I would like to congratulate Davidson. I thought they did some really great things. Brian Sullivan was a load for us. Jordan Barham was a load for us; we couldn’t stop him from driving us to the basket. Steve (Kirshner) and I were talking coming in here—halfway through the second half Marcus (Paige) and Brice (Johnson) hadn’t scored, and that is two of our three leading scorers. We had played about the way I feel. I feel like right now that a train ran over me, then backed up and got me a second time, but it’s what it is.
I’m proud of our team’s toughness. We went to the free throw line and made some free throws down the stretch that we had to have—shot them better under pressure than even earlier in the game. We went to the press two or three possessions in a row and it got us some turnovers. It was a five-point game, five- or six-point game, and got us back in it; (we were) just trying things guys. It was a hard game (to win). I just congratulate Davidson for doing such a good job against us too.
You went to the scramble sometimes, maybe the press not as much. What made you try some things?
I think it was a five-point game, either five or six when we went to it the first time—you’ve got to try something. We tried that and it got a couple of turnovers for us so. When they had the ball with 20-something seconds to play, I didn’t want them to have the last shot so we ran the trap and they had to call a timeout. Then we ran another trap and they still ended up getting a three that could have won it, but I think it was over Nate’s hand. We just didn’t want them to hold down for the last shot freely so I was pleased with our defense at that point. It was a frustrating game in so many different ways. But that’s my team, you’ve got to understand that.
I understand that the team has been awaiting the decisions of P.J. (Hairston) and Leslie (McDonald). Now you know who you have. Do you feel like there is some closure and you are settled in that know, “OK, this is who we have.”?
I do think we know that. Now we are ready to see Santa Claus and then we’ll come back here and practice on the 26th and try to get better. But I think that is—you’d like a better result, there is no question about that.
What was really different about Marcus?
I think you give credit to Davidson. They played him really hard and played Leslie really hard. At times they were playing triangle-and-two. They were face-guarding those guys, trying to make it difficult for them to get shots. They did a nice job of it. It is four-for-twelve. He missed one layup close to the end of the game that I was really surprised, but most of his shots were guarded, and that was a huge three that he finally made right in front of our bench.
Do you feel like when Marcus is playing point guard maybe he loses a little bit of his aggression in terms of scoring?
I don’t know. It could be, but I think early in the game he hardly played any at the point; he played more at the two. They are just good defensively, they really are, and give the credit to their defense. He steps up to the line and makes big free throws. J.P. was five-for-six, James Michael nine-for-fourteen. We shot 200 of them on Thursday. Made one guy shoot 65, one guy to shoot 67, another one to shoot 69, and everybody else was above 70. You’ve just got to do it in the game.
Is this group built to pressure more than some of the other groups where maybe you’ve tried to stop it?
It’s hard because I look down and see that Marcus plays 41 minutes. It’s not like Ty Lawson who is like a little fire hydrant out there, so we can’t ask him to play that many minutes. I’m really glad. Guys are going home tonight so everybody is home 22, 23, 24, 25, and then comes back here for practice the night of 26. Hopefully, he will lay in bed and eat Momma’s cooking.
What does it mean to you to have P.J. on the bench?
I think he loves this team, and the team feels very, very good about P.J. We enjoyed having him out there. I think it was a nice deal for us.