Todd Lickliter: I think Joel Cornette said it best at halftime when he said it's like we're taking an exam out there. He should have elaborated and said an exam that we haven' fully prepared for. We covered a lot, we had a great idea of what we were going to do, but until you get out and experience it, start trying to make adjustments, it's never quite the same. For our guys, this has been a really nice challenging test for us. Our first road trip Wednesday and Thursday, come back, Friday we couldn't get in Carver, Saturday we couldn't get in Carver, and today we got to shoot a little bit. It challenges you as far as your concentration and routine.
Now you've got a good team, Oakland, if you look at it, they just went to Oregon and won out there. A very good Cleveland State team, led in the last two minutes of that game, it's a good team. They do unique things. Offensively they're fairly similar to what we've been seeing, a lot of dribble-drive. We've had our full share of that. Defensively, with the zone, the ¾ court, that's a little different situation. I thought, in practice, that we handled it very well. Practice isn't quite the same speed. We don't' play it in practice as well as someone who that's their primary defense. There were challenges.
The thing about this team is that they're very conscientious. One of the things that's been talked about a lot since I arrived is that the Butler teams had low turnovers. Well, we're fortunate. We didn't always have low turnovers, we had some tough nights like tonight, but I think these guys have heard that. They really care, and they get a bit apprehensive. If something doesn't go quite right. There's nothing that can be done about what just happened. You have to do the next right thing. Except learn from it. We've got to get through some of that, balancing it with the concerns they have, their conscientiousness, and their ability to attack. We've got to get that balance of poise and aggression. I think we will. It's been a really fun group to coach, so far. The tests are going to keep coming and we're going to have keep preparing.
Q: You dropped in a lot of threes tonight.
Lickliter: It's somewhat like Citadel, in that although they played zone, you weren't going to get your initial action, you'd have to reverse the ball and shot jump shots. I was concerned that we didn't get to shoot as much in Carver because I knew they'd zone and I knew they'd have to shoot jump shots. The other thing is, we have guys that can make them. We've got guys on the bench that can make them, also. What happens is, in a tight game, if you get a rotation that you're comfortable with, you stay with it. Devan Bawinkle is one of the best shooters I've been around, and he didn't get to play a whole lot. Our guys are good shooters.
Q: Not getting into Carver, how would a new practice facility help that and maybe alleviate some of your concerns about your jump-shooting. The Oakland coach made reference to a facility where they had to work out.
Lickliter: He wasn't happy with it?
Q: He said it was horrible. God-awful.
Lickliter: I'd take that to mean he wasn't all that pleased with it. Just a couple things. If you have a practice facility, the court will be the same as Carver. We'll try to, as much as possible, to replicate it. It won't be the same, the same. Everybody understands. We have quite a few sports here, and they deserve their time on the court. I don't have a problem with that. One court, all those teams, I don't see how it's feasible. We see the struggle with that. Really, where it'll help us, we'll have more of a routine in there. It'll be a natural thing, instead of loading stuff into vans and going to a place where we didn't have a regulation 3-point line. I appreciate the people who have pitched in to help us, I appreciate that, but it'll help as far as routine. We'll be here, dress in our locker room, go practice. We won't be in Carver, but it'll be a routine. That's huge. We don't want people to come in here and say it's god-awful. We don't want that. It's what we're dealing with, and as I tell the guys, you get thrown a curve ball, you have to hit it. I think there's growth possibilities in that, the challenges.
Q: Jeff gives you 9 assists and 1 turnover. His decision making seems better now.
Lickliter: I think he's poised. I think he's comfortable with what we want. I think it takes guys figuring out, "How am I productive?" Jeff just wants to be productive, and he is. He's a guy who is capable of scoring at times, but he could play a whole game without scoring, and still be productive. That's a true point guard. We're making strides with him as far as his poise with it. I believe we've got guys out there, if you watch, we don't have guys that hang onto it. They move it freely, trying to find the open man. I think they're comfortable with their roles and what they can do and the way that they should play the game. They're just trying to win basketball games.
Q: Talk about Aaron Fuller, I noticed he got the start tonight.
Lickliter: He's been starting, and he played well. He's a bit undersized, he needs to get in the weight room. After the season, he just needs to live in there, and he will. When guys get into college basketball and realize there's a degree of physicalness, they make the commitment. As he gets stronger, he's got a great future ahead of him.
Q: What'd you think about your inside play, tonight?
Lickliter: I thought Cyrus was terrific. He had a double-double. One of the best plays of the night, he screened Anthony Tuckers guy on the back side of the zone, skipped it to put us up 5. He's as good of a teammate as I've been around. He's got one thing on his mind, and that's helping his team win. The other night at the Citadel, he struggled a bit. He was the most vocal guy on the bench, cheering for Jarryd Cole, who was doing well. Maybe you shouldn't make a big deal of that, maybe that's the way it should be, but I don't think it's always that way. It means a lot to me to be able to coach a guy like Cyrus who, I think, if he didn't score a point but had 15 rebounds, and we won, it'd be fine. He'd want to win. These guys have had two games of 18 offensive rebounds, and one of 15. They had 9 tonight. We did a great job of maintaining our position and rebounding.
Q: You go to Vegas this weekend, with a game here on Tuesday. Do you worry about them overlooking that?
Lickliter: No. Have you seen us? (Laughs) We can't overlook anything. We'll never get to play that game again. Why anyone would ever not take full advantage of them, you're only allowed so many games in your career, why wouldn't we enjoy it? It's here at Carver, it's a good opponent. We need to be prepared to play well. I told these guys, I don't think there'll be a game this year that we expect to win that we shouldn't expect to play at a high level. We need to play at a high level. I'm a little more concerned if you've seen the forecast. Vegas is supposed to be like 55 or something. We take that with us. Last year, South Padre, it rained, it was 40. I guess it's me.
Q: Did Matt press a bit tonight?
Lickliter: We ask Matt to do a lot, and he hadn't been in that position a whole lot. He has to be able to attack from about 5 different spots against a zone. Other guys have two assignments, he had 5 or 6. If you know Matt, he wants to play flawless. Well, you're probably not going to do that. What happened was, he got a bit tentative and held back a bit, then we encouraged him, and he probably overextended. It's just a process. I was asking him to do an awful lot. The great thing about Matt Gatens, he's better now than when he started. That's huge. Every time he plays he gets better because he cares, he learns, he evaluates. When we go into a contest I know he'll be better. I think that's true of these guys, we'll be better after we play.
Q: Was he playing the 4 tonight?
Lickliter: Against a zone, we just have four perimeters, but he could play a 4, a 1, he could play a lot of positions.
Q: Friday you have a game in Vegas, does that mean you'll have thanksgiving in Vegas?
Lickliter: We'll have Thanksgiving together. John Streif will figure out what we'll do for Thanksgiving Dinner, and I almost guarantee it'll be good, I trust him. He knows how to set up a meal, that's for sure.