Nov. 27, 2009

NIT Quotes: November 25, 2007


THE MODERATOR:  Coach will make an opening statement and then he'll take questions.
COACH JIM CALHOUN:  Well, Duke physically handled us, which I thought alleviated that problem a little bit.  The physical presence, obviously the rebounding was, in my opinion, the major problem with the game.  The last time we gave up 25 offensive rebounds against Georgetown with Alonzo and Mutombo who are bigger than Duke was.  But Duke played with a great deal of heart and toughness.
Last time that we at Connecticut lost a game, hold a team to eight field goals in the half and 28 percent shooting, I can't remember.  But I think that we couldn't have hit the court if we were up in the second deck with the ball ourself, certainly from the foul line and certainly from the floor we were an awful passing team tonight.  I think we ran at times a little offensive team but didn't get open.  Just quite frankly, they outwilled us and did all the things you need to do to win a game.  And yet there were chances even with six or seven minutes to go for to us come back in the game and we were unable to take advantage of it.
During the season, discouraging a little bit, certainly, but disheartening more than anything else.  I think we're better than what we played.  I think we have to respond to when we get knocked around inside a little bit.  We have to do a better job.  I can't complain about Alex Oriakhi, the freshman.  We had some guys that 87 missed shots.  The guy gets three or four rebounds playing 35 minutes, the best jumper from the floor, you might have a problem.  I have a game player on the court who didn't get three or four rebounds from the guard spot.  We had 87 missed shots, discounting foul shots and we missed a lot of those too.  We didn't have much of an excuse in this one.

Q.  Coach, being down double digits in the second half and then coming back and having a chance to get back into it again, how frustrating was it having Jerome miss a couple of lay ups?

COACH JIM CALHOUN:  Jerome was one of the guys I thought at times we shut out because we didn't get him the ball when he was open.  Secondly I thought he just was exhausted by the end of the game.  Jerome Dyson was not a problem tonight certainly.  But it was frustrating missing the foul shots.  He worked very hard at it.  When you're down, making that type of effort to come back, I think we fouled three or four of their guys out of the game, bottom line is we didn't finish plays.  There was a lot of lay ups.  We weren't pulling a lot of second shots by them.  That frustrated me a great deal more.  They went nine out of ten trips without scoring and we couldn't take advantage of that.  That wasn't just foul shots.  That was almost everything.

Mainly quite frankly, guys that were open never got the ball.  And that's usually been something that we do pretty well.

Q.  25 offensive rebounds you talked about, hasn't happened in a while.  From watching from where you were, what do you think was the cause of it?
COACH JIM CALHOUN:  They banged us inside and you got a choice.  You bang back and get the ball or get banged.  That was the cause of it.  They're a physical team.  They go after the loose ball.  A few times when they were up 18 they went down to the floor to get the ball and we didn't.  They weren't rotating a lot of people through nor were we.  We tried to but we couldn't find anybody on the bench to really help us except Gavin.
So it's been a problem four out of our five games, for whatever reason.  I don't know with a the reason is.  You can't leave an 18 year old freshman to be the only guy rebounding.  That's a major problem.  They rebounded well as a team.  Mike is obviously a great, great coach.  I think we all know that.  He got his team to rebound much better than what Connecticut did.  That's normally been something that we've held our    going into most games knowing we're going to play our defense, which we did.  We're going to hold    they have a guy who is going be a big pro.  Singler certainly, he's a smaller version of a Larry Bird type player.  And Sticks (Stanley Robinson) didn't play well but he did a great job defensively on him.
I'm so appalled by the lack of rebounding by us as a team.  You can't beat anybody if they get 25 offensive rebounds.  If you hold somebody to 28 percent, you can't lose, but if you give them 25 offensive rebounds and they can't make a shot or a foul shot, you can get some problems.

