Overall, what was the biggest difference from the first game to this game in terms of nerves?
There was more enthusiasm today than nervousness. Everyone was ready and pumped to play, excited, looking forward to getting after it. More so last game, we were nervous and tentative. It really showed tonight because we were getting in passing lanes, stealing the ball, and getting into the open court and having fun.
What do you think about the job that the second unit did tonight?
All of them, everyday in practice, they do those same kinds of things. Wes hits three's, Danny just scoring, Byron getting rebounds and tip-ins and stuff. They came out and showed that tonight. I wouldn't really call them our second unit. They can all be interchanged with our first unit. They came out and did what they do in practice and it helped us out a lot.
What's been the biggest adjustment for you defensively in college?
Just checking my man and pressuring. In high school we played off, sagged off. Here, we are all about attack, pressure, pressure, pressure. The first two minutes guarding the guy [tonight], he went right by me. I kind of adjusted to it after that, and I thought I played better defensively the second half. It just takes getting used to it and reading the guy after that.
The point guards had 11 assists and one turnover--what do you think about that?
I guess that's good, so you guys don't have to write about our point guard problems. (Grinning). Q and I, I thought we had a better flow in the offense tonight getting guys the ball in the right spots and handling it.
What was the key to your success tonight?
Just running the floor and getting easy baskets, sticking to our defensive principles, and doing what Coach tells us to do and the game becomes easy.
You played better tonight than the first game, but do you think it helped to pull out a close game your first time out?
I believe so. It will help us learn from the things we did wrong. It's a reality check to let us know that we aren't as good as we think we are and that we have to play hard, with enthusiasm every game. Close games benefit both teams--you learn from your mistakes.
What has been the toughest adjustment for you from high school to college?
The game pace. Everybody is bigger, stronger, faster, jumping higher. It's not that much of an adjustment. You just have to get that mentality. I have to get the mind-set of doing things the way Coach wants me to do them and do them to the best of my ability. If I can do that I will get more playing time, and I can adjust easily.
Are you getting comfortable with the rotation, coming in and out?
I guess so, yeah. I'm still trying to get a feel for it. Sometimes, I get out of rhythm here and there. I missed some open shots that I usually hit. But I'll get used to it. A couple more games and I'll get used to the rotation. Right now, I guess, sometimes it puts me out of rhythm, but I think I'll be all right with it.
Does it help to have other freshmen going through this learning process with you?
It helps a lot know that somebody else is going through the same thing I'm going through, and we just help push each other through. It's a lot easier with people around you the same age who understand you.
Do you sort of embrace making mistakes knowing that they are going to happen?
Our chemistry is really good off the court and on the court. We understand each other because we hang around each other all the time. When we are on the court, we understand what is going on.
What did the freshmen talk about between the firs and second games in terms of basketball?
We talked about the turnovers and how nervous [we were] and how intense the game was, and how we played a pretty bad game. We talked about practice the next day and how bad it was going to be--but it wasn't that bad. We thought he was going to run us a lot or we thought we were going to go through a lot of drills because we made mistakes. But it was good--it was productive, we went over film, looked at the mistakes we made, and tried to fix them.
Do you feel like Coach Williams is being patient with the mistakes you all are making?
Yeah, he has to be because we are a young team. We are very inexperience, but he is doing a good job of being patient. Usually, I've heard in the past that he not a really patient guy, but tonight he's really patient.
From the first game to tonight there was a huge difference in play. What is your explanation?
We are a good team. The first game was freshman jitters and those things. We weren't really ready to play with that type of intensity yet--together anyway, especially with the freshmen. But we went back to practice, worked on the little things, we watched the film. We watched all the [problems] that we weren't going to have this game. We turned the ball over so many times on Saturday just from nerves. For us to come out an play the way we did tonight was great.
Do you feel the confidence on this team growing day by day?
I think so, especially for this team. They don't even have us ranked in the top 65 teams, so I guess we are kind of walking around with kind of a chip on our shoulder. We want to go out and play every game to the best of our ability so we can show the NCAA and whoever [votes] in the polls that we are a team to be reckoned with, even though they don't feel that way.
You mean Sports Illustrated? How can that happen?
You just have to play. Point-blank, straight to the point, if we go out and prove that we are a team to be reckoned with, it will open some peoples' eyes. We have a great schedule coming up. We have Illinois and UC-Santa Barbara coming up. We have a lot of great teams that if we upset them, it will be an eye-opener for everybody, not just Sports Illustrated.
You are the leader of this team. Everyone talks about what this team lost, but you are back. Do you take it personally?
Yeah, I think so. I wouldn't be a basketball player if I didn't because of the fact that it is something that you work hard to reach this level. Once you have a chance to show that and people doubt you, you want to show them what you can do. And that is basically what we are trying to do right now. It's not just me--I have a bunch of teammates helping me out with that. It will definitely be a great season for us.
What is the best thing that Byron Sanders does in practice?
The best thing Byron does is that he always competes, but the best thing for me is that Byron always helps me out. He's a senior so he helps all the young guys out. He really leads us and tells us what to expect. He kind of walks us through stuff and shows us how Coach wants it done.
Is tonight more what you were expecting and the kind of game you want to play?
Exactly. Anytime we can have a big win like that, that's how we want to play. I think we came out and ran really well. We got after it and I was really excited about the way we played.
What were practices like between the Gardner-Webb game and tonight?
There was a lot of focusing. The first game I felt like a lot of people were nervous. Tonight we came out and had already been through that so it lifted a weight off our shoulders.
Was there any doubt that you'd play tonight?
I didn't think I was going to play. In the middle of the day I was walking to class and my toe was really hurting. I was talking to my Mom on the phone and I said, 'Mom, I might not be able to play.' Then I came down for shoot-around and starting moving on it and it felt a lot better. I went in the training room and got ice and called her and told her I was going to play.
My left big toe. It happened on the very last play I was in the game.
Did someone kick you in the toe?
No, kicked the ground--I stubbed it, it rolled under [my foot] and I sprained the joints. But there was no bone damage.
OK, Tyler, I want you to settle something once and for all. Jesse Holley told me a story of how you dunked on Jerry Stackhouse in a pick-up game this summer and you yelled 'Weight Room!' and then left the court. Is that true?
Hey, I would love for it to be true. I mean I tried dunking on him, but I missed it. It was a really competitive game. I may have said that, but I seriously doubt it because Stackhouse is pretty strong.
Jesse Holley told me that.
I may have said, 'Weight Room,' but I didn't dunk on him.