Video/Transcript: Tom Crean and Tye Fagan Postgame Pressers

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Video/Transcript: Tom Crean and Tye Fagan Postgame Pressers

Head Coach Tom Crean

On what the feelings were after the game and if there was any relief…

“I hope it’s not relief because we’ve been close. Obviously, the last two games we weren’t good. They make the right call in the LSU game, and we’re taking the ball out of bounds 82-80, right? I mean, we’re that close, and LSU is popping people. Bottom line is, we needed to make sure our confidence was high and remind them the things we have been through. So, I hope it’s not relief, I’m sure there’s a little bit of that, but I don’t really feel relief. I’m confident with this team when you come in and practice the way they did, the way they responded in meetings last night when we got here. 7:45 breakfast and you have guys, a majority of them 10-minutes early, the rest of them five minutes, that’s saying a lot about college kids. I’m not sure I’d be on time for it and I wasn’t, I always come in later. These guys were ready to go, they were locked in, they warmed up well and they stuck together even when they made the runs. They were really able to adjust—we did a lot of adjusting today. We did a lot of new things out of time outs based on how we were being defended. They responded to that, they were completely locked into the game plan and to winning the game and I’m proud of them.”

On what was different on the offensive spacing today and how much K.D. Johnson hitting threes helps…

“It helps a lot. We had more movement, we sat ball-screens higher, we had more movement with the ball. We knew we were going to be attacking the 1-3-1, and we needed to pull their length out a little bit. There are certain guys that teams are not guarding, and we were able to make them pay for it with cutting and with rolls. I think that helps. When you’re not being guarded and you’re sitting on the perimeter, now you’re playing four against five. When you’re cutting and you’re moving and you’re ball screening and that’s what happens with Toumani [Camara]. He’s not the five man, but they guard him with the five because P.J. [Horne] is shooting. If we go big with the lineup, then he might get guarded by the five, he might get guarded by the three. Bottom line is, we have to adjust to what they’re doing defensively and we had to open that paint up. I think once we opened that up, it made our spacing better.”

On Tye Fagan’s play today…

“I had a good feeling about him today. He wasn’t real good on Wednesday night, none of us were, and he’s responded well the past couple of days, and I had a really good feeling to have him in there, and he did an even better job than we could have imagined against the zone. We attack a 1-3-1 a little differently. We attack a two-guard front that we’re trying to attack through the middle and we seal the middle. The most important guy in a 1-3-1 defense is the five. It’s not the guy at the very top, it’s the guy that’s playing the top of the key and they play real high on that. So, we had to do a really good job of sealing and playing through there and then in man-to-man situations. They’re losing track of him and he’s getting cuts, but he played with real confidence and it was great to have.”

On the three-point shooting today…

“Yeah, we shoot so many in practice we don’t even chart them. That’s why I know we’re going to be a better shooting team. They came on inside-outs today, they came on spacing, they weren’t on the first side of the floor, which is not how we play, you know, throw it and try and score on the first side with a three. We want to attack the first side to the rim but we don’t want shoot like that. I think people are seeing what we missed for 10 games without K.D. [Johnson]. He’s a very good player, he’s one of our best players, he’s as competitive as anybody that we have, he’s a pure guard, he can score, he can drive it, he can shoot it, he can pass, he can skip the ball, he can his roll passes, he can defend and he has a college ready body. It’s just going to take us a little bit to get used to playing with him, but he did a fantastic job but the more the court is spaced. We did that today with Justin [Kier] only hitting one and P.J. [Horne] only hitting one. If we can continue to space and open up the court in man or zone, whatever we’re facing and we’re ready to shoot the ball—the biggest problem with us so many times in games is we shoot them too quick or in inopportune times that we’re not ready to shoot the ball and that means knees bent, hands ready, go up right into the motion of your shot. We did a better job of that today because that’s how we practiced.”

On Johnson’s confidence…

“Wouldn’t you expand his role? I mean we missed him, we played ten games without him. You would not have signed a kid that good and not think that you are going to have him. We were a guard short without him. We knew he was going to play and play a lot. As he got into practice, you really knew he was going to play a lot. So, to me it is important moving forward that I would say—a friend of mine said this the other day and he is so right, that K.D.’s confidence is so contagious and that is exactly what I see. That friend of mine knows basketball well. He is not a coach; he has coached but he said that, and he is right. We see that in practice. Now, we are seeing it in the games with K.D.”

On Sahvir Weeler’s growth…

“We got really good layups today. Some of it was Auburn’s length bothered us. We should have never been trying to score on the length. We should have been pump faking, and we scored on pump fakes today. So, we got to get our guys to understand that pump fakes carry over into the game when you are dealing with a bunch of shot blockers. Sahvir, what we showed him last night and reminded him when you drive the lane to make the layup; don’t drive the lane to get fouled and hope you make the layup. But, drive the lane and go to the glass or use the backboard like you are going to make the layup. He did a much better job of that today. A much better job. We showed him some film from last year in the SMU game when we came back and just kept pointing out that you are driving to score you are not driving to get hit. If you get hit great. But, at the end of the day, you make the layup, you focus on the layup. He did that. It was just the matter of getting penetration and starting to break the zone from beneath the free-throw line.”

