An Interview With:
THE MODERATOR: Coach Jim Calhoun and Kemba Walker.
COACH CALHOUN: Obviously we understand without right Georgetown is not quite the same team that we were fortunate to beat back at our place but nevertheless we played into the fact that Kemba Walker got early rest and at least for the 10, 12, 15 minutes to make sure everybody was fresh and we could use our bench against their lack of bench at this point with their injuries. Secondly, when you try to run you've got to rebound in order to do that and may be in the first three or 4 minutes we didn't do that but we started to rebound and they ran and the key to the game and they're great players but we made it a point that definitely going to be Austin Freeman and Jason Clark one on one as oppose to their offense.
Their offense can beat you it's difficult for two people just to bite, they're great players and then when you have 15 on your team usually you're in pretty good shape, Kemba was terrific, he understood where his teammates were, made them better attic points in time and just made some sensational plays regardless of who, what and how they were playing him and it was a really good win for us and I've been involved in enough different situations where if a team catches something, and I don't know if they caught it but from our body language I thought we were loser offensively in a good way and I thought we dug in most of the game defensively so I liked the way we felt. We know we have the toughest opponent in the league coming up tomorrow, but that's what you play for, to get there and hopefully try to get to play and that's an awesome chore but we're look forward to it.
Q. Coach, I know you addressed this with some of your beat guys but at least one coach did not vote for Kemba Walker for first team Big East, how is that possible?
COACH CALHOUN: Two things, I think someone took a vacation and didn't tell you, been gone for 5 months. That's one theory of mine. That's my conspiracy theory from Mel Gibson. And the second thing is that if anybody did it because they lost out in him recruiting wise, which we went to one city this year that that was the story in the paper, something from three years ago. He's as good a player in America and he'll be a first team all American and I can't believe that no one would ever see him play and see the joy in which he plays with the speed he plays with the ability he plays with and the pure love of the game and think he is not as good of a player as he is in the league so disappointed but I've been saying for years it's hard to say you guys object to it but most of you are objective, and I've always said the media should vote this because I've watched things, Coach of the Year and Player of the Year and they don't always come out because there is enough guys who thinks it actually makes a difference. It makes a difference to Kemba. I don't mean that it makes a different to (Dwight) Hardy and others, certainly, but for your program, whether we have a Player of the Year or not. I think he's the best player in the country so, that should be more important and more important people at a different level of basketball think he's pretty good, too, so disappointed but it's unfortunately at times it's part of this business.
Q. Jim, Austin Freeman was hot in the first half, 14 points, 1 for 9 in the second half, can you talk about the second half defense, how it changed and the effective FI on that?
COACH CALHOUN: I think the guy who did the best job quite frankly, Niels did a great job and Roscoe did a good job but the key was reading him, every time you come off the pick and roll and Charles started that off the second half and he with didn't do it down the stretch but in the second half instead of that Notre Dame 8 0 run because they ended the half up by isolating him, we double the pick and roll, took the ball out of his hands and made somebody else try to beat us and Jason Clark ended up being terrific but Austin Freeman last year he had 31 in the second half and that wasn't going to happen this year, someone else was going to have to beat us.
Q. Coach, you mentioned Jamal Coombs McDaniel yesterday again he contributed in a number of ways, when he's playing well, not for 20 like he did mid season but when he's playing well how does that make you a better team?
COACH CALHOUN: He makes us a better team because even the shots he makes, plus he's one of those guys that's a junkyard dog in a sense he scores in different ways but one of the great things he does with a guy with Shabazz and particularly in Kemba who is as good a penetrator as there is. He sucks people down and he always fills the back spot and whether he is a 4 or a 3, he's going to fill behind Kemba and he did it perfectly, and get there. You don't need a lot of those shots to go in, you need the threat of a guy who can make those shots go in that makes a big difference and he changed the defense, he made a difference today he's going to have to make one tomorrow.
Q. Kemba at what point does fatigue play in this at all? When does that start to affect you and the team?
KEMBA WALKER: It won't. We're not going to let it come into play at all, you know. Right now we are in a great situation, you know, Pitt beat us at Pitt and we want to redeem ourselves so we're not going to let fatigue hurt us.
Q. Kemba, I want to say you guys forced 9 turnovers in the first half, what was the key to getting them out of their rhythm and forcing those balls?
KEMBA WALKER: We just wanted to pressure them into our man and hopefully pressure no force turnovers and I think we did a great job at that. We forced their offense, you know, toward the backcourt and I think we did a great job doing that.
COACH CALHOUN: One of the things we said we don't want their offense to control the game and I thought a little bit last year in the second half, this year at times early in the Connecticut which was an 8 point game but really wasn't, could have gone either way. We felt we had to go out and play them and I think that sets up the back cuts but our kids did a great job of handling those so we put more ball pressure on those and Kemba did a great job and overall trap and go we didn't do that the first time, perpendicular passive but today we didn't do that.
