As we sit here today, we're probably a little bit disappointed in the outcome of this game. It wasn't because of lack of effort on our part. Let's give Mike Montgomery and his team a lot of credit.
We got off to a slow start, didn't shoot the ball well. When you go 5 for 31, and we had some point blank shots we normally make, you all the sudden dig a hole for yourself. We were able to cut it back in the second half. We cut it to 8, in fact, with an opportunity to cut it even further.
It just seemed like every time we had a chance to gain some momentum, somehow the whistle blew and then they'd go to the free throw line. It just wasn't Razorbacks' night tonight, let's give Cal some credit.
Having trouble scoring in first half, was that familiar from the season?
We got off to some great starts on the road, with exception of last game at Alabama. We put the ball in the hole pretty decent.
At halftime, what did you tell guys?
WE have to attack. We just settled. Our first play was a dunk in the first half. Now why do you go away from what's working, but I thought we just kind of settled. Once you start settling — to me, I always think we should do pretty good from a defensive standpoint. I just thought we tried to win with offense. We're shooting perimeter shots and they're laying it up on the other end. We didn't attack the zone properly.
The second half was a different story, we came out and did a better job. Our defense wasn't where it should be.
Will NIT be a springboard for next season?
I think the foundation is set. Obviously our goal was to chase the national championship in the NCAA, and for any team, that's a downer because we were right there in the hunt. So this was going to be an opportunity for us to get some more games, more practice times, you're in a tournament.
For our seniors, you want to send them out the right way, but if you look at what's taken place from the first year to now, obviously it's a positive move in the right direction. We won't be playing for a national championship in the NCAA, but we can use it as a springboard for next year.
5 seniors go out, what did they do as example for younger guy?
They're a class guys. The thing I like about them, they're character guys. They're doing the right things on and off the floor. Always think you have to win off the floor before you win on the floor. I think we saw some of that, we saw that trickle into this basketball team.
Our mindset this year was ‘WeHogs' and I think these guys embodied that, whether they played one minute, two minutes, four minutes. It didn't matter A classic example tonight, Coty didn't play a great game. He's been playing really well, but it's amazing how he just took the stage and said I didn't play well, but you guys did.
When you have guys that are willing to give self to the team, then the young guys are watching that. They're seeing what's taking place. I applaud those guys for what's fixing to take place in the classroom, all 5 are about to graduate with one guy that's a junior that's about to graduate. They've set the bar, they set the foundation. Progress was made on and off the floor. People in Razorback nation can be excited and these guys started the movement.
Rough shooting night, how hard to coach that?
It was tough. When you don't shoot it well, you have to find ways to cause havoc or keep yourself in the game. Whether you get to free throw lines, and we didn't do that, but when we did have momentum, our guys did great on defense. Our guys never gave up and that's a good sign, because a lot of them are returning.
About first-half woes on offense
It was definitely tough. They came out hitting a lot of shots. We couldn't hit anything and we couldn't get any stops. When you dig yourself a hole, you try to fight back, but we ran out of time.
The keys to the game was boxing out and keeping Kravish off the boards, because last time he had 15 rebounds, which was a career high. This time, me and Coty just tried to shut him down. That was the biggest plan, just to crash the board, but they came out hitting shots.
Tough way to end the season
It's disappointing that this will be the last time I wear an Arkansas jersey. But I have tremendous confidence in these guys. What we've done this year, we've kind of put Razorback basketball back on the map. We didn't get quite as far as we wanted to, but we won 20 games for the first time in a long time, we won back-to-back 10-win conference seasons, we won at Rupp Arena, we had a lot of firsts.
These guys, they'll get it done. Our senior group set the foundation and now it's up to them to finish the job. Definitely sad to be done, but hopeful for the future.
What does postseason experience mean to you moving forward?
It gives our team and state hope that Razorback basketball is back. It gives players confidence for next year, also.
Did you guys expect zone the whole game?
We did expect it. The first time we played them at Maui, they played a 3-2 zone against us also. So today, it didn't phase us, but the first half, I think we got stagnant out there, we weren't moving the ball and the ball got stuck.
In the 2nd half, cut it to 8, what happened in the run?
I think at the beginning of the game, we settled for jump shots, and sometimes you tend to do that in zones because you get open looks from the perimeter. I thought we did a better job of attacking the zone, getting it inside to our big guys and letting them get layups. With the attacking, we were able to hit the offensive glass as well. That's something moving on next year, these guys can take. Don't settle for jump shots, just keep attacking.
What kind of example did the seniors set?
They're great role models for me. Me coming in as a freshman, they just told me to stay true to myself and just be me. I think Coty and Kikko, Rick, Drake and Fred, they're great role models for me.
We're a very close team, it's nice to know the guys feel that way about us seniors. We feel the same way about them. We're excited bout Razorback basketball. We didn't get as far as we wanted to, but there's hope and I think the fans saw the brand of basketball they're looking for. We didn't bring it every game, every time, but they saw what's coming. It think the nation got a chance to see Razorback basketball is on the rise.
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