Air Force Post-Game Quotes

Never before Wednesday night had there been a lay-up drill with paid attendance and national television at Maples Pavilion. Air Force thoroughly whipped Stanford in a 79-45 clinic, billed by organizers as the second round of the CBE Classic. After being outclassed by the Falcons' offensive cuts and defensive zone, Stanford talked about being exposed and lessons learned.

Head coach Trent Johnson

Opening statement

"Boy, that was a good old-fashioned tail whipping.  It didn't seem like they missed, and for us, for whatever reason it seemed like we were a step slow defensively at every position.  You have to give them credit.  I knew coming in that they were not a good basketball but a very, very good basketball team.  We make no excuses.  We just got it handed to us.  The good thing about it is that we have a game Friday against Northwestern, who has a very similar style.  They're probably not as talented and experienced as this group, but a very similar style.  We will have an opportunity to get out at practice tomorrow, get this behind us and get ready to play."

On the good in having such a bad game so soon

"[laughs]  I don't know that it's ever good to have a game like that.  I think the bottom line for us is that we were in a situation where things started to snowball.  I made the comment that against Siena, it's amazing how good you look when the ball is going down.  Off the top of my head, we had some point-blank looks that didn't go down.  They go down on the other end, they execute and they get you back on your heels because they do run and execute at a good pace.  Everything we tried to do defensively, whether it was zone or man, they knocked down shots.  They're very skilled, very skilled.  I don't know if it's good, but for me and for our staff, we knew we had deficiencies as a basketball team and we got exposed a little worse than I thought.  I'm surprised.  I was surprised that they could come in here and handle us like they did."

On the time to prepare for Air Force's offense (e.g. Long Beach State off-season vs. Stanford 24 hours)

"I don't know.  I think our guys are very good in understanding in such a short time what we have to do.  I think it was more that we got back on our heels, and we lost our poise when the ball didn't go down.  Then you look up, and you're down 10.  With young guys, sometimes you have a tendency to take a quick shot.  Then they go down; they execute; and you're down 13.  It starts to snowball, and it went from there.  Zone?  Man?  We were prepared to come out and play.  They were just better in all phases.  If we had had two weeks, three weeks or a month, Frank, I don't know.  I don't know when you don't shoot the ball.  You look at our line, and we have nine assists and 14 turnovers.  We've been on the plus side, but it's not like their defense caused us to throw the ball away and it got us into a position where we were out of rhythm.  Anthony is 3-of-14.  Off the top of my head, I know that he probably took three ill-advised shots, but he was also in a situation where he came off a couple doubles, a couple early-O transition opportunities, and they didn't go down."

On the defensive match-up that pulled Robin Lopez to the perimeter

"I don't think Robin struggled as much as everybody did.  For any guy who is seven-foot, when you have to guard a guy who is six-seven, six-eight who is very skilled, that's like guarding a three or guarding a four.  Is he going to be uncomfortable?  Probably as much as the guy that he was guarding would be if he had to guard him in the post.  That's just the way it is.  From Robin's standpoint, you look at his fouls, and he didn't get but maybe two on the perimeter off of drives.  Robin is not going to be a world-beater every time out.  The disappointing thing for me, as opposed to Robin's defensive effort, was Taj, who has been in the program three years and is a perfect match-up for their fours and their fives.  And Lawrence.  Those guys are better match-ups for that position and are more experienced.  Those are the guys where we got hurt.  I thought Will Paul came into the game and did a very good job.  We talked about an adjustment at halftime where you have to help from the weak side, but we also talked about that in the scouting report.  It's a matter of you going out and being able to do it.  Again, it's not a negative.  You have to give credit to Air Force.  There is a reason their system is conducive to the caliber of players they have."

On young players coming in overconfident after their recent early success

"No, I don't think that.  Not with this group.  These guys have been great.  One of the things we talked about, and I know I harp on - it's not about high-major, mid-major or leagues.  It's hard to win a game.  These kids understand that.  I think the bottom line is that you have to give credit to Air Force.  You are talking about a team who didn't have their best player, Welch, at all last year.  They lost to Illinois and probably should have beaten a very good Washington team early in the year last year in Seattle.  Did we get exposed?  Yeah.  Are they better?  Yes they are.  The only thing positive about this is that it's the third game into the year.  We have a long way to go, and as a staff and as individual players, we knew that going into this year.  Like I said, the good thing for us is that tomorrow we come in at 1 o'clock and get back to work.  Then we have the game on Friday.  Then we get a chance to have some practice time so that we can start working on these things, and hopefully get a couple other bodies out there."

On improvements to come for the defense

"Basically, we have to do a better job on ball pressure.  We have to play within ourselves.  There is a combination of things where we broke down in zone defense, where we didn't check, we didn't stay, we didn't rotate.  It's a combination of things.  Again, we're not going to see this caliber of team and play against this system.  Our improvement defensively has to be on the ball and understanding your responsibility, whether it's weakside or whether it's strongside.  Again, the loose balls today - they were the aggressor in every aspect.  They beat us to a ton of loose balls.  There are a lot of things we can improve on, but without watching the tape, the thing that was magnified the most to me was in our ball pressure, we didn't rotate defensively and we had some broken down assignments in the zone.  It was a combination of things, and that's what usually happens when you get beaten like we did."

Sophomore point guard Mitch Johnson

On the factor of experience levels between Air Force and Stanford

"Yeah, we knew going in that they were an experienced team.  They've been there and played together.  But Coach J stresses every day that we're not going to let youth and inexperience be a cop-out.  Experience might help, but for the most part they just set the tone and we never recovered.  We were on our heels the whole game.  We didn't step up and be aggressive, and they controlled in every facet of the game."

On the difficulty getting the offense going against Air Force's zone defense

"We knew coming in that they had a matchup zone.  Sometimes it looks like a man; sometimes it looks like a zone.  We got a couple looks early, which for whatever reason didn't drop.  They hit shots; we got in a hole.  Maybe guys started pressing a little bit.  I think for the most part, at times we had shot but just didn't hit them.  And they hit tough shots.  If we're not hitting our easy shots and they're hitting their tough shots, they get their confidence and we're pressing.  They did a good job, but I think at times we got what we wanted.  But the ball didn't go through the hole."

Sophomore shooting guard Anthony Goods

On the difficulty defending Air Force's offensive cuts to the basket

"The most difficult part is that they ran it full-speed.  They knew exactly where they were supposed to be, and as Mitch said earlier, we were on our heels."

On the surprise of a 34-point loss after two comfortable wins

"We knew Air Force was a very good team.  If we didn't come prepared, it's not really a shock.  If you don't prepare, that's a Division I basketball team.  We just got down early, and there was not much we got done from there."


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