Q. Kemba you guys were moving the ball better today, how did you open it up like that?
COACH CALHOUN: They went zone and when people go zone we hold the ball, windshield wipers, which means swing it back and forth but we got the ball ahead of them and behind the defense and our big men were able to find us and we were able to make shots or penetrate.
Q. Jim, you seem to be getting contributions from everybody, even if it's just a little bit, how much has that helped you play well?
COACH CALHOUN: We can't do it we were sailing halftime the best match up, clearly physically because he must weigh 235. He's like a tank. Austin Freeman and Roscoe might be the best match up and we were saying who is next? Bogart, he did it last year to Dyson I can still see him doing it and the next guy on defense for us has been Niels. I thought he did a great job of holding the fort for us. So you're right, when you're able to manipulate parts, the game is so much easier for you. When you're desperate and don't know what to do then it's difficult or you don't have answers.
I think you hit it on the head we had answers today to different situations and I think that's one of the ways you win basketball games.
Q. Kemba in the first meeting against Pitt you scored 31 but you lost by 15, what does this group need to do collectively tomorrow?
COACH CALHOUN: Against Pitt? We need to stay mentally tough, we need Roscoe and Alex and those guys to be tough for us and that's the biggest thing. Pitt is an aggressive team down low and they get rebounds you've got to outrebound them and stay tough.
Q. Coach, hoping you could address the Pitt match up, the first game was a long time ago, are you better equipped to handle them now?
COACH CALHOUN: Isn't like I forgot about them. I see them an awful lot and kept them in mind, too. But, yeah, once again, Pitt doesn't do it by magic, they do it by tough, focus, hard nosed discipline and usually generally speaking have answers at different places and they did that when they had one of their best players out for some time. Point being is that I would hope after these two wins, and coming in, that we have a little momentum going and we know what we're facing so we can't say this time it was a shock to the system, even though we had done wonderfully in Hawaii and won games and that kinda stuff, Big East basketball is different. We know it's coming but it's not one of those things you can say you can cure it because very few teams in our league are able to do that and that's our job for tomorrow and it's a great goal for us. Kemba said we have a great opportunity to beat a great basketball team in Madison Square Garden and we're thankful for that.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks.
An Interview With:
THE MODERATOR: Questions for coach and players.
Q. Coach, what was the game plan to slow down Kemba Walker today?
COACH THOMPSON: I think that we wanted to give him different looks, try to get it out of his hands early, hopefully make him kick it out.
Q. Didn't seem like you got off to the start that you wanted. Early on you were matching them shot for shot but then there was a stretch of turnovers, was that the undoing the stretch in the middle half?
COACH THOMPSON: That definitely was a large part of it. We went through a stretch where we were just turning the ball over, just giving it to 'em, which led to easy transition baskets for them.
Q. Coach talk about missing Chris' presence on the court, how it's affected you guys.
COACH THOMPSON: It is what it is but we miss Chris, absolutely. 100% both ends of the court and in every way. That being said the group that's playing right now that played today has to be better, has to be better. Better than we've been showing.
Q. Coach, when you do get down in the hole like you were today, is the temptation to give the ball to Austin or what do you tell the guys to get back from a deficit like that?
COACH THOMPSON: That's always the temptation, whether we're down or up is to get the ball to Austin. I think that's a good thing because he normally something positive comes out of it or he make the right decision, the right pass.
Q. Coach, a combined 19 minutes for Julian and Henry, was that their ineffectiveness, was that match up, and how does that change your offense when your big men aren't producing?
COACH THOMPSON: It was they were not playing well so we went with a different lineup. Does that affect things? Yes.
But they were not producing. You have to produce.
Q. Austin and Jason, how are you looking forward to having a clean slate for the NCAA Tournament and making adjustments mentally and physically?
AUSTIN FREEMAN: Well, we're going to take whatever happens and in this game, learning from it and go on and practice with a better mind set, everybody will come in focused, ready to work, ready to prepare ourselves for the NCAA Tournament.
Q. Can you talk about defending Kemba Walker especially when he's driving through the lane obviously he can score in a lot of different ways. How difficult is that when he's cutting the way he was today?
JASON CLARK: Kemba is a very good player. He has a lot of weapons, you can't guard him one on one you have to have help from everybody else on your team and get the ball out of his hands.
Q. Jason, where is the team's confidence level at going into the NCAA right now?
COACH THOMPSON: We are a confident team. We know we can win, when, what we have to do to win games so we need to just get back on track, get back on track and try to win games.
Q. Getting back to the turnovers there in the first half, was that something they were doing? Jim Calhoun said they pressured the ball a lot more today than they did in Hartford or was that you guys being careless?
COACH THOMPSON: I think it was I think it was us being careless with the ball.
AUSTIN FREEMAN: Going to our teammate and them bobbling it and it going out of bounds or they picked it up, that's pretty much what was happening. They won, like, nothing they were doing it was us being careless with the ball.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.
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