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QUOTES: Sun Devils 79, Central Arkansas 64
Courtesy: Sun Devil Athletics
Release: 11/10/2012
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Nov. 10, 2012

Recap |  Box Score |  Notes

"Thank you for coming tonight; just wanted to send our very best wishes to Bruce Cooper, who I know is recovering at home now. I think all of us know him and are glad to see that he is on his way back. So Bruce, if you get a chance to tune in to this everybody here at Wells Fargo sends their best to you."

"Obviously it's good to start the season with a win; clearly on November 10th all teams in the country will be a work in progress, and certainly we have a great deal of work ahead of us. But I thought that there were a number of positive things today and it was good to get that first game under our belt. Obviously Jordan was one block shot short of ten, the same number away from a triple-double. Thought he really anchored the middle for us, on 8-10 field goal attempts. He played a really good basketball game. We have to most certainly do a better job of exercising some patience on offense when we don't have a quick strike, rebounding continues to be a challenge for our team, and tonight I thought we just got caught not doing our best transition defense. Those are a couple general thoughts off the top. Anybody have anything?"

What did you think of Jahii?
"I think he played a good college basketball game for the first time out, and obviously he was tremendously excited to take the court tonight. It was wonderful to hear the applause he received when he was announced for the starting lineups. For not having played since the state championship game his senior year, this was the first time to get back out there and I thought he did a heck of a job. Really happy for him and proud of him."

Did you sense any jitters?
"I really didn't. You always have some butterflies when you're a competitor getting ready for a game and that's if you played last night and every time you take the court. You can ask Jahii how he felt, but I'm sure he was anxious and excited and all those emotions. Heck, I was that way and I've been doing this for a long time and that's what happens when you compete, especially opening night. I mean, today this game started at 5:30 and it seems like midnight to me, it was like the longest day ever, I'm an early riser. I think everybody feels that way when you're going to compete, especially opening night."

Can you put into perspective just how big of a night Jordan had out there?
"Yea, I think he continues to get better. I think we really saw him take some positive strides in the last third of the season last year and it was good to see him start in that same direction again this evening."

What do you think of the man-to-man defense tonight?
"I think we have a chance to be a very good defensive team, but like I said the two areas, three areas that really hurt us tonight were transition defense, didn't think we did a real good job of getting matched up, we got caught without good floor balance at times. The second thing was they did a really good job of spacing the floor and driving, I thought we gave up too much penetration. And the third thing is I want to see us defensively rebound the ball better and get loose balls. I thought they were the aggressor to loose balls. So I think we can be a good man-to-man team, but we're certainly not there yet."

Coach, do you sense with Jordan that he's coming in with a chip on his shoulder, asserting himself more aggressive, almost in a sense he's playing angry?
"We never want to play angry; we do want to play focused. I read somewhere many years ago, and I tend to believe it, anger is one letter short of danger. But, if we're focused, that's a good thing. Jordan will be the first to tell you he kind of discovered that about himself that season that when he's aggressive and has that edgy mindset, he has the chance to play his best. And when he's more passive, it just doesn't work out. With Jordan, as with a lot of guys, Jordan is such a gentleman you guys have interviewed him and talked to him, the world's nicest guy off the court, but you have to have your on the court personality as well."

Evan didn't shoot the ball particularly well, but defensively, he's a pretty hardnosed kid.
"He has really been consistently our leading deflector in practice. We keep stat called deflections and there are five categories that make up deflections: deflections, steals, tipped from behind, recover, and block shots. Through the first four weeks of practice, Evan has led us in that category."

Can you talk about how beneficial it is to have a steady backup point guard like Colvin?
"Point guard play is so important in basketball. You see the teams that do well usually have good point guard play. You see the teams that struggle, more often than not; there may be a hole at point guard. It's true in the NBA, it's true in college. You look at the teams with great point guards and those teams do pretty well, whether it's Rondo, or Chris Paul, or Nash through the years. Point guard play is really important. You take that one guy away, or in our case, we have a couple guys playing that position, it makes things more difficult. Another analogy is football. You can be really good in football in a lot of different positions, but if you don't have good quarterback play, it's hard to win."

A lot of the first half was some pretty close action, but you closed it out on a 16-0 run. What got you guys going?
"I think we got better shots, we took better shots. I thought there were too many opportunities tonight that we were impatient and we settled rather than having some more measure of discipline; making an extra pass, looking backside, making sure the ball went into the post first. There were just too many possessions where we settled for a quick shot and I think that one stretch you referred to where they got back in the game and I think at they tied it, our patience and our shot selection on offense wasn't what it needed to be."

