Regarding our new president (Dr. Robert N. Shelton), everything I’ve heard from students and a friend of mine in North Carolina who knows a number of the (UNC) Board of Governors is that filling Dr. Likins spot is not an easy one, but I think the (Arizona) Board of Regents did a great job of selecting someone who is going to have an interest in the total university. From the standpoint of speaking on behalf of the basketball program, we’re glad to have someone who is going to support all facets of the university, not on one or two areas.
With USC, they are playing much more wide open than they were earlier (in the season). They are running the ball a lot more on the break. The individual players being aggressive as far as taking the ball to the basket and making things happen. On the defensive end, they will certainly challenge us.
Both (Nick) Young and (Gabe) Pruitt are continuing to light it up like they had earlier. (Lodrick) Stewart is their third-leading scorer, but with the new guys too, they seem to be much more comfortable now with what Coach (Tim) Floyd is having them do. They had two huge wins for them last week on the
It’s a very tight one and this weekend will be a very critical one for us. The most critical one for us last week was
We will not start our preparations for USC until tomorrow (Tuesday), part of that is due to Marcus (Williams), but also we just wanted to take a day and work on some of the things that we have to do a much better job of. One of which is forgetting about three-point shots. Other than Marcus, Hassan (Adams), Mustafa (Shakur), J.P. Prince and Ivan (Radenovic)...those guys would be shooting over 50 percent, I think, had they taken two-point shots instead of threes. We’ve given them enough time to prove if they can or cannot shoot it and we are going to have them concentrate on getting them more three-point shots after the season.
We still have to develop more of an inside game. I thought Kirk Walters played extremely well again. It’s not that we do not have people that get the ball inside well. It’s a combination of two things: One, Kirk’s got to get them (the defense) buried deeper and make himself more available all of the time. In looking back at the tape, there were 15 or 20 times that we had either Kirk or Ivan posted up within five feet of the bucket and someone was unable to deliver the pass. That, obviously, will be a point of concentration, today and for the rest of the week. If we’re going to be what we can be we’re going to have to have an inside presence. We’ve got people inside that are willing to and able to provide that inside presence. We have to find people that can get the ball to them.
There is a lot of work for us this week, but it will be an interesting week that will have a huge impact on where we finish in the league.
When did you decide to forego the three-point shot?
We’ve played 20 games now. If someone is shooting 20 percent from three-point range, that’s killing us. Particularly when we have people like Hassan, who is so effective inside 15 feet and taking it to the basket. He’s not taking advantage of his considerable strengths and instead he’s been dealing with the weakness.
We had no choice in moving him out to the perimeter when you take a look at what our needs are. He’s a quality guy. He just needs to understand that he is a scorer who is a natural inside man.
He used to get a lot of rebounds and put-back baskets?
For some reason, he used to be more aggressive on the boards than what’s he been (lately). We broke things down in terms of the number rebounds per minute and Hassan is fifth. Obviously, that’s not good. That’s not acceptable and shouldn’t be acceptable for him in terms of his play or contributions to the team.
Do you plan on changing the offense any because of this?
We’re just not going to shoot the threes. Marcus is shooting at 46 percent. Fine, he’s proven that he can shoot it. If you are shooting in the 20 percent, you’ve proven that you can’t shoot it and we can’t experiment any longer. We’ll just have to treat it like it’s a bad shot. It’s a bad shot even if it goes in, you are coming out.
In the past, the three-pointer has been one of your best weapons...
In the past, we’ve had someone like Salim (Stoudamire) or Mike Bibby, you know, guys that could hit it. You either prove you could or you prove you can’t. After 20 games, I think it gets proven one way or the other. Unfortunately, we have too many that are substandard in that area. For the good of the team, they are going to have to recognize that it’s not healthy.
Is this in response to Saturday?
Sometimes, so much is emphasized in the last game. How many non-conference teams go in and win at
We’re just at a point where we need to concentrate on the things we do well and eliminate the things we don’t do well.
Rebounding has been a disappointment and perimeter shooting has been a disappointment, and yet we are still only one game out of first.