Thursday Hoops Presser

Tommy Amaker addressed his team's performance at Vanderbilt over the weekend. He also discussed some of the improvements that have been and still are being made heading into the contest with Bowling Green.

On why Vandy won the rebounding battle:

"I think you could see the difference in strength. We have to get stronger. We’re not going to do that in a week’s time. I think that overall, it was a lesson for us in that regard…how much stronger we need to become as a basketball team and as a program. I also feel like, for lack of a better way of saying it, we got pushed around on the glass. For us to be a good team this year we can allow for a rebounding deficit like that. We have to rebound the basketball. It’s going to be critical for this team. If we can take that one aspect of the game, (that we have do a to better job of getting on the glass), then it will have been a trip well worth it."

On what the positives from the game:

"I liked how we fought our way back into the game. Especially being on the road. That’s very difficult to do… and we clawed back in it. I think we showed some signs, especially in the first half, that we were going to compete for the entire game. I think you saw that within our team. To me, that was the biggest moment for us to applaud our kids. We didn’t die or fold. We made a great effort to try to get back in that game and I thought we did that."

On Graham Brown:

"I think Graham is a player we need on the floor. I’m hoping that this weekend will be an opportunity for him to do that. I think he’s healthy and his conditioning is good. That game exposed some things on our team. We didn’t have enough people doing dirty work. We look at dirty work as something good. Graham Brown is a player that has always done and embraced that."

On Courtney Sims:

"I think he’s been a kid that gives a low post scoring presence. I think the thing that jumps out at you is he blocks shots. He’s been giving us a shot-blocker in the hole and that helps our defense. I don’t want him to confuse being a shot blocker with being a good defender. There are times when I think he plays to block shots as opposed to just playing good solid defense. If we can combine the two with him then we’re going to have a pretty good defensive player."

On Daniel Horton’s struggle:

"He’s been a little banged up and nicked up, but he was banged up and nicked up last year. I think he’s going to be fine."

On Bowling Green:

"Bowling Green is going to be a team that runs a motion offense. A lot of screening action throughout their offensive possessions. They’re struggling now in terms of losing a few games, but they’ve played everyone very very tough. They knocked us off a fear years ago down at their place. Being from the tough MAC league, they’re always going to be a competitive ball club. For us coming off of a loss I’m anxious to see our psyche and our mental approach. We’re in the middle of starting exams now, so there are a lot of things that I’m concerned with our own team. With the way that they play, it’s going to require us to be very alert."

On the team’s response in practice:

"I’ve been pleased with our practices this week. I think we’ve adjusted a little bit in our practices. I told our kids yesterday that it has been a big help for us the last few days. We’ve been more competitive and we’ve put them in more competitive situations and environments. I think that’s been good for us. The practices have been very hard and sharp. I think we’ve gotten better."

On the offensive woes:

"The thing that is perplexing to us is we haven’t shot the ball very well. I wouldn’t have thought that coming into the season. We’re shooting 29% from 3. We’re shooting 67% from the free throw line and 47% from 2. I wouldn’t have thought that we would be shooting as poorly as we are from 3-point range or the free throw line. I just feel like we are a much better shooting team. Even when we were winning we were saying that it has been our defense and our rebounding. I’m not disappointed wholeheartedly with our shot selection. I think we’ve been pretty good with that. But Daniel is 8/29 form 3. Lester is 3/12. Lester shot 41% last year from the free throw line. We’re just not knocking down some of the shots that I was thinking we would."

On the double teams Courtney Sims faced in the post and if it had been worked on before:

"We worked on it before. We always try to prepare our guys for anything they might see. I think that they wanted to double down not so much to keep Courtney from scoring…but because I think they were more concerned with not getting their big guys in foul trouble. That’s one of the things we wanted to do…to try to get it inside and go at Freije to get him in foul trouble and make him defend on the block. I thought they did a good job of doubling and taking the ball out of our low post players’ hands. Also, we’re very young and we were trying to make a play out of that. And we weren’t very strong with the ball. There were times when the ball was knocked away from us and they got deflections on our passes out of the post. So again, the experience and the strength factor there was key. But we’ll have to do a better job."

On the vocal leader of the team:

"That leader has always been JC Mathis. He’s always been the most vocal player on our team. Without question he emerged into that last year and even into this year. He’s a communicator. He’s earned that and we’re certainly going to need that from him and maybe a couple of other kids."

On the lack of high post shooting and J.C. Mathis ability to knock the jumper down toward the end:

"We were hoping we were going to get that a little better. People have played off our big guys up at the high post. They need to be able at the very least to take the shot. Hopefully we can make it, but I think you have to take it to at least keep people honest. We just have to do that, and we haven’t. We weren’t really confident in stepping up and taking that shot. J.C. took it late in the ball game when the game was pretty much out of hand. He was aggressive and he knocked down a three. We’re going to need more of our post players to do that…at the very least to keep players honest."


Daniel Horton

On how the team has responded:

"I think we responded pretty well. We had 3 really good days of practice. I think we’ll play a lot harder and tougher than we did at Vanderbilt."

On why the team struggled at Vandy:

"I guess guys didn’t respond well to adversity on the road. That’s not something that’s characteristic of this team. Last year in the conference we were 4-4 on the road, which was the best in the conference. I think we’re a better road team than we showed on Saturday and we’re anxious to prove that."

On if he’s frustrated with his performance:

"No, I’m not frustrated. We’re 4-1. You can’t complain when your team is winning. Obviously I have to play better and shoot the ball better. But we’re winning so I’m happy."

On if he has been shooting well in practice:

"I shoot the ball well in practice and now I’m trying to put in extra time late at night to work on whatever it is that needs to be fixed so I shoot the ball better in games. I came in at about 10:15 and left at 1:30."


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