Coach & Player Quotes - McNeese State

SEATTLE - Here are comments made by some of the coaches and players after Washington handled McNeese State with ease Saturday, 118-64, in front of announced crowd of 8914 at Hec Edmundson Pavilion. Included are Lorenzo Romar, McNeese Head Coach Dave Simmons, Isaiah Thomas, Aziz N'Diaye, Scott Suggs, Darnell Gant, Terrence Ross, and Cowboys guard C.J. Collins.

UW Head Coach Lorenzo Romar:
Opening Statement - "I would have to say that we made progress in a week's time. There were some things we wanted to concentrate on tonight - playing efficient basketball and doing a better job on the backboards - and we accomplished that I thought. In a game like that, sometimes it's difficult, if you get a lead like that, to maintain your focus, and I thought we went for maybe a four, five minute period where we maybe lost focus a little bit but, all in all, I thought we did a pretty good job of it. We were concerned about McNeese State's shooters and they did get it going a little bit in the second half, and it got them going a little. Right off the bat, they hit two threes on us and we were concerned about that going in. All in all, I thought we made progress and that's what we're trying to do every day, is make progress."

On the bigs' free throw shooting in practice - "Better than they did tonight. Aziz had been fine in practice, and in the exhibition he made the two he had."

On anything an issue with Aziz's form? - Yeah, he was missing (laughs). You know how those deals go…this could launch into a three-month ordeal where every day we talk about free throws. Without those two, I thought we shot pretty good, thought. And they'll shoot the ball better from the line."

On starting Darnell Gant - "A little more size and presence out there, and know-how. Darnell has been here four years now - he's a redshirt junior - and he really understands what's going on. He gives us a little bit of a shot in the arm on the defensive end because he's active and he plays with a lot of energy."

On Desmond Simmons' absence - "Desmond is going to redshirt. When he had his knee surgery, as a freshman it just kind of set him back a little bit. Venoy's been out, and he didn't particularly shoot the ball very well, but he picked up where he left off. He's been through it before. Darnell, the same way. As a freshman, if you miss the first few practices - and those are the building blocks, the foundation of what we're trying to get at - and his conditioning wasn't where it needed to be. So we had a talk, and just decided that's going to be the case."

On Matthew Bryan-Amaning's night - "Matthew did a great job. He was very efficient offensively, and again if he makes his free throws he really has a monster night. But I thought the type of double-double he had, he still had a monster night. He's very active, he ran the floor. He did a really nice job."

On bringing in Venoy off the bench - "I'm not telling you it's in stone. We're going to play…we're going to play game-to-game, week-to-week. There's not nothing you do. If he starts, he's going to do that when he starts; if he comes off the bench, he's going to do it when he comes off the bench. And right away, like he usually does, he came in and disrupted their offense. I thought we came out and defended really well, but when he came in, we turned it up even moreso with him out there.

On what they did well in the first half - "I thought we were very active. We did a good job with our positioning on defense; we contested all their shots. After they hit their first three and tried to back-door us a couple times, we settled down and I just thought our pressure enabled us to get out and get transitioned and score a little easier than we would've if we just had to come down every time and grind it out."

On no letdown in the first half - "As we tell our team, we're trying to build our habits, so when you have the right habits it doesn't matter what the score is, it doesn't matter who you are playing, it doesn't matter what's on the line - none of that matters. It's about doing things the right way. If you do things the way you're supposed to do them, to me you've done a good job, doesn't matter what the score is at that point."

On Aziz N'Diaye's game - "Like we've said, Aziz gives us a presence in there. It's unfortunate that he fouled out last time, and he had two quick fouls today, but we decided to leave him in. We were doing ok in terms of the score, so let's go…and he got a rebound and made a basket and there he went. You saw his confidence start to go a little bit. As I've said - what he did tonight is just something we haven't had. He got a couple of rebounds and he growled, and he's got that mindset."

On saying anything to him after the game - "No. Didn't say anything to him, didn't say a word. Just what we said without saying it is, stay in the game."

