Jan. 9, 2014
"We had a couple defensive breakdowns in the first half, mainly with Jackson Trapp having too much space. He got his confidence going and he banked another one in against us, but you cannot let shooters get going and you cannot allow them that much space. Personnel wise we made a couple poor scouting report decisions and credit FAU, I thought their zone was terrific. They were very prepared for all of our actions. When we came down and had a plan to get it in the paint, they took that away. When we had a plan to set a ball screen and turn a corner with a playmaker, they made us pitch it. They did a very good job. The few really good looks that we got, didn't fall. What happens against zones, you tighten up a little bit and you start questioning our offensive rhythm. I thought they gained a little confidence by making some stops and we were in a dog fight and that is going to happen in Conference USA and that is going to happen against a solid team like FAU, a really well coached team. In the second half, I thought the biggest adjustment we made was being able to get it to the center of their zone. I thought our guards did a good job getting it to Chris Anderson who made plays facing up, getting to the rim and drawing fouls. Once we settled in against their zone, unfortunately that got our defense going which should not happen, but our defensive energy increased after that with our bench especially. I thought Cordarius Johnson really got us going. He was phenomenal defensively tonight with his energy level and we were able to spread the lead."
On Alex Hamilton's aggressiveness:
"He just has to continue to do what he does and be aggressive and we are going to continue to challenge him to do that. We never want Alex being tentative, whether he has five turnovers in the first half or five assists to zero turnovers. He is very talented and he will be able to make the adjustments. When he turns the corner and they wall him off with two or three guys at a time, he just has to use his play making ability and get guys shots, which he did at times. Again, they did a good job of personnel scouting in their zone and even in their man when they went to man a little bit late. They knew our tendencies and teams are going to continue to know that Alex can really get into the paint and they better make him pitch it. That is what FAU did and we had to adjust and other guys had to step up. Alex will step up and continue to work on his stroke. He is shooting the ball pretty well right now."
On Raheem Appleby's injury:
"He could not put any pressure on his [ankle], so we thought there was a chance it could be major. I hate it for him; we are obviously hoping and praying for the best. I told the team that Raheem and I had a long conversation a couple days ago about certain guys on our team as their profile increases and as their role increases, they will get publicity and notoriety and deservedly so. Speedy is the assists man and Mike is this and Alex is playing well lately. Raheem seems to be the forgotten guy lately who is playing as well as anyone on our team, whose numbers are way up from the past two years. His assists to turnover, his decision making and all of his percentages, he is really in a great rhythm defending at a higher level. You just hate it for Raheem. If he cannot go, we will have different guys that have to step up. Certain guys, namely Kenyon [McNeail], Cordarius [Johnson] and Jaron [Johnson] who I have said in the past I think could be starting for other teams, they will have more opportunities. Their minutes will go up. If their production goes up they will earn more and more minutes but you hate it for a kid who has worked his butt off and is playing as well as he is playing and playing as unselfishly as he is. Raheem is a guy that could go get 25 shots any given night and he is giving up himself. He has been a great leader for this team and we just hope the best for him."
On not needing just one guy to pick up the scoring slack:
"We are a good team. I have good depth, I have very good guards, and I have a lot of them. I have maybe the best shot blocker in the country. I have quality interior subs. We have some really good athletes on the wing. It does not surprise me that certain guys stepped up. With more opportunity I think you will see more strengths from certain guys that have not been able to showcase their strengths and their abilities quite as much. That being said, I sure hope Raheem is healthy. "
On the mood at halftime:
"I just let it be assumed that guys knew we were counting on them. Raheem has gone down with a minor ankle sprain or a hip flexor before. Cordarius [Johnson} has had those. We have had a bunch of knick knack injuries this year and the last couple years. We have a mature group. I knew it was assumed that certain guys were going to step up. The conversation at halftime was a lot more about FAU and our inefficiencies and inadequacies, especially defensively and our inefficiencies offensively against their zone. Those were the biggest things we talked about, the only thing I said was `Hey, Raheem is hurt; I guarantee you he wants us to win the game. I guarantee you if we don't go out there and play well in the second half and he is hurt on top of losing this game, he will be even more down than he is now.' They all love Raheem. I have a very close knit group and they rallied together and played well in the second half."
On Michale Kyser's increased toughness:
"We beat him up with the pads a bunch. Derrick Jones does a good job with our big guys. We have had several different strength coaches. Justin Wheeler is our current strength coach. Mike has gotten stronger. He has gotten tougher and more mentally tough than increasing his physical toughness. He has gotten stronger even though he has not gained a lot of weight. He has learned to play at a higher level in terms of his motor and physicality. He is such a good athlete you have to be very physical with him to keep him off the glass. He had one very good offensive put back, which he can be phenomenal at. He continues to grow. He had a couple 15 or 16 foot jumpers on good passes from our guards that he settled into, had a nice temp and really knocked them down. Hopefully that gives him confidence going forward because he has a nice stroke facing the basket."