On the disparity in play between the Iowa loss and ECU win:
“The Iowa game was similar to the Butler game a little bit. They roughed us up, they muddied the waters. It was a physical game and we didn’t play as well as we wanted to. Gave up way too many offensive rebounds in the second half of both games. In the Butler game we gave up 18, in the Iowa game we gave up 16 in the second half. Iowa shot a terrible percentage, too, I think they were like 32 percent from the field. It was just the flow of the games. We got off to a good start. Kids and confidence is always a funny thing. You get off to a good start. You make some shots and everyone thinks that they’re going to make some shots. Iowa game was going to be a grind from the get go as we saw, and we just didn’t get over the top in that one.”
How do you take the lessons from the Butler and Iowa games and translate that into helping you in some similar matchups in the future?
“We just have to focus on what we do best. We have to try and increase the tempo; we know that they’re going to do that. Everything we run we try and get the ball inside first, and try and work it from the inside out, and try and make some shots here and there. And we’ve got some good shooters. The ball just hasn’t gone in the basket yet this year.
“Marcus is not shooting a great percentage. Every year is different. He ended on such a high last year and he was just rolling, and now it is a whole new year and we’ve got some new pieces added. And he’s just not feeling really comfortable yet, but I think eventually he’ll get going. And we have some freshmen that can really shoot the ball and it just hasn’t gone in. This time period is pretty good because it’s finals and they don’t have any class, and they can get some shots up on their own and hopefully get into a groove and then once finals are over, they will have some time where they can get some shots up on their own.”
What needs to happen to get the type of shots that you want to get?
“We just have to execute our stuff. Some teams are going to let us run our stuff and get to the screening spots, and use different angles. The other teams are going to rough us up and use their physical play to not let us get where they need to get, and it’s going to push us out a little bit more. We always tell our guys, ‘Don’t let them run their stuff.’ We didn’t want ECU to run their offense like it was a practice. If you can push them out at least two more feet that makes a big difference in where they’re catching the ball, and where they’re screening, and all of those kinds of things. And that’s what Iowa did to us, and that’s what other teams are going to try and do to us, so we have to try and change our cuts and set our man up to where we can catch it where we need to catch it every time.”
How do you get better 3-point looks?
“We need to get our post guys to post up a little lower. They’re getting pushed out, and when they’re posting up at 10 feet away, then there is no room for our 3-point shooters to shoot anywhere near the line. If they’re catching the ball at five feet and they don’t feel comfortable scoring and they’re double teamed, a lot of teams double us big-to-big, and if they get doubled and they have to pass it back out, now you’re catching it on the 3-point line as opposed to seven feet past the 3-point line. And not too many guys can make that shot. We’ve got some guys that can make some threes when they are on the line and more open, so we need our big guys to really work for better position inside.”
On the difference for Brice Johnson against ECU:
“Obviously he was more active on the boards. Sometimes when Brice misses his first couple shots, he struggles a little bit, and he had some foul troubles here and there. Last night, he missed his first three shots, and we thought ‘Uh oh, here we go again.’ But I think the bad game against Iowa and us talking to him about it, I think he just stayed on top of it and didn’t worry about. Sometimes when he misses an easy shot he’ll go foul because he’s frustrated that he missed an easy shot, but this time he missed a shot and didn’t foul, got back on defense. Next time down he got in the flow of the game, got a good shot and got an offensive rebound and scored, and good things started happening and so he stayed positive. But obviously it starts with his activity level, and his activity level on the boards. We always want him to get lower, but he has a beautiful jump hook and turnaround jump shot that when he gets going he’s really good.”
On being ranked fifth nationally in field goal percentage defense:
“Not when breaking down the tape, but when you look at the numbers and we see that we’ve held all of our opponents under 40 percent, that hasn’t happened in a long time for us this early in the season. I think we’ve played some quality opponents. Florida and UCLA weren’t up to their ranking yet. Those preseason rankings are based on who you have coming back and who all they think are the good recruits and all of that. Those kind of things. Eventually I think they will be better than they showed against us.
“But we have played a pretty good schedule. N.C. Central went to the tournament last year. We’re pleased with that and with where we are right now, but we need to get a lot better. Length inside at the basket discourages some drives. We have length on the perimeter and some athleticism with Justin and J.P. We do have some activity and we do have some length this year, and we are pleased. But when you break it down and look at it on tape, we’re not as pleased as the numbers.”
On having all three point guards on the floor together for the first time all season:
“It turned the tide a little bit. I think we were down six or seven points. And it got us back in the ballpark and in the game, and yeah, they did some good things. They sort of heated up their guards and made them play a little bit out of control, and made them take shots where they didn’t want to take shots and speed up their offense. We want to speed people up. We don’t want to give them layups but we want to get them and out of their comfort zone and make them play faster than they’re used to, and try and play our tempo. I think with those three guards we did that and really pressured the ball. And we liked what we saw. It wasn’t a perfect scenario for us but it did help that game.”
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