You've got to give the Nike team some credit. They had some big guys. I thought they played well--better than I've seen them play. We didn't play well in the second half--10 turnovers in the second half, 32 percent from the field, 47 percent for the game from the foul line. And our field goal percetage defense isn't very good. We can't give up 50 percent from the field. I'd like to think that our defense was better than that, but it wasn't, so we have some things to work out.
I'm not panicked--there will be days like this with this young team. We will be all right. We'll just work through it and see what shows up on the tape and go through it on Friday. We have three great days of practice before we play Penn State.
You have a bunch of guys who haven't been through the stresses of "down the stretch." Is it almost good to go through something like this and show them what can go wrong?
These teams are better than when I was playing or even 10 years ago. You are playing against some pretty good guys who are maybe the last cuts in the NBA or playing over seas, or whatever. It's better experience for our guys than going out there and beating a team by 30. I would have liked to have beaten them by 30, but we didn't. I think it was good for our team to be in situations you can't simulate in practices easily. It's a great experience for our guys.
On Saturday, our guys were real excited and on top of the world [about the win]. On Sunday, everyone was telling them how good they were. Now, we lose a game. Tomorrow, when they go to class, people may be saying otherwise. That's the reality of college basketball, [but] the only opinion they should care about is the opinion of the coaching staff and their teammates. They'll focus on that, hopefully, and we'll come out prepared to win a basketball game on Monday night.
Any chance that McCants or Manuel might not be ready Monday night?
That's the main reason I held them out. They could have played tonight, but I want to make sure they are as close to 100 percent as possible for the game that matters. You want to win every game--don't get me wrong. I'm as competitive as the next guy, but a couple months from now or a year from now, no one is going to care about this game. They will care about whether we beat Penn State or not.
How much practice time have they missed?
Theyt've missed probably the last three days of practice.
Were you surprised at how easily Nike got into the lane with dribble penetration?
That concerned me, yes. That concerned me how easily the ball went inside--the pass maybe even moreso than the dribble. I thought we did a good job helping on dribble penetration and drawing charges. I thought Sean was in position to draw three or four charges. A couple were called blocks. Jawad got a charge. David Noel got a charge. I thought we were helping very well. A couple of times, we may have been lulled to sleep with dribble penetration, and that hurt us. But again, those guys are all pretty talented players. I think this was good for our team.
Do you think the process of decision-making comes with time?
I think it comes with experience. I think we kicked the ball away a few times down the stretch. We left our feet a couple of times, and sometimes we got good shots and just missed them.
Is it possible for a young team to get comfortable with a lead in the second half and get out of your offense and have concentration wane a little?
It could. I don't know if that was the case. I don't know if we were as sharp to start the game as we were on Saturday. Why is that? I don't know. That's the great question all coaches and [fans] want to know sometimes. Only players know, "Was I ready to start the game?"
I thought the first half we were very sharp. We were very active defensively and created some problems and created some problems for them and got some steals and turnovers. I thought they would wear down a little bit, but they didn't. They got some good play out of Baker and Kelly handling the ball.
When Henry went out, I thought that would be difficult for them, but the other guys stepped up and played pretty well for those guys.
Where are you compared to where you want to be?
We've got a lot of work to do, but, with such a young group, you have to go slowly. Hopefully, we'll be better Monday. Hopefully, we'll be better in a month. We still haven't put in everything--probably no one in the country has--and things aren't habit yet: timing of plays, positioning on defense, but they are getting better every day. I have a great group of kids that work hard.
They are a compeitive group. They are disappointed that they lost this basketball game, and I want it to hurt a little bit. But I also want them to know that it's not the end of the world. Monday is another day, and Monday is the game. That's the one that matters.
When you step on the court, every game should matter. I understand that--thats the way I am, but I want to give this young team [time to learn]. It's not the end of the world. We'll be OK.
Is this team tough enough that this loss won't bother them too much?
I hope it bothers them a little bit, but I don't want it to eat at any confidence they have. That's the biggest thing, maintaining confidence. That's the thing I'm trying to get at--let it hurt, let it burn, but don't lose confidence in yourself.