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Cuonzo Martin Press Luncheon Transcript



Nov. 30, 2011

(Opening statement)
"Thanks for coming today. I guess it's been a good start for us. Obviously we would love to be 6-0 and but I think the guys have done a good job of really focusing. They have done a better job than I thought they would at this time in the year with attention to detail, understanding scouting reports, and their approach to practice. I think that the next phase for us is a level of consistency from start to finish on both ends of the floor even though we are scoring the ball with a high level offensively. Consistently doing a better job of executing finding open guys, finding shooters, finding who is hot, and also trying to the get the ball inside a little more. Defensively we have to do a better job on our one on one defense rather than our team defense. I think we have to take pride in getting stops as individuals."

(Where is the concern with individual defense coming from?)
"I think so. One on one more than anything. It somewhat has to do with quick shots on the offensive side of the ball. Teams have to transition. I think more than anything its just taking pride in one on one defensively."

(Does the amount of travel have any affect on the team?)
"I think those guys can answer that a little better. I know when I was a player we played in Hawaii, Hilo Hawaii, we came back and actually had a tournament in Detroit. We lost that tournament; we lost to a good team. I think it has something to do with it. If I had my way I would rather play home games so to speak to try and get your legs up under you. Maybe a couple more days off. Cause I know I was feeling it just getting up out of bed and I can only imagine it as a player. But you have to practice, you have to go through schemes to play a game."

(Were the quick shots a concern when you addressed that last time before the game?)
"The thing is, is if you shoot them quick and you get results. But if you are shooting them quick and you are getting good looks, getting to the basket and they are not falling, that is one thing. But if you are settling for perimeter shots, one dribble pull ups, with 30 to 25 seconds on the shot clock then that is different. But once again offensively you have to be able to play, you have to play with confidence, but if you have the looks you have to take them. In the situation with the last game one extra pass, two extra passes you can get anything you want on the floor. I think that is the biggest key. But you still want to remain aggressive."

 

 

(Talk about stressing guys taking good shots)
"You have guys that have the ability to do that. It's just about putting your head down and getting to the basket. Being under control and not getting charge calls. I thought we did a really good job of that. Not getting charge calls on us in that game or getting to the lane. I thought Jordan and Cam did a really good job of getting to the rim and finishing around the basket."

(Is the offense further along than you had anticipated?)
"I think so because the first couple of weeks our focal point was the defensive principals, team defense. Offense was more skill development as opposed to set plays. Understanding, taking care of the ball, being under control, penetrating and pitching, really not turning the ball over more than anything. Then we spend a lot more time on getting shots up, not necessarily playing, but getting three point shots up, penetrating, pitching and getting shots up with that sort of thing. We did a good job with that, so I would say so offensively especially when we are not getting a lot of production from a scoring standpoint on our blocks."

(Talk about Pittsburgh and the challenges)
"Physical team, tough team. The guys have been around the blocks; they have been together for a long time. They understand what it takes to compete, especially to play on the road. They will grind you out on both ends of the floor. They will take what they give on the offensive side of the ball; they will work the shot clock.

(How do you feel about the point guard matchup with Pitt and Trae Golden?)
"You have to go get it, it's part of it. When you are trying to be the best, you go against the best and that's how you size yourself up as a player. But it's not necessarily one on one competition, it's more or less running your team and doing the things that is necessary for your team to win ball games. But I will take Trae any day of the week."

(How is Jeronne doing physically?)
"Jeronne is fine. Jeronne is fine, I haven't seen any signs from him otherwise."

(Talk about his performance in Maui and again on Monday night)
"I thought he did a good job. I think Jeronne is really good when he is making his free throws because he knows how to get fouled, he gets to the basket. When he is making his free throws he is tough to defend. You know Monday was probably a case of not practicing because of the injury and wanting him to be ready for the game more than anything, but I think he will be fine."

