"I don't know where to start about my team. We were very fortunate Saturday and got a win against Boston College. We had played great up at Boston College. Probably knew that it wasn't going to be like that because they're a very competitive bunch. And I thought Reggie Jackson was healthy this time, whereas last time I don't think he was. But to score 48 points in the game is just mind-boggling to me. It's hard to go back unless you have access to a thousand computers, I guess.
"But one of the guys figured out that in our first 22 years we had a higher scoring average over 22 years as a head coach than any team in the country. For us to score 48 points in an entire game is mind-boggling. We scored 88 points in that half one time, and we did. The bottom line is we made mistakes down the stretch. We had five turnovers. We missed some good shots, took one bad shot. And we go under the screen one time and gave Reggie [Jackson] an open three and he made it when it was a five-point game. Then we missed the free throw. For that, to give them that, then it was only a two-point game. We had a pretty good shot in the lane, it goes in and out, and they have the ball and a chance to win the game. Fortunately, for us it did not go in, so we got out of there and escaped with a win. But we really have to play a lot better. We haven't played as well, but were fortunate enough to make enough plays at the right time."
Tyler Zeller is second in the league in field goal percentage and ninth in rebounding. Can you
talk about what he's meant to your team and
his development this year?
"He's been a constant. He's been that security block that you feel he's going to play well every dad gum game, and for the most part, he has. He had a couple of little stumbles, but he's been our most consistent player. He's been a leader on and off the court. He's been that little security blanket that every team needs that you feel like you're going to get good effort from him every night. You feel like you're going to get intelligent play from him every night. It was not typical. He had two of the five turnovers Saturday down the stretch, and that's just something that he's not been doing. And he's really having a very solid, very consistent year, and it's been extremely important to our team to say the least."
I was wanting to ask you how has
your team -- how are you combating
complacency? You beat Boston College by 32,
and NC State by 20. How do you combat that
complacency coming off the two-point win
against a team you recently beat by 32?
"We definitely don't have complacency now. To be honest, I didn't think we were complacent before. We played well early. It took them four, five minutes to score. We're okay at the half. We came out from the eight-minute mark of the second half down to about the 11 mark. We were really good. And we have a 15-point lead.
"I don't know that I would call it complacency. Somebody else could, but I wouldn't necessarily just completely disagree. But we made some mistakes. But you have to give Boston College some credit. They made three threes that they had been missing. We made a mistake, didn't get the box out. They made the three, because we blocked the shot twice in a row. It comes up to a guy, he throws it back out, and the play had sucked us in. Guy makes an open three from the corner, and it would go below the screen. The guy makes the three, so you have to congratulate them a little bit.
"We weren't complacent. We just weren't sharp. We were tentative. I think complacency to me means that you take things for granted. You don't care. You know things are going to be easy. I don't think our team felt like that. Human nature always becomes involved in it, but we just made mistakes and Boston College took advantage of them. We scored three points in the last 7:39. That's not very typical for us."
Can you talk about the balance
involved with having that up-and-down tempo
and fast-paced style that you like, as well as being able to play a halfcourt game. Also, which is more suited for your personnel where you have
some big guys who make it tough on people to
score? Are you kind of striking that balance of
style you want to play?
"I like a team that can do a lot of things. I've said offensively I'd rather win in the 90's, but we have to be able to win in the 50's and 60's. I never thought I'd say we need to be able to win in the 40's. So offensively we need to be able to play both ways.
"Defensively I like to double team, I like to gamble. But at the same time, when you have the big guys inside somebody would say you should even gamble more because you have shot blockers. But it's hard in this league because there are so many teams that go small. Then we have either John or Justin Knox or Tyler Zeller chasing a guy. So we try to stay in front of the ball. If they present an opportunity for us to go for the steal, I like to go for it, but we don't like to over gamble. So we do feel that we can play different ways. I think that's important because you can't just allow someone to say well we're going to play this style, and you can't play that. You have to be able to play in every style and have to be able to be successful in every style. That's what we aim for during our practice sessions."
Does this make this team one of the
more unique teams that you've coached?
"It's a unique team in a lot of ways. We've been incredibly thin up front all year. Now we're incredibly thin in the point guard position. But the kids have found a way. I think that's extremely important for them."
On the whole, your team seems to
have really progressed over the last month or
so, not only on the low post but also on the
perimeter. Can you talk about what you're
seeing on the defensive end and what sparked
"Well, I think first thing is as far as maturity. You know people don't like to hear it this time of the year, but we spent a lot of time Saturday with three freshmen in the lineup. We do our defensive drills, our four on four, everything, every single day just to try to build habits. And I think it takes a younger group longer to learn those and build those habits. We're continuing to work on it. The kids are believing how important it is. Most of the guys that you get that were good high school players can't remember too many times they were guarded. But they do remember those few times and know how important it is, and it's even more important at this level. So they're buying into it, and we're spending a lot of time on it every day."
Given that Tyler's first two seasons
were both curtailed by injury, did you have any
questions in your mind about what can this guy
give us over the course of the season, and how
he's answered that?
"He's answered them very well so far. We hope we have some games left to play. We never thought he was injury prone. It's just some things happen. I know that he worked extremely hard in the offseason on his stretching, his flexibility on his body. He's a very dedicated young man when it comes to doing the right things.
"So we hoped -- we had dreamed for big things from him. I try to stay away from expectations, even myself much less from other people. But he's really done a nice job for us. We hope that it continues. But a lot of it is directly related to the work he put in as a national security adviser in the offseason."
What are the ingredients that go into
John Henson being such a terrific shot
"He has incredible length. He studies it. He likes to block shots, so he's willing to be in on a lot of shots. Our defensive system tries to get him to block shots. He sees the man and sees the ball pretty well and can come over and help out.
"He's one of the few guys that can block the shot of the guy he's guarding. A lot of shot blockers are only good shot blockers when they're in the help position. But John is so big and long that he makes life tough for the guy that he's guarding as well. So he has the desire, and unique gifts. And we encourage it, and he really does a nice job."