On if they are a better team with Aziz and MBA in the lineup together - "Depends on the matchups with the other team. Some teams it will be a better lineup, others maybe not as good. The other team will probably dictate if that's a better lineup or not."

On Isaiah hitting three 3's after taking a hard screen - "Competitor. That's all. He's wound up. He's ready to go. He plays with an edge to him, that's all."

On the difference rebounding from the St. Martin's game - "Just talked about rebounding and being more aggressive, establishing our identity; playing hard, rebounding, defending - that's what this team is about."

On liking any one grouping in the game - "I'd have to go back and look, but I thought just about every group that played - just about - did really well. For about 34 minutes in this game, just about any group we put out did a nice job. One of the best things we did tonight was share the ball. There were a number of times where we made the extra pass. One guy would turn down a good shot to pass for a great shot. And in a group like this where there's several guys that can score and they are doing that? You have to be pleased."
McNeese State Head Coach Dave Simmons:
Statement - "I really had to go in and tell the guys to erase the first half. They are a very good basketball team, and this is a tough venue to come into and play in. I wasn't disappointed in the way we came into our effort. They had a lot more guys than we did, they had a lot of guys play well on the inside, and they shot very well. Obviously we wanted to come in and play better, but we didn't.

"The size and length of their big guys makes it very difficult. They are very tough on the inside. Usually you are going to end up fouling them or they are going to score. We need to come in and give a little more effort rebounding and playing down low than we did this game.

"For the most part, I knew this game was going to be tough. To come in her and play this team in a venue like this…but it is a game that I feel we could have played better than we did, especially in the first half. I am proud we shot 38 free throws in the game, but we have to shoot better than 55 percent. That is how we are going to keep game close, is shooting well from the line. For the most part we gave it all the effort we had, and I am proud of the way we played."
Isaiah Thomas:
On what stats from the game jumped out at him - "Rebounding. We rebounded real well. That's how we're supposed to rebound every game, no matter who it's against, we've gotta hit the boards. That's what's going to make us the best team possible. There's more possession when we rebound."

On the intensity from the start of the game - "It's the season opener. You want to come out as hard as possible. Like I said earlier this week, you want to play as hard as you can for 40 minutes. I felt we did a good job of that, and it showed."

On opening up the offense after the hard pick - "Yeah, a little bit. I think he did it on purpose, but it's alright. Venoy found me, Abdul found me and I knocked them down. I told 'em to do it again. The first time he did it he laughed and he didn't call it. So I said some words - some things I can't say in here. There were open shots, my teammates found me and I knocked 'em down. It wasn't like, since I got hit I've got to score now. They found me and I knocked 'em down."

On if this team could potentially have more depth than previous year's teams - "Yeah, I feel like we have more talent than I had my first two years. Nothing against those teams, but we've got guys that run the floor, they can jump, shoot threes. We don't do just one thing, everyone does multiple things out there. Big ups to my teammates, they came ready to play, and I think we've got a lot of talent."

On sharing the basketball - "Great. Sometimes dudes should've shot the shots they had, but they passed them up and it's good. You can't be mad at a player that's passing up a shot for a better shot. We're working on that in practice daily; get your teammate the best shot possible. And we're doing a good job of that."

On learning anything new on his teammates now that the games have started - "Not really. We were just focused on rebounding; playing as hard as you can and rebounding. You all saw it last weekend we didn't rebound well and we lost the rebounding battle, so all week was getting better on defense and rebounding, and we did a good job of that. We bounced back. We have to build on that."

On what happened when Venoy game into the game - "Their guards were scared. You could see it. Right when he came in, dude dribbled it off his foot, and then he backed up and went backcourt - he does that to some guards. That's what you love him for. It's his first game back from his injury and he wanted to make a statement. He did that. Right when he stepped foot, I was like - you can take it Venoy. And he did what he does."

On how many free throws they expect to shoot in practice - "A lot. You just have to work on it, and we'll probably do that. We shot under 50 percent today, and that's not good. We're going to work on it, and it's another thing we have to work on - like rebounding. We're going to get better, day by day."
Aziz N'Diaye:
On how he felt in his debut - "I felt okay. I came off the bench and was ready to play and help my teammates. Getting going on the offensive glass, getting rebounds…I thought we did a pretty good job as a team crashing the offensive glass. I'm feeling great."

