Amaker Sees His Team Making Progress

At his weekly presser Coach Amaker talked about the confidence gained against Penn State, the conference race, and the impact of freshmen Dion Harris and Brent Petway.

On the confidence gained against Wisconsin and Penn State:

“We were struggling in terms of having 3 losses in a row and we were able to end that slide with a win. Anytime you get a road win in your conference it is a confidence booster. We just felt that we were playing better at Wisconsin even though we didn’t win the game. We felt that there were some positive signs. We tell our kids that everything isn’t right when you win and everything isn’t wrong when you lose. So we were able to pick out what we thought were some good things like how we valued the ball and how we were more efficient offensively. I think that had a direct correlation with us have less turnovers. That allowed us to feel better about ourselves, as did the win at Penn State.”

On correcting mistakes:

“That’s one of the good things about our kids this year. I think they’re really good at recognizing our flaws, mistakes, and problems. The first step to correcting anything is some recognition of what the heck the problem is. They understand that, so they’ve been on board. They’ve embraced it. So I think in that regard it’s been a lot easier to do any tinkering or make any significant changes. They’ve seen that it was the right thing to do. Whether we’ve had Harris playing a little more at the point…or whatever the things are. We’ve been valuing the ball more. Bernard and Daniel in particular have done a tremendous job. They are the two guys that, up until Dion started to play more at the point, have handled the ball the most for us. We’ve tightened the reigns there and we haven’t been making the silly turnovers. I think we’ve shored that up somewhat, which has allowed us to be a more efficient offensive team. The little things we’ve done have helped because they have recognized themselves that we needed to get better in those particular areas.”

On Dion Harris:

“We kind of expected him to be the way he is. We have been very pleased with the way he is playing and the way he has played all year. We’re not surprised that he’s been a complete/beyond his years type of player. He really has helped our team with his ability to play wherever we need him and his ability to produce at critical times and play like he’s been here for two or three years. I’ve always said that the most beautiful in a player is the talent and the ability to stand out, but yet have the willingness to fit in. To me, Dion Harris embodies that as well as any young player I’ve seen in a long time.”

On being in the conference race:

“I think one of the things that everyone recognizes is how seriously competitive this conference race could be. So if you’re a team like ours or a team like Iowa’s you still feel that you’re in the hunt for it. And why wouldn’t both teams feel that way this early? This is a winnable game for both teams. We’re at home and we didn’t fare too well in our last conference home game. I’m sure our kids are motivated in a lot of ways and I’m sure that’s one of them.”

On Daniel, Dion, Lester, and Bernard getting to the line more:

“One of the stark contrasts between Iowa and our team right now is Iowa has shot 476 free throws this year and made 320 for 67%. We’ve shot 323. They almost have made as many shots as we have attempted which is an incredible stat! We need to stress that, which we have, because those players are good free throw shooters. I think that maybe subconsciously, because we haven’t shot free throws very well this year, we haven’t been as aggressive getting to the line. I do think that we need to utilize the free throw line better and certainly if we’re going to have more success in our conference this year we’re going to need that.”

On the post play against Penn State:

“I thought we had really solid collective post play against Penn State. I thought Graham was terrific in terms getting on the floor for loose balls. He kept balls alive. I also thought JC’s play and Brent’s play was critical. I thought JC’s effort and tenacity on the offensive glass early in the game gave a shot in the arm. I thought Brent’s energy off the bench in the second half was as big an anything at helping us seal the win.”

On Brent Petway:

“I think it was a great sign for Brent that he was ready when we called on him to help us. I think he’s hungry. I think he’s trying to make a case to go again. He gave us a really big shot in the arm.”

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