Fred Hill picked up his first road win as Rutgers new head coach against a rather distinguished opponent, as the Scarlet Knights ventured into the cozy, yet hostile environs of Jadwin Gymnasium and emerged with a hard-fought 53-to-47 victory over Princeton. SOR brings to you the transcript of Fred Hill's post-game press conference.
You shot very well in the first half
Fred Hill: I might frame the first half box score. It's not that often that you shoot 87.5 %. I talked on the pre-game about, what I'm impressed with, is Princeton's defense and no one ever talks about that, everybody talks about the Princeton style, and certainly they have a very unique and tough offensive style that makes it tough for people to guard. But they play one of the best match-up zones. Past years people didn't talk much about that, when Pete was here it was always offense. And I just think they did a terrific job. I walked in at halftime and saw what the shooting % was and just said "wow" - that doesn't happen very often and I give our kids a lot of credit for getting good looks and open looks and they went down and when it goes down everything looks great. But I thought our defense is what really separated us in the first half. They only shot 29% and that's a wow and that is a team that is much better shooting the ball than that and to hold them at 29% and no 3s, I was extremely proud of our defense's efforts in the first half.
What does it mean to get this win and keep the streak going?
Fred Hill: Well, I think as you grow, and we talk about going through the process, we talk about how you are not always going to shoot the ball well and you have to make big plays, and I thought we made big plays to win the game - not big shoots but big plays. We work on tip backs on the free through line and Jaron Griffin gets a big tip back and we get another possession when we don't make the free throws, JR Inman gets a big rebound, Adrian Hill gets a big rebound. Down at the other end, Hamady N'diaye when he was in gets a big deflection - and the stuff is not always going to drop for you, but if you make big plays and hold on and win ball games - you have to learn how to win, and I think that that is what we are in the processes of trying to do is to learn how to win. When we don't shoot well and try to make big plays and I thought tonight even though we talked about we are not going to shoot 87% again, we're not going to have that type of offensive efficiency, and they are going to make some 3s, and we are going to be shut out. They are going on a run and how do we handle that? - and I thought we handled it, outside of the free throw shooting , I thought we handled it extremely well.
Once you started missing and you started getting those offensive rebounds did you think before the game that could be a key because they have been a little vulnerable to that?
No, it is something we work on no matter who we play so I didn't look at that as a key against Princeton. We just feel that with 2 guys on the free throw line you don't have a great opportunity to really, they have 4 guys, to offensive rebound anymore, they changed the rules for that so you have a great opportunity, maybe, to get a hand on it to tap it back to one of your teammates and that is exactly what Griff did. JR was fortunate to get an offensive rebound but Griff did what we actually worked on in practice and tapped it back and got it out to one of the guards and we were able to get one of our guards to the free throw line. I believe it was Anthony Farmer who made a big free throw for us.
Can you talk about JR's performance? He had a double-double, 12 points, 13 rebounds, a lot of big offensive rebounds.
Well, again, we were talking to JR about doing other things when he doesn't score and for the he was very efficient 4 for 6, he is a very good free throw shooter. 3 for 6 is not indicative of the way for free throws but you do other things, you defend, you rebound, offensive rebounds, and obviously he gets 12 pts tonight and 13 rebounds, he's tough, he's coming - has to keep growing, he has to grow into his roll, we're asking a lot of him. We're asking him to be a big time go- to guy for offense, but sometimes it's not always going to be there and then how do you make the plays to win games for your teammates? - and I think tonight was evident that he did a very good job of doing just that
Fred, are you happy with your teams progress and where they are at right now? How do you gauge them and assess if they are where you would like them to be right now?
I'm worried about Monday at practice. That is exactly how we approach things, we tell them that. We didn't - I think we talked about it. I wasn't happy with the way that we handled the Nebraska success - and certainly this is another step and now we are going to know more and how we are going to practice on M, T, W, TH, and F in preparation for our next game? - and that is how I will determine where we are at. We just look at it, and I know it is just a coaching cliché but when you have a young team when you are building. I only look at it game-by-game and I look at it practice-by-practice.
Fred, the missed free throws - a little concern?
