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Opening Statement –
I was extremely pleased with the way we played in the first half – very focused and the best we’ve been this year at sharing the basketball – 18 baskets, 17 assists. It was the intention of our team to do that. I was really pleased with that part of it. We defended, caused some turnovers. They were averaging 11 turnovers per game and they had 12 in the first half.
I was very disappointed with the way we reacted in the second half. First time in my career I can remember three of my players getting technical fouls. I spent a few extra minutes talking to the team about being disappointed in that. Some of them were unusual. I’m going to watch the tape closer to see if I can make some assessments about what our guys did before we decide how much we’re going to run. We can’t get caught up in those things, we’re supposed to focus on playing basketball. It’s a college game, we one, and I was very pleased with the way we played in the first half.
Can you comment on the knockout punch you hit them with in the first five minutes?
I told them I wanted to set the tempo with our defense right off the bat. They were hurt being without their regular point guard and that was a major factor in the game. Our pressure was able to create – our second basket by Jackie was off a steal and then we got another turnover right after that. If you have one or two runs like that, if you’re a good team, the other team can’t overcome it. First half I thought we were all over the boards and kept them off the board, and I think that was big for us, too.
Were the three technicals retaliatory?
It’s probably something I shouldn’t say. I asked the official, he said Melvin said something, and I don’t know how you can call a technical on a guy for saying something when you’re 30 feet away. I’ve got to watch the tapes and make some decisions and if we decide to run until I get tired then my players will know it and I will know it and that’s the only ones who will know it.
On the effectiveness of the scramble defense –
We got [turnovers] from a lot of our scrambles and some of it was out of our straight man-to-man as well. I think our scramble did bother them. Again, they were without their point guard and that’s a huge factor. Coaches talk about big guys, big guys, big guys, but no coach feels comfortable coaching without his point guard.
Another steady night for Jawad Williams –
He’s been very good. I’ve said it before, he was our most consistent performer in the preseason and he continues to play exceptionally well. He had a hot streak – made the first three baskets in the second half for us. 24 minutes and 25 points, shooting 9-of-12 from the floor. He played very well for us last year and prior to the UNC Wilmington game last year he shot 57 percent from the floor and after he got the first concussion he shot 41 percent from the floor. We need him to be healthy and I thought he was having a great year last year until that happened.
You’ve said you want these games to be like extremely difficult practices. Do you think you got pushed enough tonight?
At halftime, I may have been as pleased as any game this year because I thought it was great for us. It was a physical game, they were trying to check the cutters, the kind of game where you need to be prepared for everything – some people try to outrun you and others try to block your progress. The second half so much garbage going on and you can’t get caught up in it.
When you say garbage, was playing getting a little chippy?
I thought so, but the more I say about it the more calls I’ll get from the commissioners office. I just didn’t like the way the second half went at all.
On what Quentin Thomas needs to work on –
Keep in front of the basketball, number one, at halftime he was 2-0 and second half he was 2-2. Point guard after 10 games has 18 assists and 19 turnovers, he’s got to do a better job of that on the offensive end. And a do a better job staying in front of the defender on the defensive end.
On having 30 field goals on 28 assists –
I don’t know that I’ve ever had that. We shot a lot of two-point fouls, too. Early in the game we shared the basketball and guys went harder perhaps better than at any time this year.
On playing with big leads in the second half -
Again, today was an unusual game. Against Kentucky we got off to such a great start and they’re pretty doggone good. When I start off with a birdie on one and two, I think I’m going to birdie 18 holes in a row but I’ve never done it. Human nature is you tend to let up a little bit, the other team has even less pressure on them. I’m not thinking of jumping off the top of a building because we scored more points or shot a higher percentage in the first half than we do the second. I try to look at the game as a whole. I’m not a coach who thinks you have to win the first four minutes of this half or that half. I believe you have to play 40 minutes and at the end decide who’s best.