“Alright, it was a weird game. They shoot 51 percent in the first half, but I think they had 13 turnovers at halftime. Looked down there, and we scored 31 points off turnovers and the other part that was weird was in the first half we didn’t rebound it worth a darn, they had nine points off offensive rebounds, we had six. You look at the final results, we had 24 and they had 15, so I think it’s 19-6 in the second half off offensive rebounds, so we did a better job there.
“(Former North Carolina A&T head coach) Jerry’s son Frank (Eaves) is a load to guard. I watched a couple tapes on him, and he’s been incredible, but I thought Marcus (Paige) and Joel (Berry) and Nate (Britt) all three really did a nice job on him. But he was a focus of our defense, because he’s averaging 20 a game, and everybody else is less than double figures. I’m glad to have a W, glad to do some good things, so everybody goes home and sees Santa Claus in a good mood.”
If you needed him to come back in, would you have played Marcus Paige late in the game?
“Probably not. I’d say 99 percent. I mean it’s just one game. One game in December, so probably not. First of all, I’d even told him to go back out there and see if they can get him loose when they took him in the locker room the first time, because I told them to take him back there.”
What gift are you going to ask this team for Christmas?
“Work harder. It’s an easy deal with me: The harder you work, the luckier you get. If I could get one gift from my team, it would be that every one of them, especially Brice (Johnson) and Kennedy (Meeks) would work a lot harder.”
Did this game give you the chance to experiment or tinker with lineups like you would have liked?
“No. I didn’t try to do that. I tried to be fair with those guys that were in there. I did want to get Kenny (Williams) some more time, I did want to get Luke (Maye) some more time. Luke had 12 (minutes), Kenny had nine. Kenny Williams can shoot the ball. He’s not 0-for-2015 because we’ve still got another game, but he’s going to make one of those jump shots. He does a nice job defensively, he made a really good pass. He could have taken the shot from the corner, but his teammate was more open, and he passed it to him and we made the three. We did nothing tonight to experiment. We just tried to win a game and give everybody some confidence.”
What aspect are you most concerned with through 12 games?
“Probably guarding off the dribble, because that’s the hardest thing to do in basketball. That and then finishing the defense with good box-outs. We did out-rebound them a great deal in the second half, but I thought the first half, they got too many of those long shots/long rebounds. A lot of teams are just shooting tons of threes against us, and longer shots, you get long rebounds. I did challenge Justin (Jackson) and Theo (Pinson). I told that, if I get this right, if Joel Berry had five rebounds the last game, Marcus had four, Nate had three, that’s our three smallest guys, and with Theo and Justin combined in 45 minutes they got two, and Theo got the same number as Wanda: Zero. So I did challenge them, and I was really pleased to see Justin had 10 rebounds and Theo had five. My two guys that play the most at the three spot got 15 more rebounds than my wife. That’s the way they’re supposed to do.”
The offensive numbers have been more efficient. Do you agree that the team itself is more efficient?
“Yeah, and we have a few more offensive weapons. We didn’t shoot the ball very well. Justin Jackson was 0-for-4, and three of them were layups. The first one in the second half was a layup. Ball’s just not going in the basket for him. Brice makes his first five shots and decides to see if he could be Jerry West and shoot a jump shot out there and misses it. We are efficient, especially when we’re making shots, but we didn’t shoot it very well tonight.
“The other thing I think we’re doing very well is being very unselfish. Passing the ball. 22 assists on 34 baskets is not exactly like it was this weekend, but still pretty good.”
Is this the most comfortable Joel Berry has ever looked?
“I think so. He had two turnovers in one possession tonight, but I guess that they can only give you one. He turned it over, luckily got it back, and turned it over again. I think that was his only turnover of the game. But again, I’ll go back, 11 assists, I really liked that. He and Marcus and Nate, all three, worked really, really hard guarding Eaves. I think that was the thing that people are getting strength from, is that his teammates are starting to trust those guys, and that’s a pretty good challenge, because that young man can shoot the basketball. He had made 26 threes in his last five games. And I think Joel Berry was the most for us with 17 in 11 games. But he had made 26 in the last five games. So he was a load, and those guys did a really nice job.”
Can you see the game slowing down for Joel Berry at all?
“People always say that, but I just believe that you get more comfortable playing at a faster speed. I don’t think the game slows down, I think that you play faster and understand what’s going on more, and I think he’s doing a really nice job of that, and he finally passed to Theo on the assists, I think Theo had one more assist going into this game.”
What did you see out of Isaiah Hicks tonight?
“Isaiah, 5-for-8, it was a bad shooting night for him compared to what he’s been doing. He took one charge, maybe two, but he’s doing some good things, and we need, as I’ve said many times, I like guys coming off the bench to add something to your team. And I think Isaiah did that.”