“The main points we’re trying to get across is to get rid of the silly, careless turnovers right now – the ones that are beating us. … Getting back to the fundamentals and understanding that we have to swing for each other, working on a lot of things that go into winning and a lot of the things that are getting us beat.”
On the play of his point guards, Ken Brown and Jamal Crook
“With the guards, we talked a lot about having pride in running the team. Understanding about valuing the ball and every possession, we fully expect this next game to be a dog fight – and that starts with the point guard play. Getting us into the offense, taking care of the ball, making sure we push when we can and get into sets in the half court. And just having pride that they’re not going to have those five or six turnover games that are going to get us beat. It’s got to be embarrassing when we call a play for a forward to take the ball up, hopefully they’re getting that message.”
“I think a lot of it is maturity. This isn’t an excuse, but we have two relatively young point guards at this level. Jamal wasn’t able to take over that position last year and he had a lot of chances to do so, but being a freshman, that’s understandable. He’s a sophomore now, and Ken Brown, he’s still trying to figure it out. He does a lot of good things, but still doesn’t understand this level and how to run a team. It was a big setback for Jamal to get hurt, he lost some confidence and some swagger with that and he’s still getting back into game shape.”
“The energy (at that position is way better than last year) and that’s a plus. Jamal had some bad body language in the Vandy game that can be corrected. Ken Brown will make a mistake and just not realize it at this point, but they’re getting better at understanding things and not just having an excuse about what they thought was going on when they turn the ball over. They’re correcting little by little.
“We’ve lost five games, and all five could be against postseason-level teams. When you’re in those kinds of games, you make one or two mistakes you might be fine, but five or six times, that’s just too much.”
On the offense and overall play in general at this point
“The last game we were totally out of the flow in the first half and really lost that game in the first half. Not only were we turning it over, but we got in foul trouble because our defense was out of position. … It’s hard to come back from that. The point guards have to give us a little confidence on both ends. They’ve got to set a tone defensively and create shots for others and we’re just not doing that.
“At Vanderbilt we were sharing the ball. Against Memphis we were at least attacking and getting on the glass, but that’s a very athletic team to do that against. Confidence in a lot of ways can come from your point guards at both ends – and we’ve got to be better.”
On Bowling Green State (1-7)
“They’re scrappy, they’ve been in some close games and their record probably doesn’t indicate how close they are to turning their own corner. They’re guard set worries me because they can score a little bit. I expect them to play a lot of zone, so we’re working on that. And the biggest message we’re trying to send to our team is not to underestimate Bowling Green and understand that this is a big game. This is a very, very important game for us. We need to get back in the flow, confidence-wise ourselves and understand we control every 40 minutes we go out there. We have to have higher expectations for ourselves.
“Our defense isn’t where it needs to be, our rebounding isn’t where it needs to be. Our field goal percentage defense is way too high. And we’re turning the ball over 17 times a game. We have to give ourselves a chance on the road, play hard, but also play smart.”
“If you look at the stats it’s glaring. It’s the fundamental part that we have to take care of. If we have double-digit turnovers at the half, we’ll be down. On defense, teams can’t score so easily, we’ve got to help better. We had a lot of charges against Memphis, but we’ve got to take it to the next step.
“We’ve got to have higher expectations for ourselves.”
“I told the guys after the Vanderbilt game that when times are tough you see what you’re made out of. … They answered the bell in a lot of areas (against Memphis), but we didn’t play smart. Our team defense wasn’t where it needed to be, nor was our transitional defense. The test still is ‘what are we made of?’ Are we happy with where we’re at or are we going to fight for that win on the road that is going to be a tough win.
“We’ve got a long way to go. Our potential is really high, but when we don’t play with energy, our potential is really low. Do we want to be that type of team that has an up and down season? I think we’ll see a lot of what we’re made out of in this game.”
On Stephon Drane’s emergence
“He is really active on both sides of the ball, he’s got long arms, he fights for position defensively, he’s going to battle every chance he can. He’ll block out, he’ll help and he’s trying to do the right things. Offensively he’s really skilled, he can catch and shoot from 15 feet. He’s got a beautiful stroke and I’m confident of him to do some screen and popping. … I like the fact that he does everything we’re asking him to do role-wise. He’s trying to do the right things and he’s very active.
“The first couple weeks he was terrific. We were sitting there thinking ‘wow, Stephon Drane’s going to be a heck of a player.’ And we always thought that. But once it got past the teaching phase of practice when it was physical and grinding and the plays were in, mentally it’s tough – and he struggled during that time and it was hard for him to recover.
“But over the last two or three weeks he’s gotten that confidence back, figuring out the system. So I say to myself ‘this guy’s putting in the book consistently now for two or three weeks and we think he can carry it over.’ And we’re struggling. Juan’s playing too many minutes, Cliff’s struggled at times, Pett’s playing too many minutes and (Drane’s) happy with just playing two minutes – and he’ll play more than that, and I’m excited about it.”
On Kahlil McDonald’s situation
“He’s back in practice, he still has a long way to go in terms of our expectations. But he came back in and had a nice practice, but he’ll have to continue to fight for minutes. If he plays well and plays hard we’re going to need him. But if he doesn’t understand that we have high expectations, he won’t play that much. … He’ll be on the trip.”