schedule leading into that?
There is no way we're prepared for that. Until you're there, you don't know what you want to face. Long Beach was a very enthusiastic crowd, but it's nothing like we'll face in Indiana. Long Beach, they came in from the beach to watch the game. Indiana they've been camping out for three days, that kind of thing. The intensity level of the crowd and the emotion will be different. It will be a game that they probably have been looking to on their schedule for quite a while. We're not going to practice tomorrow. We're not going to practice on Friday, and then we'll get into the regular practice swing and I think the game is Tuesday. We'll practice Monday and leave Monday night and go up there.
Coach, any final thoughts on your trip to Maui?
It's a fantastic experience. I've been here five times now. Every time I've left I've asked to come back four years from now. I hope they'll let us come back. We went with Kansas and had great experiences. Won one, lost another one, and we've been here three times with North Carolina.
When I make out my schedule and people call us about all these exempt tournaments, I plot down that every four years I'm going to go to Maui, and I won't give that to anybody.