Postgame Q&A: Leonard Hamilton
"I allowed the seniors to speak tonight (after the game) and I asked them what they thought about the game. Sometimes as a coach, you always come in and you are always trying to pull and reach and try to get better in certain areas and you have the tendency some times as a coach to look for all the areas where you need to improve and what's not working and sometimes you lose sight of the fact of who we really are. I think that we are getting better. I think we did stay focused for 40 minutes. As a coach, I probably would like to see them chewing up the floor for 40 minutes but I do think our intensity is getting better – and I thought it got better in the second half. I wasn't as concerned about what this team was doing as I was how we were playing."
On the play of the Tigers:
"I'll be honest with you; I thought they did an unbelievable job in the first half of executing their offense. They stuck with their stuff, they moved the ball, they reversed the ball. We had down-screens, back-screens, cross-screens, they were skipping the ball and to their credit, they stuck with it and they really tested our defensive principles. They had looks because they executed and found people as a result of the mistakes we made defensively. The second half, I thought we forced some turnovers and got in transition but in the half-court, I thought they gave us a lot of things to work on. To our credit, I thought we got out and ran when we had the opportunity but in the half-court, this probably was our best game of executing in the half-court. I thought that we really did a good job of locating who we thought had the hot hand. When they went to the zone, we looked for our three-point shooters. We did not get the ball inside nearly as much. We wanted 25 post touches for the game and I think we had eight at halftime. To (Texas Southern's) credit, they really jammed it up in the middle and did a good job of crowding. I think that's one of the reasons why we had so many good three-point looks."
On the progress of the team:
"Overall, I think at this point with only six games under our belt, I feel like we are making progress. I do realize that we have some time off for exams but we need to try to get better in a lot of areas during this period."
On the strong play of JUCO transfer Jerel Allen, who scored 14 points:
"You could see it in his body language and his facial expressions that he was comfortable. I told him today during the walk-through that we had not called his name in a couple of days for mistakes on defense. There was a period where every time the ball moved, we were calling his name about not being in the right place. I think that has been a burden on him because he really cares about how he performs and how well he plays. He is emotional about it and he wants to do things right so it was a level of confidence for him not to be breaking down defensively. Not that he wasn't giving us effort, just that the defensive principle that we try to teach is somewhat different than what he has been accustomed to. So now, he is getting it down defensively. Offensively, he is getting a little bit more in rhythm because he now understands where he should be going in terms of our offensive schemes and he's a lot more relaxed. He is just scratching the surface of what he is capable of doing. He is really an outstanding defender, potentially – once he learns our principles. He is quick enough, he has great feet, he is passionate about defending, he's an unselfish kid and he has tremendous confidence offensively."
On having three double-digit scorers come off the bench:
"I think that's important. We have that kind of team. I know that it's kind of unsettling because you say, ‘how in the world can we play this many guys and get a rhythm?' Well, we probably have better rhythm now than at any point in time our entire season last year. When you still have to look and see that Jason (Rich), (Ralph) Mims and (Isaiah) Swann are still guys that are developing. They are sophomores. I think you kind of see them growing up in front of your eyes. I think Ralph played a very solid floor game. I thought his defense was really good – much better than it has been. He had fewer miscues."
On the unselfishness of this year's team:
"We wanted to put Isaiah back in the game and Isaiah said, "Jerel has hit three in a row coach, let him stay in." That just shows the unselfish spirit that this team is developing. There are not very many times that you have a guy who is starting and a guy who is playing in front of him and hit three in a row and he's saying let him stay in the game. That's the kind of spirit I see developing with this team that's kind of refreshing. That's not easy to manage, because they are all competitors, they all want to contribute and we are playing a lot of guys. I am just hoping that we can foster that team spirit because this might be the way we have to play with this type of rotation and rhythm, maybe we can be an effective team that is playing with energy and hopefully that makes up for us playing teams that may be a little more talented than we are."
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