"I think both are different. The first time around we played Old Dominion, we played a lot of man still at that point. I think after that game is when we got together as a staff and decided we needed to make some changes to what we're doing defensively. In that game, they scored 81 points on us, 56 of them, I believe, in the paint. I don't know if they've scored 81 in conference play since then. [Keenan] Palmore had a terrific game against us. He really hurt us. We're both different. We've both evolved. That's what happens when you have a long season and, obviously, going and having to play in their place is going to be difficult for us."
How do you think the development of your zone defense matches up against Palmore and Aaron Bacote and the ability they have to drive?
"We still tried to keep them out of the paint last time when they got in there. We've got to be better there. They'll be prepared for it. They've seen it from us almost exclusively coming down the stretch. We've got to be able to rebound a little bit better. We've been hurt on the glass.
Hopefully, Paris [Roberts-Campbell] is getting back. He's probably 80 percent, 85 percent right now and that may be as high as he gets for the rest of the season, but we've got to get something out of him. He's our smartest defensive guy, whether it's man or zone. He knows where he's supposed to be. He's quick and he can react back there. He hasn't been able to do that the past couple of games."
You've got the chance to lock up a winning season and is there still a first-round Conference-USA tournament bye scenario?
"I think there is a scenario or two. I think there's about eight things that have to happen. I don't really worry too much about it at this point. I know in my younger years I did. I knew all the scenarios and, most of the time, there'd be one I didn't know. That would be the one that usually happened. I don't usually worry about it too often. I wait until all the games are done and find out who we're going to play."
You've said that basketball is a game of runs and that's what happened against Marshall. What happened down those stretches that made it hard to get a bucket?
"Well, we've had those stretches before. Whether it was missing some shots—we had a couple of easy ones that we missed. We missed a couple of three-point opportunities, turned the ball over a little bit that resulted in some easy buckets for them. But that's the way the game goes sometimes. That one was really odd because there were so many [runs] for both teams beginning to the end. It seemed like it was going to be the team that had the ball last that was going to win the game."
Considering everything that's happened this year, do you consider an above .500 record a success?
"I think our goals was to have a winning season. I didn't know, with all the losses we had… I thought at the end of the year, I don't tell the kids this, that we'd have a six or eight win season. I thought that with all the things that happened, that we couldn't recover from them. And then we lost some other guys on the course of the season for games. We lost Brandan [Stith]…for some games with a concussion. We've lost Paris. Really, two games, he wasn't really effective in the last two games. But the kids have found a way to be competitive almost every night and win some games. So, 16 wins, if you look back, that may be the third or fourth most they've had in the last 20 years.
It's been a productive year, I think. We've learned a lot about ourselves. We've still got a chance to win a few more games. My staff has done a terrific job, this year, trying to find ways to win and be creative in practice. I've been through it before with some teams. As hard as it is, you really find out about yourself, as a coach, through those times. We've had those times this year and our kids have really responded well."