@LATechHoops Press Conference Transcript: Nov. 24

Nov. 25, 2014

RUSTON -- Head coach Michael White met with the media on Monday to discuss the Bulldogs three wins in the sub-host region of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic and the development of his team.

Opening Statement:

"I thought we had a really productive week in practice. Our film session upon returning to Ruston was good. I thought we benefitted a lot from it. We had a long, hard practice on Wednesday before we lightened up and got better. We were able to address some things, especially defensively and on the glass. We were able to hold our own against Morehead State who has a very physical, intense and hard-playing basketball team. Defensively, we were much better. I thought that carried over to our intensity level and pride in trying to defend our home floor on Saturday against a really good American team. American was an NCAA Tournament team a year ago and I expect them to go back to the NCAA Tournament this year. I was really proud Friday and Saturday night with our attention to detail. We needed a lot of focus on such a structured opponent. A team that plays differently than any opponent we will play all year. I was proud of our guys in that regard. Yesterday was just about finishing. We talk about three in three days, which we will have to do to win a conference championship in Birmingham, if we are fortunate enough to win on days one and two. Yesterday was a workman's like approach. Obviously, we did not play a perfect game. There are a lot of things we can continue to get better on but we took care of business and beat Presbyterian."

On Growth of the Freshmen:

"They are coming. It seems like it is a different guy each night that is playing better. Sometimes one guy will get more opportunities than another. Dayon was a guy that had not gotten a lot of opportunities and in the last couple of games, I thought he was a factor for us with his energy level against American. He came in, got an offensive rebound and then got a loose ball in the corner to give us an extra possession. He really got us going a little bit. Xavian is having a lot of bright spots, he is a very talented wing. He hit a couple tough shots against Morehead State and scored a little bit against American. It was good to see Jacobi Boykins come along with his stroke. He is coming off a broken wrist. He has not had as many reps this fall as these other guys in terms of shooting the basketball and scoring in practice. He is getting back to shooting it the way he shot it this summer, when he was probably our best shooter. Joniah White continues to improve. He is a guy that we are seeing a shell of what I think he will become."

 

 

On Junior College Players:

"I expect Merrill (Holden) to break through at some point. Merrill is the type of guy who plays at such a high intensity level, which we very much value with the way that we play. When he is getting in, he is pressing a little bit. He had his hands on a bunch of balls yesterday and I am not sure how many rebounds he go, but he was probably really close to getting an additional four or five. I think he will calm down and settle down a little bit with more opportunities. Qiydar Davis went from two minutes on Saturday to 15 minutes yesterday, scoring 17 points with nine rebounds. He had five offensive rebounds in 15 minutes. I told our guys in the locker room after the game, that if you can average an offensive rebound every three minutes, I am never going to take you out of the game. Hopefully he can keep up production that is even in that neighborhood. When Qiydar is using his athleticism by playing hard and running his motor at full speed at all times, think less and attacking more, he really fits what we are trying to do. We saw yesterday what we were hoping for when we signed him."

On Rebounding:

"Our ability to pressure, rebound, and getting Alex Hamilton going again. Those are my three biggest concerns of this week. We are being outrebounded by opponents by four or five a game. We got outrebounded by Presbyterian yesterday. I think some of our defense glass issues are due to us being so eager to get out in transition. We are not leaking out, that is such a negative term that we use against other teams when we are scouting. We talk about how we cannot leak out. I don't think it is a selfish thing where guys are thinking about getting a layup or a dunk. They are just so eager to get up and down the floor to force the tempo. It is one or two guys on each possession that does not fulfill their block out duty. We have to rebound with five guys. Michale Kyser sometimes has to face block out his guy who a lot of times, weighs 40 more pounds than him. Our guards have to help us rebound. We are not going to be a team that has two guys averaging 10 rebounds a game, with nobody else rebounding the ball. We have to do it by committee like we have done in the past. If our guards are at the coach's box looking for an outlet instead of battling with Erik and Michale, then we are wrong. We have to be better of protecting the defensive glass. Offensively, I would like to think the biggest issue is our starting lineup, that we are starting three guards. We are not getting on the offensive glass nearly as much. It may have to do with us shooting it a little better as a team. We have to do our job and our three, four and five in our system are on the glass every possession. The last two years we have taken a lot of pride in that. By the end of the year last year we were the leader in our league in offensive rebound percentage. Chris Anderson, Jaron Johnson and Cordarius Johnson had a lot to do with that. We have an equal amount of length, talent and athleticism. We just have to take more pride in it and get it done. Xavian Stapleton has to get on that glass a little more, as well as Jacobi when he is in the game. When we start in our three guard lineup, we have to get either Alex or Raheem in there fighting for a couple of extra possessions a game, like we had Dayon doing the other day. Alex is overcoming an injury. He is still trying to get into the flow of things. Hopefully, we see Alex getting into a better rhythm, gaining some of that confidence and having some really productive games. Hopefully sooner than later."

