It was a little bit of a wild time out there, and it was unsettling to us--to say the least--to see Sean and Jawad go down like they did early. We tried to let [Sean] play a little bit because medically they said he was okay to play, but he was not able to play well enough to help us. Jawad was really a little foggy there, but Dr. Taft said at halftime said he was okay to play. The same question [applied]: 'Was he going to be able to play effectively enough to help us?'
We got a nice lift from Byron Sanders, Justin Bohlander, David Noel in the post for us. Jackie was all over the court defensively. It was a very difficult game; there were some bizarre circumstances at times, but the second half we made shots. We had some wide-open looks: Rashad from the corner, Jawad from the corner. I kept telling them to keep getting good shots. We shot 60 percent in the second half, but that didn't exactly balance out 25 percent in the first half.
With this as Raymond's home-coming, this really helps you get some South Carolina fans, I'd think.
It was a great day for Raymond. I told him in one of the time outs that the game was [scheduled] for him, but we weren't exactly honoring him--he wasn't ready to die or anything and to just play basketball the way we try to play all the time. He tried to dribble through the entire team a couple of times that he didn't have to, but I was happy for Raymond to get back down in this area. He's the engine that makes us go. He stepped to the free-throw line and make the free throws, and I was glad to get him out of the game so the crowd could tell him how they felt a little bit.
What are your thoughts on the sloppy play?
It was a sloppy game. They have 26 turnovers; we have 20. A lot of times sloppy play is caused by carelessness or selfishness, or you try to make the great play. A couple of times I thought it was selfishness or trying to make a pass that wasn't there. A couple of times it was carelessness. Rashad McCants had two turnovers just dribbling the basketball. He had a tough time getting a handle on it.
Their defense was very active. They were active with their hands and feet. They are a good defensive team. Hopefully, we were causing some of the problems they were having.
Despite the struggles on offense, it looked like a good defensive effort. Were you pleased with it?
I was. This team has got to get our identity from the defensive end of the floor. Every team I've ever coached has been that way. We haven't done it so far, but we are practicing defense everyday. Hopefully, we can get better and better at it without fouling people. It's silly to foul people shooting jump shots and we fouled three out of five possessions guys shooting jump shots.
At one time out, I said, 'Jawad, weren't you wide open in the corner? Rashad, weren't you wide open? Melvin, haven't you missed one wide open?' You don't always make those shots. Sometimes you have to guard without fouling.
Melvin seemed to add a steadying influence when you needed it today.
Melvin made some shots for us in the first half. I thought he played well. He has to get the ball under control a little better, feeding the post, and making better passes. But I think Melvin was the best player on the offensive end today.
This was another one of those gritty wins don't you think?
Hopefully we don't make all of them that way. But I think it's important to our team, and we have to understand that, again, we get our identity from the defensive end of the floor and our toughness. It was a tough battle out there, particularly when you have your starting post players sitting over there with me and not knowing whether or not they will play. It was one of those gratifying things, but we have to get better.
When you see Jawad and Sean go down, what goes through your mind?
There's not a heck of a lot I can do about it. I told the guys it was going to be a dog fight, so let's be prepared to fight. That's the attitude you have to have. It doesn't make you feel good. I'm not Mr. Miyogi where I can clap my hands together and rub them and make them healthy all of a sudden. You have to see if they can come back. If not, make a statement that they will not and go on with it. If they do, like in Sean's situation, have an opportunity to come back, but if he can't play well enough to help, you have to get him out of there.
Was Rashad not feeling well? He went to the locker room in the first half.
This is not a big thing, but I'll say it one time. If you talk to our kids, they aren't going to say anything to you. I got upset at Rashad and Jesse because I thought they should have been cheering on the bench, so I sent them to the locker room. I said, 'If you aren't going to cheer go to the locker room.' I was unfair to Jesse because Jesse had just sat down. Justin Bohlander had gotten out in the passing lane, the guy tried to go back door, and the guy threw it away. That's something we've been working on, trying to get everybody to do it. At that time we were struggling. I turned around and they were both sitting down. Everyone else was standing.
It's awfully crowded on the bench. We have a lot of players, so I needed more room over there and told them to go to the locker room and we'd talk about it at halftime. I talked to both kids, and I was probably wrong with Jesse. The other kids told me that Jesse had been up standing but Rashad had not. We're in this thing together. I showed them a tip tape of the Wake Forest game when everything was going on and one of our guys was over there looking very bored. If you are very bored, you shouldn't be on our bench. It was a carry-over from that conversation last night, but it's no big deal.
People here at the Beach Ball Classic are used to seeing Raymond score 30 or 40 points, but it's a different game in college and he really runs the offense.
He really is. At Latta, SC he told me he played at center sometimes. If the other center was guarding him there were problems because Raymond is so quick.
We ask him to do a lot. There is a heavy load on him. We have to do some things to relieve the load of him as the only ball handler. We didn't do a good job of it today, but he is doing a nice job of pushing the tempo we have to have. Defensively, he does some nice things. We have to get out of gambling mode all the time because we overgamble sometimes and we give easy looks inside.
Do you think Melvin Scott gets overlooked by opposing teams with everyone else they have to thing about?
Possibly. In the first half Melvin was probably the bright spot for us offensively. We ask him to do a lot and ask those guys to play a lot of minutes. I tried to get some breathers, but it's hard when you already have two guys sitting over there with medical red-shirts on it seems like. I think he can really shoot the basketball when he get's set. Most of the time when he misses, he doesn't get set.