On if the team grew up…

“I think they grew up over the last few days, which led to today. We were absolutely ready to play Auburn, there is no doubt about that. Our preparation and work was great. We just did not handle their length well. We did not handle [Sharife] Cooper well. We did not handle the ball screen coverages well to make it hard for him, we just did not do it. They had guys make shots that they normally don’t make. They take them but they normally don’t normally make them. When you are playing with a point guard like Cooper it just brings a lot of confidence. Well, K.D. brings confidence in a different way. I think the guys have felt better over the last couple of days knowing that he is out there with them. They have responded, there was no, ‘Hey we got beat twice and we will just sit here on the negative.’ We went back to work on what was causing us to lose and what we could control. From transition defense, follow-ups, pump faking, keeping the ball alive underneath the basket, cleaning our layups up with pump fakes, or cleaning up with getting downhill quicker. All of those little things that were poor the other night. Confidence-wise, or lack thereof, we had to make sure our confidence was high the last couple of days to come into this game. My coaching staff has done a fantastic job at that because I have been distracted this week with family. They did a fantastic job of helping them to continue to understand.”

On the feel of the team today…

“We were ready to play Auburn. I thought we were in Arkansas. What happened in those games is that we got down and snowballed. I don’t think when we got down, we believed that we were going to win. I think over the last couple of days especially last night that they needed to be reminded that we have been in a bunch of situations. It does not matter who you are playing, where you are playing, what matters is that you are playing, and how you can overcome the obstacles that are sitting there. Being down in this league is not a huge obstacle because teams play so fast and quick. Ole Miss does not that is why it did not necessarily need to be a fast-paced game today. But with these other teams they shoot so fast they don’t give you a chance to get back in the game. So, we did not believe that the other day. I think that is why we have to continue to grow. I hope this helps us today because we held onto the lead.”

#14 Tye Fagan | Senior

On motivation today and going 9-for-9 from the field…

“Not starting the other day wasn’t necessarily motivation for me, but it was the fact that we were 0-4 in conference play and that’s the biggest motivation you need. If you claim to be a winner, losing games should motivate you more than anything. Starting or not starting, none of that matters except for winning. Losing games is what motivates me.”

On dumping Gatorade on Coach Crean and if that was an indication of how bad they wanted to win…

“Yes it was. Before the game, last night and today we just kept reminding each other the last few days that we need to get back to having fun. Dumping Gatorade on him wasn’t necessarily about the win, but getting back to having fun and enjoying the game like we were the first seven games.”



On the energy and confidence different in the team today…

“It was, we were motivated. I think we went into the second half up one, and we wanted to keep that. We just wanted to stay the course, take on any run. It was a game of runs, and we knew they were going to bring that and fight, because they are a great team. We wanted to persevere to get a road win and our first conference win.”

On how dangerous they are with their shooting…

“It makes us very dangerous as would any team. For us, it’s dangerous because it creates spacing, lanes for cuts, openings for guys to get to the rim and finish or get fouled. We created a havoc for the defense and that’s what we need.”

On K.D. Johnson’s shot and how he impacts the team…

“I’ve seen it since he’s got here. He’s gotten better since he’s got here. For us, he’s our biggest energy giver, we all love to feed off his energy and the crazy thing is he gets his energy from us. He tries to feed off our energy so it’s a mutual relationship. He’s great for the team, he’s aggressive, he can get to the lane and he made some big time shots for us.”

On what the difference was in the free throw performance tonight…

“Focus. We haven’t been shooting as well as we want from the line, but the last few days especially we’ve been working on free throws. Shooting them when you’re tired, everyone has been in the gym getting extra reps in. We’ve just been trying to focus because it has hurt us in some of the games we have lost. We’re just trying to continue to improve there, and we did today.”

On what they can continue the rest of the season after this win…

“We’re learning every day, but what I think we figured out today is something that we knew the last four games we just didn’t execute. When we plan together as a team and get everyone involved, the spacing, cutting and togetherness is there. On defense, which was the biggest part today, they hit some big shots. But, we were together and never folded, we continued to fight and that’s something that has to be there every game each game in and each game out. Today was a great example of that.”

On Wheeler and how he breaks down the defense…

“That’s what he does for us, he brings the pace to the team, keeps our speed up and makes plays for all of his teammates. He was aggressive towards the end, he got fouled, made some big free throws. I remember telling him each time he went to the line, to give me one. He made all of them, and I said to him, ‘You’ve got ice in your veins boy, that’s good! Big time players make big shots.’ He did that for us.”

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