Good morning coach can you talk to us a little bit about the Tennessee game.
I think what really sticks in my mind about that game is the defense the team defense we played (held Tenn. to 42% from the field and forcing 18 turnovers) I also think the defensive play of David Chiotti was phenomenal. They way he shut down Tennessee's Brandon Crump was great. Especially when you consider that Crump was coming off a huge game vs. Xavier (26 pts. 8 boards) David shut him down! The team defense was also very good as Danny helped out quite a bit and both Al (Neale) and Mark (Walters) had excellent games. But the defense is what really stood out in this game.
Coach, I also notice that you all have cut the turnovers down while assists have gone up. What do you attribute that to?
Experience. Coach Mc Kay is dedicated to taking care of the ball and we work on that and stress that everyday in practice. I believe that both Kris (Collins) and Darren (Prentice) are getting more comfortable in our offense and understand more what is expected of them as they get more time handling the ball in games.
Okay coach it is the big one now. The game that Lobo fans and the media have circled on their calendar all year long. First has your team looked forward to this game as well, and how important of a game is it for you guys?
There is no denying that we have looked forward to this game since the schedule came out, we have had it circled the whole time and really want to go out there and do a good job. This game is very important for our program to see if we are ready for that next step. This is an NCAA caliber game that we want to go out and win. It isn't however a make or break game but one we would really like to have.
I have to say that I am very proud of this team right now, not just the fact that we are 10-1; but the fact that we were able to stay focused to this point. We knew that Wake was coming up and still maintained the focus and discipline on the court to get to this point.
How good is Wake Forest.
They are very good, a top 5 team no doubt, and a team that could play with any other team in the country. They lost to Illinois, on the Illini home court, but that isn't a respectable loss and shouldn't be held against them, Wake Forest I'm sure most of you know is led by Point Guard Chris Paul. If you look at projected draft boards and publications he is listed as the 2nd point guard to be drafted and he has great presence of mind especially in the transition game, which we have to slow down. I don't mean slow them down by slowing the pace of the game down, I'm talking about getting back on defense, we have to shut that part of their game down.
Coach you guys have been through the tough times while here at UNM and now you are having success, the staff is over the .500 mark here at UNM and there is an excitement building around this team. What is it like in the locker room nowadays compared to say 2 years ago?
Our team right now is very confident and they feel good about themselves and each other. This is going to sound funny but this is a special 10-1 team. I say that, because they appreciate it more. We aren't that far removed from being a sub .500 team and these guys were all there for that so they appreciate how difficult it was to get to this point. This team has paid their dues, and they came through the rebuilding process so it is really special for them.
Coach in that same vein there has been a lot of mention the past couple of years about fans not going to The Pit or getting as loud and rambunctious in days past. Do you feel the fans are finally embracing this team and Coach McKay's staff?
Wow that is a really good question. Fans come up with some good ones.
The culture of Lobo basketball is definitely different then it was a few years ago when The Pit was packed every night. That is just reality, I don't know what we can do about that other then just continue to build a good program and win. A big game like Wednesday's will do a lot to bring that atmosphere back as more people can come out and see what this team is all about. They will find out how good this team is and how much fun these guys are having playing basketball.
I know that the players really enjoy playing in front of large crowds of Lobo fans and that they were really excited for the Tennessee game and that the Wake Forest game will even be better.
Not to ramble on, but if I was starting a team from scratch, I don't think you could do much better then this team.
You have a definite NBA prospect in Danny Granger
You have one of the top 3 pt. shooting player in the country in Troy DeVries
You have a super athletic highlight reel in Alfred Neale
A local player in Mark Walters that has battled with injury and adversity and has come out on top and is a great player.
A hardworking fan favorite in David Chiotti, that battles under the boards like no other. He is a blue-collar guy that works harder then anyone else and the fans really respect that.
A big strong point guard that is creating plays and leading this team in Kris Collins
And a group of young energetic freshman off the bench that just bring energy and excitement.
Sean "Bones" Phaler
Bombale "Boom" Osby
I can guarantee you that the more fans that exposed to this team they will enjoy them as all the component are there for a crowd-pleasing team!
Thanks coach and Merry Christmas
Merry Christmas to all of you as well and all Lobo fans out there.