I’m proud of our guys for hanging in there. We get down ten points and just to keep battling and battling. We talked about breaks and how eventually the breaks should go our way and at the end they did. I thought it was ironic that we won the game on a couple foul shots after not shooting them well the last couple of games. On top of that, I feel bad for Paul [Hewitt]. Paul’s a friend in the business, he’s a good guy and he’s got a good young team. It’s a hard game for him to lose. Again, proud of our guys for gutting it out. They found a way. My players found a way to win today.
Coach, talking about breaks, it looked like you were trying to call timeout before [Melvin] Scott made that layup.
Yep. With 15 seconds to go, we are down three. To me, that’s a point where we probably need to get a three point shot. So much for what I know. We get a layup and call time out there. They called a timeout and then that’s when we got the five second count. I think that’s right. I’d have to check the film to make sure.
What did the official say to you because it appeared that [B.J.] Elder signaled for timeout that they didn’t have?
He said that the referee called the five-second count before they called the timeout.
You had a couple situations late that were really good. They were patient when they needed to go for two or three, they didn’t rush them.
Yea. There were a couple shots when we took a couple bad ones. Maybe in the 2:50 range. I think there was a timeout and we say hey, there’s a lot of time left there will be a lot of possessions, let’s make sure we get good shots. I loved the look Raymond got to Melvin. ..We picked up our defensive intensity. For a while there, [Steve]Kirschner makes a guy feel really good, it looked like they scored on every possession, and he said, ‘well they scored eight out of ten.’ But we hung in there. It would have been easy for our guys to check it in and they didn’t. They found a way.
Were you aware of [Marvin] Lewis’ free throw percentage?
Oh yea, but at that point, we didn’t have a choice. He’s the best. 83% I think. We go over that in scouting reports. We know what they are shooting. We didn’t have a choice and we were kind of planning on having to go for three, but we were fortunate.
You guys were down ten with eight minutes, and from that point, Jawad [Williams] and Raymond scored 17 of the last 21 points.
Those are two guys that are capable of scoring and I like when the ball is in their hands. I thought Raymond really had a nice find for Jawad on the out of bounds play when he came off the screen and hit Jawad and Jawad hit that little bank shot. That was a big play. Raymond had a big three late in the game. Obviously the fouls shots.
Just after the game, it’s hard to judge, but for a young team coming off a heartbreaking loss to State, how big is this for that locker room?
I think it’s huge. They are relieved but it’s not like we are dancing in the locker room. I think that we were just relieved. That State game, it was a huge emotional investment. You are playing a rival, at home, after a tough loss then you have to come back and play a game. It is tough to emotionally invest. I was proud the way we came out, our defensive energy was great. We probably had too much energy for the offensive end. You want to be juiced up, and we were juiced up on the defensive end and that’s good. But as a result, we had too many turnovers in the beginning of the game. Fortunately our defense was...actually we had the lead for a good deal of the game.
How about for you, do you feel like the walls are closing in?
You know, during the game, you are just coaching the game. It’s really me, the players. There is a weird separation when you coach. The court and the fans. At times, they are one and other times there is great separation when you are focusing on the game. That does sound pretty philosophical for you guys? (laughter)
Coach, on the last play, why did you take Noel out?
I just wanted size in and around the basket. Damion, I said, guard the basket and he guarded the ball. I thought with one second, they would throw it up at the goal. So I’d like to have my biggest guy under the goal so they can’t throw it to the basket. There is not much you can do, although as big as Damion is and they had their point guard taking the ball out, he can create a big shadow under the goal. Out of bounds underneath , pressure on the ball isn’t as important as it is when you are throwing a length of the court type of thing because the guy can back up as far as he wants. But, I did think it make an impact because they did have to throw a long pass.
What does it say about your team to win with all the negative surrounding the program, a young team on top of that?
That’s why I am so proud of them. They gutted it out. They found a way to win. They did it. My guys went out there and battled. They hung in the and hung in there. It was like a boxing match where you get punched in the face, punched in the face, on the mat, come off the mat, and go in your corner staggering and you come back out and answer the bell. I’m proud of them.
Rashad sat for long stretches in the second half, was that for defensive [purposes]?
I just thought that Melvin’s defense was very good, Jackie’s defense was very good. I felt comfortable with that defensive unit out there and we really needed to get some stops. Rashad hit a big three for us and I tried to get him there one time and they were quick getting the ball in play and he didn’t get in for the offensive end because he is such a great offensive player. It’s kind of like hockey sometimes, you want to sub on the fly.
Down ten with seven or eight minutes to go and you went to that half court trap.
Yea, I thought they were getting the ball inside too easy. We needed to extend a little bit. They called a timeout then we doubled the ball a little bit and their offense was out a little farther. I thought our out of bounds defense, when they were on the sideline, that was obviously big because they got a five second count. Again, I’m just proud of our guys.
Your interior defense, they were getting a lot of easy inside shots at the beginning of the second half, but it seemed when you made the run at the end, even though you were outside, you slowed that down.
Yea, we put more ball pressure on and doubled a little more so then, their post men have to come out to the foul line top of the key area so to be an outlet so they weren’t able to set up as much. I’d have to watch the tape but hopefully we did a better job at fronting the post too. They are a talented young team and I tell you, they are going to be one of the better teams in the league for years to come.