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Transcript: Chris Mack previews final exhibition

One last dress rehearsal before the games start counting.

Syndication: The Courier-Journal By Pat McDonogh / USA TODAY NETWORK

(On how well they executed the new offensive system in their first time against an actual opponent)

We’re not a finished product by any means. I thought our baseline effort was really good. That’s where it starts. Just our remembrance to run the floor each and every trip, whether it’s going to be productive for you individually or not. I thought we were much better than the other times where we scrimmaged for longer periods of time, whether that was red-white, intrasquad, or in the practice. I thought our attention to that was was much greater. We didn’t run very many set plays. We have a whole package of set plays that we opted not to run. The execution on a few things underneath out of bounds, a few of the sets we did run. Timing could have been better, should have been better. But I think I was more in tune to finding out if we would we carry over our habits of running the floor, and pushing the ball, and playing with the space that we preach every day in practice, more than the execution of set plays and things that we run. From that standpoint, I was pleased.

(On if there was anything that was a surprise from the exhibition vs. Kentucky State)

I don’t know if anything stood out. No disrespect to our competition, but we’re not going to get - we’re going to get much better defensive effort. I thought we could have taken a shot, really when whenever we wanted to. That’s not how it’s gonna play out when we start playing real games. But the area that I thought we should have been better was defensively. First half we were better than we were in the second half’s first eight minutes. We needed to be tighter on that end of the floor off the ball, and more in tune to where our positioning needed to be. Whether we’re one pass away or two passes away. That’s no different - a lot of times early in the season you see that, but a few guys need to really get better in that area.

(On different of a test West Georgia will be compared to Kentucky State)

This is a team that returns all five starters, and really their whole roster. They had a really good season. They were one of the hottest teams at the end of the year in their division. They’re going to be much more organized, they’re gonna be sharper, they’re a little bit more experienced. Our team recognizes that, and understands that. We’re gonna have to be better than we were against Kentucky State as we battle tomorrow night. Hopefully we’re better in some areas, too.

(On Sydney Curry’s play vs. KSU)

I was really pleased with how Sydney played. I think that he’s been steadily improving. He was the last guy to join our program besides Mason (Faulkner), so Sydney really didn’t have much of a summer, if any. Everything that was thrown at him in the very beginning was conditioning-based. Trying to get him to lose weight, and get in better shape. Everything that our team had learned in June and July, Sydney had to start learning in late August. There’s a lot of catch up work. Meanwhile, we’re putting new things in during September and October, so it’s coming at him and fast and furious. I thought the way he played the other night was really positive for our team. He did a great job. We got to keep making improving steps was Sydney’s play.

(On how close his conditioning is)

We’re not going to play guys 8, 10, 12 minutes at a time. Especially when you have a guy like Malik (Williams) there who’s rock solid. But if Malik goes down with foul trouble, or something happens, Sydney’s gonna have to be able to come in and play for us. He’s a guy that we’re gonna count on. He’s a guy that’s got to be improving and learning our system, but I’ve been pleased with Sydney. He probably has to lose between five and 10 more pounds. He’s a naturally thick, strong kid. So he’s not just losing what we all adults can spare to lose.

(On if he anticipates playing more guys than he normally would due to his team’s depth)

I think that depends on how well they’re performing. But we want to play definitely more than we played the past, but our roster also allows us to do that. We have at least, knock on wood, we have 12 healthy scholarship players. Then we get Gabe back here in a couple of weeks, that’s 13. That’s a full boat. I think all of them, while there may not be huge separation in terms of ability level, I think they’re all very, very talented players. Because of the way that we’re playing on both ends of the floor, we’re gonna have to use more players.

(On if there is a list of things he wants to get done before his suspension starts)

Every year, we lay out a master calendar between when we start officially in the fall, and when our first game’s played. You want to have an idea of what all you need to get in, where you feel comfortable on game one, and we’ve stuck to that. Now, there’s going to be some things between the time I leave, which would be after practice on November 8, and that suspension will start November 9. Then for the next two and a half weeks through the 27th on that game day, they’ll be in good hands with Mike (Pegues). There’s going to have to be some decisions they make on their own. You can’t just plan for the unexpected. You can certainly have plan A and plan B, but things are gonna come up in a two and a half week period of time. They always do, no matter what part of the season you’re in. The good thing is, Mike has 10-plus years experience with me and our system. Ross is a magician on the offensive end, and all three of those guys have terrific relationships with our players. We’ve prepared as much as we can. Then part of it’s just, you gotta do it.

(On Mike Pegues taking over a lot of the huddles during the exhibition against KSU)

I just told him, “Hey, you want to take this huddle?” Not that that was planned or scripted. I tried during the course of the game to not be up as much, and barking instructions to our players. Two-fold, let them figure it out, and also my voice is going to be missing here in a week or so. I don’t want to be a dominant voice in the two exhibition games, and then it’s just strange for them not to have that guy on the sidelines. So I sat a lot against Kentucky State, and that was sort of planned, and I’ll probably do the same thing tomorrow night. But Mike has been in 1000 hurdles. Maybe not in front of the public, and certainly there’s a greater spotlight when the games are played because of you guys and the fans and stuff, but he knows how to coach players. He knows how to organize a team. He’ll have great messages when he’s both in front of people, and in the practice facility.

(On what Noah Locke needs to do to get better)

He’s definitely gotten better. He’s got a ways to go, a few of our guys do defensively. Defense is one understanding. Where am I supposed to be? And then, two is effort. Some guys are on defense just to rest until they get on offense, and some guys, it means a whole lot to them. We got to get more of those types of attitudes on our team. I think sometimes it fluctuates, but so much good on offense can come from a strong defense. They’re intertwined. Our ability to play harder, with more effort, with better communication. I want to see that grow tomorrow night. We got to be better. We didn’t talk much about defense until we got got going in the fall. That’s a big deal for our team.

(On what he will be doing during his suspension)

It’ll be very difficult. I’ve never been through it, so I don’t know. I think if I was just sort of spitballing, I’m probably sitting on the couch watching the game. Then after five minutes, anyone’s guess. I don’t know how I’ll act. I won’t have a notebook, because I can always just rewind and watch it and do that.