Coach, how important was it to set the tone at your home floor, to establish a winning environment here at Wells Fargo?
"I thought it was really important. Tonight was a big game for us, I know that may not register for someone who's a casual observer because it's November 10th. Most people are still focused on football and everything on a Saturday like this in November, but for us this was a really important game. We wanted to get off to a good start, we wanted to make sure we took care of business at home and the one thing you know if you follow college basketball and you're paying attention at all, this is a unique sport. This is a very unique sport. And you better be ready to play every night out. There's not a day or night that goes by that you check the clicker that there isn't some casualties, unexpected casualties. That's the nature of our sport, with the three-point line, foul trouble, there are so many variables. It's a very unique shirt. So for us, this was a very unique game."

You won't play another game for another eight days, is that a good thing, Coach, or a bad thing?
"I think it's a really good thing, because there is so much that we will be able to digest from tonight. We've only been practicing for four weeks; we don't even have everything in yet. We certainly don't have everything polished yet, so we need practice time. We need good quality practice time, where we can build and focus on the fundamentals. Maybe at a later point in this season, you don't want to break continuity if you're going well, but right now we need to practice and we need to practice again and again."

There was a time out right before that run to end the half; did you say anything in particular to the team at that point?
"I just gave them a hard time. I didn't like the way we were playing. I thought we were being soft with the ball, and cute on offense, and not making each other better. They were beating us to loose balls, and getting offensive rebounds. That's not Sun Devil basketball. I shared my opinion with the fellas."

Coach, what was your expectation for the game tonight?
"I expected us to have a lot of energy. I think guys were really excited about playing. I'll say this, and I know I'm kind of detouring from your question; today we always have a shoot-around before the game. I've been doing this for a long time now, and I can't think of many better shoot-arounds than we had today. The guys were incredibly focused and sharp. Guys were really excited to play tonight. We had tremendous preparations; we couldn't have been more ready. But, then you go through the opening game, you better take inventory of what you need to keep working on."

Coach, we saw a lot of interesting lineups, Pateev and Jacobsen played at times together. How much are you still going through the motions and in flux with that stuff?
"We're still in flux. You know a lot of it is going to depend on the opponent. Today, we played a really quick and athletic team; that dictated what we could do. A lot of times they had four guards on the floor, they were playing Coach Wahlberg's dribble-drive offense, where they really had things spaced nicely. A lot of dribble hand offs, dribble hand offs, ball screens, that kind of style offense can influence match ups and your rotation. Ok, anybody who almost has a triple-double, should be an interesting interview right? Thanks guys."


On knowing if he was close to the triple-double...
"Honestly, as I play, I don't really keep track of my stats. I just play hard. It doesn't really matter if I have one block, two block, or eight blocked shots, I just played hard. I don't pay attention to the scoreboard. You can't do that or you'll get a big head."

On coming out aggressive...
"It definitely was not easy. Coach will tell you there have been tough days in practice when I'm not mentally there. There have been lapses in my mental focus but that's one thing that I've been working on. Just to come to every game and every practice and work hard. My goal is to come out and play every game with the mindset of an animal. Coming in and being aggressive. You can't play hard unless you have the right mindset. That was a focus for me in this game. In our exhibition games I struggled a little bit on rebounding. That was a big focus for me today. To go in there and get every board that came close to me. There were a couple that I didn't get but I just went to the board as hard as I could."

On Jahii...
"I love playing with Jahii. He's a great point guard. He's not only quick and can take you off the dribble, but he sees the court better than anyone I know. I love having a true point guard. Last year we struggled a little bit. Chris Colvin stepped up from a two to be a point guard. That was a tough transition for him but he did a great job last year. He played some point today and he did a fantastic job but it's nice to have a player that has played point guard his whole career. He sees the court so well. I love playing with Jahii."

On sensing any nervousness from Jahii...
"Jahii is a pro. He comes every day, every game, every practice with a mindset that he's going to take it to someone. If there was nervousness, I couldn't sense it. He knows what he can do. I think he's hungry because he had to sit out last year. That's tough for any player, especially when he didn't choose that. That was put upon him. He just came hungry. He's been hungry every practice and tonight he ate.

On Jahii coming back after sitting out a year...
"It's tough mentally because you're there every day working hard and he doesn't get to play games. That's where it all comes together. Working hard in practice is tough. To come every day and work hard when you know you're not playing is tough. I commend him for that; same with Bo (Barnes) and Evan (Gordon). They came hungry. They were out last year because they transferred but they worked hard in the off-season. They worked hard all last year and it's really starting to show."

