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What’s your overall assessment of what happened tonight?
“I don’t have an overall assessment.”
OK…more specifically then; was it a defensive issue? Was it the defense that broke down tonight?
“I think so. We didn’t make a deep defensive adjustment with [Travis Nieson]. We just couldn’t get him controlled and I think that was a breakdown from inside out. We really focused on him and then he started hitting those outside jumpers. They played really good tonight. We can’t take anything away from them, but we were way more talented than they were. They just played harder and they wanted it more than we did.”
This is the first time in 65 games that you didn’t have Raymond [Felton] out there. How much of a factor was that?
“It was tremendously different, but our players have got to be able to step up in somebody’s absence. We didn’t take it as Raymond was suspended; we took it as if Raymond was hurt. People do get hurt, and if Raymond goes down later on, we’ve got to be able to adjust and we didn’t do that tonight. We’ve got to be able to get the ball in scoring position and things like that.”
You guys seem to do so much better in transition and tonight you were forced to play more set offense. How much of a factor was that?
“We really didn’t make our offense work. We really never got to get out on the break. So that really hurt us as far as running a set offense. Our freshmen are just starting to get the plays down, so that’s a big adjustment for us.”
You got thrown into the fire tonight. Give me your assessment of Division I college basketball in general.
“Santa Clara played a great game and we didn’t play the game we wanted to play. But this is just the first game, we’ll take from it and go from here.”
How tough was it for you to go in there with Raymond out?
“I’m not going to say it was tough, but at the same time, Raymond is a great player and an asset to this team. But, at anytime, somebody could get hurt or in foul trouble and we as a team have to pick up the slack. Tonight, we just didn’t come together and do that. It was just the first game of the season, and we’re just going to try and get better with every game.”
“We’ve got to forget about this and put it in the back of our mind. At the same time, we’ve can’t let this drag us down on Monday. BYU is a tough team. This Santa Clara team played well. We didn’t play our best game tonight it’s sad to say. It’s the first game of the season. That’s the truth. That’s what happened and we can’t let this drag us down. We’ve got to look forward to another big game. We’ve got to take a look at the tape and look at the mistakes that we made. We’ve just got to get better everyday.”
What broke down defensively? You’ve been concentrating on it so much during the preseason.
“Our pressure really starts up front. At the beginning of the game we came in and gave them a good hit. Then, I think we relaxed a little bit. With having Wes [Miller], Melvin [Scott] and ‘Q’ at the point…we feed off them. We let the whole team relaxed. That’s something we’re going to have to look at on the tape. We just have to take this one and forget about it.”
“At some point…when we were down by 15, you could see some of the leadership backing off at that point. But we’ve got about six juniors and three seniors, so that situation shouldn’t be a problem. We didn’t play the way Carolina can play. We didn’t play defense and we didn’t execute our offense like we’re supposed to. We had a horrible game; we admit that. Santa Clara had a great game. They played their best ball and they won. They wanted it more than we did tonight.”
What’s your theme for the season coming in?
“To play defense as a team, to play as a team and to get the job done. That’s all we’ve got to do.”
Do you think you guys came in and took them lightly?
“No we didn’t take them lightly. We just had a bad game.”
You haven’t missed a game in 65 games. How hard was it for you to not play?
“It was hard. I made a mistake and I had to deal with it. There were times when I wanted to cry, but right now I can’t worry about it.”
Your thoughts on your first game.
“Well, we lost. Everybody can do better. We just have to go back to practice and go from here.”
How do you turnaround and get back on Monday?
“It’s in the past. There is nothing you can do but learn from it.”
What did Coach say to you about your play?
“He said, ‘Good job.’ He always says,
Good job,’ no matter how you play.”
Do you feel like you did a good job tonight?
“I can definitely do better.”
“We didn’t execute our game plan and play defense and that cost us.”
Do you feel like a leader on the court was missing?
“We didn’t have anybody step up and take the burden on their shoulders, myself included.”
On Niesen’s play:
“The biggest thing is we didn’t do a good job in the post. He’s a left-handed player and was difficult to guard for us. It’s just something we have to learn from and be ready when we face it again.”