Oct. 14, 2013
MEN'S BASKETBALL PRESS CONFERENCE QUOTES |
SAN DIEGO -
Head coach Steve Fisher
"We are two weeks ahead of schedule in terms of what history says in terms of men's basketball. Normally we would be starting practice now. Instead, we're two weeks in because of the new rule. So we've tried to use it intelligently. I think it's worked well. As I've said to everybody, I like our team. I like it a lot. I think we have the ability to do things that win. We've practiced very hard, and I think we'll play that way once the season starts."
On how the extra practice time helps his team in particular:
"We're like everybody, we have a blend of youth and experience. The more you can be with them hands-on, the better served everybody is. The NCAA has given us wiggle room in the offseason, so we're able to do a little bit more with the players. I think it's been helpful for everybody. We have three first-time players at the college level, so the leadership has to come in a lot of ways. It has to come from our veteran players too. We're demanding, yet we're patient. You have to be able to blend both of those worlds."
On being picked fourth in the Mountain West Conference:
"I hope we finish first. I've said this before: We've been picked fourth and finished first, and picked first and finished fourth. It makes for good water-cooler talk for a couple days. I mentioned it to the team and I didn't see any outward reaction. I don't think there's a lack of respect because there's monumental respect for our players and what we've done. I think it speaks volumes for the quality of the league. We had five teams in the tournament last year, and those that are picked ahead of us have a lot of players back - more so than we do. So I think most people base it on how many points and rebounds you have coming back. I think the teams that find ways to come out and practice as if they were playing and get a little better everyday, will have the most success. And then you have to know there's a very, very slim margin between teams in games. Nobody cares how well you play or how poorly you play, but did you win? We've got to have ways to have form and technique allow us to win, and know when real stress hits at the end of games, we've been there and done that many times in our minds and in practice. So we put a lot of heat on (the players) in practice to perform under pressure, and hopefully it will show."
On if senior transfer Josh Davis has looked as good as expected in practice:
"Josh Davis had surgery on his big toe to remove a bone spur in the first week of August. We were told it could be 12 weeks before he's able to practice. Yet, (Davis) was at our first practice and looked as if he was in as good of condition physically as anybody we've had. I think his timing was off because he really hadn't practiced. But he's a very good player and he's proved to be a good player at the major college level. So expectations will be there, and he's going to be a very welcomed edition to our team."
On how much sophomore center Skylar Spencer has improved:
"The normal transition is going from a young freshman who's not sure, to a sophomore that has had opportunities. (Spencer) played over 20 minutes a game last season and set a blocked-shots record. He has a knack for blocking shots, and you'll see a much improved and more consistent Skylar Spencer in every aspect of what he does. We like what we see, yet we're pushing him and expecting more everyday."
On how big of an asset assistant coach Justin Hutson is to the team:
"We hired (Hutson) seven years ago from Cal Poly. I liked what I saw then, and I like what I see now. He's a very driven coach who does a terrific job, and he fits in well with our team. He has a great way of being demanding, yet respected, and we're happy to have him back. He's a very good basketball coach and a real, real quality person."
Senior guard Xavier Thames
On how the team looks so far in practice:
"We're looking pretty good. Coach is going to have us ready to play each and every game, and all the guys are playing hard, practicing hard and competing hard. So I like what we're doing right now. I'm just ready for the season, I'm excited."
On the difference between this year and last year's team:
"It's just different personalities. I'm not a guy that gets all riled up and talks a lot. (Junior forward) J.J. O'Brien is pretty quiet, (sophomore forward) Winston Shepard is kind of quiet as well. So it's just different personalities. We do have to work on communication, because that is going to help us a lot in the games. But we're kind of a quiet team, everyone has a different personality."
On being picked to finish fourth in the Mountain West this season:
"It really doesn't mean a lot. People are going to have their opinions, but we use that stuff as motivation. That's just their opinions, we've got to come out and prove them wrong."
On what assistant coach Justin Hutson brings to the team:
"I was here with coach Hutson during my first year here, so I had a feeling of what to expect when he came back. I'm just glad he's back with us and not with UNLV anymore. He has a way being demanding, yet also gaining respect. He helped me a lot over the summer and I'm sure he's going to help all of us a lot throughout the year. I'm glad he's back."
On what way the extra practice time will help the team most:
"Just playing with each other, getting the feel for one another, and also getting to know different plays. Like coach said, we have a few new guys, so just getting to know each other, knowing the plays and things like that."
Sophomore forward Winston Shepard
On how he'll be different this season compared to last:
"I'm going to be playing with a chip on my shoulder with the way last season went. Basically, I just tried to take the summer to go home and work on a lot of things, a lot of mental things. So I'm going to try to show that and bring that to the table for the team this year."
On what he did over the summer:
"Over the summer, I had a lot of opportunities. Coach allowed me to go back home to Texas and spend time with my family. I went to the Kevin Durant Skills Academy, the LeBron James Skills Academy as well as worked out with Hakeem Olajuwon. I was just trying to better myself and improve my all-around game so I can contribute this year."
On what he worked on specifically over the summer:
"Just a wide-array of things. Anybody who has seen me play knows coach Fisher has me doing a lot of different things out there. So I just wanted to work on everything to become a more complete player."
On what he believes is the personality of this year's team:
"You're going to see a hard-working team. Last year, there was a lot of joking and guys laughing. Guys had more to say. But this year, we just come in, do our job, work hard, practice, listen to what coach has to say and then we leave. I think you're going to see a hard-working team, and a team playing with a chip on its shoulder."
On what the biggest adjustment was for him last year coming out of high school:
"Last year was a little tough for me. I had a lot of expectations coming in and I think that was the hardest thing for me to deal with. I just wanted to be so good and help the team so much that it kind of messed me up sometimes. This year, I'm just going to try to slow my pace down and take my time. I'm not going to worry about what outside sources have to say, just play my game."
On if there was a bad label on him last season:
"I'm not sure, and really I don't care. I'm just here to play basketball. A lot of people are going to have opinions about you, but all I can do is try to be the best person I can be."