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“We feel fantastic. You feel for [Maryland head coach] Gary Williams. I think he’s one of the toughest competitors in our business and a guy I have a tremendous amount of respect for. They’re going through some difficult times, but he is a guy I have a tremendous amount of respect for. If you’re playing his teams, if they adopt his personality and characteristics a little more, you’ve got your work cut out for you.
“David Noel I thought was sensational. I think early in the game they [Maryland] got it inside to his man and scored about three times in a row and then after that I thought he was really good defensively. They cut it to 11 at one time in the second half and he came up then made a basket and made a steal and got us another basket. All of a sudden it’s back up to 15 or 16.
“They make it tough on Tyler [Hansbrough], surrounding him with people inside. He needs to make some better decisions with the basketball and get it out quicker. You look down and we shoot 41 percent. It wasn’t smooth and effective on the offensive end. We also had 17 turnovers so we’d also like to do better there. I loved how hard we fought defensively particularly after the first three or four minutes of the game. You guys were talking about their field goal percentage. I think our defensive had something to do with that, but they missed some easy shots. We’ve got to feel fortunate for that.
“One of the things I liked about the whole game is that everybody who came off our bench made a positive contribution. David played major minutes but nobody else played more than 27. I think over the course of the game and over the course of the season that has helped us out a great deal and I think it did again today, but we’ve got to get better. We’ve got some more opportunities coming up and hopefully we’ll play better then.”
On if he expected this year’s team to be as successful as they have recently
“No, I never try to have expectations. I always have hopes. My hopes are always high and I feel very fortunate to coach this wonderful group of kids. I know you get sick of me saying that, but it is amazing. Yesterday at the end of practice we were on the mats stretching and we’re talking participating in spelling bees. It’s the most unusual group and it’s a group that I’m just enjoying the heck out of. They’re competitive. Even Q [Quentin Thomas], I ripped him a couple times and he says `Yes. Yes,’ and he tries to do better. He made two bad decisions with the ball and then all of a sudden he makes two big time plays. They accept what I’m saying and not how I’m saying or how ugly a face I’m making when I’m saying it to them. They’re a fun, fun group to coach. I’ve said this a few times too. I like the fact that I’ve been very fortunate to coach a lot of kids who happen to be the sons of coaches. Marcus [Ginyard]’s older brother was one of his coaches. Tyler’s dad was a major athlete himself at Missouri - the high jump champion in the Big Eight. Bobby [Frasor]’s dad was his coach. Danny [Green]’s dad has coached and I think those freshmen coming in have heard those stories around the dinner table about saying focused and playing with poise and trying to focus on the most important things and they’ve done that.”
On the play of Mike Copeland
“Michael’s done some nice things offensively. He really has. He has trouble on the defensive end of the floor. That’s what’s keeping him from getting more opportunities He got an offensive rebound for us and scored inside. I don’t think we lost anything in that substitution and we got Tyler a break.”
On how much David Noel has meant to the team
“He’s meant everything. I think the most impressive thing is that he went through a stretch of three, four or five games were everyone was talking bad about him and saying he was going south and he was able to overcome that. A lot of guys fold when things start going south and give in. That youngster didn’t do it. He fought back and refocused again and played even harder. He did an even better job of being a leader for us. That stretch there is something that I’m extremely proud of him because there are not a lot of guys who can do that sort of thing. As a senior you feel responsibility even more and he went through a stretch there three, four or five games and he bounced back to do some great things for us.”