When did you all decide to go with the full-court press? It looked like Matt was calling for it for the first three possessions, but you missed the signal?
I think we were just so into the game. That's all that was. We completely forgot that we were running the trap. Once he got us into it, we went from there.
So you were supposed to do that from the start?
Yeah, we were just being immature right there by not paying attention to the coach.
Can you address the improved movement on offense tonight?
We are athletic and we have five guys out there who can drive. I think they had to respect everyone out there. If they didn't it was going to cost them, like tonight. We had guys who drove and kicked to the open man. We made the extra pass to get a great shot.
Is this something that you've worked on specifically in practice?
It's something that we've worked on all year. Tonight we just did a better job of executing.
How about Rashad's performance? Is it a coincidence that he starts and has a good game and when he doesn't start he struggles? Or is there cause and effect there?
I think it was just a matter of time. He was in a funk and he played his way out of it. Everyone is going to hit that wall eventually, especially the freshmen. I don' think it really matters [whether he starts]. I think, coming off the bench, he could have had the same performance.
You guys looked quicker at every position tonight. Did you guys feel that way?
Yes. We went to a smaller line-up to try to create mismatches all over the court. I think we did well tonight and took advantage of that.
Jawad said that you were supposed to be pressing from the start and just forgot. Why do you think that happened?
We are so used to playing man [defense]. We aren't a pressing team. We worked on it in practice, though. During the Florida State game we were just used to sprinting back to guard our men. After the first two or three possessions, Coach yelled a couple of times, "Thirty-three! Thirty-three!" Then we got it in our heads, and it worked for us tonight.
You did a good job guarding Travis Watson defensively, tonight. Why do you think you were successful?
I just tried to follow the scouting report and play his right shoulder a whole because he is a left-handed player and it worked out for me.
Watson has had some better games statistically against even Brendan Haywood, all seven feet of him. What did you key on to be successful?
The main goal was that we wanted to front him in the post. Every time I got a chance to front him, I did that. I just kept him from getting the ball inside, period. We had help-side defense, as well. I think that helped a lot. When he finally did get the ball inside, I was just trying to move my feet really quick and stay in front of him. A couple of times he got around me and did his thing. I just did what I could do to keep the ball from getting in there by using my quickness.
Do you think you frustrated him in there? Even when he got the ball, it was pretty tough going.
We wanted to double the post from the week side, and our weak-side help got there quickly. Once he got the ball, he tried to make a move, but he had two people on him, and he had to pass it out.
What do you think explains the improved ball movement on offense tonight? Did you specifically decide to do that before the game?
We have been working on that in practice. We play a game called "Keep-away" where you can't dribble the ball. You have to cut really fast and hard. We just used that mentality tonight to go out and make hard cuts and get great passes.
You've had some success on this level now. Some people would let that go to their heads. How do you stay so grounded?
I just try to be like my man, Jackie. He's always level-headed. He never lets things get to him. Once you let things get to you, they can be taken away so fast. You have to keep a level head and know that sometimes will be your time and sometimes it won't.
How do you balance that with being confident enough to be successful and believing in yourself? You are the same player you were a few months ago, but it took a call from Kenny Smith and a high light tape to convince you.
You have to believe in yourself, but, at the beginning of the year I didn't really believe that I could do some things that I really knew I could do at this level. Once I got going, it became easier, my confidence went up, and I just went from there.
How much does having Rashad back in the flow help your confidence as the leader of the offense?
It helps my confidence, but I'm mainly just concerned about him. I want him to be here for us and into the game. All these guys are like my brothers. I was concerned about him, so I talked to him after every game and everyday after practice. I told him it would be all right and he'd get through his slump. He got through it tonight.
You and Rashad looked like you were having fun and you were playing up to the crowd tonight and keeping your energy up through them.
We were necessarily playing to the crowd. We were just trying to get the crowd into it. We were just trying to get everybody hyped and get the energy up. Sometimes that causes problems for the opposite team when you have a crowd going crazy. It gets a team rattled.
You all had 12 assists on 14 field goals in the first half. Is this some of the best ball movement of the year?
I think so. I think we played hard, we executed, we cut hard on screens. We did a great job.