(Is this game a good measuring point?)
"Oh yeah, it's good. I thought it was good competition in Maui. Then with the circumstances, the travel and all of that, to be able to go into Oakland and be ready to play, unfortunately we didn't win the game, but just another measuring stick from a mental standpoint, being ready as a team when you have to go through something like that and an environment like that and really understanding what you are getting yourself into because you haven't been through that before. That game was marked over a year ago to be ready to play so I thought it was good to go through that and get back and to get up and be ready to go to class the next day and be ready to practice today. I think it was good, but once again Pitt is a very physical team. It's more a mental approach than anything this time, getting ready to play understanding what you are going to do. We do a lot of physical things in practice so it shouldn't be anything we haven't seen before. I think it's more mental than anything."

(What do you think about your teams mental toughness?)
"We've seen them in practice and realizing that we can be a pretty good team. It's just about going through things together as a team, because once again outside of Cam Tatum, he is about the only guy that has played this amount of minutes at this level. I don't think it has anything to do with who is a freshman because everybody can play, but you have to be able to play together as a team and make mistakes as a team, learn guy's ways. More than anything trust in guys. I think that is the biggest key on the defensive side of the ball. You know trusting your team mates, understanding if I do this somebody is on the back side ready to help me. A lot of times when you are playing defense you have some assignments that it's a trust factor. You feel like you are one in certain areas, so you have to understand them and be ready to help."

(Talk about turnovers from freshman and earning them more playing time)
"I think we will do more of it. We will work more with them in practice. Today we have those guys a lot of times matched up against each other to defend and really pressure each other. Wes does a good job of putting pressure on the ball and Trae phases a lot of it in the game. I think Wes has gone four games without a turnover which is impressive for a young guy especially going against some of the competition he has faced."

(How important is it for a team to realize we can exceed expectations?)
"I think so, it's just a matter of those guys going through it because they have gauged themselves against the so called best. I know they can do it, but once again if you don't have the reps under your belt at this level you are kind of sizing yourself up against the competition but you are also realizing that you are a team and you have to do things from a team standpoint. I think the guys have done a good job and now it's just a matter of taking it up another step consistently on both ends of the floor."

(Would you like to be able to affect games more with your defense?)
"Without a doubt and I think with time our guys because you are working those things in practice. The individual defense, the weak side defense, the trusting each other. But when you are scoring the ball at the level, the thing now is working the shot clock better as a team. That comes with time, it's not necessarily me saying make ten passes because you want guys to play with confidence and also getting stops defensively, getting the big rebounds, we didn't get the big rebounds last game and all of the sudden on the next possession they get a shot. I don't' want to play at that level defensively. Offensively 80 to 90 is great, but defensively we need to keep that thing right around the 60's."

(How much is individual defense fundamentals?)
"Well I think with anything it is just taking pride in one on one defending. Because you want to be able to stop a guy. The last thing you want to do is to go into the locker room and have guys teasing you about a guy scoring 30 plus points on us. For me as a player that's the last thing. Technique is out the door, if I felt like you know me as a player, these guys didn't hear me say this, but I felt like for me as a player if the technique wasn't working I was going to stop the guy the best way that I knew how. I think that is the most important thing taking pride in really knowing how to do it. Because you do a lot of technique, technique is always a team thing. But if I'm on eyes and one on one with a guy than I felt my legs are a certain way then I can stop him."

(How much of the game was matchups versus Oakland?)
"When you say matchups, if I'm a point guard and you're a point guard then I better be ready to guard you. That is the bottom line. I don't think there is any other way to put it. I have to stop you; you are trying to stop me. It's one on one, I have to do my job to stop you, because when you start maneuvering guys, you move this guy over because he can't defend then you are in trouble in a matter of time. When you are scheming assignments, teams run certain plays and now all of the sudden I am not the guy guarding the guy coming off the shot and I'm not the help defender like the scouting report said it gets a little tough. It comes down to the fact that you have to be able to defend your man more than anything."

(Talk about Jordan's development)
"It's a good job. 25 points is 25 points, I don't care who you are or where you are playing and he has also shot the ball well. I think 5 for 7 against Chaminade and that is not an easy thing to do, you know it's just him really understanding and learning the spacing of the offense. When he is able to penetrate, when you have the spacing now guys can use their dribble to get to the lane with shots and make plays. I think that has really helped him get a feel for it and get and understanding. We don't come down a lot and call plays for guys, but if you have those individual skills than you are going to be successful."

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