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Opening remarks -
Well, it’s a lot better feeling than what we had after the Virginia Tech game to say the least. I couldn’t be more proud of Reyshawn [Terry]. He had zero points at halftime and was discouraged. Jared [Dudley] was making it difficult for him in he second half because of his defense, and he stepped up a made a huge three for us. We ran a play for Tyler [Hansbrough] on the weak side. We had a good screen for Reyshawn, and Ty [Lawson] made a good decision and didn’t throw it to Tyler. Reyshawn knocked in a big shot for us. Marcus [Ginyard] stepped up and made two big free throws. It was a difficult game to say the least. I honestly believe if we had lost at the end, I would have felt very good with how hard my team played, and the defense that we had. That was a big-time basketball game in a fantastic college atmosphere. For us to step up and get that win after we were so disappointed Tuesday night, it was great for our team.
Jared Dudley and Sean Marshall and Tyrese Rice…they’re a load for us. That doesn’t make them feel any better, but I told all three of them I think they’re fantastic players. Again, I loved my team’s intensity tonight. We had two really good days of practice before this game – just the opposite of what it was before the Virginia Tech game. It was a big-time win. Reyshawn Terry needs some of that positive feeling, because he’s done a great job defensively all year, but he’s had so many people question him because he hasn’t always done it offensively.
On the difference between the last two games -
I think our intelligent kids. They know what it was like Sunday and Monday, and they know what we played like Tuesday night. And they know what it was like the last two days and how we played. If we don’t maintain the intensity now, then we’re not going to have it. That’s the bottom line. I think that our kids will practice hard. I think they’ll play hard. And again, they see the difference between the way we played tonight and Tuesday. And I’m not taking anything away from Virginia Tech. It’s not all just about us, but sometimes the other team does a great job.
Jared Dudley…I feel for him missing those free throws like that. But we needed a break. Tyrese hit a prayer that was answered, so I sort of felt like it was justified.
On winning on the road -
We’ve been a pretty good team on the road. We had a huge game to bounce back down at Clemson. We had a huge game to go into Cameron Indoor Stadium. And this was a huge game for us tonight. I think we’ll gain a great deal from this.
Why do you think your teams are so good on the road?
It a weird year, first of all. Tuesday and Wednesday night in the ACC, there were five games and the road team won four out of the five. So I think a lot of times if you allow people to make a big deal about going on the road, it gets to be bigger than it is. In our 15 years at Kansas, we played really well on the road. I think we’ll always play well on the road, because, No. 1, we have good players; and No. 2, (the goals are the same). When the home team’s crowd is going crazy, you just have to concentrate even more. I love it. I really do. I love going on the road and playing really well, and seeing if you can quiet the crowd a bit.
What did you say to Terry at halftime?
I’m not saying he was down. He’s been down all season because of his play on the offensive end of the floor. We’ve played 24-25 games, he’s probably won the defensive player award 12-14 times. So he’s been playing great there but the ball hasn’t been going in the basket for him. He hasn’t had many opportunities. The other teams’ defense has done a good job on him. So to me, it was very fitting that he stepped up and made that big three. A couple plays before that, he had been involved in losing the ball out-of-bounds. He had been involved with Marcus over there on the sideline, fumbling just shades from me to you. At halftime, we talked about we were tough enough. That was our question to our team: `Are we tough enough?’ At halftime, I said, `You shown that you’re tough enough to be in it for a half; I think you’re tough enough to be in it the whole way. I think you’re tough enough to get it done; now we’ve got to go out and do it. It doesn’t make any difference what I say.’ I didn’t aim anything at Reyshawn, but it was just very fitting for him to knock in the shot.
On exploiting Dudley’s absence late in the first half
I don’t get caught up in who’s in the game and who’s not. [Tyrese] Rice was killing us, so if he’s out of the game and Marquez Haynes makes a big three right in front of our bench. They had some guys that made other plays, too. If it’s a one-man team - 100 years ago, we played Cincinnati and they had Danny Fortson and he was their whole offense, the focus of their offense. When he was out, we had a huge advantage. Tonight in the first half, Jared was in foul trouble and Sean I don’t think had a field goal. If you get caught up in that, you’re trying to play North Carolina against Boston College.
On keeping up the attack -
One of the big plays of the game to me was that they make a basket to cut it to two, the crowd’s going crazy and we took it out-of-bounds and attacked and Ty got fouled and made two free throws. There was a timeout, and I said, `That’s the way we’ve got to be. If somebody scores against us, we have to attack.’ I’ve said that all year long and every day since I’ve ever been a coach, but this team has an ability to get it and get it in. Ty has got a tremendous motor. He was a tough little nut tonight, too. He played 20 minutes in the second half. Bobby [Frasor] struggled in the first half. I wasn’t comfortable making the change for Q [Quentin Thomas] right there. I just wanted to keep Ty in because Rice is so quick. It’s hard for Bobby and Q who are still not 100% healthy to stay in front of him. We work on that all the time. We work on it. A lot of the times, we’ll look at the play-by-play and see they scored, and four seconds later, we scored. Or they scored, and five seconds later, I’ve done that before. We have contests during our practice for the big guy to get it out of the net and get it inbounds, whoever takes it out the most gets a reward at the end of the week. To me, that was a big play for us because that was the loudest I heard the crowd all night.
On his team’s depth -
Our depth has been important to us all season. We didn’t lose it as much tonight, because again, I didn’t like the match-ups with Q or Bobby trying to play Tyrese. I think the depth is more important over the course of the season. Deon Thompson, for example, gave us some really big minutes in the first half when we were trying to see if Brandan [Wright] was going to be okay. Brandan bothered his shoulder two days ago at practice, and I thought Deon’s time was good for us. Marshall beat Wayne [Ellington] to death a couple of times for offensive rebounds there at the end, and I put Marcus in. Marcus did a great job and finished it out. So it’s important to us.
On a lack of experience -
Eleven freshmen and sophomores, they don’t understand some things as easily as juniors and seniors do. If it’s a very experienced team, for example, when you’re getting ready to play Virginia Tech, who had already beaten you, you wouldn’t have two straight days of bad practices. But at the same time, what’s that saying, `Youth has to be served’? They’re very good players. Regardless of whether we ask them to play - Deon played 12 minutes, or whatever it was, then Ty plays 20 in the second half - whenever you’re in there, you’ve got to play well.