Before 5,108 fans in a cold arena, the Friars opened up a tight 25-23 contest in the first half with a 12-0 run, keyed by Marshon Brooks, who buried a three, stole the inbounds pass and slammed home a resounding dunk. PC finished the half up 54-37, behind 24 points by Brooks, including a steal and a three point bomb at the buzzer.
The onslaught continued in the second half as PC outclassed the visitors. The lead peaked at 34 points (103-69) with 5:37 to play, before Keno Davis began to empty his bench. Over the final five minutes, Sacred Heart outscored PC 18-8 to make the final score a bit more respectable.
For the game, Brooks exploded for 30 points on 11-15 shooting, and threw in five steals for good measure. The sophomore is playing with complete confidence and is flashing an equally complete game. Geoff McDermott filled the stat sheet with 11 points, 13 rebounds, 4 blocks and 5 assists, while Sharaud Curry played his best game, looking more comfortable, shooting better, and scored 15 points and dealt 8 assists.
Six Friars scored in double figures, including Weyinmi Efejuku, with 14 points, all in the second half, Jeff Xavier with 14 points and Jonathan Kale with 12. PC hit 13-30 three pointers (43%), and shot 54% from the field for the game. The Friars had 15 steals, 9 blocks and 22 assists to go along with 13 turnovers, while forcing 22 turnovers.
Following is Keno Davis' complete press conference:
"I think when I look at this team this year, the characteristics that are going to make us successful is that we're so versatile a team. We've got players that can post up, we've got seven, eight guys that can shoot the three point shot and take teams off the dribble. But maybe the important thing is, we have seven or eight guys that can lead us in scoring any night. So as teams try to game plan against us, you never know who's going to come up big for us. Marshon Brooks obviously had a great scoring night and Geoff McDermott led us in rebounding. We've seen a lot of progress with our team, they're starting to feel a little more comfortable with the offense. The defense, the full court pressure has been good for us the last couple of games. I think the half court defense will continue to improve. We'd like more days to practice but we just don't have that in the game plan right now. We'll try to have a big game against Maine on Saturday, who is undefeated, and it'll be a pretty good test for us."
"The full court press is something that we've been practicing a lot. We've gone to it earlier than I thought we would in games because our half court intensity sometimes hasn't been where it needed to be to start games. And when you're able to use pressure defense it tends to get your guys playing better, not only running on the offensive end, but sometimes it picks up your halfcourt intensity as well. So we'd like to be able to use a full court pressure, a three quarter court pressure, a half court pressure, a half court drop back, and use them all depending on what's working, depending on the game plan for a given game. All of them can be effective for us this year."
"We can beat anybody in the country when we shoot the ball well. We've got enough talent out there to beat the best in the country. The shot has to go down for us to do that. When the shot isn't going down, we've got to find other ways to win. But to beat the best we've got to be able to knock down those shots and our guys have worked incredibly hard from the end of last season until now, coming in the gym, during school, working late at night, early in the morning, coming in working on their shot because they know that's going to be a big factor in how far we go this year."
"I think when you're able to bring Marshon Brooks in at the power forward, and Geoff McDermott, he's capable of shooting the three, and when your power forwards can do that, its tough for teams to match up when they've got a 6'9, 6'10, 270 pound power forward, to be able to match up. Or whether we set screens and have our guards come off the dribble penetration for those shots, I'm not worried about us shooting the ball this year. We're going to put points up on the board. It's the other parts of the game, we have to see how quickly we can improve on."
"One benefit this team has is the experience on the team. But yet some of them haven't played with each other as much as they need to. This is a pretty unselfish group. I think it showed tonight when the game got out of hand and yet you still saw guys driving and kicking to guys to get the assist rather than try to force their own shot. You like that, that shows a lot of character from individuals that aren't thinking so much about their points late in the game. And you hope when games are tight, that they'll look not just to make the bucket. Guys can drive and can kick to the inside or the outside and create for their teammates."
"It's been my philosophy ever since I got into coaching, that I felt that players can just play as hard as they could and wouldn't have to worry about coming in and out of the game, that a coach would give them a hook. It came a lot from my father, that he, for a lot of years when he was coaching, he let the starters control their minutes. The starters would pull themselves out, they could put themselves back in. At times I've adopted that. Other times, I make sure that I don't take them out right after they miss a shot or they're looking at the bench or they miss an assignment or they screw up a play. The idea is the only thing you're coming out for is if you're tired and you need a break or if you have a lack of effort, you're not running the court, you're not going after rebounds, and see how hard you can play, and I think we're just scratching the surface of how hard we can play in games."
"If you score 100 points a game, you're not going to hold teams to 50. We could have scored 70 tonight and maybe held Sacred Heart to a point differential, and you'd say, oh, they played great defense, when really there's just less possessions in a game. When you use the full court pressure, there are going to be some layups, some easy baskets that's going to hurt your field goal percentage, but I'm not too worried about them scoring those types of points, especially late in the game when you put your subs in. You're not worried about trying to beat a team by 20, or 25, or 30, you want to get the win, and just continue to work on your game. I don't want to have a payer in the game risking an injury at the end, so I'm not worried about the final score, and I think our defense has improved each game."
"I'd rather our guys get steals without gambling. Get turnovers without giving up layups behind us. I'm worried about open layups, I'm not so worried about the open midrange jumper. It's a lot easier to play halfcourt defense if you never press, and you don't rebound and you send three guys back and you get matched up, you can look really good in a half court defense, but we're sending four to the glass, we're using pressure defense, and so to do that, to come back and play really solid halfcourt defense, it can be done, but it takes some work. Our goal is to be as good a team as we can be by the end of the season, and hopefully by instituting these things, we'll be a tough team to beat in March."
Friars Crush Sacred Heart, 111-87
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