Q.  How much of a concern overall is your perimeter shooting?
COACH JIM CALHOUN:  That's the least of us.  We got to the rim all night.  That was how much they are one of the best perimeter shooting teams in the country.  If you talked to Mike, ask Mike how he liked shooting 28 percent.  We shot 37.  He has more problems than we do.  You know what I'm saying?  Shooting 50 percent as a team for five games.  So I don't think perimeter shooting was our problem.  I think our problem was when we caught the ball in the post and shooting fade away jumpshots.  Until we made the comeback, we weren't going to the hoop because we had a quick disadvantage going to the rim.  That was much more my concern.  It wasn't a problem the other night; 5 for 10 the other night.  I didn't want them taking 3s.  I thought we had quickness to go by them.

Q.  There was a minute you pulled Robinson, talked to him, talked to him and sent him back out.
COACH JIM CALHOUN:  I told him to get his ass going and play some basketball.  He didn't.  He did defend.  He played a very good player flat up and wouldn't give him any open shots.  But Robinson, once again, for him to play 35 minutes and get four rebounds in a game of 87 misses, just can't happen.  He's a terrific rebounder.

And Alex desperately needed somebody else.  Charles couldn't do it.  The game was either too sophisticated for him.  He hasn't yet been into that kind of thing.  Gavin should have rebounded more.  I can't fault Gavin coming off the bench; he only played 24 minutes.  I can fault Sticks because I have to rely on him.  He's supposed to be one of the premiere players in the league, certainly in the country.  He didn't play well on the offensive end.

Q.  The deliberate offense Duke was running where they would run the shot clock down at the end, you are playing defense so long and to give up that offensive rebound, do you think that also got into something for your guys  
COACH JIM CALHOUN:  I questioned it at times.  They had us on the ropes.  Then what I was reminded of was the fact that they had three guys with three fouls and another guy with four fouls.  And they were trying to play a little clock and plus they had a nice cushion, 18, whatever it was; 20    whatever it was    19, 16, they are running like that, and execute some offense.  If we had gotten those rebounds, hold them to 9 out of 10 stops, if five of those times we score, we scored one of those, by the way.  One time we scored.  All we had to score was five of those nine times and all of a sudden you have yourself a 5 or 6 or 7 point ballgame.  We were unable to do that.

The other thing was long rebounds.  We outquicked them, it seems.  But they outquicked us to the ball when they needed to get it to the offensive end which is something that can't happen to us.

THE MODERATOR:  Last question?  Okay.


THE MODERATOR:  Coach will make an opening statement and then he'll take questions.
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI:  It's a big time game.  Shots were so hard to come by.  Open shots.  Both teams are very, very good defensively.  And you know, you get by one guy and you can't    it's hard to get to the bucket. You know?  And we've not experienced a team like that this year.
But we rebounded very well.  We played outstanding defense.  And I thought Thomas and Zoubek were the difference makers for us.  Because I mean they both had 11 rebounds.  And Zoubek I thought had the biggest play in the first half where he got the offensive rebound and kicked it out to Singler for a 3 because points were tough to come by.  And in the second half he got one, and I don't know how he got it out to Scheyer in the corner.  He got it through about four guys and Scheyer hit that 3.  And so on two of his offensive rebounds we got 6 points.
We didn't give up a 3 today.  So when you get two possessions in this game, where you get 6 points, that's a lot.  We missed 53 shots and we had 56 rebounds.  You know, that's a very unusual game.
But it's a game where both teams played with a lot of heart and we feel very privileged to have won this game and the NIT Championship with the Carlesimo name on it.  The Carlesimo family is like family to me and my family.  The trophy is named after one of the great, great men in college basketball history.  So it was nice to see Lucy.  We call her "Lucia" from the Barcelona Olympics.  That's a good thing.

Any questions.

