You know, I thought our guys were ready to play. I know the first three or four minutes of the game didn’t appear that way, but you give Boston College credit. They hit a couple shots in the very beginning, we missed a couple easy ones. But once we settled in, I thought defensively, for the better part of the game, we were really, really locked in to who could beat us. Although two of those guys, (Jay) Heath and (Wynston) Tabbs specifically, get 35 of their 64 points, I thought they were really, really hard earned. About the last three minutes was officiated different than the first 37, but I’ll leave that at that.
(On how they played their overall game)
I thought our focus offensively was to try to get the ball into the paint. Boston College, over the last several games, has shown this 3-2 matchup that you saw today play out. We really felt like that’s all we were going to see, and for the better part of the game, that’s what we did see. It provides opportunities where guys that are good with the ball, like on our team Carlik (Jones) and David (Johnson), would have (James) Karnik or Steffon Mitchell on them in certain situations. So if we could beat them off the dribble, it causes help. We didn’t want to be a team that just sort of played on the perimeter and shot threes. If those threes were generated from paint touches, those are the ones we wanted to take. Again, and I think that plays into the fact when people are converging and flying to close out, and your threes are going up, it leads to more offensive rebound opportunities, and we took advantage of that. That’s what we wanted to do offensively. Defensively, we wanted to be really tight off the ball on certain players, and we wanted to make sure that Heath and Tabbs never felt like they could play one-on-one in a four-foot, five-foot box. They had to get outside of that box and drive around us, knowing that we were going to take charges, and we were going to be in our gaps. I thought we did a terrific job, for a young team on the road, of doing that.
(On if he feels like they made progress in the offensive movement)
Yeah, I think so. The tough part is, we worked on our man-to-man offense the first day or so after Kentucky, but then it was like, we didn’t want to spend an inordinate amount of time on that, knowing that we’re going to play almost all you know all against zone today. While I was disappointed we couldn’t get better and our man offense in practice, we did what we needed to do today. I thought we got good ball movement, we got mismatches. If we were a little stronger with the ball in some of those high post catches, I think we would have been even better offensively. Then, we didn’t take a million threes, we took 17 of them. We almost shot 50%. I thought they those were generated by guys getting in the lane. It was good to see guys like Dre (Davis) and Quinn (Slazinski) knock them down, Josh (Nickelberry) as well. That’s really going to bode well for our team.
(On Quinn Slazinski)
He’s been great for us all year, and Quinn has been an excellent communicator. He really understands the game. He’s gaining college experience, he’s been on the floor a lot more. But even before he ever stepped foot and got to play a lot of minutes, he’s vocal and he recognizes what’s happened and it gives confidence to his teammates, understanding to his teammates. We were in a little foul trouble with Jae’Lyn (Withers) and Sam (Williamson), so he probably played a few more minutes than he normally would. But having said that, he ate up every one of those minutes and did a great job for us. So I had no hesitation leaving him in for extended minutes.
(On David Johnson’s three-point shooting improvement)
I think confidence (is the key). He had five months stolen from him last year with the labrum, where he didn’t get repetitions. Then if you think about last year’s team, he was such a playmaker for guys like Ryan (McMahon) and Jordan (Nwora), and those guys weren’t playmakers. So he wasn’t necessarily getting catch and shoot threes. Carlik’s opening up a little world for him, where Carlik gets in the lane, gets a lot of attention and kicks out. Dave’s getting open threes. Dave’s a way better shooter than I think he gets credit for, when he takes good ones. The thing I’m excited about was he had one turnover today. A team that was picking him up full court, he and Carlik were taking terms bringing it up, he had a phenomenal game in all facets, because he was guarding primarily either Heath or Tabbs throughout the game.
(On how they were able to pull away after a pair of second half BC runs)
Quinn hit a big shot. I think that really showed his moxie and showed his his mental toughness. He didn’t allow, and we didn’t allow, bad things to continue to snowball because we felt sorry for ourselves. I thought we had a better resolve on the defensive end. We talked about in the huddle: if teams are going to make runs, they’re going to make runs. They’re in their own building. They’re in their own gym. This is where they come late at night to get shots up. I mean, they did against NC State. It’s a 14 point game, and they get a one point lead with 30 seconds left in the game. We can’t get flustered or panicked if a team makes a run in their own gym, or in our gym for that matter. But we just got back to who we were, thought we got some open shots, both in transition, and like I mentioned before, Quinn’s. Defensively, we kept guarding the two or three that we felt very, very strongly that were that would beat us. That’s Heath, Tabbs and we thought (Rich) Kelly could do that as well.
(On what allows Carlik Jones to continue to play well)
He plays with extreme confidence. It’s just who he is as a player. I am surprised that he hasn’t shot the ball a little bit better. He’s a way better shooter than 3-13 and even 0-3 (on threes). As long as he takes good shots, and that’s one thing that I don’t worry about with Carlik. Every once in a while, he’s going to make a poor decision, but not very often. I think he gets down on himself too much when he makes those poor decisions, so I got to pick up the his down face sometimes. I talked to him about it after the game. It’s just like, ‘Hey man, you got to be the guy that rallies those guys.’ They can’t look at you and feel bad for you. You make a tough play or you miss a shot, like so what? It’s basketball and he understands that internally, but sometimes he doesn’t show it externally. But he gives our team supreme confidence. He gets the ball basically anywhere he wants. He’s a very good defensive player and he cares most about the most important thing, and that’s winning and his teammates.
(On how much Carlik Jones’ confidence helps down the stretch in games)
It helps a lot. I think both he and Dave can be closers for us, if we can defend without found every three seconds in the last three minutes, which I thought was a little odd. If we can do that form here on out, we’re going to have two of the better closers in the country, I believe. I wouldn’t trade those two guys for anything. I think the rest of our team did a phenomenal job of locking in, and playing with supreme confidence, and knowing what we had to do defensively to win the game.