Prior to hosting Wyoming, Nov. 29, 2004
We had a good workout yesterday despite the fact that the guys were really tired and very sore after sitting on the plane (Saturday) for eight hours.
Our non-stop flight had to stop in Albuquerque for fuel. (Trainer) Justin Kokoskie said everyone was stiff and sore just from sitting that long. But the workout was good, a very spirited practice yesterday. I would think they are very happy to be back at McKale. It was a long haul
They are 3-0 and have played a variety of teams. They did a nice job with Princeton. The Texas-Arlington was very competitive also.
As for their team, they have a very good penetrating guard in Jay Straight. He’ll be a challenge to us in keeping him out of the lane. They will start three frontliners who go 6-10, 6-10, 7-foot. They do a nice job in the high-low offense. A little like San Diego State in the way that they do a lot of things on the perimeter to create inside opportunities for their big guys, yet they have enough flexibility where they can go with three guys on the outside and two big guys on the inside. They are well-disciplined and play hard defensively. They prefer man-to-man but have played 1-3-1 zone. We expect some of both.
They want to play the game in a slower manner. They don’t want to speed the game up.
Do you expect to see a lot of zone tomorrow?
Until we start shooting the ball better, yes. We’ve been pretty consistent. We’ve shot it poorly against a man and a zone (laughs). But that will take care of itself. We don’t worry about the shooting.
You said that you got good looks, but the shots just didn’t fall.
When you go on the road for the amount of time we did, you don’t get the normal shooting time you get when the guys are at home. When we have practice here, the guys come in and shoot extra at night. (On Sunday) we worked out for an hour or so and I talked with the starters and said they were free to go or they could hang around and shoot a little bit. All stayed on their own, shooting baskets at an end basket. The other 10 guys did half court and fullcourt work to make sure they are not losing conditioning.
The fact that they wanted to stick around and get extra shooting in is a good indication ?- and my guess ?- there will be additional shooting.
Do you approach the shooting much like the free throws where you don’t want to talk about it when things go bad?
You don’t want to talk so much that you get to where you’re thinking about everything. Guys have good shots and the stroke is there. With shooters, the only thing than can mess shooters up is, one, not taking a good shot and, two, thinking too much about the shot.
Against Wake Forest did you feel your guys took good shots?
Our goal is to go through a game to where we don’t have one questionable shot taken. And we still haven’t gotten to that. But it was better in the last two games. Still, there were shots against Wake that we wouldn’t want taken. But not a lot.
At this time of year is there one side of the ball more prepared than the other?
Normally your defense is going to come first. I thought we defended well. And that’s a plus because if you are a good team you have to defend well. But I think the offense is a little behind the defense.
What have you seen from Channing Frye?
He’s been active on defense. I think he’s done a great job inside challenging shots. The thing we need to get from him is a full game. He’s picked up two fouls in the first half, sitting him to where he’s played only nine minutes or so. That really hurts. The point we make with our big guys is that you’re going to get fouls because of the nature of the position and because you’re in the middle of things. But if you pick up a foul that’s a non-thinking, silly foul, that’s the one that will get you in trouble.
We still need to have Channing recognize that you have to be really protective of your fouls. We can’t afford to have him sitting out half of the first half. He’s a good shooter. The outstanding number that sticks out is his 13 assists with just eight turnovers. That’s an indication he finds the open man.
Are you happy with Chris Rodgers’ defensive performance this year?
“He’s putting good pressure on the ball. He’s coming off the bench and getting right after them immediately. Offensively, we need some practice time to keep the ball off the floor. He’s reverted to that (dribbling) too much. He’s a good shooter. He needs to be ready to catch the ball ready to shoot it rather than dribble it.
Chris Rodgers needs to be a better defender once his player doesn’t have the ball, but that’s a natural thing. You think it’s toughest when your guy has the ball but that’s when it’s easiest. It’s when he doesn’t because you have to help on the post lob and you’ve got to help on back-door cuts. The toughest defensive job in basketball is when your man doesn’t have the ball. I think he needs to focus on that.
Can you talk about Jawann McClellan’s progress?
Of all the guys we had at the (Madison Square) Garden the one guy who really popped out at you was Jawann. Hassan had one good game and one bad game. You could almost look at each guy and say that. But Jawann was most consistent both nights. There are still things he needs to learn, but he’s defending and he’s going to the glass. He needs to move better without the ball. Jawann played well and it’s obvious he’s a key guy for us this year.’
Could you see yourself playing Hassan more at the four with the power forward spot still having trouble?
It’s part of our plan where Hassan will play three and four. We’ve tried to spend most of our time with him at the three spot in fairness to him. But there will be times when you’ll see Hassan at the four. That’s definitely something that will happen.
In facing Wyoming, is it a game where you could take another look at Mohamed Tangara?
Mohamed is working hard at it but he’s not there yet. You can’t miss all the time he had to miss early without it affecting you on the offensive end of the court. Mohamed knows that. It’s something where he puts in extra time and works hard at studying what it is, but you need repetitions. We’re trying to give it to him.