Q.  Doug Gottlieb called your team alarmingly unathletic.  Did you think today answered that question pretty emphatically?
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI:  He should be an expert on alarmingly non athletic.  So I'll have to take a look at that a little bit closer because it comes from an expert who actually knows what it feels like to be alarmingly non athletic.
Actually, we're pretty athletic; we're just not as athletic as Connecticut.  Singler is a really good athlete.  Lance, Miles.  Jon is not leaping tall buildings with a single bound but he's a real good athlete.  But I wouldn't call us like this athletic team, but we're not amazingly non athletic.  And I would rather not get into a discussion with Doug because I have respect of his stature and he should have his arguments with people of similar stature.  That would be a good thing.

Q.  Stopping the transition was obviously a key.  How did you do that in the first half?
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI:  Well, we didn't for a while.  Walker, he's a jet.  We had Wojo scout for this team and I said, "You said he was quick, you didn't say that he was that quick."  And we adjusted our defense.  What we normally do with a point guard like that is try to corral him at half court with the second big, you know, just to hold him back.  And we couldn't get back in time to do that.  So after the first TV time out, instead of 21 which is our half court defense, we went top of the key 11 and just said, "Get back.  Don't worry about corral."  Everybody is responsible for corralling him, and I thought the rest of the game we did a fairly good job of it.

Q.  25 offensive rebounds on a team like UCONN with their size and athleticism; what do you chalk that up to?
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI:  Well, we're big too.  Non athletic but very big.  And so    Zoubek and Thomas were huge.  We do run sets where our perimeter guys take shots.  They took a lot of shots and they should take lot of shots.  Our big guys are accustomed to know when those guys take their shots.  So we've been working a lot on trying to position ourselves in places where we might get that reshot.

Q.  Did you notice anything as far as UCONN leaking out early?

Q.  Was that something you could take advantage of?
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI:  I didn't think we could take advantage of    I just didn't want    they beat us a couple of times early.  They blew by us for about six minutes.  And then we knew    we knew we shouldn't fast break, try to fast break with them the whole game unless we got a turnover.

Q.  Meaning that if they're going  
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI:  No, no, we have an extra guy on the boards to crash.  We discussed that.  But I don't think that was    the guys who got the most offensive rebounds were the guys that had on their bigs.  They almost made some big plays.  We couldn't put the ball back in the basket.  A lot of it has to do with their shot blocking ability.

Q.  In the second half, especially in the second half, even when their guards would get into the lane, can you talk about your help defense?
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI:  That's again the big guys were coming over.  And at least if they didn't take charges, they were trying to take charges, they got a few blocks.  But they distracted the shooter.  Kind of like how they did to us. 
I thought shooters in the lane today was not a good place to shoot the ball.  You know, there was a lot of distractions defensively being made by both teams for those shooters.

Q.  Can you talk about Jon Scheyer's game?  19 5 5.

COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI:  Jon is a terrific player.  He's a terrific basketball player.  He has a great feel for the game.  And because he's almost an automatic free throw shooter, he's dangerous especially at the end of the game.  He values the ball.  And although he's not making a lot of great passes, he's not making hardly any turnovers.  And he makes simple passes and I think now he has four turnovers for the year.  He's the most important player we have, Jon is.  Just because he has to have the ball so much.

Q.  Kyle, 2 of 12, 6 points, he shoots 29 percent.  I told you those numbers coming into the game.
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI:  I would have been very worried or mad at you.  I would have told you to go talk to Doug Gottlieb.  You don't have to do that by the way.  I won't punish you like that.
Kyle made two bad fouls.  I think the nature of the game he slapped down twice and he just can't do that.  From then on, we're massaging the game and then he gets three.  And so you talk    I hate to talk with words like "flow"    he never got in the rhythm of the game.  He never got in the rhythm of the game.  But still, defensively he was on Robinson.  I mean, they kind of negated one another.  Robinson    their perimeter is very, very athletic.  Robinson is a big time athlete.

