Nov. 8, 2007
Tempe, Ariz. - On the win over Western New Mexico: "I think we have continued to make good progress on the offensive end. Our guys are doing a pretty good job of picking up some of our concepts. [I'm] very disappointed in our defensive effort, especially in the second half, tonight. So we're going to certainly have to seize every opportunity to get better over the next so many days before we head to Hawaii."
On his plans for the defense in terms of using zone or man-to-man: "Right now I think the best thing for us to do would be to play a sixth or seventh man. It's no so much our defense. It's our concepts. It's our fundamentals. Whether it's our closeout, our ball pressure, stopping penetration, putting a body on somebody around the basket, chest-to-chest contest. The starting point for us isn't a scheme. The starting point for us right now is the fundamentals that have to be present no matter what defense you would play."
On whether he attributes the defensive struggles to effort problems: "You can always give better effort. I think some of our guys are still in the process of learning just how much effort is required and how much effort they are capable of giving. That's a big difference from lack of trying. Everybody, obviously, right now wants to do really well. It's the start of a new season. Everybody is energized. Everybody is vying for a role on the team. So it's just more a function of us increasing our capacity to give greater effort."
On whether communication defensively is a problem right now: "In some instances. Communication is a big part of everything that we do. That's one of those things you can always do better. It's something we're always emphasizing and stressing."
On whether he is surprised the defense is more of a problem than the offense:
"I don't think it's that definitive, because we're still a long way away on offense as well. Things are pretty fluid, and they change quickly. We have a lot of work to do in both areas. It could be turned around tomorrow, we could be saying we've got to really retool the offense and our defense has made some progress. It's really fluid right now."
On what the newcomers have brought to the team so far: "Their attitude is good. I think we clearly have some additional firepower. That's nice to see."
On the schedule during the non-conference season: "We really tried to get a game before we went out to Maui, but we just weren't fortunate enough to be able to hook up with anybody and get that accomplished. So we ended up squeezing an extra game in when we return from Maui, and it turned out that was our Cal Poly game that we nestled in there on Monday (Nov. 26) after returning. So that's just the way the cookie crumbled."
On whether he is concerned at all with a 12-day layoff before the opener: "Not really. It is what it is. Sometimes you try to read so much into that stuff, and how do you ever know? I hear it all the time, especially in football, a week off, is that a good thing or bad thing? Who knows? It probably doesn't matter one way or another. As this old camp coach used to tell all the campers, just play good in the games. All the other coaches would be talking about how important the stations work were, the fundamentals of the game, work all morning in the sun sweating, jump stop, pivot, shooting, ball-handling. Then this legendary great character named Frank Marino used to walk around, and he had no time or patience for any of that, and he would tell the kids the first chance he got, in his raspy. Godfather-like Italian voice, [Sendek doing his best Italian mafia voice] `hey, just play good in the games.'"
On James Harden: "He's a talented young man. He really is. He's explosive. He's one of those guys who just has the ability to score. He does it in any number of ways. Some guys can score in one way. Other guys, if they're really good, they can score in two ways. He finds all kinds of ways, it seems, to score."
On the team's outside shooting improvement: "We have a little more firepower. We shot well today. You can't become a team that just relies on your shooting. It's good to shoot well, because, the analogy we've used in the past, it's hard to win every Saturday 7-3. You've got to be able to win different ways. Last year, we were only able to win one way, and that was usually about 48-47. So it's good to be able to win some different ways. I think we're moving closer toward that, I hope."
On the team's fast break: "I think our break was pretty good tonight. We have to continue to work on that. Against better teams, the points you get in transition are usually reduced significantly."
On the health of Eric Boateng: "He's doing OK. Eric sprained his foot on Monday, so this is the second day out for him. He's making good progress, and I don't anticipate it will be a long-term injury."
On the team's passing, with 21 total assists in the win: "We had 15 turnovers though, which is way too much. Our opponent didn't really pressure us a great deal. We were able to pretty much make any pass that we so desired. So I just thought that our 15 turnovers were too many. You always have to mitigate that because we're playing a higher possession game right now, and if we wanted to give ourselves an excuse, and that's what it would be, you could say it's early. But that's too many turnovers, ideally."
On the struggles with free throw shooting: "Both games, two games in a row, we've not shot free throws well. We left 18 points minimum Saturday and another nine tonight, minimum, because I don't know off-hand how many were front ends of one-and-ones, so 27 points in two games we've left at the line."
On Antwi Atuahene: "I think he really has embraced the role he has. He likes where he's playing right now, and I think that's really helped him. We have him doing more things off the ball and around the basket, and I think he's a little more comfortable there."
PAC-10 MEDIA DAY OPENING REMARKS
"Sitting in our Conference coaches' meeting at Pac-10 Media Day and then listening to Commissioner Hansen, you can't help but shake your head because there is no easy game in sight. We're about to embark on another great Pac-10 season. Last season, for much of the year, we were ranked as the No. 1 conference in the nation, and I think we are picking up right where we left off. Right now we have some very healthy competition in practice. Guys are really working to fill out their roles. I don't know that everyone will retain their starting role from last season because we've improved our depth and we do have some healthy competition for those starting roles."
"Jeff Pendergraph had an all-Conference sophomore season. He continues to work hard to improve. He is extremely coachable. Last year we asked Jeff to do everything, but hopefully this year we can get him additional help. He is a real gentleman. He is articulate, he is intelligent and a pleasure to coach."
"There are always several benchmarks to judge success. Last season I thought we were enormously successful, not in terms of wins and losses, but in other areas. We were tremendously successful in terms of resilience and perseverance. We'll continue to honor the process of getting better, focusing on the things we can control. We have to improve leaps and bounds because night in and night out we will be playing against Top-25 teams."