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I feel good about the win, to say the least. I thought in several stretches, that 10- or 12-minute stretch in the first half, our defense dominated the game. It was important for us to understand that this stretch we've gone through right now is not what we are going to face down the line. This is an extremely important week for us--practices before this quite formidable task we've got right in front of us. We've got 15 conference games and UConn at UConn.
I told the kids that I wanted to try to start to move towards being a better basketball team today and be focused and attentive on the defensive end of the floor, try to share the ball on the offensive end and use this as a time to get a heck of a lot better.
I was worried a little bit about Raymond [Felton]. In fact, I put him back in there and let him play a couple more minutes just to see if the hand was going to affect him. He didn't' get whacked; he got it caught and bent it back, so I guess he hyper-extended it a little bit. They had taken off some of the pad that he'd had on recently because he was looking forward to getting that [taken] off. You can see he only turned it over once today, so I think having that big of a pad hurts his ball-handling, but it must help his shooting because he didn't shoot it nearly as well has he has been shooting it. I guess it's a mixed bag--with more pad he shoots it better, but he turns it over more.
I thought the first four minutes, at the -minute TV timeout, we had taken all three's, and neither Sean [May] or Jawad [Williams] had taken a shot. We had such a size advantage that it was not being very intelligent. We talked about it at that point, and halfway through the first half I think we held them scoreless for about five and one-half minutes, [forced] some turnovers, and got our break going.
I'm happy for us, [but] I'm impressed with Tony [Shaver's] Club and how they kept fighting and kept moving the ball very well and very affectively against us. It was hard for us--if we didn't' get a turnover out of the initial trap, it was hard for us to catch up with them because they moved the ball so well.
Again, I feel good about what we did. We've got four guys in double figures and another with eight, [and one] with nine. We have to keep doing that kind of thing as well.
Is there a restriction on practice time this week since you are not in class?
No we can practice 24 hours per day, seven days a week, if we want to. We have told the guys we are going two-a-days tomorrow, we are giving them Tuesday off completely and then trying to work hard Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, have a shooting period in the morning and regular practice in the afternoon. We are going two-a-days all week, except for Tuesday. The only problem is the first of those practices you [media members] could do because it is just standing there shooting free throws. Then we will come back and get some work done in the afternoon.
What is the main goal of those practices, getting better [at what]?
Everything we have. We don't run it as well as we could; we don't defend as well as we could. The teams that we've played, we've been very fortunate. I thought at the start of our season our schedule was going to be really something because we are looking at Hawaii and we've got Iowa, Louisville, Texas, and North Carolina--four ranked teams. We only had to play one of the other three. We got Kentucky as a young team at home, We got Indiana as a young team, so our schedule hasn't been as difficult as I thought it could be and thought is was going to be with those. If a couple of things happened differently in Hawaii, you end up playing Louisville and Texas. That makes it more difficult.
Lately, we've been more gifted, more talented than the other teams, so our whole focus on practice is [that] we have to get a heck of a lot better. Anybody that thinks we are as good as we can be is not being very realistic and not realizing that we've just been more gifted and talented than the other teams we've been playing.
Do you think their zone got your guys to shoot so many three's early in the game?
It probably was, but I don't agree just because somebody goes zone doesn't mean that you have to keep shooting three's. I want what I want, not-- I told them at the timeout, 'Which coach do you think is happiest about your shot selection, me or Tony? You are making Tony happy, not me, because you are shooting the shot that he wants you to shoot. And they went triangle-and-two and we didn't handle that very well. Once we finally started moving the ball and realizing that we need to go inside first--we were 4-16 at half on three's, and that is way too many. Second half, we were 6-10, and we got better shots at that point. It also means you are getting it inside more, and that helps you shoot 65 percent, like we did in the second half.
You are talking about sharing the ball offensively a while ago. According to the stat sheet, 27 assists on 35 buckets is pretty efficient offensively, especially going into the meat of your schedule. I saw you get upset with about four or five minutes left at the guys not moving the ball around as effectively as you wanted them to. It seemed like as soon as they listened and moved the ball to the other side, somebody was wide open from three feet.
I think you said it, so I don't even have to answer that--that when we move it we are pretty doggone good. But sometimes, the ball hits a hand and stays in that hand until he starts dribbling and not moving. Three possessions in a row, one time Rashad [McCants] has it in the corner and passes out to Raymond, he passes it right back to Rashad, he's open, he shoots, he makes it. Next time, we swing it all the way around the horn twice and Jawad gets it and shoots it and makes it. The next time we swing it around and move it a couple of times, it comes to Raymond, Raymond is wide open, he misses that shot, but we have to move the ball and move ourselves because you don't want the defense to be able to rest. I think the way that we can pass the ball and move it, when we do move the ball quickly and share it, we can be good offensively. I think we can be even better offensively than we are right now. And defensively we can be a lot better.
What do you think about Felton's 12-1 assist/turnover ratio after a game with seven turnovers?
Yeah, if he'd throw the dadgummed lob to Rashad like Rashad is jumping instead of me jumping, he would have 13 assists because Rashad was open on the lob there. I really do think that getting that stuff off his hand helps his ball-handling. And I think if you go back to last game, the second play of the game he goes down the court and tries to pass it back over his head without looking and turns it over. It really set the stage of his concentration.
I talked to him today about making the easy play. The easy play, a lot of times is the one that will get you an assist, and I think he did that. I've been ecstatic with the way that Raymond was playing. Again, I just wanted to see if he could play effectively after banging his hand there. I was really starting to feel very good, but now they may end up keeping that thing on for a while longer. We'll have to wait and see.
I know they aren't where you want to be, but this team has come a long way defensively. In the halfcourt, just how far has it come in your estimation, from last year at this point?
Well, from last year we are a lot better defensively. I don't think there is any question about that, but I don't think--they shot 43 or 44 [percent] against us and got some open looks. We've got to, everyday, continue to build habits. It's a habit to get a hand up every time they shoot the ball. It is a habit to box out every time they shoot. It is a habit to try to beat the man to the spot and not trail him in low.
Even one time in the first half, we've got it where there is just four seconds on the shot clock and we have four guys busting their tails on the perimeter, not letting their guys get the ball. Sean is camped behind his guy, they throw it into Sean's man, he turns around, and we foul him. You don't want to have break-downs like that, so we are better defensively than we were last year, but our goal this week and next week, and the following week, until the last practice of the year is that we are going to try to get a heck of a lot better on the defensive end of the floor. Our goal is to create turnovers and hold the other team to a low percentage. If we can do those, you have a good basketball team.
In light of that, how about more trapping, and how valuable is that to you right now? And also how about using Marvin [Williams] out in those situations, causing a lot of problems?
Well, we aren't necessarily using Marvin any differently. It's just that the guy he was guarding was involved in it is the only reason he was out there. The double-teaming, when you double-team somebody, you create open opportunities for them as well. These games here, the trapping will normally work better when you are more gifted and talented than the other team. I would expect that we will back off a little now and do it not as frequently. But hopefully, it will be more of a surprise and be just as effective.
Transcript provided by J.B. Cissell