Feb. 8, 2014
"Twenty wins is always a milestone that coaches, teams and programs talk about. This year we have not spent a lot of time talking about it. Now that we are at 20, it is neat to recognize it. Back to back 20 win seasons is what good programs do regularly. We have obviously accomplished something the real good programs out there do and hopefully we can keep it going. We are more worried about finishing as strongly as possible this year than winning 20 next year. North Texas was terrific in the first half. I was not too down on our effort and energy level the first 20 minutes; we just had some costly turnovers that led to easy baskets for them. Our transition defense failed us at times. They did a very good job attacking our pressure. I thought their zone was very effective. We missed some three pointers early which led to a little bit of second guessing and we really struggled for the most part of the first half. I thought we came out and really set the tone early for the second half. We played very hard and got 20 deflections in the second half, which is a good indicator of how hard you are playing. Kenyon and Speedy stepped up and made some three's which put us at ease."
On taking credit for being undefeated when leading at halftime:
"I take credit for very little as a coach. It is probably more of an indicator of us when playing from behind, not playing with as much maturity as we should be. When teams get a lead on us, we tend to press, figuratively. We press especially offensively where we try to hit grand slams and do not let things come to us. When we have a lead we play more within ourselves, especially offensively. I think probably the biggest factor when playing from behind and pressing offensively is trying to do things that we cannot do with personnel or trying to attack gaps that are not there. When I talk about hitting grand slams, those are things that I am talking about, that often lead to turnovers and often lead to them having more of a lead. We have kind of freaked out a few times offensively this year when playing from behind. That is why I thought Tulsa this year was a big step for us. Tonight for the most part I thought we played with maturity. We had a couple turnovers but that is part of basketball but we will continue to try and improve in that area."
On Speedy Smith and Kenyon McNeail:
"We thought we would see a lot of zone tonight and we saw 36 or 37 minutes of zone until the very end. When you are not making jump shots against a zone, you can start becoming tentative and you start losing confidence, overall in your offensive attack. When Speedy and Kenyon stepped up and hit those three's, you could just see it in our body language, we felt better about ourselves offensively."
On Kenyon McNeail's second straight game with a strong performance:
"I always like seeing good, young men have success. Kenyon has very strong leadership qualities for us. When he is playing well, especially when he is making shots, it fuels us. Guys feed off Speedy getting assists, Kenyon and Cordarius making shots, Jaron getting a tip dunk and just guys doing what they do best. The other huge positive with Kenyon is that whether he is 4-for-6 or 0-for-3 he is going to continue playing his role and doing what he does best, he is going to continue taking great shots. He is the one guy you can always count on to play within himself and playing his role. I am very happy for him; he played a great game tonight."
On Speedy's Shooting: "We do not spend a lot of time talking about shot selection during games, but between games, in practice and in shoot around that is a conversation as a staff we talk to Speedy about. We encourage him to stay aggressive and take what they give you; we all have confidence in him. Certain nights he seems to have more confidence in his stroke than other nights, a lot of it just depends on the start he gets off to. It seems like he has hit a lot of timely shots here over the last five or six games. He steps up, which is just mental toughness. At times when we are struggling offensively, he will step up and hit a big one at times to get us going."
On Michale Kyser's Defense:
"The big test of Mike is seeing how many you can alter and block without fouling. He did a good job coming down on guys, if you miss it. A lot of times he will swipe at a ball, miss it and come down on an arm or hand. He picked his spots and was smart. He had a couple that we wish we had back, but for the most part it was one of his better nights not fouling. [Kyser] played with a lot of confidence tonight. He did not get in early foul trouble, so he earned more minutes and is producing more. He is playing more confidently and if he gets called for a couple of early fouls, it could have been a completely different night for him. He is gaining confidence with more minutes but he is also picking his spots and playing more intelligently defensively which allows him to play more minutes. He has always had the ability to hit mid-range shots but it seems like if you are getting yanked in and out of the game with foul trouble, it is harder to get into an offensive rhythm."
On shooting better from the foul line compared to the Tulsa game:
"It is always a juggling act, weighing out offense, defense and shooting or whether we are beating each other up on the glass in practice. We thought we would shoot it better today because we took a lot more shots today and yesterday. The fear is that the more shots you take, the more time you spend talking and getting reps shooting the ball, other areas will fail you. Hopefully this late in the year, our guys can be mature enough to where we can spend some time shooting, especially when you have quick turnarounds. Yesterday was not a huge physicality day, so I am proud of the staff and our guys for stepping up and earning the right to make more shots today because the work they have put in the last 48 hours definitely paid off for us."