Oct. 30, 2012
SAN DIEGO -
Head men's basketball coach Steve Fisher
We get a chance on Thursday to put our team on display. Even though it's an exhibition game, it's a game. We're looking forward to it to see where we are, how much game slippage will occur. Even though we have had two scrimmages, this will be good for us. This will be a good opportunity to see how we'll play against somebody that we're not sure what they're going to do, both offensively and defensively. Right now we know one another so I think this will be a welcome time for all of us players and coaches. Hopefully our fans will turn out in great numbers in anticipation of what they hope will be a great season.
On preparing for Syracuse's zone defense in the Battle on the Midway:
We're going to have to be prepared for the opponent to run a zone defense, so we're just starting to work on zone offense to where we can find ways to attack what is impossible to emulate. (Syracuse) is probably the best zone defensive team in the country because that's all they play and that's what they work on and they're very good at it. Yet, we have good players so we'll have concepts and things we'll want to look to attempt to do. We'll get good shots, I believe. It's a question of being able to make the shots.
On being ranked in the preseason poll:
It continues to speak to the growth and continued evolution of our program. Where two years ago in the 2010-11 class when we were ranked for the first time ever, we made a huge deal out of it and it should have been because we had never been ranked before. Now it's good that our fans and players expect to be ranked and when they're ranked, they either don't speak too much about it or say fan-wise anyway, `we should have been ranked higher.' So I think it's healthy, it's good for a program, (and) it's good for our energy, which is terrific on campus and in the community. Now the trick will be to stay there.
On this year's newcomers:
Much has been made of the six new players, three freshman and three transfers. They're good. We've always said we are not going to say they're `too good.' We recruit good players and we've gotten good players. Often times you get really good players that don't have quite the reputation from national media, but we know they're really good players. Now we have become a school that's good, so now when we recruit a player, people say `he must be good because he's going to San Diego State.' I like that too. We have good talent coming in and we have good talent returning. Now the chore will be to blend them all together.
On a seeing a possible starting lineup on Thursday:
I think what we'll do is start two different lineups on Thursday and Monday and get a good feel. You may see three or four of the same guys out there, but I don't think we'll have exactly the same lineup for each game. I may say, `Well, I was kidding when I said we wouldn't see the same lineup.' So I don't know for sure. I do know that we are going to play a lot of people. We're not going to play this as if it were Syracuse on the Midway in terms of substitution patterns. We're probably going to program substitute at the 16-minute mark or the 15-minute mark regardless of the flow of the game.
On the offseason:
We were for the first time ever, as every other Division I school, able to work with incoming players in the summer. (It was) immensely helpful. You get six weeks where you do two hours a week, so it's good for them and for us where they can get a feel for who we are, (our) personalities and on-court expectations. I think that's given every program in America a little bit of a head start on where we used to be with new freshman in years gone by. I think that's helpful. Our players have done a good job of not just saying, `okay, we got two hours a week in a summer.' They played and good players find ways to get in the gym and play. Both skill building, which is most important and playing five-on-five. So we had a lot of activity that has led to where we are now. I don't think we're any different than any other program from that standpoint. They play, kids play and they almost all year to grow their game.
On what he saw from the team in the second intra-squad scrimmage:
I thought we were better from a defensive standpoint, not getting ourselves in trouble with things that happened in the first one. For instance, we did a much better job early. We got tired at the end because everybody played almost every minute. We did a better job with our conversion defense, didn't give up as many open shots out of transition where we did in the first game. And what I have believed continues to bear fruit. We have a lot of good players. There will be competition for minutes in a healthy way. We've had that and that's what all good teams have. I like the fact that we can go to the bench, not just one guy, but we can go multiple players and they can give us a big boost when they come in. So that's what we're going to count on and that's what we will expect with 11 guys that can play.
On whether his job is more difficult with having so much talent:
Parents are happiest when their kids are playing. Coaches are happiest when the teams are winning. So hopefully you can balance that. If players are honest with themselves, if they are performing that will earn them the right to get on the floor. To be honest with you, I'm too old to worry about that. We will have a group of guys that will compete hard. I don't expect you to like not being on the floor, nobody likes that. I want you to want to be on the floor, but don't pout about it and don't be moody about it. Get out and when your turn comes, play and perform, don't try too hard. It's good that we have returners and good returners that are good kids along with the new kids that have come in. Our new guys kind of look and see how the older guys are going to deal with stuff. That sets the table when you have good senior/junior veteran leadership and we've had that.