On the team being "hungry"...
"We take everything personally; rankings, what people are saying about us. We take it all personally. If you don't take it personally, you shouldn't be out on the court. This year we're hungry. We have a need to win. We have parts that we were missing. I think that we have a really great team and we have really great team chemistry. We're not only just teammates, we're friends and we're brothers. We look out for each other. I think you can see that in the way that we play. We love playing with each other. It's fun."

On establishing a home court advantage early on...
"Our goal was to start some momentum. I feel like there were moments where we didn't play as well as we could as a team. There was a lull, especially in the first half. Coach told us in a huddle that our play early on wasn't good enough. We had to go and we had to work hard. We had to push the ball and we did. It paid off. Those are the moments that you look and say, `That's what Sun Devil basketball is about.' That's what we're going to do this year."

On playing man-to-man defense and zone defense...
"I'll play whatever Coach wants me to play. I've played man-to-man most of my career so I'm more comfortable in man. It keeps me close to the hoop so I can get those blocked shots. I think that's a big reason why I was able to get those tonight. I don't have to close out to the corner as much. I love playing man, but if Coach wants to switch back to zone, he's the coach."

On playing against a smaller opponent...
"We knew that going into this game. Coach has really made a big point to going inside, driving into the paint, and finding the open man. Because they're so small, the only thing they can do is collapse, which leaves multiple guys open. I got a couple dunks because my man collapsed onto the driver. They just kicked it to me and I had a dunk. That was a big focus. To not only drive it, but to get it inside and work inside-out."

"Words can't really explain how it felt when I got out there. I was glad to be out there, I felt the excitement. I felt like a kid in a candy store, pretty much for the most part. Seeing my family, the crowd, and my teammates getting excited for me, it made me feel great."

Were you nervous?
"No, I felt comfortable. We had a couple closed scrimmages, so I was able to get my feel for the game. So I wouldn't say i was nervous, I just came out there and played. I think I played pretty well. I tried to push the tempo up a little bit. We are still working on the tempo, just I didn't want to go too fast at times. I tried to get my teammates involved early, so the defense couldn't help on everyone. I also tried to attack the basket when I could."

How did you feel when you woke up?
"It was a little bit overwhelming for me. I just woke up and said, God had blessed me to be able to suit up and play Division I basketball. Me being a high school recruit, I knew I was going to be able to play college basketball, but not knowing here being this is my home town. I was overwhelmed the whole day, just excited. I got text messages from family members and seeing how excited they were. Even from my teammates, i seen they were excited for me as well."

On strong and weak areas of the team...
"I think that when people say we play a slow temple, guys tend to try to prove them wrong and go a little bit too fast. I tend to do that myself, and everyone else went a little too fast. If we have fast pace, then have slow patience, we will be fine. But I think overall we played a good game. We came out here and went for the juggler and we if get our pace and our transition up, we would be an outstanding team."

On Jordan...
"Words can't explain. I watched him play lackadaisical in practice, then there are times when he just goes out there and no one can score on him. With the size advantage that he had, he utilized it, and helped us tremendously on defense. He gets rebounds, strong with the ball, so he's just a dominate force, especially being 7'3 and so mobile."

Playing along with Evan (Gordon)...
"He definitely takes the pressure off of me. Guys can't pressure the basketball on me, they can't trap me as much, because he's a ball handler as well. He also hits open jump shots, and is able to get my open shots. He makes my game a little easier to play."

On having eight days until the next game....
I would say it's 50/50. We would like to get out there and play as soon as we can, to get our flow and momentum going. At the same time we have different things to work on. I think a week of practice will help us, and give us a lot of rest, and be fresh for Sunday.

On playing the game vs. scrimmage game...
"No, because the scrimmages we are still trying to win the game, and the refs were still refereeing. We were still trying to compete. So the with the crowd, you have to do a little more hand signals, and can't really call out plays in the gym. I think i was fine, as well as the guy, just a different atmosphere."

On the biggest thing he has to work on...
"Getting to more two level ball screens. Hitting more open jump shots, hitting free throws, getting the big man Jordan the ball a little more early, so they can't really clasped on him down the stretch. Just playing better defense overall, there's always room for improvement."

On Chris (Colvin) coming off the bench...
"He's great. I think he's a back up 1, 2, 3 and anything else the coach ask of him. He comes with a great attitude, leadership, he's played the game, so he can tell me and Evan everything we can't see. A lot of guys comes in and try to do too much, or they fall below the level, but he comes in an even it all out. He's a nice little energetic bunny for us."

Arizona State Sun Devils Men's Basketball
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