"I can't believe they put up 84 points and their leading scorer only had 14. They are a very well-balanced team. Obviously their inside game presents a lot of problems due to Varnado and how many shots he blocks and how well he rebounds. He's an incredible player."
How do they compare to Pittsburgh and Washington State?
"Pittsburgh is unbelievably physical. They have an incredible defense that is really, really physical. Washington State and Mississippi State play really sound, fundamental man-to-man defense. The game between Washington State and Mississippi State is going to be a helluva game. I'm not a betting man, but I would bet on Mississippi State if I was."
Of the other teams that your team has faced (Pittsburgh and Washington State), do either of those two teams have the depth that Mississippi State has?
"That is a great question. I don't think so. I think Mississippi State obviously has more depth than Pittsburgh and definitely more than Washington State."
Do either of those two teams have somebody like Jarvis Varnado?
"No, they have nobody like him. They have some good athletes inside but nobody that has the jumping ability that he has and the shot-blocking ability that he has.
"(Pittsburgh) is just very, very strong. Every ball screen that we set they really trapped it very hard. It was our first game of the year so I don't know how well we played, but they were extremely physical. And they probably had the best man-to-man defense that I have seen in twenty-five years of coaching. You guys and Washington State are just a notch behind them from that standpoint."
"I don't like to start a press conference off talking about anything negative, but I'm going to talk about a few things that you don't like even though you won the basketball game. We got out-rebounded. That doesn't happen very often. What is bad about that stat is they had 24 offensive rebounds. And 10 of those offensive rebounds were by 2s and 3s guys. Number 2 is we fouled way too much. Through our first three games, we have been making more free throws that our opponents have been attempting. Those kind of stats will get you beat on the road. I talk with my guys about this all the time - was it a good enough effort to win on the road? We came into the game shooting 75% of our free throws. Tonight, we didn't make our free throws. That goes back to that mental concentration.
"The positive things are our kids are playing extremely hard. There are some areas that we are improving in. We just have to continue to get better in all those little things to be the kind of team that we can be and go win on the road."
Jarvis broke Erick Dampier's shot-blocking record tonight. Compare the two players.
"Their games are so different. Damp was 6-11, 270 pounds and chiseled. But I have never been around a guy like Jarvis. He is the best here. I don't know what the shot-blocking record is for the country. You may have to go back to the Bill Russell days. But he has a chance to be as good as there ever has been at blocking shots. He got 8 tonight and he's averaging 7 or 8 a game this year. He just has unbelievable timing. He is about 6-8 to 6-9, but when you unfold him those long arms make him about 7-4. And he's got great timing to uncoil back up for a second time. And he's got a great ability to keep the ball in play. If a block shot goes out of bounds, it's no good. He blocks it and keeps it in play and sometimes he gets it."
Did you think the team got out on the break well tonight?
"I think we are pushing the ball out well. And I think we shot the ball well tonight. We were shooting three-points shots 44% coming into tonight. Tonight, we shot 37% which is not bad. And we got a lot of open shots. If you think about it, this is probably the first game where we saw a lot of man (defense). In previous games, teams played a lot of zone against us."
Your coach praised your man-to-man defense. Do you think you are where you want to be with that right now?
"No, we are not even close. Have we gotten better from day one, yeah, we have gotten better? But we have to get more intelligent in playing defense. Being aggressive is one thing, but you have to funnel that aggression and be smart with it. You can't foul 30 feet from the basket with hand checks. Those are bad fouls and we made way too many of those. But we are getting better. And it's much easier to pull them back and have them play smarter defense.
What are your thoughts about Twany Beckham's play tonight?
"For a guy who has only practiced three days and those three days were five weeks ago ... I just wanted to get him in there. The think I know about Twany is he has a great feel for the game. You saw a couple of plays he attempted to make. He had a great pass in transition. to (Romero Osby) but Ro didn't catch it. He penetrated in transition, found Riley (Benock) for an open three, but Riley didn't make the shot. Those are things you can't teach. Those are things he's going to bring to us. He's different than Dee (Bost) because he is a big, strong guard. He's 6-5, 200 pounds. Once we get him back into shape, he's going to help us a bunch."
How does this team compare passing-wise to your other teams?
"We have a point guard who is a pretty good passer in Dee Bost. And I think our backup is going to be pretty good, Twany Beckham. Our past point guard, Jamont Gordon, wasn't that kind of player. But was coaches, we knew he wasn't, so we played to his strengths. And his strengths was getting to that hole. Derrick Zimmerman was a different point guard. He wasn't a great passer. It starts with your point guards and I think we have great skills in our point guards. (Barry Stewart) is very good out there, too. We do have to get better at the three spot. Those guys at the three have to do a better job of understanding the game, having a feel and seeing the next play. But we have a pretty good skill level.
"Last year, we were big, but we weren't as skilled with Charles (Rhodes). But both of our four men are more skilled than Charles was."
Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.