Editor's Note: The following column/commentary offers the writer's views of the on-court performances and decisions of our men's basketball team. In no way should constructively-intended criticism be deemed as a lack of respect or admiration for our team's obvious desire and commitment.
On a delay in getting to Tucson Thursday night:
We could have been out until four in the morning – none of us were getting any extra sleep. I thought about the game for hours, then we had a 9 a.m. workout and 10 a.m. practice.
On whether he viewed the ASU loss as a collapse:
I feel like they made some really good plays to take away the game from us. You could always point the finger at a certain player or play, but you can point it either way. When Abbott hit that three to put it within three, and then they were chipping away with four minutes to go. Harden's capable and did a lot of what he's capable of doing.
On how the ASU loss affects the season outlook:
It's disappointing but my reality of it is no one's going to be perfect. I'm sure Memphis is going to lose to Tennessee or eventually. It's so, so hard to win every game. I meant it before: losing to Siena was good for us and I think we have to take the opportunity to be better. I mean, how many games did Florida lose the year before? I'm so happy to have four losses right now. That's a two-week stretch of last year. That's all year now. We could have three or two if you took away Oregon, or one if you took away Siena, but we're still in it. We can't look ahead because one thing I know is the ASU game was in our hands and that could easily go the other way. With Cal and Washington, they always play us tough and we had to really pull through last year in the stretch. Same with Washington State, overtime's the only way we've been able to beat them recently.
Florida finished 33-5 last year, winning 17 in a row midseason and their last 10.
The biggest thing with him is our matchup ability to be tall and quick, with the twins and other guys that can guard him. He's really good at taking it to a big, slower guy; he just uses his athleticism and feel for the game. And then out on the wing, Robin's done a really good job of staying with him as opposed to falling asleep because he's only used to only guarding guys to the free throw line. I think that's key because Ryan has to work really, really hard to get every basket, I feel their best player, has to work extremely hard to get every basket.
On Robin's growth this year:
If Brook weren't so volatile and does everything he does down low, we'd throw it down to Rob and I'm pretty sure you'd see the same results. He's so poised, double teams don't faze him. When we can't get out of double teams, it's usually us so used to them splitting it and not running around and getting open. His attitude too, he's so much more predictable and into the game and focused.
Obviously an exaggeration on the double-team turnovers, but maybe there's a kernel of truth and it's not all on the twins.
On communication with Coach Johnson:
He hates it when we ask questions, but it's up to him to judge whether it's a good one. He's right in that questions aren't going to get it done, rather it's up to us to get a feel for it and see what happens. There's times where he's so focused where he'll say something wrong and correcting him's no problem, but there's not a good question in terms of what should I do here or what is he supposed to do?
On whether he talks with Coach during the game:
Not unless he calls you over and talks to you. He says your name you go into the game off the bench, on the court he's mostly talking with the point guard.
On Johnson's locker-room talks:
It depends. Halftime is usually just giving us stats and what we need to improve on. After games he's real happy and glad because if we play horrible and won or good and won the result is fine, and if we lose we're not going to fix it right there.
On what Johnson said after the Oregon win:
Great job and that's what we're supposed to do when we play hard and that's what happens.
On the postgame talk after the ASU loss:
He said they took it from us. Despite them playing hard, he feels we should play a lot harder and we know we should expect more from ourselves to finish a game because that's what we've been doing all year.
Last year when we lost a key game, he could relate it to other games and say we're not as good as we think we are but this year, we still think we're as good as our ranking says.
On why he spoke more last year:
There were a lot more losses, but also with our maturity he understands and we understand. Talk is overrated this time of year,' I think he said that after the Arizona game. Talk is wasting time, we should go out there and do something.
On the relatively even minutes distribution:
It feels good because that's ideally how you want it. I've always heard him say last two years he wishes he could have played more guys, but didn't do as good a job in practice getting people ready. Now, he's comfortable putting the majority of guys in and getting good results.
On Fred and Taj's presence:
It's like a leadership thing where everything they say and everything they do has to be taken seriously. You don't even think about it, it's how it's supposed to be if your parents tell you something. Everything they do, everything they are is mirrored in our minds and what we want to do, what we want to try to be like.
On Fred's injuries:
He's similar to everyone else. When someone's hurt, everyone tries to play through it. I don't know if we have anyone if they're hurt who would try to take time off, lay off it. As bad as Fred's banged up, he's giving all he can and that's hurt his hip a lot. I've been banged up a lot and I haven't missed practice in three years.
They all do that for us, keep us focused. Taj never had an in-game injury until he got his face hit two years ago, but other than that, he's always had his back, plantar fasciitis, an Achilles, little things like that. Look at the dunk contest and Dwight Howard and all things he can do. There's another guy who can do all those things, but can't because of his knees. Fred and Taj are just playing through things.
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