Prior to the Utah game, Dec. 9, 2004
How has practice gone this week preparing for Saturday’s game?
We’ve probably have had two of the best practices that we’ve had all year long. Monday they worked real well, Tuesday they had the day off, and we of course worked yesterday. With today being Dead Day, we’ll have practice this morning at 11:30.
We have a lot of tapes to break down on Utah; Andrew Bogut is definitely a player that will play at the next level in my opinion. His numbers, his shooting percentage, he’s a good passer and shot blocker. He will be one of our primary concerns. Marc Jackson is 50% from the field and 61% from three-point range. This is a very good, solid team. They defend well. The will play a man-to-man and a two-three zone. The match ups will be a little bit difficult where their four man is a little bit like a three man, that being Justin Hawkins, and he will be someone that’s involved in the play for some time. Utah is a good solid team. It should be another challenging duel for us.
Can you talk about Marc Jackson and his shooting ability?
He can shoot it deep, and also does a really good job on the floor. This isn’t a case where you can just be content with his shooting ability. They do a lot of off the ball screens, good motion in what they’re doing. Utah is a very patient team waiting for a good shot.
Bogut is a big problem if he gets the ball down low. He uses his hands very well, and shoots well over both his left and right shoulder. They do a good job of getting the ball to Bogut when he’s down low; he’s huge with soft hands. Personally I don’t think we’ll play against a better big guy all year. He’s a really good shooter; he’s only shot two threes but has a great ability to shoot. He won’t shoot a lot of threes but he’ll shoot the ball 15-18 feet a lot.
Channing (Frye) had a good game last time out. Is he starting to step it up?
Channing is making good progress. He’s much more aggressive. We need to eliminate those fouls that are unnecessary. He seems to have one of those every first half. He was very active against Mississippi State on the boards, as you can tell from the number of rebounds that he had. Defensively he was active, challenging and blocking shots.
He’s doing a much better job of getting down and sealing a defensive player so that we can get him the ball. He and Isaiah (Fox) play really well together. You can see the experience of the two when they’re put together. They do a good job together, communicating on defense. Isaiah is a good passer, and Channing has improved his passing a lot. I think their looking forward to having a chance to play against Bogut because they know that he’s a good player.
What’s going on with Ivan Radenovic?
The situation with Ivan is that he’s still hurting a bit. On Monday he went about an hour. Yesterday he came out for a bit, but he’s been conditioning on the underwater treadmill. He was heading into treatment as I was on my way here, but yesterday he went the full time. It’s still very sore for him, but he’s not a kid that’s going to try and take time off if he gets hurt. He’s a tough kid and it has been very painful for it to affect him this long. It’s strictly the hip pointer that hurts When you’re playing inside you’re going to get banged around, and that’s when it most affects him.
How do you think you’ve been defensively?
I think we’ve been really solid defensively. That doesn’t mean that we can’t get better because I think we will. There have been very few times where help was needed and it wasn’t provided. I thought we scrambled out of help situations very well, we were able to pick up the open man well. Our on the ball defense is getting better we still need to have our guys more active with their hands up, and shield the view that the player has of the court. I think we’ve been playing really well on that end and I think we’re only going to get better. Our players have a very good work ethic and good quickness. There is no reason why we shouldn’t be very consistent on that end.
You really kind of need consistency on defense.
If you look at the way we’ve shot the ball, then you know that we’ve had to be good defensively. Take a look at Utah’s record, which is very similar, and they are shooting 52.6 percent and we’re around 40, so defense has had to carry us a lot.
Do you know between Channing and Isaiah who would be the number one guy as far as defending Bogut?
There will be a lot of switching because of Utah’s offense. So it’s going to be a case where both of them will be drawing his assignment. One of our strengths is that both of them can defend so well.
How do you work through your team’s shooting slump?
With basketball you just try to make the shot better then the one you normally like. However I am not at the least bit concerned about all of that. Utah is a very good shooting team. We’re rebounding well, defending well, and until the last 10 minutes against Mississippi State, we were handling the ball well. I think a lot of things are in order right now; we just need to be a little more patient and selective in our shots. I’ll be surprised if we’re below 50% for the rest of the year.
A lot of your turnovers seemed to be in transition where they were maybe trying to hurry things along.
What we tell them is that its speed on the fast break until you get across half court. Then it becomes a control factor, and we’re not getting that control. The free throw line is our stop sign. It’s an open jump when the two defenders are back, but there can’t be any hesitation once you gain control at the line. With Mustafa taking off with one foot, that’s not what we’re wanting there, we want a controlled jump stop type of play. When you’re going off of one foot, you’ve committed yourself. We say if you jump, it is to shoot and rebound. You stand if you are going to pass.
What are your ideal numbers for assists:turnovers as a team? You might say two to one but you’re around one to one now.
I think if you’re about one to one on a team that’s usually pretty good. We expect Mustafa to get up into the 3 to 1. Salim should also be in that same category. Salim has been good at passing the ball. Hassan is getting better as he gets experience along the perimeter.
Coach you’re approaching a pretty big milestone (1,000 career victories on all levels).
That’s one of those things that after you retire that you look at as an accomplishment. Right now there is too many other things to think about. Obviously, you have to be around a long time to get to those numbers. Eleven of those years were at the high school level and four were at the junior college level. It’s been a long haul but it’s amazing to think about.
You try and get one or two very tough tests here each year.
Utah will be a good team here, and another team that will surprise a lot of people is Manhattan. They’ve gone to the NCAA the past two years, and they will be a valuable test for us this year.
You had an alley-oop to open up the game against Mississippi State. Is that a break kind of thing?
Its not a break, but Mustafa really looks for Hassan a lot in those situations because he knows all he has to do is throw the ball up there and Hassan will find it some how. When Mustafa gets the ball, Hassan knows he has a chance at getting that play in. That’s the one that gets your home crowd going.