Q.  When you win a game like this, do you leave here feeling pretty good?
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI:  Oh, yeah, we feel great.  We played against two different types of teams and two teams that I think are going to be in contention in their conference coverages.
We're still missing one of our kids.  Mason Plumlee who I think will be a big addition to our team. 
The other kid I want to mention is Andre Dawkins.  Both of these games he didn't play like a freshman.  He was very, very good, very good in both games.  And that gives us a little bit more depth on the perimeter.
THE MODERATOR:  Last question?

Q.  What kind of role do you foresee for him as this develops and he gets more experience?

COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI:  He got good time today.  He's playing behind our three best players.  So the fact he's going to be the first guy off the bench.  He can play off those guys because he's as good a shooter as we have.  And then if we ever did want to go small and put Kyle at the four, he could be    we did have that lineup in for a little bit. 

But then the fouls    actually, we got a big bucket when we had Kyle at the four.  And then we got in foul trouble and we had to get away from it.  Andre has been really good for us. 
Thank you.


Q.  Tasmin your impressions of the second half?  What happened to you guys in the second half there?

TASMIN MITCHELL:  Like Coach said, we played a heck of a 20 minutes first 20 minutes.  And I think we got it    we got lackadaisical and got nonchalant with the ball and Arizona State wanted it bad better than us the last 10 minutes of the game.

Q.  I think you guys went 10 minutes without scoring a field goal.  Was it not getting the bounce on the rim or the choice of shots?  What was it?

TASMIN MITCHELL:  You know, we stayed within our offense.  I felt like we got good shots towards the goal.  Just didn't fall.  It happens to the best of us.  But you know we got to convert baskets during that particular time.  And we didn't.  But I felt like they were real good shots.  The ball just didn't go in the hole.

Q.  Where do you guys go from here?  Obviously you go home.  I think you have five games at home.  Can you kind of get on the winning streak back at home?
TASMIN MITCHELL:  Yeah, without a doubt.  Our leading point guard Bo Spencer had just told us, you know, we have to stop with the lackadaisical stuff that we do at practice.  We have to come out with a sense of urgency that Coach always emphasizes throughout the year.  Sense of urgency and practice, practice, practice, and let's get better.  Put these two games behind us.

It hurts to lose two games.  We're going to bounce back real hard with our confidence and our integrity and our heart.

Q.  How much did it hurt not having Bo out there for you guys?

TASMIN MITCHELL:  You know, I think it took a little scoring drought from the point guard perspective.  But I'm not going to say Chris Bass didn't do a bad job either, you know, but Bo Spencer, you can't replace him.  He's a great shooter.  He finds the goal.  He finds players.  But you know, we got to hurry up and get him back because we need him as a team.

THE MODERATOR:  Any other questions?  Questions for the coach?

Q.  Coach, was not having Bo out there a big factor for you guys?

COACH TRENT JOHNSON:  First of all, I mean, we're not going to make excuses for injuries or lack of experience from the point of basketball.  Let's get that clear right now.  There's no sympathy for us in this situation.  Obviously against a team like this, if you don't have Bo Spencer who is our leading scorer coming into the game who runs our team, not to mention Alex Farrer who is guy who can shoot the ball, that's a big loss.  But it wasn't like I don't constantly talk to our team to players about being ready to step up.  Chris was a different player.  We had some breakdowns defensively.  Glasser got going late.  That's where the game was in terms of these guys working hard and understanding what we need to do to be good.  For the most part, we did that.  We just ran out of gas and maybe we ran out of bodies.  But again, we're not going to make excuses for our lack of experience so to speak or our injuries for playing bad basketball.  And we played pretty good basketball for 30 minutes and the last ten minutes we didn't play very well.

Q.  Who was the other person you said was injured besides Bo?

COACH TRENT JOHNSON:  Alex Farrer.  He's done for the year.  Dislocated a kneecap.  Him and Bo would have been our starting guards coming into this year.  The reason I'm responding to that is because I'm trying to get away from somebody asking that question.  I've been answering that question for the last three weeks.  Alex is not coming back.