On Temple Controlling the Glass:

"Temple is a big and sound lineup, so you have to credit them some, but we are not going with the urgency that we need to go with. Last year we had a refuse to be blocked out mentality and we have to get that. It might be trial and error with minutes and opportunity. A guy like Qiydar Davis, in terms of what he did yesterday, he has earned more minutes and opportunities. He has the `Hey coach I am going to make you play me more' mentality, which is what I want all 13 of our guys having. He has shown what he is capable of on the offensive glass. If we can get that from him every day, he is going to continue to earn minutes, be more productive and maybe take minutes away from guys who are playing more significant minutes right now. The third concern to come full circle, our inability to turn teams over as much as last year is concerning. It also might just be a little bit of a different identity with this team. Erik McCree is a very talented basketball player and he is very sound. He is really good offensively and he has gotten a lot better defensively. He is a little bit different in press than Cordarius and Chris Anderson. We may have to change our defenses more this year. We may not extend quite as much. Then again, if guys like Qiydar and Merrill can earn more and more minutes and settle in a little bit, with those guys and their athleticism, we may play a little different with certain guys on the floor. We are still searching lot a lot of teams are, but those are the things that come to mind the most right now."

On Newcomers Contributing Offensively:

"We knew we needed them to. We are probably right on par. The biggest disappointment has not been offense, our percentages are as good as they have been. I might say we are a little more advance offensively right now, definitely than we were at this time last year, but maybe compared to last January and February. I am not sure it will be that consistent. We might be one of those teams where we play really well offensively on one night and we are very average the next Conference USA game and we are back and forth. I know we are more talented offensively. This biggest concern is that we have hung our hat on being great on the offensive glass and turning teams over, creating crazy havoc defensively with our full court pressure. Our half court pressure has been pretty good, but our full court pressure just has not been the same. Some of it is personnel, some of it is just identity. We are still trying to figure this team out, but we are working."

On Improvement from Free Throw Line:

"We do not talk about it a lot. You do not want it to become a mental thing. Through trial and error as a coach, I have had scenarios where we just beat up free throw shooting and talked about it a lot and it has helped. I have had times where we talked about it at museum and it backfired because guys get up there and it is the crippling effect, they think about it too much. We have tried to hold it in the middle of the road. We relay how important free throws are, it is going to win you games and lose you games. It cannot become mental. We have to get a ton of reps, we do it in practice. We try to have segments in practice where we shoot free throws under fatigue, duress and pressure. We challenge guys to get in the gym individually at night. We have certain times where we get guys in the gym with assistant coaches, just to get more reps and we are going to continue to do the same things. I think a lot of it has to do with getting the right guys to the foul line. Hopefully at the right times, we have the right guys stepping up in those opportunities and they can cash in for us."

On Shot Selection:

"Friday and Saturday was all we could have expected, especially for this time of year with nine new guys. I was extremely pleased with shot selection. From Temple to Morehead State and American, the biggest improvement was shot selection. There were know `My turn' shots, which is what we like to talk about. Nobody is searching and hunting for their own offense. It got to the point yesterday where guys were too unselfish. We were passing up really good looks at the rim, to take an average one at eight feet. You have to like that, I am proud of our guy's unselfishness. I am proud of the fact that they have been rooting each other on. We have preseason all-league guys. Michale Kyser, who I think should be in some of those conversations. We have guys trying to break records. We have veterans on the bench watching some of these new guys that really do not have a clue on some of the things they are trying to do. They are not worried about getting back on the floor, they are worried about these guys developing and getting better because they know that is what it is going to take for us to hopefully contend for a championship."

On Speedy and Kyser Records:

"I am just really proud of those guys. I am blessed to have had the opportunity to coach them to this point. I really hope that they can continue to finish strong and finish, which is their motto. Two unbelievable young men. Those are two selfless records. Michale Kyser is not a guy who has ever hunted for shots or scoring, he has prided himself from day one on trying to be the best interior presence that he can be. Michale Kyser said the day he committed that he was going to come here and break the school record for blocked shots and lead the nation one day in blocking shots. I am going to hold that second one to him. He has a chance to do that this year. We will see. At the same time, Michale cannot be hunting blocking shots either, he has to block the right ones. There are certain times he does not need to go for a block, there is another responsibility for him. It is a selfless record and it is the same thing with Speedy Smith, whether you are talking assists or steals. Talking about selfless and how contagious it can be, here is a guy in the last two games, he is preseason all-league and on Saturday and Sunday combined, he takes one shot. It is just unheard of. I cannot get him to shoot the ball. He is incredible in that regard. Anytime either of those guys can be mentioned in headlines, I am just really proud for them."

On Slower Pace after Five Game Stretch:

"I would like to have a week or two to prep for each game, but this is how it is in conference so we might as well get used to it. We are coming off a long stretch here where we had a lot of games in a short period of time. I am glad we have these few days to regroup a little bit. I think the guys need to get away from it to a certain extent. We need to let them breathe a little bit. Physically our guys are beat up but more mentally. I hope today and tomorrow they can find time, with no class, to get on the couch and play a little Xbox and relax to get away from it. We will get back to work and get back into a rhythm where we have some tough tests in front of us, but big opportunities at the same time."

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