On his free throw shooting - "I've been shooting them in practice, but today, I don't know. I just could have taken more time and knocked them down. I did a poor job on my side…three for fifteen from the line…I could have done better. I'm going to keep working on that. Those points matter."

On what Romar said to him after the game - "He didn't say anything, just told me that I did a good job for my first game. I'm glad that I did what I was supposed to do and help my teammates."

On his mindset after getting two quick fouls - "Last week I was in foul trouble, getting three quick fouls, but my teammates did a good job of helping me out, just playing good defense and applying more pressure. My job was easier; I was on the helping side. After those early two fouls, I was fine the rest of the game."

On the speed of the game - "The guards did a good job of pushing the ball, and we did what we're supposed to do - just running the floor - and they found the open man. Matt and I were just finishing, put-backs and crashing the boards. It made our jobs a lot easier."
Scott Suggs:
On looking comfortable out there - "Yeah, I felt pretty comfortable."

On the difference in his game from a year ago - "I think more confident, and being in the system another year you're naturally going to be more comfortable knowing what positions to be in."

On there being a buzz when Venoy entered the game - "Guys started whispering - 'Venoy's coming into the game'. He just puts that defensive pressure, as you saw. It felt like he forced five five-second calls."

On if he could sense Venoy was getting into their heads - "Yeah. He was definitely frustrating them. I don't know what he does, but he just puts pressure on the ball and guys get nervous….turnovers, and when guys are denying the lanes, it's almost impossible not to get turnovers."

On getting rim-checked - "Yeah, but I threw it off the back of the rim. I was going up for the dunk, but my legs weren't there. I'm more for the jumper."
Darnell Gant:
On how he felt - "It felt good. It was fun. We got up and ran, defended hard and all that. Things were clicking. We had a little lapse in the second half, but we stepped it back up."

On what he expects from coach Romar next week - "Just having a killer mindset. When we're rolling like that and playing defense, it's always a positive thing when we're active and playing defense."

On if it's hard being up 40 - "It shouldn't be hard. People lose focus and they start to leak out and not get the rebounds - try to get steals because they want to get a highlight - but as long as we stay focused and mentally stay with the whole game, everything will come."

On when he found out he would be starting - "He told me in the middle of the week to be ready. I really didn't know because of my groin, but everything got better during the week."

On starting - "I want that spot. I'm hungry for it. At the same time, if I'm not playing right and somebody else needs to be in there - so be it. But I just have to play right, play my game and play every possession and just be that energy guy."

On the bigs having their way - "We needed to. In the St. Martin's game, we didn't. It was the opposite way. All week we've been focusing on rebounding and doing rebounding drills, and things like that. After that, today we came out with the mindset that we just had to do it."

On the game getting chippy at times - "Yeah it did. Some dude on the other team were saying things and doing things they shouldn't have. But at the same time we had to keep our focus."

On having 69 rebounds - "We had 69 rebounds? That's crazy. That's good. I wouldn't have thought we had 69 rebounds. I don't think I've ever watched a game or heard of a game where a team had 69 rebounds."
Terrence Ross:
On the game - "It wasn't too bad. I had kind of the jitters a little bit, but it really wasn't that bad."

On getting a couple rookie foul calls against him - "Yeah, I did. But you have to play through it."

On if it was what he thought it was going to be like - "It's a lot more intense. The crowd really does affect a lot of things. But it really wasn't that bad."
McNeese State guard C.J. Collins:
On how tough UW was compared to other teams they've faced - "They were one of the best all-around teams, from guards to posts."

On what stands out about the game - "Just gotta get better every game, gotta try harder as a team."

On the impact Venoy Overton had coming into the game - "Yeah, he did a little bit on the defensive end. He played hard"

On the impact Aziz N'Diaye had coming into the game - "I know we couldn't go into the paint, because he was either altering our shots, or blocking them."

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