Q.  What was it with your defense today?

COACH TRENT JOHNSON:  You know, I just thought the kids were embarrassed in terms of the way they competed versus a very, very good UCONN team.  We didn't do a very good job transition D.  We didn't do a very good job of rebounding the ball.  Like most good kids, most teams that are young, the next time out there is going to be better.  I thought for the most part we were better.

Q.  How do you think such an offensive struggle in the second half compared to the first half?

COACH TRENT JOHNSON:  Well, you know, from where I'm sitting I don't think it was a struggle.  You got guys that can shoot.  You got guys that can't shoot.  You have guys that have roles and guys that don't have roles.  Tasmin is a guy we expect to score partly 8 out of 13.  Storm was 8 out of 10.  He's a walk on.  It is what it is.  You know?  You lose your leading scorer.  It's not going to be a struggle.  From what I saw, I thought we had some open shots that didn't go down.  But again, you have to take into consideration who was shooting.

The kids aren't trying to miss them.  I'm not going to sit up and say we struggled because I have a guy who is not a good perimeter shooter who is missing an open jump shot.  They are sagging three guys on one might of the best players.  When you say, "struggle," I think I want to tip the hat to Arizona State, they exploited some of our weakness and sagged off to guys that hadn't been shooting the ball very well and our role players and go from there.

Q.  Did Bo try to give it a shot during warmup and it didn't go?

COACH TRENT JOHNSON:  He tried to give it a shot.  We have a long season.  Last year he strained the same ankle out on the road versus Mississippi State.  As opposed to three day or four day deal, it ended up being a two week deal.  He wasn't very happy with the coach's decision.  I'm more concerned about the team and his future.  I'm not going to play. I'm not going to put a kid in jeopardy by injuries by playing him.


THE MODERATOR:  Coach is going to start with an opening statement and we'll take questions.
HERB SENDEK:  Questions, anybody?

Q.  Your impressions on that second half?  They seemed to go stone cold for ten minutes.  Was that your defense doing all that?

HERB SENDEK:  I think any time there's a run like that in basketball, it's usually a combination of factors.  Most certainly our defense got better.  Then it was the first half.

We had a very good defensive effort in the second half.  And at the same time, you know, for that kind of run to occur, they missed some shots that in the first half they were knocking down.  But from our perspective, you know, Arizona State's side of the ball, we were much better in the second half, and our defense allowed us to get back in the game and eventually win.

Q.  What did you guys gain as a team coming here, playing Duke, playing LSU and how does it help you going forward?

HERB SENDEK:  We try to participate in an event like this every year.  It's always extra special coming to New York and playing in the Garden.  It's a wonderful experience for our team.  And I think anytime you play against outstanding competition like we did this week, there's always a lot there to learn.  And so we'll continue to watch the tape and take all these experiences and try to build on them.

Q.  At 5 1, what are you happy with now and what needs to improve as you go forward?

HERB SENDEK:  It's early in the season for everybody.  Traditionally this was the first weekend of basketball.  Teams were playing their first game either today or tomorrow for years.  And now we've already played six games.  But it's still early.  And we have to get better across the board on a broad based front right now.

Q.  Talk about Eric and just what he was able to do.  This is what you kind of envisioned for him, wasn't it?

HERB SENDEK:  Yes.  I think it says a lot about him as a person.  Because let's face it, he didn't have the best of games on Wednesday night.  You can only imagine there was probably some extra burden for him to play in that game.  That wouldn't be easy for anybody.  It wasn't the best of nights.  And then the first half kind of was a continuation.  And so in midstream to kind of check that and all of a sudden play a terrific 20 minutes helped put us on    he put us on his back in the post and rebounded and finished with 17 and 8, three assists.  Had some nice passes to cutters.  I think when you're able to turn it around midstream like that on a stage like this, it says a lot about you as a person as much as it does about you as a player.

