STEVE ALFORD'S OPENING STATEMENT
This was a very good effort for our guys when you talk about opening night. They did a lot of good things, especially on the offensive end. We played everybody. To get 12 bodies in the game and getting them running up and down in the opener is always good. Openers are always scary, especially playing a team that has already played a game and played an ACC opponent. We did a very good job from the outset of each four-minute game; doing a little bit better job. If you look at the four-minute games, we might have lost one of those four-minute games. The guys just did a pretty good job tonight. We've still got a lot of things that we've got to work on defensively. But all in all, I was pretty pleased with the effort.
(NOTE: Alford is a big believer in breaking the 40-minute games down into 10 four-minute segments. That is also the length of time between TV timeouts. There is the under 16:00 minute timeout, the under 12:00, etc)
You're getting solid play from Henderson.
Yeah. Mikey is a special freshman. Ben (Rand) is doing some good things, too. Both of them just work so hard. They're very competitive guys. As the season goes along, they're going to be able to stay under the radar screen because of all of the experience that we have in front of them. They can step up and really make a difference. In today's game, Mikey did a lot of good things. He broke people down off of the dribble, which gives us an added element. And we haven't played a lot with Pierre, Mikey and Jeff out there. We had it for a little bit tonight.
Pierce made it look easy scoring 26. What did you think?
The thing that I like when I look at Pierre is what he does everywhere. He's got five or six rebounds. He's got five or six assists. He's got two or three steals. I know without even looking at tape that he led us in deflections tonight, which is a thing that we chart each game. He's just a very active player. He guarded McCullough, who was their leading returning scorer from a year ago. McCullough goes 2-15 and doesn't make a three. He's probably one of their better 3-point threats. Pierre is doing it on both ends. He's obviously excited to be playing again. He made very good use of his 14 shots.
Brody did almost all of his stuff in like the first two and a half minutes of the game.
Yeah, and that's always good. We've got a few guys that are similar in that their game evolves around how that first shot goes. I've tried to work with him with "Hey, you're going to be out there a lot." I don't want him getting wrapped up over the first shot. There are going to be more shots to come. He did some very solid things. He really got our offense jump started early. That helped settle everybody else down.
You had 28 assists and shot 41 free throws. You guys were pretty active.
One of our stats is that we want to make more free throws than our opponents shoot. We did that tonight, 29-28. That's always a good indicator of what our offense is doing. I don't have a lot of complaints offensively. We turned it over probably four times in the last three and a half minutes (with the backups in). You take that away and we're at a 13-turnover night with 28 assists. We moved the ball. We were unselfish. We hit the glass well. We had 17 offensive rebounds. We shot a high percentage because for the most part we took really good shots. Offensively, there weren't a lot of mistakes made tonight. I was very pleased for an opener offensively. Defensively is where we kind of lose concentration. If we're going to continue to try to develop into a great team, we've got to be able to concentrate through 40 minutes at the defensive end.
Do you think this can be a good passing team?
It's an unselfish team. Usually, unselfish teams that value the ball become very good passing team. Good passers make good shooters, but good shooters make good passers. It kind of complements one another. One of the things that we try to do is get easy scores. I think we had 22 points at halftime on easy baskets. The guys did a good job of setting one another up. When you don't care who gets the success, it's a lot of fun. Right now, we have a team like that.
Did Reiner get enough touches in the first half?
Yeah. I didn't think that Jared finished real well in the first half. He got to the line 10 times. He got nine shots on the night. We did a better job of going to him (in the second half), but he did a better job of getting lower. In a lot of the things we run, he kept going outside the paint area. We didn't want that. He was more attentive in the second half. He ran the floor. He got a couple of dunks in transition. His work ethic and load in the second half was a lot better than it was in the first half.
How about a comment about Tuesday?
Having Coach Davis come back, seeing him back in the business, somebody that has meant an awful lot to college basketball…He's meant an awful lot to this university. The all-time winningest coach I think is one thing, but how you are as an individual is another. That's the thing that I've always been most impressed with, with Tom. Since I've been here, he's been nothing but supportive with letters and phone calls to me. I've always appreciated that. It's exciting to see him back in the business. He'll do incredible things at Drake. We just hope that those incredible things start happening on Wednesday versus Tuesday. From our side, it's one of three in-state teams that we play. This is the only one we get to play at home this year. It's a pivotal game for us from that standpoint. It's a pivotal game as well to make sure we take care of home in this two-game home stand before we have to go on the road to the Wooden Tradition (against Louisville in Indianapolis on Saturday).