Feb. 18, 2013
(On the firmness of the four-guard lineup)
"I think so. What it does more than anything, and don't get me wrong Kenny will still be at the Power Forward position, but he's better at a Center position because he can move, he can play, he's used to that. When he comes off those ball screens and dive, now there's no other big guy down there. He's the big guy, now he can finish and do what he needs to do. In most cases with he and Jarnell out there, he dives as another big guy around the rim. Now, if he can't dunk, he has to be able to make a play and a decision with the ball. That's the area where he is not as comfortable at. It's just those small things. Yeah, I just think for us with the four-guard lineup has spacing, guys dribble penetrating, guys making shots and it opens up for Jarnell, allows him to play. So now instead of double teaming, you got perimeter guys that can make plays. There's some areas, Kenny Hall has a man sitting on his lap and it's just tough when you "swing, swing, swing" and you can't get any production out of there. It's just a difficult thing to do, but you got to be able to open up and allow him to play."
(On the team imposing its style of play instead of adjusting to the opponents' style)
"Well for me, I've always been a guy, I guess you hear "defense defense defense." I've always been a guy that wanted to run the basketball and score the ball, but guys have to be built to run, but you got to make good decisions when you run. You just can't all of a sudden run down the court, you'll turn the ball over. You've got to be able to make decisions with the basketball and if you've got three or four guys that can handle the ball in transition and can make a decision, that's a tough team to defend. I think we're making progress towards that. We're not at the level we need to be but we are making progress."
(On the team's demeanor)
"Well, you know, I feel like it's amazing what confidence can do for you. It's the same team, we haven't changed anything outside of tweaks here and there, but the system's still the same. You see Skylar McBee shot the ball as well as he's shot the ball. We had an exhibition game I think. He really stroked the ball, but that's how he shot the ball and it's like where has that been in previous games but you got to stick with it. You got to give guys a level of confidence. You can't beat guys up, make them feel uncomfortable; make practice where they hate coming to practice, it's part of it. You lost some games, you learn from it, but I think our problem is with things we can correct. It's not a case where we were out manned and the other teams were that much better. There's nothing we can do about it tonight, let's just put our hard hat on, put forth a good effort, and move on. That wasn't the case. We had the personnel, we just weren't playing at the level we were capable of playing at. Now I think we are doing that, but once again I go back to it, and I've never been a guy to point guys out and say "this guy, that guy" because it's a team game. But I knew for certain Glen Robinson wasn't at the level he needed to be on a consistent basis. Purdue didn't have the success; they didn't win the Big Ten championships, the multiple championships, but it is what it is. Your guys have to be the guys that they're supposed to be. Now that doesn't necessarily mean scoring every night, but they got to be locked in, in tune. So if I'm not scoring, I'm rebounding, I'm defending, I'm still leading. But if the guys aren't the guys they are supposed to be as advertised, your team will struggle. You saw that team we played Saturday, very talented team. They were out their guy. You talk about guys that are five stars, and McDonald's All-Americans. A very talented team, very well coached, but you are without A guy. You can't lost that type of production and expect to click on all cylinders, no matter what personnel you have, it is a part of it. And that is a growth that our guys had to go through. When your best guys aren't at the level, and that was a team that their best guy, that is the result of it. It's tough."
(Some of the guys who were out of the rotation for a while never seemed to grumble or pack it in. Is that unusual in your experience?)
"Not for me, not at all. I say that to say a lot about what we teach is about life. All the time. I do not say that just to say that because I am talking (with the press). You go through things in life, and I say this all the time that I do not determine the starting five, those guys determine it. I do not determine who the final five guys are in the game. They determine it in practice with who makes a big free throw. I did not hesitate when there was a technical call and Demantre Edwards went to shoot the free throws because I have seen him practice and he can make a shot. Because you know your guys. He stays ready, he continues to work. With Quinton in South Carolina, he is a tough kid, I knew he would be ready against Carrera, there was not a question about that. You have to know your team. You have to have a pulse on your guys and there is a relationship. I am not just a guy who walks in the office and says it is time to practice ok I'll see you guys the next day. We are always together, and those are the things that we deal with as a team and as a family. There cannot be more than five guys on the floor and we have to finish with five guys. That means there are eight scholarship guys that have to watch down the stretch of a game. You still have to be ready when your numbers are called. Brandon Lopez, a guy who is a walk-on, Trae Golden not playing as well. Lopez comes in and we get a win. That is what it comes down to. Excepting your role, because I can tell the guys that if you sitting on the bench in the worst thing you go through in your life then you are going to have a great life. Accepting like a man and dealing with it."
"(On Trae Golden mending his confidence following his injury time off)
"I think more than outside of his hamstring, it was (mending) his mind. He is a talented player. When you have scored at the level he has probably scored at since he was 12 or 13 years old, and all of the sudden you have struggles, this is probably the first time in his life in his mind he has had struggles, in my opinion, because when he was a freshman they had a talented team and had experienced guys so he could say I can wait my turn, even though he did not want to. Now all of the sudden he is a returning guy and one of the best point guards in the league and he is really struggling and it is a hard thing to deal with. It is not easy, especially at this level in the league with this fan base that supports you with some many people watching. It is not like he goes to a home game and there are only 400 people in the gym. He is expected to play at a level. You do not get 17,000 plus (fans) for you to lose ball games. He is one of those guys who put the pressure up on himself as a point guard and as a leader. It was tough for him, but he has been putting a lot of work and a lot of time in to it. That is what any good player would do and I would imagine when you put the pressure on yourself and the only way to do that is to fight out of it. He and Coach Webster have been spending a lot of time at 7 or 8 in the morning with individual work getting better. I think that is why you are seeing the results more than anything. It is like I tell him all the time, how good will you be if your shots are not falling. That is the gauge of a true basketball player, in my opinion, especially when you are a scorer. Can you still be effective? Because in Trae's case, he can score the ball. If he is not scoring, then is he still in the game? Then that means he is playing a great floor game."
(On what stands out about LSU)
"The athletic talented guards. Hickey does a great job of running the team, gets steals. Stringer is a 5 foot 10 inches - 6 foot guard that can make shots quick in transition. Johnny O'Bryant is very similar. Jarnell and those guys go through him. He's playing really well, scoring the basketball, rebounding the ball, so it should be a great matchup with he and Jarnell."
(On offensive play of LSU)
"It's not easy because they have weapons and their perimeter guys can make shots. You have a guy like Johnny O'Bryant who demands a double team on the blocks. You have to make their catches tough. You can't allow those guys to floor into our offense. They'll able to floor into our offense, Hickey is able to pick you apart, then they can be tough, because once again you have a guy that's going after Johnny O'Bryant, you have a guy hovering around him, like I said, it's very similar to Jarnell Stokes, so you can't allow those guys to get you into transition, because that's where they score baskets and make their perimeter shots in their half court offense. You have to make them take tough shots and make tough plays."