Q.  What happened Abbott?

HERB SENDEK:  I don't know the extent or the details, other than he got a cut I think near or on his eye socket.  He was having a hard time seeing and he was in quite a bit of pain.  But I think he's going to be okay.  But I don't know categorically yet the extent or the details.

Q.  Did they take him to a hospital?

HERB SENDEK:  I don't think so.  We have a team physician here who is attending to him along with our athletics trainer.  But needless to say it was really scary because, you know, we had just welcomed him back.  He just now working his way back into the lineup.  And when he went down, you know, sprawling in pain, I had no idea what happened.  I didn't know if it was his knee, his ankle, what happened.  When I got out there, it still wasn't clear right away.  He wasn't saying much.  He was kind of more just in anguish.

THE MODERATOR:  Anything else?
HERB SENDEK:  You made Derek walk all the way down here and didn't even ask him a question?

Q.  We're doing you first.  We knew how portable you were.

HERB SENDEK:  Was I pretty good today?

Q.  You were good.
HERB SENDEK:  Did you get some good stuff?

Q.  I wrote some things down.

HERB SENDEK:  You can probably win the Pulitzer with some of those quotes.

Q.  You were better than Belichick today.


Q.  No doubt.

HERB SENDEK:  That's always been my goal.
THE MODERATOR:  Questions for Derek.

Q.  Derek, talk about the PAC 10 a little bit and the fact that certainly kind of taking its hit so far.  I know you are worried more about yourself than anything.  Look at what's happening around the PAC 10 right now and say to yourself, you know what, maybe we have a shot here to do a little better than we even thought before the season started.

DEREK GLASSER:  Well, before the season started, our goal was always to win the PAC 10.  A lot of people doubted us because we lost James (Harden) and Jeff (Pendergraph).  But I still think we have a lot of talent on the team and we're a very competitive team.  Our thing is we play defense.  As long as we play defense like we did in the second half of this game and the first half of the Duke game, we're going to be able to compete with anybody.

Q.  What was Coach's reaction at halftime when they shot 60 percent on you guys?

DEREK GLASSER:  I'm not sure if I can say some of those things.  But, you know, none of the coaches were happy.  They came in the locker room and let us have it.  They gave us a little spark and we answered in the second half with really keeping them off the offensive glass and trying to double down on Tasmin and Storm, because they were really hurting us on the glass and in the post in the first half.

Q.  Can you just assess the team's mind set coming in flying across the country, playing in the most famous arena and all that jazz, what you set out to do, what you did do and maybe what you left on the table?

DEREK GLASSER:  Our conference tournament is in the Staples Center.  I think playing in that arena and normally we play games in U.S. Airways where the Suns play.  So I guess it is the most famous arena.  But, you know, I think Staples Center is a little nicer than Madison.  That's for sure.

Q.  It's newer.

We came here to beat Duke.  I don't know if we had them, but we kind of felt we let that game get out of our hands.  They're a very good team and they made the shots down the stretch.  But not winning the first game, we had to get out of here winning one.  We couldn't lose two games.  So right when the game was over, we turned the page to LSU and we knew we had to beat LSU and go 1 1 back home.

I think overall it was a good experience for us, especially to play a team like Duke.  Just to see where we're at as a team.  And I think it was overall a good experience.

Q.  Talk about Eric and his importance to this offense, especially with Jeff gone, he seemed like the most likely to give you post offense and the post presence.  It looks like he's done that in the first six games.

DEREK GLASSER:  I'm going to hit on what Coach said.  It's hard to rebound after a game like he had against Duke.  I don't know what he had, eight turnovers or whatever it was.  Especially playing against his old team, he came back and had a great, great second half.  And he was one of the reasons why we were able to turn it around, his defensive presence and rebounding and able to put the ball in the hole in the other end.

THE MODERATOR:  Anything else?  Thanks, Derek.