Feb. 14, 2015
"That was as well as we have played all year. We struggled in the first half, but it was not a huge surprise. FIU came into the game with the best defensive field goal percentage in the league. They are long, athletic and they came prepared as they always do. They do a good job of switching defenses and keeping you off balance. I thought we had a few decent looks in the first half that we did not convert. We found ourselves not in a great rhythm offensively, but to defend at the level we did in the first half, gave us a real chance. I thought it set the tone for all 40 minutes. We had 18 deflections at halftime, with 17 turnovers. You can win a lot of game doing that. We hoped it was a matter of time before some shots started falling. They did start falling in the second half and we got into an offensive rhythm."
On getting into the rhythm:
"Honestly, I was not down on our execution in the first half. We thought we would have struggles. I thought that we got a little bit antsy early in the clock. We challenged our guys to not press with the ball in our hands and not try to hit homeruns or grand slams. We have to play like Tasmanian Devils defensively. When we create a turnover, we just need to relax. We need to be aggressive, but also make good decisions. We do not need to press so much. We need to stop thinking that every shot is so big. We have to relax with the ball in our hands. I thought we played at a better pace in the second half. We got some of the same looks in the second half, but they fell for us. Alex was able to get to the rim. Erik started the second half jumping a pass and that is always good offense with an easy layup. Some of the offense continued to come because of our defensive energy."
"This was as well as we have played defensively all season. When you consider bench production and consider us making a jump in that regard, this has to be one of our better performances."
"There has not been a game this year where we have gotten positive production from everyone we put in. We put 12 guys in the game tonight, even though a couple of them only got a few minutes, and all 12 did some good things. All 12 were not perfect. Xavian had a really good game and Jacobi Boykins was all over the place with five steals. Qiydar Davis played with great energy, I wish I could have gotten him a few more minutes. Joniah White obviously had his best game. Leo Edwards and Dayon Griffin had limited opportunities late in the game, but I thought they got a little bit better and hopefully gained some confidence."
On young players:
"Coming into the season we were hoping to get the young guys more opportunities. It was refreshing to get them in there, but it was more refreshing when they played well. It felt great watching those guys do their jobs, whether it was zone, man or defending a ball screen. They played intelligently offensively and did not try and take as many shots as they could."
On Xavian Stapleton:
"Xavian has been in the gym a little more lately. He shot better in shoot around today. He is trying to shoot the ball up in the air a little bit more. He is trying to convert from a line drive guy to more of an arch. Some of it is just opportunity. Some of it is just him being the guy that they leave open. He is a talented kid. He has a chance to be really good."
On keeping energy level moving forward:
"We can definitely draw from this game. Moving forward, this is one of those two or three games where your energy level cannot be questioned. There are some other decisions that we can continue to clean up, with regards to actions and personnel. In terms of energy level, that was as good as it gets."
On peaking late in the season:
"I hope so, but I never hold my breath with things like that. Peaking alludes to consistency. If we have this same defensive performance Thursday at Charlotte, which will be easier said than done, maybe we can start to feel that way. We would need to do it again at Old Dominion, which would be extremely difficult. We are absolutely better now than we were a month ago. It feels good to play that well. I know the goal is to peak and find that consistency with your performances. If you are going to peak, which I hope we do, this is the right time to do it."
On third straight season with 20 wins:
"It is nice as a coach. I remember as a player that it was a big deal. As long as I have been in coaching, it has been a plateau. It is something that you reach for. Now we need to find a way to defend Charlotte, because they are really good and talented. We need to find a way to have some success on the road this weekend.
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