Post-Midnight Madness, Oct. 16, 2004
A great crowd. I think it was a good feeling as far as the players were concerned coming out there and seeing pretty close to 10,000 people, so that’s a great turnout. When we go in this kind of a thing you have no idea of what to expect once they start playing, but I thought they played hard. You can see there is good quickness. They moved the ball well for open shots. It was appropriate that it (the scrimmage) finished in a tie. That way, there isn’t anybody walking out of there feeling great, but none of them feeling badly either.
As far as people that stood out, I thought that Channing Frye showed how much stronger and more aggressive he’s gotten. I thought that Kirk Walters looked like he’s got the extra 20 pounds on him. He looks a lot stronger and more aggressive.
The defense on the perimeter was tough. It was hard for anybody to get a whole lot of decent looks at anything. We’ve got good quickness and good depth. We’ll get started on some things that we feel need to be done tomorrow. We’ll have a 2-hour and 25-minute practice tomorrow, and we’ll get a lot of work out of them, I’m sure.
With the addition of the freshman group, the depth now is good and we’re going to have great competition at every spot. That’s going to make everyone better.
It would appear to be an exuberant bunch, especially the freshmen, after watching the player introductions?
Oh yes. We had no idea they had their pregame plans (smiles). This is a night to have fun and get a chance for people to see their personalities a little bit. This night was for them. Tomorrow will be regular basketball and hard work. I feel good about the team chemistry and the fact that they are willing to work hard. There will be some great competition for spots.
Were you surprised by the competitiveness of the younger guys?
No, I thought it would probably be close. The young guys did a good job. They have obviously played against Salim (Stoudamire) enough that they aren’t going to give him many looks. But if you put Salim on a team with Mustafa (Shakur), then things change a lot because of Mustafa’s ability to penetrate. Salim had to run the point on the other team, and I think that affected it some. I thought it would be close. From what I had heard from the guys, the upperclassmen have beaten them (the underclassmen) most of the time, but the games have been close. It was good that the officials let them play.
As a coach, how do you watch an exhibition like this?
I was anxious to see how some of the younger guys would respond with a crowd out there. I thought they played with a lot of poise up until that time with that 11-point lead that it was pretty comfortable. All of the sudden you find out at this level that you’d better play every possession like it’s a critical possession, because if you don’t, that 11-point lead can disappear pretty quickly.
On a night like this do you sometimes feel like a kid on Christmas where you can’t sleep the night before because you can’t wait to open those presents?
The whole thing is about teaching and coaching. This is obviously a case where they have been playing on their own for a month and a half now, and we just need to get out there and get started getting some basic offense in and some basic understandings. I thought the upperclassmen moved the ball well.
It’s nice start for us because of the crowd. The guys loved that part of it, but they know that tomorrow ?- well, the freshmen don’t know what tomorrow is like ?- they will have their game faces on tomorrow.