I thought that, coming in, it was going to be really important that we got our defense set. They're very capable of spotting up in transition, finding open people, and because you respect their wings so much, as far as shooting, it spreads the floor. Then their point is very good at penetrating and getting very deep. We emphasized getting back, getting our defense set. We have to find them, trail, and affect the shot somehow, not let them get comfortable. When I see 0-11 from 3, I feel like we were there on the catch, trailed, helped off, and did some really good things to build a lead.
I will say that as we grow as a team, and I talked to the team about this, if you build a lead, there's a reason why and you need to keep doing those things. Make sure you stay consistent in your play. I thought we had a few lapses. We need to work through that. It's the same thing as if a team builds a lead on you. I thought SEMO had a way of playing, but tonight they didn't shoot it well. If they shoot it well, it's a different game. They stayed with what they felt was their strength. Like I say, if they shoot it well, it's different. I give our guys credit, I thought that we were there and defended well. I think we share the ball extremely well. 17 assists, 28 field goals. That's exciting for me.
I love to watch that kind of basketball, people who make an extra pass, find a teammate. It's a fun way to play, it's a difficult system to guard if we do it. I think having 17 assists shows what kind of guys we have. Every game is a new challenge. It's going to be very challenging in Vegas, and we'll need to play well. It was good to get a few of our other guys minutes, so that they could actually get out there and compete. I was concerned a bit because we haven't been able to practice very hard, they didn't play a lot of minutes, so it was good for them. It was also nice for the guys who played more minutes the other day to be able to rest.
We'll go light, travel tomorrow, then head out to Vegas and compete in a very, very good field.
Q: Did these teams give you what you needed before the rise in competition?
I thought that what these teams did tested us, challenged us. I believe you should respect every opponent and if you do that, what it's done is that it's established a way that you need to play. That's the concern. This is the way we need to play. Can it be difficult against teams that are more imposing athletically or physically? Yeah, it's a lot more challenging. We just have to go out and try to play the way we want to play regardless of the opponent.
Q: This team can shoot.
In these 5 games we've shot well. It's like I said, I look at Anthony Tucker, for one. I think he's got the approach, the demeanor, the technique to be an excellent shooter. He is shooting the ball very well, I have a lot of confidence in him, but he has a whole career ahead of him. We've shot well in five games, but the sixth one is not guaranteed. We need to make sure we get the same kind of shots and that we're comfortable in the shots we shoot. If we do that, I agree, these guys have the skill and technique to shoot the ball well. It's not by accident. I like guys that can shoot it. When we recruited, we didn't want only shooters, and we didn't get only shooters, but we have guys that I have confidence in that we can shoot it.
Q: In what areas has Jeff made the biggest improvement?
First, he's with a new group of guys, and he's very comfortable. He's spent a year. He's a very conscientious young man. He's an excellent student, he's bright, he thinks things out. He analyzes. Last year, he's working to find his way. Very seldom do you have to tell a freshman to run the point. That's a hard task to ask. I thought he did a nice job last year. I thought it was challenging for him. Now it's more comfortable. I think he understands what we feel like good point guard play is. Good point guard play means making sure your team runs smoothly, and he's really doing that well. I think that probably him being comfortable. He's stronger than he was, and he also has had a year, there's an adjustment time to the speed, physicalness of the game. It takes a little while.