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Well, it's a 'W,' it goes in the correct column. It wasn't very pretty. We didn't have the intensity that I thought we would have today. We didn't have the sharpness on the offensive end. There were some wild turnovers, but give Valpo credit, they made shots down the stretch.
In the second half they were 7-10 from the three-point line. That will hurt anybody. They shot 5-17 at the half; I told them I didn't mind anybody shooting that. In fact, it should have been 4-17. I screwed up the last one. The last play wasn't our kids' fault. The last play of the first half I sent Dexter to go double, I didn't realize 'Z' was already up there doubling so we had a triple team and left the guy open in the corner--that should be on me. And all the ones in the second half are on me, too because we didn't play very well in the second half. But, like I said, it goes in the 'W' column.
I thought Deon responded really well. To the mistake that he made. I'm not sure that Karl (Hess), who I think is a really good official, would call the exact same call if he saw the play over again. But he called it, and that's what he thought it was, and you can't make those kind of plays. It looked like they were just tangled up, and Deon was pushing to get away. I didn't think he was trying to hit the guy in the head, but that's what was called, and I thought Deon responded very well in the second half to having to sit out the last three-to-four minutes of the first half.
I said before the season started that some days we are going to be pretty good and some days we're going to be pretty ugly. And today was one of those days I thought we were pretty ugly. But again, give Valpo the credit. In one stretch in the second half, they were 4-5 from the three-point line.
We've got to go back to the bare essentials. We have a two-on-one fast break twice tonight and we don't score on either one of them. We didn't even get a shot off on one of them. We have seniors turning the ball over--Deon and Marcus (Ginyard) on three straight possessions and Larry (Drew) on two straight possessions. It goes in the win column, but we have no chance in New York if we play this way.
Coach Williams said he thought there was a lack of intensity from the team today. What do you think was going on there?
I wouldn't say a lack of intensity. Guys just weren't as hyper as usual. That happens some games. Everybody's just not into it mentally, but we got the victory so we are happy for that. We're just ready for Ohio State now.
Do you think that the way the guys played you so aggressively on offense, making it a close game down the stretch, will spark a better performance on defense in the future?
It really sent us to reality that maybe we aren't as good as we think we are so we are going to have to buckle down starting on Tuesday since we have off tomorrow. Maybe we can focus in and try to get better and really listen to what Coach says.
It seems like there have been more jump shots from guys in the post this year, not as many back-to-the-basket plays. Is that by design, because of the defense they were playing, or what? And is that accurate?
It's more because of the personnel that we have. We have a lot of good shooters on the team from Deon (Thompson) to (Tyler) Zeller to the Wear twins. There are a lot of good shooters on this team, so that's why there are a lot of jump shots taken in the post.
On Deon Thompson's play:
There is no question that Deon, his effort tonight and just his intensity, I think, was a game-changing factor in this game--the way he played and the way he showed a lot of heart out there going after offensive rebounds, going to the boards, and scoring some big baskets for us. He has made huge steps since he has been here as a freshman. Mentally, he continues to stay tough and, like you said, to bounce back from not having the best performance that he wanted to last game and to come back with a big-time performance for us.
You talked very confidently about this team at ACC Operation Basketball. Does this performance shock you that the team [played this way] today?
I don't want to say 'shocking,' but it is still disappointing at the same time.
Why do you feel like the team was flat tonight?
I don't know.
You are someone that other players look up to. Will you have anything to say to the other players about that, or does that need to come from the coaches?
It's something that needs to come from us, but-- I don't know.
Not that we took Valparaiso lightly or anything, I just think our defense just showed that we weren't using our bodies and brains at the same time.
Do you think that this was a Sunday game and you guys are used to playing on Saturdays and Wednesdays had anything to do with it?
No, not really. It's just--I really don't have the answer. Really, on the inside we just have to come together, try to play hard, listen to what coach says. If we just give it 100 percent--you can always take the outcome when you give 100 percent.
What grade would you give the team tonight in terms of effort?
Hmm? 'D'? I would say 'D.' We showed intensity in spurts, but you can get a couple of questions right and still come up with a 'D.'
Could you have detected this before the game? Did you see this coming?
Not really. It just came along with the game. We didn't give it our all from the start, and it took the first half and coaching and a little bit of the second half to pump us up for the second half--and a little bit of ourselves saying, 'Yeah, come on. We are embarrassing ourselves out here. We need to pick it up.' Then we got a lead, and I feel like we got a little comfortable. We just need to keep our intensity up from start to finish.
What do you expect Tuesday to be like?
High intensity and highly enthusiastic--and a lot of running.
Did you feel there was a lack of pep in the step before the game?
I thought everything was all good and everything was normal, but Coach told us before the game 'You guys seem like you lack intensity for the shoot-around. You guys seem a little dead in the locker room.' I felt I was ready to go out there and play, but I just had a lot of mental lapses--to many turnovers out there and that is something I have to work on.
Do you think some of the young guys on this team needed this as an eye-opener as far as the intensity level--some of the freshmen playing three games in a week?
This is a wake-up call for everybody. We are going to go to New York, and if we play like we did in the second half today we are going to get ate up out there. I'm not trying to travel all the way to New York just to get embarrassed. I think this team has a lot of potential. We just need to wake up now. The games aren't going to get any easier. They are going to get harder, so we have got to go out there and play better.
Coach seemed unhappy after the game. What was he like in the locker room?
I can't really say. Honestly, the scary part about it, he came in--he didn't yell, he didn't cuss, nothing like that. He didn't really say much. He just said, 'Get your rest today. Tomorrow is an off-day. Just get your rest--you guys are going to need it for Tuesday,' and he just kind of walked out. Usually, he'll have a 10- or 15-minute discussion. Today he had none of that, so that's what worries me the most.