What's Wanaah Bail's status for this week?
We think we'll have him available. We don't practice until this afternoon, so we'll know more after the next two days, but it looks like he'll be available for the upcoming games.
Have you looked at Nevada tape yet? What type of team are they, what do you expect from them?
Well it's a Mountain West team, so I know them extremely well. That Burton kid is as good a guard as you'll find. He's extremely talented. He gets to the free throw line. He's a strong scoring guard. He was the heart and soul of their team last year, and now, being a senior, I think he's one of the best guards out west. He's kind of the guy that drives them. They're long and they're athletic. So I know them pretty well. We'll see a little man, a little zone, a little ¾ pressing. They run some very good half court stuff, so it's going to be a good contest.
After these five games, what have you learned from this team, both good and bad?
The positives are that we haven't had adversity through a loss. We've had adversity through injuries, but they've just been a fun team to coach. They've practiced hard. They've practiced with energy. They've been a very attentive group, they've listened. They understand game plans. So the positives are how much fun it's been to coach this group because they've been so coachable. And when that happens, you have a chance to grow and develop and that's happening so far. If there's any negatives, we're just trying to continue improve defensively and on the backboards and executing our halfcourt offense. We're going to be a work in progress this early in the season. But I think we've shown improvement there.
Is it important for you to see how the team will perform in a neutral or tournament style environment?
Yeah, we've talked about that. To start the season, we've had five home games. Now, with Thanksgiving, we take a break from home and head out on the road. Neutral games and road games are big. Three of our next four games are in the neutral setting or in the road setting. So it's a good two week window here to see where we're at. We've held serve at home, and now with 75% of our next four games on the road, we can see how we perform away from Pauley this early in the season, and I think that'll give us a good barometer of where we are in the first week of December.
You mentioned that this is really the only shot for a true back-to-back until the Pac-12 Tournament. What are you hoping to see from the team this week?
Well, it's just going to be important to do what we do. We can't change who we are no matter who we play. We're going to face one style against Nevada and probably another style against Northwestern, so we'll get a look at a Mountain West team and a Big Ten team. It's one thing to play together at home, and have the energy of just playing at home. Now, can you go away from that in a neutral setting in front of a neutral crowd and just see how you perform in back to back nights. Does our energy level stay the same? Does our concentration level stay the same? These are things that we're definitely going to be looking at.
For those of us who haven't seen Wanaah play at all, what should we expect to see?
He's young. He's another freshman. I don't know if any one of us knows really what we're expecting. It's just coming out of high school, this is somebody who's gotten bigger. He's done a really good job of improving his strength with Wes, our strength coach. He's a really good athlete who can run the floor, he plays above the rim, he can shoot out to the three point line. He's going to really help our athleticism up front and we hope he'll help out in defending, whether in zone or man. He helps our transition. We want to play up and down, and I think Wanaah helps out with that athletically.
Steve Alford's Tuesday Teleconference
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