I'm very pleased with our intensity and our effort. I think we set the stage early with our defense and hit them pretty hard. They weren't able to bounce back from that. It does help to make shots. Rashad making the three's early like that in the game, needless to say, did help. I thought Reyshawn Terry gave us a little lift, except for his free throws. I thought David Noel did some nice things. Melvin got some minutes there as a 'one,' and I thought he played better at that point than he has in any other game as a one-man.
I think the biggest thing was our effort defensively and what we did sharing the basketball. I can probably point to two or three shots that I didn't like and the rest of the time we shared the ball very well. Early in the game we turned it over a couple of times running the break, and I told them just to be more fundamentally sound with their passes.
We're more gifted than Coastal, and when you add the effort and intensity and concentration to it, it makes for that kind of game. I was really pleased up and down the line going in and playing without Sean and Jawad. That's our leading scorer and our third-leading scorer and the only two guys on the starting five that shoot over 50 percent, so it's blow not to have either one of those guys, much less both of them.
Again, I thought the defense and getting them to turn the ball over and going down and getting easy baskets was the key. And I like the percentage we shot from the 3-point line. I said to somebody before the game that we were not going to shoot 20-something three's. I liked what we did there.
You guys kind of had a built-in excuse today to not play well, without Sean and Jawad, yet they went out and did play well. Are you really proud of that?
Well, built-in excuse is ridiculous to even think about those kinds of things. I told them that a lot of times it makes teams band together a little bit more. And I asked every player, 'You don't have to play better than you are. You don't have to play over your head, but I need you to play as close to your potential as you can, particularly on the defensive end of the floor.'
And I under stand what you are saying, but if a team of mine ever uses that excuse it's going to be a miserable day at practice the next day--I guarantee you that part.
Do you think Sean and Jawad can play at Kentucky on Saturday?
It remains to be seen. If you ask me what I think--as long as you'll put the word 'think' in there--I think that Sean will play and it's 50/50 on Jawad. And I don't think that we'll know until Thursday afternoon. Tomorrow, I backed off, but I'd already decided to do it anyway, is make tomorrow a run-and-shoot and make that a little easier. That will give Jawad three full days of nothing. He won't do anything tomorrow, and Sean will get on the bike and that will be about all he will do. I think we'll have Sean, but I'm just not very confident about Jawad.
With Sean, he, deep down, might have been able to play tonight, but I thought it was silly, and I would have made the same decision if we had played Kentucky tonight. In my opinion, you want to get by it and don't want it to linger. I think if you try to jump back out there too quickly then the thing lingers a little. We have him on the bike today to get some conditioning, and hopefully that will help his ankle a little bit too.
Do they have to practice Friday before they can play, or do you not have any hard and fast rules?
Basically, I do have a hard and fast rule: I don't think you can play a game on Saturday if you can't practice on Friday. Sometimes if somebody has a 24-hour virus or something like that on a Thursday and on Friday is still feeling a little bit miserable and you decide not to on your own choice, then I'd say I'd be all right on Saturday, but they have to be able to do something on Friday or they can't play Saturday.
But, you know, the good thing about rules when you are the head coach, you can change them too.
Does this team have an identity yet, and how close is it to where you want it to be?
I really don’t think we have one yet. I'm hoping we are gaining some confidence with our defense. The last couple of years people have talked about our offense and how we run the ball and things like that. Two years ago we led the nation in scoring, but the year before that I was most proud of the fact that we led the nation in field goal percentage defense. And I think all of our teams at Kansas for 15 years tried to guard people. Probably, in 15 years, there were only three or four years out of those 15 that teams shot over 40[-something] percent against us. We'd like to have them in the way-low 40's, but I like even below 40. So I'm hoping we can get a better identity, as you call it, from what we do on the defensive end of the floor, but we aren't there yet.