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"We say many times that exhibition games are a glorified practice and I think this was that ...
"The biggest area of concern, like we did in our scrimmage against Vanderbilt, we turned the ball over way too many times. I like that we got 12 players at least 13 minutes, that was the goal going in, to give a lot of guys the chance to run out there in front of the crowd to hopefully lose some of that nervousness by the time we play on Monday night.
"Turnovers were the biggest concern and the other thing is spacing on offense - when you're as big as we are, you've got to do a better job of spacing on the outside. Rebounding, we should rebound it because we're very big. And we'll block some shots. Just getting everyone in front of a crowd and getting those first-game jitters out before it counts was important to us.
"I thought Deon and Marcus made me feel really comfortable. I was glad that Deon - he's not going to go 11-12 every night, though I wish he would. I thought they did some things. I thought Larry had some flashes where he made some good decisions and good plays. And he's a much better shooter than he was last year and he's going to take and make more outside shots than he did tonight.
"All in all, I thought we got more out of it than if we had a spirited practice. I think it was good for us and I hope the Belmont Abbey kids felt it was a good experience for them."
Deon Thompson had a big offensive night. Are you expecting more offense from him this year?
"Yeah, but just a little. But I think you harm somebody's play if you expect him to take over for someone who just left. He's just got to be a little bit better, and if he's any more than that that's fine. But I don't want to put stress on him that he's got to score 23 or we won't do well. He's had a good preseason and again with our size, he's 11-for-12, Z's 7-for-11 and Ed's 5-for-9 and I hope we'll shoot those percentages against even bigger teams as well, but we should against this team."
We you more pleased with this performance than you were the scrimmage against Vanderbilt?
"You could say 'Yes.' We stunk at Vanderbilt. You can fill in any adjective you want to. We frickin stunk."
Do you think the freshmen showed their nerves tonight?
"Yeah, John airballed two [free throws] and he actually airballed one of them at Vanderbilt as well. I don't know if he's nervous, but I just don't think he bends his knees on his free throws. You can definitely be nervous coming in front of a big crowd when you're not used to that in high school, but I think they played well."
Has your game noticeably improved from last year? You seemed more comfortable out there tonight ...
"Maybe just because I don't have a four-year All-American next to me, that may be the biggest thing. There's a lot of spacing, my teammates are looking for me. We don't have as many scorers, so maybe me scoring shows up more than previous years."
What are your initial reactions to this first game?
"It's good to play against someone new - been battling against all our guys and that gets boring, so it's fun to get in against someone new ... I think everyone played well, from our point guards to our bigs ... Deon played real well. Think he only missed one shot, he was Mr. Efficient tonight - played good, looked good."
The post players led the scoring tonight and the emphasis was clearly on getting the ball inside. Do you think the big guys will be carrying the scoring load this year?
"I'm not going to say 'carry the load,' we're going to ... I guess we are going to probably 'carry the load,' like you said. We have more bigs than we have guards this year, so it will be more post-dominant now, but I think it'll end up being balanced."
Can you evaluate how you think you did today?
"I feel like I did okay. I think I could have cut down some of my turnovers, but overall I think I played a solid game ... The more I play, the more I'll be comfortable and the more the game will come to me."
You're looking to score more this year ...
"One thing I'm going to try and do this year is get my point numbers up. As long as I play, I'm going to get assists - that just happens. ... I just feel like I need to step up and score more points for this team ... My shot is improved. I'm totally confident in my shot ... I was 1-for-4 tonight, but that is no indication of what's going to come in the future. I'm still going to look for my shot, I'm still totally confident and I feel that all the hard work I put into my shot this summer is going to pay off."
What did you think of the team's performance tonight?
"I was excited to get those guys out there - get them in front of a crowd. I thought everybody did a good job out there once we got settled down. We turned it over too much today, but it was a learning experience and I thought we got a lot out of it tonight."
Having seen a new team build four years ago and now again, what's that process like and how's it coming along with this squad?
"It's a slow process. There's no question there's a lot of teaching going on in practice and a lot of things still to learn. Last year's team picked things up quicker, but you're now with guys who haven't seen some of these things so you have to spend more time working with them, pulling them along, and getting them on the same page. But I think this team will continue to do a great job continuing to get better and better so we'll be playing our best basketball in March."