LISTEN TO AUDIO (2:18)
After the win at Florida State, did this feel like a step back?
I feel we should ever lose a game at home. I hate that feeling of losing in general, but losing at home is even worse.
It seems as if everyone knows the ball is going to Tyler. He has some success, but what can the rest of you guys do to loosen up the pressure on Tyler?
We work in practice on throwing the ball to Tyler and then throw two, three guys at him. We have got to send two guys over there to be outlets for him so guys can shoot the ball--hit a three--or reverse it really quick, he can seal again and get the ball on the other side. We work on it in practice; we just have to execute better in games.
You all have said you don't want to use youth as an excuse, but you have a lot of young guys. Do you feel like you are still going through a learning process?
No. People are going to say, 'They are more experienced and that's why they won down the stretch.' You can throw all those stats, numbers, turnovers, rebounds. If we competed in the first half and played with the passion we should have, it's a different ball game.
Is part of the adjustment as a freshman understanding the intensity that you have to play with every single night, not just your biggest rival in the state [like in high school]?
Right. Coach Williams always tells us every game from here on out, we are in the big leagues now. We are not back in high school where you can take a day off, a practice off, a play off. Every play is going to be down to the wire--a two- or three-point game. You need a play here or there that you could have done better on. Every play you need to use this passion and intensity that you would use on the last play of a championship game.
LISTEN TO AUDIO (3:12)
[Boston College] missed 12 of their first 17 shots in the second half, but at the under-12-minute timeout you were unable to chip away at any of the halftime margin. It was a golden opportunity, but you were unable to take advantage of it. Why do you think that was?
I think that we just weren't communicating like we should have on defense. We would get them down to under 10 seconds on the shot clock and then a mental lapse would give them a lay-up. We hit some shots, but we made a lot of little turnovers, mistakes on offense, and that's what hurt us. We couldn't get any easy buckets like they were getting. They were getting back door lay-ups. Our game plan was to run them, but we didn't do it as much as we should have in the first half.
There were stretches where the half court offense sort of slowed down for about three or four minutes. It looked almost like you were playing in ankle weights. Do you have an explanation for why that happens? It doesn't seem to make a difference who the point guard is.
It's just they played a defense that we haven't seen very often. They did a lot of switching, so in the first half it seemed like we were out of whack with it because they were switching and nobody was getting open and moving to the basket. We started hitting shots and cutting to the basket, going north-south instead of east-west. That opened up a lot of easy things for us--Tyler got some easy baskets. But I can't really explain why the offense was moving slow.
You were able to give you guys a lift when you needed it again, for the second straight game.
I just try to do what I do--that's my job when I come off the bench to bring energy, knock down shots when I'm open, and just help the team win.
More and more defenses are focused on Tyler because they know the ball is going to him first. You are knocking down some shots so you have an opportunity to contribute there to help loosen that up. How are you adjusting to the college game?
I think I'm adjusting pretty well right now. I would like to get better and better every game--that's what we like to do as a team. Individually, myself, also I would like to get better. We can do a lot more on offense. When they double Tyler, he needs help. We should cut to the basket more, get on the offensive boards, knock down some more shots. We are knocking down more shots than we did before, but there are still some shot when we are open that we should knock down. Right now, I think we are adjusting pretty well.
LISTEN TO AUDIO (2:10)
…we just have to get guys knocking down shots and moving better on offense and we should be fine.
The last several games you haven't had the attempts that you usually have. Is there any reason for that, do you think?
I'm just trying to work through the offense and let the game come to me. It's really not coming like I'm expecting it to come, but I'm not trying to rush anything or anything like that. So I feel like that's why my attempts are down. But as long as other guys are stepping up in my place, that's fine. I don't care if I score two points, as long as I win.
What happened in the first half when you guys went on the big run to take the lead, and then they started scoring at will?
They started knocking down open shots and getting shots late in the shot clock to break down our defense. That was something big for them, and when they were able to do that it took the wind out of us.
Obviously, their strength is going inside--they had some success doing that--but they were also able to move around and create some things for one another.
Yeah, definitely. They run a tight flex offense and it is kind of hard to get out and deny because of the simple fact that the back door is so open and then guys can lob it over the top because there is no help. And also, they do a good job of sealing off and reaching out for the ball. So they run everything in a compact way that it makes it tough for us to play the defense we like to play.
LISTEN TO AUDIO (2:02)
Do you ever feel a burden? I sense that sometimes other guys look to you and you haven't completely accepted that role yet? Is that a fair assessment? If not, tell me what is.
I don't think it's a burden, but I definitely feel that I have to step up to the challenge and that my teammates expect me to have a leadership role. I feel like I can be better at being a leader and one of the go-to guys. It's just a matter of time for us to learn from it and hopefully we can get better at it.
I know this is your third year here, but it is the first year that you have played a significant role. Is it fair to say that you are still learning that, you are still growing, and that you are still going to have to go through more adjustments before you fit into that role?
I definitely feel I'm still learning. It's like you said, this is my first year starting, and I have some things to learn as well, but at the same time I have to be a fast learner. I have to be able to take on that leadership role early on.
What did Coach Williams have to say to you when you came out and he had the one-on-one conversation with you?
He said to stop bickering and go out there and play ball.