This looked like another one of those grinding games with not much flow, especially in the first half don't you think?
We can talk about not hitting shots, making it tough on Jawad and Sean down there and it was tonight. They packed it in and gave us wide open three's. We didn't knock them down early. In the second half we came out and hit a lot of them.
What did you all talk about when Jawad and Sean went down within a couple of minutes of each other and you didn't have either on the floor?
It was going to be a dog fight. We had to come out ready to battle. They weren't going to lay down for us, so we had to take it.
Even though your offense wasn't clicking early, you still seemed to have defensive intensity.
When the offense is not clicking you have to do it with defense. That's what we thrive on and what we practice--locking teams down with our defense. Our offense starts with our defense and in the second half we fixed that.
Where you asked to leave the bench?
Can you comment on the situation?
I don't want to comment on the situation. The game is over; that's past us. We won the game.
But you were glad to be back out playing in the second half?
Oh yes. I was.
Did you come back here to the locker room?
Did you learn a lesson from the whole thing?
If there was a lesson to be learned, I definitely learned it. You guys probably don't know the situation--or think you know it. We came back and we won. That was the main objective.
This was a home-coming of sorts for Raymond. You win and lose as a team, but was there anything special that you wanted to do for him?
Bragging rights, basically. Everybody on the team loves Raymond. Everybody in America loves Raymond. Why not come out and let them love him even more. We came out and wanted to give him bragging rights.
Describe the feeling of going down and what happened on the play.
I was scared. I kind of got hit from the side and banged my knee. Then my ankle took all the thought away from my knee. My knee is feeling fine, but I've never had an ankle feel like this. It's a pretty bad sprain, but hopefully I'll be over it in a couple of days.
So you were scared you said?
Definitely. I tried to stand up and fell back down. The first thing I said to Mark [Davis] (the team trainer) was 'I hope nothing's broke.' When I asked him he said he didn't think anything was broke, but wasn't 100 percent sure so Dr. Taft looked at it at halftime.
It looked like you tried to go back in but couldn't quite get the kinks worked out.
I couldn't get on my toes and I couldn't jump at all. I had no elevation. I tried to go out and see if I could play. After halftime Coach said to give it a go and I wasn't effective, but my team did a great job of pulling it out. Hopefully, I'll be over it in a couple of days.
Any thoughts to this time last year at Iona when you went down?
I was thinking about that during a timeout when I was sitting by myself. It was only a few days apart--last year when I broke my foot and today. I'm just happy nothing's broken. I'll have x-rays tomorrow morning and hopefully they'll come out negative.
Are you relieved or will you not be relieved until they make the pictures out?
I won't be relieved until they make the pictures out. I probably won't get much sleep tonight. I'm just trying not to think about it much. I'm going to take some pain killers and get some ice on it right away.
On a few of those rebounds you got up so high that you looked like you were jumping off of a step ladder, so your athleticism is still there, but it looked today like maybe your timing isn't quite back after the lay-off. Is that a fair statement?
Yes it was. I still have to get used to playing with these guys again and get back used to playing a lot of minutes in a game situation. Once I get back to doing that [things will be okay].
Are you comfortable with what the team is trying to do on the floor?
I'm totally comfortable with what we're doing. We have a lot of movement and set a lot of screens. I'm a screen type of guy. I set a lot of screens trying to get my teammates open, so I fit in well with that.
Do you know how many turnovers you forced--was it about five or six?
That's just what I do; that's what I'm known for. I'm a defensive stopper and play great defense. Defense never takes a night off, so if I can do that every night, no matter how my offense is going we'll get a win.
Where would you say your thumb is in terms of a percentage of being back to full health?
I'd say about 95 percent. It hasn't been hit as hard as I think it may be hit in physical competition. Right now I have full movement. It's going pretty good and healing pretty fast.
After one of the turnovers you forced you were clapping really hard, so it doesn't look as if you have any pain. Is that right?
No. Once I hit it, it's fine. I can move it around. The only thing I really can't do yet is open a bottle or palm the ball like I want so it has affected me a little bit. Other than that I'm fine.
This wasn't like the explosive games you've had in the Beach Ball Classic. How did you feel?
I think we played fairly well in the second half. The first half was kind of slow for us, but we came out and executed and played harder and got the win.
You had a nice reception when you came off for the final time. What was that like?
I was just trying to win the game. It wasn't me trying to show out or anything like that, trying to please the crowd. I was just trying to get the win.
What did you think when Jawad and Sean went down?
We just said other guys had to step up. We had to play harder and compete. That's it.
One of the guys who stepped up was Melvin. Is that what he can do for this team?
Definitely. Melvin is a player who is not really known or publicized but he is a great player. He does a lot of things. He can shoot the ball and brings a lot to our team.
What do you think was the cause of the trouble you had in the first half?
It was just a slow start for us. We just didn't come out--we weren't playing hard. I don't think we went hard in warm-ups. Everything was all our fault. The second half we came out and played much better.
Did you have any nervousness, knowing you'd have family and friends in the stands?
Nah, I'm never nervous when I play ball.
How are you feeling after the injury?
I had a slight concussion, but I'll be all right.
From where I was sitting it looked like they had to wake you up when you were on the floor. Were you out or just not ready to get up yet?
I don't remember anything. All I know is, when I got in, I wasn't running the right plays. That's all I know.
After you got back in?
After I subbed back in. I had to ask Sean a couple of times to tell me what to do because I completely forgot.
Like being a freshman again?
Kind of like that.
Well, it looked like you were still willing to stick your nose right into the mix and battle for some rebounds. Did you get back to feeling normal?
In a way. I just know not to let my man score or get the ball or Coach Williams gets on me and things become even worse.
What exactly happened?
I was pressuring the ball, he ripped through, and hit me right in the face with an elbow.
What's it like playing with Raymond Felton as your point guard?
It's a pleasure. He's one of the best guards I've ever seen, and he does a great job controlling the game.
Did you feel good out there shooting today?
Yeah. I got into a good rhythm. My teammates got me shots, and I think I'm obligated to knock those shots down.
Do you think other teams overlook you sometimes?
I definitely think I'm the x-factor. They don't pump my name for any first teams. Coming off last year, I didn't play a whole lot. I think they really sleep on me. They really focus on Raymond, Rashad, Sean, Jawad. I think that's good for me. I can sneak up on them and bust it in people's eyes.
After more games like this, will you still be able to sneak up on anybody?
No, but I'm going to continue to work. It's no secret that I can play. I know basketball coaches know that I'm capable of playing.
How has your role changed from last year?
I just have more confidence. Coach trusts me and my teammates. I think I was always able to do things like this. It's just that the time and the opportunity is here. I'm seizing the moment and taking advantage of it.
It seems like after every game I hear you singing in the showers, no matter what. Are you the lead singer in the showers?
Yeah, when I'm done with basketball I'm going to try to launch a singing career. I'll be an R&B singer.