No, I think we've been - I don't know the % I think we were shooting 70% as a team. We are very close to that and if we weren't and we had our better free throw shooters on the line. I think again that as the game gets a little tighter we get a little tentative, we're still not as aggressive as I would like us to be and when they stepped up I could see it. I think, I said this after the last game when the shooting was good it's contagious and it really is and we have 3 great examples in the Nebraska game the first couple go in then the confidence level goes up and I call it contagious, we shot well. In the New Hampshire game we shot very well in the first half against the same 2-3 zone that we saw in the second half. And in the second half we missed a couple, you get a little tight and it's contagious. We had three of our better free throw shooters on the line , and you miss two - I could tell the next going up wasn't confident, like he had to make it, the weight of the world was on his shoulders - it becomes contagious. I think we have to grow through that but it is not a concern at all. I wouldn't want anybody else but those 3 guys. Maybe Marquis Webb, but those are the 4 guys would wont on the free throw line Marquis and the 3 that shot them. We just happen to miss 3 out of 6
There was an approximately 10 minute delay late in the game late in the second half. Reporter asks a question as to what it was about and how did Coach Hill keep his team focused during the delay:
They questioned, I guess, they questioned whether the 2nd shot opportunity that JR Inman got off hit the rim or not, so then we're looking at a clock reset it was about 5 seconds on the shot clock and JR's shot did hit the rim the first shot was a miss off the backboard and J. got a rebound and made it up and went off the rim, and Adrian Hill grab the rebound and: tie up, jump ball, our ball out of bounds on the base line and with a new shot clock. So that is what they were checking on and we just told our guys - this is what we practice we always tell them that there are certain things we can control and certain things that we can't. And we talk about things that go on in practice and sometimes there are activities in the gym and it's loud, and it is not a quite gym and you have to focus and you could be getting ready to go play in the Big East Tournament and there is an overtime game and you are all hyped to go out and now all of a sudden you have to go back in a refocus for 10 minutes. So we've got things, we do things sometimes to kinda keep them out of focus so they have to refocus. One time the women were on the court and they asked me for 10 extra minutes, so I gave them a little nod and said yes. Our guys were ready to go on the court for practice and I didn't tell them that the women were going to stay late and so they are sitting there waiting 10 minutes, 10 minutes, how to stay together and then talk about that situation so when it happens in a game it is something that we have gone through before - and we didn't say anything and this is what we work on and I thought they handled it very well.
Fred, you've got 3 wins in a row now. How do you think your guys are feeling about themselves, do you feel a little growing surge around them now?
Well again, like I said, I just worry about the next practice. I'm happy for them, I'm happy we can learn from winning. It's a process, I'm happy that they are learning how to win and make big plays. I don't concern myself with the wins and loses and were we are at and what our record is. Our goal from day one was to go on the court; we have a certain way we want to play. We knew that we were going to have to continually grow and I do see growth and I'm happy for that - I'm happy for them that they can feel good about themselves because you always feel a lot better when you win than when you lose.
So, you think they are feeling happy then?
I think they are feel better about themselves, sure and I think what they are doing 'cause they work so hard that now they are being rewarded for some of that hard work they are putting in each and every day. And certainly when you work hard for something you want to get rewarded for it and they have been rewarded now for their hard work.
Fred, you like to say, "Well sometimes the shots don't go down". Well, as for the second half they didn't go down for you - the first half they did. Well, what's it going to be? Are you going to be a good-shooting team, or a team that's not so good with shooting?
Well, they only guy who I knew who could know that was a guy by the name of Kreskin. If I were Kreskin and I knew that I would not be coaching, I would be doing something were I could predict the future and making millions and millions of dollars - and they don't pay me millions and millions of dollars to coach basketball. So, all we can do is work at it and get good shots and hopefully they make more than they miss. That is all you can do - you try to put your players in a position to be successful. I think that is one of the great things about Princeton. They get their kids in a system and they put them in a position to be successful and they never put them in a position to fail. They play to their strenths and they play the system. And what we do, we do the same thing, you put your kids in a position to succeed, you try to get them good open looks, you try to teach them what is a good shot from a bad one from their individual talent level, and then you let them go play. And there are going to be nights again that they go down and there are going to be times when they don't, and that is how we have to grow as a team and find other ways to win games when we are not shooting the ball particularly well.
How's Adrian Hill. He got banged up at one point and came up limping?
He's okay, he just banged his knee. You know, it's always because he wears that knee brace and he had two surgeries and every time he limps around you worry. I don't worry about Adrian he's done a phenomenal job for us, he has become one of our leaders. I expect that out of seniors, and he just banged it up a little bit and he didn't even want to come out of the game. In the past he would be worried about it and want to come out. I was ready to sub, and he was waving me off and saying "I'm fine, I'm fine" so, he's fine.