Nov. 17, 2010
Tennessee vs. Missouri State Quotes
Tennessee Head Coach Bruce Pearl
"Mike Strange (reporter) said if we're going to win the right to go to New York, we were going to have to earn it. I think he's right. We also talked the whole preseason about how we've got to get better. Let's see if we're good enough to beat people on our schedule while we're trying to get better. That's obviously our focus.
"The constant has got to be on the defensive end. When you guard the rebound, you give yourself a chance. I thought we guarded well. We were physical with our defense. With the scout, guys played close attention to it. I think we're pretty good at the fast break, but the halfcourt offense still needs work. I haven't done a good enough job teaching it. We're not working hard enough at it. I hope we get there. Again, you're going to continue to see Tobias (Harris), Scotty (Hopson), Cameron (Tatum), in this case Trey (Golden) are going to get the lion's share of the shots. When your best players are getting the majority of the shots, that's a good thing.
"I thought that Trae and Skylar (McBee) did a terrific job coming in for Melvin (Goins). If we did not win the game, that would not have been an excuse. That's what Trae came here for. That's why Skylar worked in the offseason - he worked really hard to try and compete for the point guard position.
"When it got down to the nitty gritty, obviously we got the ball to Tobais a couple of times. We'll continue to. When you're 5-for-9, 2-for-2 from 3, and 3-for-4 from the foul line, you probably should get more than nine looks. We've got to do a better job of finding him in those situations. Perhaps if he didn't turn it over quite as much he might have had a couple more shots."
On going to New York to play in his hometown ...
"It means a lot, especially to play at Madison Square Garden. It's an honor. We've got to capitalize on the situation."
On having a good game in a tournament atmosphere ...
"It gives me a lot of confidence, but the main thing was to win the game. I just wanted to make the right plays and do the things that help us get to New York."
On his turnovers ...
"It's the second game and I had five turnovers, so it's not the best stat. But some of the turnovers came on chargers or going after the ball and making plays, so it's something I'll have to work on in practice."
On not having starting point guard Melvin Goins for the game ...
"Not having Melvin kind of hurt us at first, but we have some backups like Trae and Skylar who have been working all summer long and during the preseason working at the point guard position. We knew and had a lot of confidence in them that they would be ready. We really didn't study it too much. We just tried to stay ready like coach always tells us."
On the team's focus in the tournament ...
"Just try to do whatever it takes to win. Just like Tobias said, our goal is to get to New York. Just doing whatever it takes - rebounding, assists, playing defense, making plays."
On the team's free throw shooting ...
"I just think with guys coming in and getting extra free throws in all the time, putting ourselves in game-like situations, when we're down 2 or up 3, I just think our guys are taking accountability at the free throw line and doing a great job of knocking them down."
Missouri State Head Coach Cuonzo Martin
"It was a very defensive-minded game. It's just one of those games that you have to grind out and really be physical, and I thought our guys did a good job of that."
On shooting 26 3-pointers...
"The two top guys who take most of our threes, Kyle Weems and Adam Leonard, I'm fine with it. It's part of the game. When you're a scorer, you're a shooter. And when you play at that level, they can't have you in there second guessing.
They have to play basketball. They understand it. Those are the shots you take in practice; those are the shots you have to take in the game. As long as those two guys are taking them, that's fine. If we had other guys taking those shots, it would have been a problem. That's part of it. They understand. They do what it takes to win the game.
Benefits from the game...
"For our guys, to benefit from this game, it's what our young guys learned from this game. Just like last night when we had a big lead. What do the guys take from that? As long as you're part of the program, we expect you to be ready to play. It doesn't matter if you're a freshman and are 160 pounds and 5-5. You've got to be ready to compete. We don't recruit guys to sit on the bench and just joy ride and watch the show.
"As far as taking something away from this game, it's what our young guys learn about the atmosphere, the level of competition, the level of toughness needed to compete. It's like I said to the young guys before we left the gym, I asked, `what year is Tobias Harris?' If you can play, it doesn't matter what year you are, where you come from, who coached you. A ballplayer is a ballplayer.'
"It just came down to mental toughness and making the shots. Guys that usually make them -- including myself -- didn't make them."
On lessons learned from playing a top-25 team...
"We've got to always compete, always believe in the what the coach is preaching every day and the system. They do a good job of preparing us each and every day. If we believe it as a unit, we can compete with any team in the country. Tennessee is a very talented, athletic team. They're definitely deserving of being in the top 25. If we can compete like that, I feel like we can compete with any team in the country."