Q. Talk about those final five minutes.
“We were swapping. We really did. We had two really good days of practice and Saturday we didn’t do everything live. We were getting ready for the zone. And our defense did it for in game and yesterday we had a great a practice day, walkthrough. Absolutely got off to a great start, and all of a sudden it looked like we were wearing cement boots. And we never stayed in the zone and we had very little intelligence of how they were going to attack and play. We were just standing around. And that wasn’t what we practiced. That wasn’t what we had out there, and then the guys in the second half we just got better and better. We had 27 flushes in the second half. We had 13 assists in the second half. We out rebounded them by four in the second half. We get, we got to the rim, we started to understand — so we had to mask some things tonight to get through it, but fortunately Toumani, Sahvir, Jordan, Anthony, Christian Brown played some solid minutes, Donnell gave us some solid unsung defense. Those guys did a fantastic job. It was a hard night. We knew that it would be because they’re a good team. And but once we made the adjustments, really, the adjustments we made in the second half against the zone is what we practiced for two days. So it was almost like it was a foreign language and we go back in at halftime to put it in and that’s what we had done. We wanted to flash Sahvir to the middle of the zone, wanted to flash Anthony, wanted to get moving, wanted to get movement along the baseline and we did. So it was a great win. And the guys, it was a team win. And we rode some guys all the way through, because they were doing a really good job.”
Q. How was starting off struggling against the zone right now, what’s the reason for that?
“Well, I don’t know, you know what, to be honest with you, that’s not what we practice. We don’t practice standing, we don’t practice not cutting, we don’t practice not playing to the middle, we don’t practice not ball screening, we don’t practice catching and holding. And so, yeah, I think we have got some guys that struggle when it’s not as easy as it needs to be. And they’ve got to understand that the way you’re going to be on this court is that you’re going to defend, you’re going to rebound, you’re going to move without the ball, that’s the way it’s got to be. We have got, it’s competitive now, I mean, it’s very, very competitive. That’s the message I just gave to them. Before Merry Christmas it’s like you got to strap it on because here comes Austin Peay, now we go to Memphis, and then the gauntlet starts. And this is not about feeling our way through it and this guy’s this and this guy’s that. We got to step it up. But again, we know we don’t get this win without this crowd. I think there might have been 300, 400 seats left according to John Bateman before the game. And this crowd was fantastic. And they stuck with us and they helped us rise up and we did. So it was an earned victory, not a pretty one, but an earned one. And at the end of the day they don’t give you points for style or beauty, they give you points for winning and that’s what happened.”
Q. Whew do you mean you had to mask some things against the zone?
“Just what I said. We had to move people around and we had to make some adjustments, we had to put some guys in different spots, and it’s part of what it is.”
Q. When you talking about Sahvir, this is the second game in a row that he’s started the second half. What goes into those decisions?
“I don’t know. I just go on feel. I don’t know. I go on feel what we need at that particular point in time. That’s what the game is. The game is not about rotation, this guy plays this many minutes. It’s not about that, not to me. It’s about how do we win the game, what gives us the best chance at that particular time.”
Q. What was it that gave you the impression a 5’10” high post against a zone?
“I guess that would be my experience, probably done it before. So I’ve had guys in that position before, and he needed to move because they were sagging in off of him. And he didn’t move as well and that was a big part of it. That’s the hard thing, as a coach, when you practice something for two days — well, I mean, more than two days, but when you’re preparing for the zone because it’s much the same way the Georgia Tech zone was, and all of a sudden you don’t anything. So you can either get mad and get frustrated or you can keep figuring it out, and that’s exactly what we had to do. I think that’s why the coaching staff, myself, when we get frustrated, we move people around. And if somebody was struggling in the game it was hard for them to get back in. And it was, it, we just weren’t going to sub based out of the way guys were playing, and the court at that particular time. This was a hard game, they’re a good, good team. A really good team. He’s an excellent coach, they’re — I saw in the KenPom rating they’re the 38th oldest team in the league, I mean for the country, so they got the experience. And we’re like 323, so we had to find a way.”
Q. Did you find, did you see this coming with Camara? Had he practiced well?
“He practices well, oh, yeah. We — Toumani, Toumani plays extremely hard and his statistics have not matched up with how hard he plays. Tonight they did. Tonight they did. So, oh, absolutely, he wouldn’t be in the lineup if he wasn’t producing and doing a lot of different things. And he doesn’t need the ball in his hands to score. He gets it because he’ll cut, he’ll get on the glass and that’s what he needs to be. And we had a couple guys tonight that it just wasn’t their night. So other guys had to step up and fortunately we got it.”
Q. You talked about Toumani. It seemed like most of his baskets were cutting to the basket, getting hit for easy dunks. How encouraging is it to see that from a freshman that’s 11 games into the season?
“That’s what he does. It’s not like we were surprised. I thought Anthony had a fantastic game in the second half. He got off to a great start, and then we had the fouls, and we got to learn to get through that and try to play him through it, but he wasn’t nearly as aggressive, he played like he had two fouls in the first half and you can’t do that. But he turned it on really well in the second half. And as I told him, that’s because his approach today he had probably the best walkthrough he has had — and he hasn’t been bad at all — but there’s certain days that there’s just more of a locked-in motor and he was really locked in and he was flying around this afternoon and I thought it parlayed into the game tonight, especially in the second half. It definitely parlayed into the game the way he started the game, but certainly the way he came out and played in the second half when it was winning time, it was fantastic.”
Q. How do you guys lay out next week?
“The NCAA mandates three days off, so they’re off now and then they will be off the 24th, 25th, 26th and then we’ll get back to work late on the afternoon of the 27th.”
Q. I noticed that Peake didn’t play tonight —
“I’m not getting into all that, right. I mean, we just won the game, that’s, I’m not going through all that. No offense, we just won the game, I like the way we did it, won the game. All right. Okay. Merry Christmas.”