What do you think about the last few weeks for your basketball team?
“This not supposed to be a R-rated show. Not feeling real good right now. Not very happy right now. Virginia played with a much greater sense of urgency last night and I think that was the biggest key. Going down to Texas, we knew that was really going to be tough. They had been struggling and Rick [Barnes] had beaten them up for a couple of weeks prior to us coming in there. We knew that was going to be tough and we didn’t play as well there. We came home and played okay against McNeese State and did have a really nice win against UNLV.
“I really thought our team would play hard last night. I thought they would play with a great sense of urgency. I knew it was going to be tough. The last two years, we’ve been one of the best three or four teams in the country and we’ve beaten them by two or three the last two years up there with a really good basketball team, so I knew it was going to be tough. They make their first three threes. Tevin Jones had made three threes the entire season and he made two in the first three minutes of the game…
“I was pretty pleased with what we had done throughout a stretch in the first half. I didn’t like the way we ended the half. The last 3:15 we had two bad shots that were blocked in the lane. We passed up opportunities to pass the ball to open teammates, we had two turnovers and I think we had one other missed shot. I think in our last five possessions we were 0-for-5…
“And then in the second half we came out and played great for two minutes and then after that it was a struggle. But I do believe Virginia just had a much greater sense of urgency and that always bothers me more than anything else. We can say we’re a young team and it’s the first road game and all of this other kind of stuff, but we didn’t play well. The good news is that we’re not panicking. We’re going to work like the dickens and see if we can do everything we possibly can. There’s only 17 more of them.”
You didn’t practice on Monday, correct?
“No, we watched the tape of the game and had a team meeting. It wasn’t bad; it lasted three hours and 25 minutes. Other than that, it was a wonderful day in the neighborhood.”
You talked about screens quite a bit during your postgame press conference on Sunday. That was clearly something you were disappointed with.
“Very disappointed, because we hit the screens and stuck like Velcro and they just refused to be screened. They just through it as hard as they could. It was a little like the Texas game. They were just so much more aggressive. Again, not meaning that in a dirty way by any means, but they were just so much aggressive and had a greater sense of urgency. And I told our guys, I’ve had teams before that were really young teams that got whacked a couple of times. Our 2002-2003 teams at Kansas, we were in the Final Four both years. When Nick Collison and Kirk Hinrich were freshmen, we got whacked quite a few times.
“But I’m stubborn; I don’t wait until they grow up. I want us to grow up tomorrow. There is a sense of urgency in our locker room right now. There’s going to be a great sense of urgency on the practice court and we’ve got to get better. Let’s not say, ‘We’re young and we’ll be better next year.’ That to me is a bunch of garbage. So we’re going to try to play a heck of a lot better at practice tomorrow and a heck of a lot better at practice on Wednesday and then we play on Thursday and we’re going to try to play a heck of a lot better then.”
How do you make a young team understand that there’s a long way to go in the season after a disappointing game?
“You’ve got to make sure they understand we screwed it up and don’t just say, ‘Oh, that happens.’ That’s the biggest mistake [when] you just say, ‘Oh, we’re going to be okay.’ We’re going to be okay if we play. If we sit on our butts and don’t do what we’re supposed to do, then it’s not going to be okay. So I think that’s the biggest lesson right there. And then say it’s no time to panic…
“This team has got to change themselves. This team has got to be ready to play. And we need to play with a greater sense of urgency.”
On practice last week:
“We had a practice in the morning [on Friday], brought them back in the afternoon for a dummy offense and shooting period, because we’ve thrown a lot of stuff at them. We trying to get the freshmen to keep coming, keep coming, because I think they’ve sort of plateaued right now and I need them to get better…
“We had a really good practice on Saturday before we left to go up to Charlottesville. But right now, this team is not transferring it from the practice court to the game court. Coach Smith used to talk about game slippage and you have less game slippage the older you are. It’s been really something with this team. This team in practice, I’d say, Wednesday-Thursday-Friday was about as good defensively as last year’s team was at any time during the season. And then yet we go there last night and we weren’t very good defensively. We’ve got to keep after it, keep after it and try to get that same kind of intensity and awareness and seeing the big picture. We’ve got to get that to carry over to game day.”
On the freshmen:
“So far, I’m very pleased with them. Am I satisfied? No. There’s no question about that, but they’re going to be good players and I’m extremely happy to have them with us.”
Do you think Marcus Paige needs to be more aggressive in his penetrating?
“I need him to play better. That’s the bottom line. He’s got to play better on the defensive end. He’s got to shoot the ball better. He’s got to have a better assist-error ratio. He’s got to do a better job penetrating. But you say that right there and if Joel [James] is in the game, the defensive player on Joel is where? He’s in the lane. If Desmond [Hubert] is in the game, the defensive guarding him is in the lane. So we’ve got to get some better movement, we’ve got to get Brice [Johnson] and James Michael [McAdoo] in there a little bit more to do some things to give us more openings. You can’t penetrate if the other team’s big guys are standing in the lane…
“You have a freshman guard who yesterday played really good defense on Jontel [Evans] one time. Jontel dribbled in and just bumped him and knocked him flat on his rear end. Jontel’s 215 [pounds] or 210, whatever. He’s bigger than Marcus. So it’s going to be a maturity process with him. I’ll put it the same way. Am I satisfied with Marcus? No. Am I happy with him? You’re darn right. He’s going to be a really good basketball player for us.”
How is McAdoo’s confidence right now?
“I think James Michael is okay. His confidence would be a lot better if he was shooting 70 percent and averaging 20 instead of 45 or 46 percent and averaging 14 or 15. But James Michael is doing some good things for us. We’d like him to be a little more consistent. We’d like him to stop turning the basketball over as much. We’d like for him to shoot a higher percentage. We’d like for him to do a better job rebounding. And guess what? He would like those same things. But when the other team is making up their defensive game plan, they’ve got to be aware of James Michael. It’s a process. He’s getting better and better.”
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