WKU coach Ken McDonald met with the media this afternoon to discuss Wednesday’s home game against Louisville – a game that has officially been dubbed as a sellout.
Here are the snippets.
– On Wednesday’s game in general
“It’s a big game. You definitely circle it before the season and fans do and you hear about it all the time. To get a team like this in this arena, I’m just really happy for our fans and players. All the work we do year round, all the blood, sweat and tears lead up to playing in this kind of environment. … Now we have to go out and manage the game and play for 40 minutes in what should be the most electric atmospheres in this arena in (several) years.
“The last time we had a crowd that’ll be even close to this was probably against Middle Tennessee State in the Sun Belt Conference championship game in 2003. I was fortunate enough to be here for that and it was incredible. It’ll pale in comparison if we come out with the right energy and get the crowd going. … A lot of people from the glory days remember Diddle being packed with 13-plus thousand and how loud this place was – I hope we can simulate that atmosphere.”
“We always talk about securing home court, but this game has some extra emotions with it because it’s a great opportunity. Not a lot of Western teams in general have had a team like this in here. We always talk about the pride factor, and for these seniors, it’s their last chance at home against a BCS opponent. I don’t think our guys will lack any motivation on Wednesday. … We have a long way to go as a team, but I don’t think emotion will be a problem.”
– On how the team has been since losing to Murray State on Saturday
“The guys have been good, we got right back at it Sunday and we’ve had some good practices. There’s going to be a lot of emotion in the arena. There’s no secret about the game-plan – we’ve got to take care of the ball, be aggressive at both ends and defend the (3-pointer). We have to put it all together, we can’t beat ourselves, get some confidence and make a big jump.”
“I think it’s more of an emotional approach. We’ve got to have an attitude that ‘we’ve got to have this game.’ Not panic mode, but everything laid out there – all the energy and emotion that at times we’re lacking. We’ve got to get to the point where we just lay it all out there. Against South Carolina, we had a lot of emotion. This will hopefully go to another level of emotion and energy – Louisville’s in the Top 25 for a reason, they play with energy, play their roles and have a lot of weapons we’ll have to slow down.”
“Juan is trying to cut down on turnovers, he’s not trying so hard to do as much (with the ball). I’m really trying to get (Steffphon Pettigrew) confident. If he’s back to the confident Pettigrew that we all know, there’s a lot more wins in the win column for us – and we’re trying to get him there. Sergio is getting better (Brandon Peters) is getting better and we need guys like (Jamal Crook) to step up with a bigger role. (Teeng Akol) has to get into the mix more – but we’re starting to settle in and become more focused on executing.”
– On Juan Pattillo since his benching Saturday at Murray State
“He’s been good. We had him on the wing yesterday a bit, he’s been focused. At Murray State he had a positive impact on the game and defensively he’ll be big (Wednesday). I want him to be aggressive on the glass and play 15-feet and in. Defensively he’s also got to help slow these guards down. … He needs to bring it this game and I expect him to because he has been preparing well.”
– On facing Louisville in the team’s first true road test of the season
“They’re going to prepare well, no doubt about that. It’ll be the first time they’ve really seen this type of atmosphere this year and we want to take advantage of that. We want to put some pressure on them, no question. We’re not going to get outside of what we do defensively, but we do want great pressure and we want to have it for 40 minutes. A lot of guys will play and I want every body ready to go and ready to effect the game in a positive way.”
“I don’t think we’re far off. … I’m disappointed at times with the emotional part, but we’re playing less selfish basketball and we’re passing it better. Our field goal defense is getting lower, we’re doing a better job rebounding – we’re getting better. Momentum is important, but emotion shouldn’t be an issue. Now we’ve got to go to the next step, we’re not that far away from being a team that’s well over .500 right now. We’ve missed some opportunities, but we could use this as a big springboard. It’s a big game.”
– On what needs to be done to win
“We had some silly turnovers (against Louisville last year), we didn’t bring it, it was right after Sergio got hurt – we weren’t very good. We can’t allow one mistake turn into another mistake, that’s the kind of team coach Pitino has year in and year out. We can’t allow that to happen. We have to be ready to handle the ball, Brandon Peters is getting better, but it has to be a team effort of getting ourselves into the offense.
“We want to be aggressive early. … We’ve got games where we’ve shot ourselves in the foot in the first half with 15-plus turnovers and we’re down double-digits at the half. We did that against Murray, but we did a good job of battling and being efficient and it was only a two-point game at the half. How you respond to turnovers is important. We don’t want to give them points. We want to get a shot every time down so we have a chance at a second shot, I’d rather have a bad shot than a turnover. … You turn it over multiple times in the first half and you’re just not confident. And it gets twice as bad against a team like Louisville. … I want that kind of attitude and I want to limit turnovers going into the half.”