“We’ve had a tough week to say the least losing at home to Miami and at Virginia. And then to bounce back and win at Florida State was a huge boost for our team. Florida State, I think, is a really good basketball team. They came out and made nine of their first 10 shots. We didn’t look very good, but I liked the toughness of our team – the way they stayed in there. In the second half, Florida State got some open shots but didn’t make them. We were lucky to get out with a win, and it was a win I think we needed, too.”
On playing high profile out of conference games
“I think it’s something that we still want to do, as coaches have not wanted to go to a complete round robin – in our league that would be 22 conference games. If you played 22 conference games, you wouldn’t be able to play these national-type games with some of the rivalries that we have like North Carolina-Kentucky, or whatever. For us playing Arizona (on Saturday) does not come at a very good time – there’s no question – for either one of us. Getting out of conference playing that kind of opponent is extremely difficult, but you still want to do those kinds of things. Duke and Georgetown, which just played this weekend, those games are for national recognition and appeal. But if we ever went to a full round robin, you would see these games go by the wayside.”
On Wes Miller giving you more and more than you may have envisioned
“He’s just a tough, tough youngster, who is a ‘gym rat.’ I don’t think I’ve ever had anybody go through more workouts in the off season than Wes. The guys sort of laugh at him because he’ll workout three or four times a day; and if there’s anybody whose heart and mind has made him into a better basketball player, it’s Wes. He has some gifts, but not as many gifts from a basketball athletic standpoint as some guys. He may have given enough sweat that he’s made himself into a heck of a basketball player. He’s been doing good things for us all year. He’s been working hard on the defensive end and trying to stay in front of his man and put pressure on. He does have some limitations because of his size, but not because of his heart. That’s the biggest part of his body and I just couldn’t be more thrilled for him.”
Do you anticipate the same starting lineup against Boston College as you had against Florida State?
“I would anticipate sticking with it. I told Marcus [Ginyard] he was not the guy that caused us to lose two in a row, because that was not it. It was just that Wes had played so well that I felt like I needed to give him a chance. And, our team did need more offensive firepower from the outside; and when Wes is making them like he was yesterday, our whole team is better.”
Did the win have an immediate effect of lifting a weight off the players’ shoulders because of the losing streak?
“I think it was really good for them; they were really excited, really positive about it. They really knew how difficult it was, and it was a good doggone sized accomplishment – you know Florida State had not lost at home and they have a pretty good basketball team. I think it was great for our team emotionally, but who knows what kind of carry over effect that is going to have. Two losses in a row for us is a losing streak – it’s something our kids did feel – and I’m just proud of the way our guys fought back.”
Are you enjoying this year’s challenges even through the losses and wins?
“Oh I’m enjoying this team; there’s no question. And it is a big-time challenge. We’re treading water where nobody has ever been before with the inexperience we have and how much we lost. But it’s a wonderful group of kids that are trying extremely hard. Nobody wants to play as well as they themselves want to play. I am really proud of them and I am having fun with them. They’re a good group to be around. I was elated for them yesterday; there’s no question about that.”
What kind of challenge is Boston College in the low block?
“Well they’ve got some big time players who have been successful for two and three years, and we understand that. We’ll start focusing on Boston College today – we didn’t get home until after midnight last night. And I must not be a very good coach, because I did not watch any Boston College tape last night.”
How tough is it to win on the road this year in the league?
“For us it’s difficult to win anywhere, you know we’ve lost a couple at home this year, too. In the past and I think by the time the season ends, it will be a little bit more back to normal of it being extremely difficult to win on the road. But the teams are so evenly matched, who knows? There have been a lot of breakthroughs in the league. No one has been able to get Duke, but Duke has had some teams play them awfully close and two of them at Cameron. I think in the past in the history of this league and especially in this league, road wins are so hard to come by and when you get one you feel like you’ve really accomplished something.”