Ken McDonald talks improvement, South Carolina

26 11 2010

Just returned from WKU coach Ken McDonald’s media availability this afternoon, here are a few snippets on the eve of WKU-South Carolina on Saturday.
McDonald on what the team’s focused on after its disappointing Puerto Rico trip:
“You can’t get too high or too low. It was disappointing, some of the effort and deficiencies we’re showing in high-level games. You’d hope you were further along than we were in Puerto Rico. We didn’t put together a 40-minute effort that would put us in position to win a game. But there were good things to take from that tournament to try and get better at. … There was some disappointment, some positives, and we’re just trying to build toward a 40-minute effort.”

“We’re a better practice team right now than a game team, whatever it is, the bright lights or chemistry or rotation or those types of things – you have to work those things out as the season goes on. But this week we’ve worked with our offense on the defensive challenges we have in this game with South Carolina being such a pressing team. We want to handle pressure, take great shots – not good shots – move the ball, not play one-on-one and keep getting better at that. And also consistency from each player. Knowing what they do and what they do well, and helping each other score – getting back to fundamental basketball.”

On whether or not he’s considering extending his defense to a more full-court style with an athletic team:
“I’d like to think we can become a solid, more high-percentage basketball team defensively and shrink the court. But to do that for 40 minutes, you open yourself up to a lot more high-percentage shots for the other team, that works for some people. Maybe we should do some more of that, but it does wear you down. If we do that, you’re going to get less of a foundation for a half-court defensive team – I’d rather do it the other way, building from the half-court out.”
McDonald on fixing attitudes so that the entire team is ready to play when the game begins:
“That’s part of the maturing process of having new guys, people don’t always understand that the NCAA Tournament is filled with all kinds of different teams and leagues and sizes and shapes – you come quickly to learn about college basketball that a lot of people can play. We learned that the hard way against Davidson, and against Hofstra it almost cost us. We have to come out with the focus of being ready to play, night in and night out. Everybody needs to be ready to play. Everybody doesn’t have to play great, but they all have to contribute. It’s been a good learning experience and I hope we bounce back, because we’ve had a great week.”

“Sometimes when you get new guys they think they know this level and they really don’t. Talking’s a good thing, communication’s a good thing and I want that during practice – but when it comes down to game huddle time to focus in on what’s important, I want the upperclassmen that have been through it doing all the talking. … I told them this week I don’t want to hear from anyone else in the huddles outside of seniors from now on. I don’t want any of the new guys adding to it unless they’re spoken to or asked to lend a hand. And that’ll force seniors out of their personalities sometimes to say some things, which is also a good thing.”

McDonald on how he feels South Carolina coach Darrin Horn will be welcomed back at Diddle Arena:
“Coach Horn played here and did some great things as a player and a coach, and you hope there’s a respect going on. But, respectfully, you also hope that the fans also want to put one on him.

“Clap for him in the beginning, and then boo as the game goes on – it’s kind of one of those things. We’ve talked to the players about emotion, also because it’s an SEC opponent at home and we don’t get that opportunity a lot at home. I want that emotion to be there and I want us to take advantage of this opportunity.”
WKU senior forward Steffphon Pettigrew on playing against his former coach again:
“It’ll be weird. I’m sure he’ll be greeted well by the fans, but we’re just trying to get that bad taste out of our mouth from last year. Of course (I hope he gets a warm welcome), he did take us to the Sweet 16 – I think he deserves it.”

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