Nov. 9, 2012
Minnesota (1-0) 72, American (0-1) 36
Williams Arena • Minneapolis, Minn.
November 9, 2012
Minnesota Head Coach Tubby Smith
“It’s good to get this game under our belt. Obviously, with the first game of the season, you’re always a little nervous because you don’t know how you are going to respond. I thought our kids really came out with focus, intensity, and played hard. We were really pressuring the ball, harassing them and forcing turnovers. American is a good team, they’ll have a good season, but I thought we jumped on them early and when you combine that with the pressure and shooting, I thought that was a huge key for us. Joe Coleman and Austin Hollins really set the tone with getting in passing lanes, getting steals and pushing the ball up the court.”
On if full-court pressure will be used frequently this season…
“We have always tried to be up-tempo and use pressure to force turnovers. That’s something that we wanted to do. I was impressed with Mo (Maurice Walker) and Trevor (Mbakwe) with their mobility. That’s the key, because that’s where you have the drop-off. If guys like Austin (Hollins), Joe (Coleman) and Andre (Hollins) are up there pressuring and then their postman flashes open and it relieves the pressure. I like the way Elliott (Eliason) has been contesting passes, but yes we would like to play that way. But in the second have they played the zone, they pressed us some, they played a little 1-2-2 and that makes you take time to get your shot off. That’s the only problem with pressing, if you get that mentality that you have to press to get yourself going it can work against you.”
Minnesota Forward Trevor Mbakwe
On Mo Walker’s first regular season action since 2010…
“It was great, he’s been working hard for the last year and a half. I’m happier about his comeback than mine. He’s been through a lot. It was great to see him out there, the crowd gave him a big ovation and he’s going to be big for us this year."
On how long he thinks it will take him to get back to where he was before the injury…
“I don’t know. I think it’s just a confidence thing, trusting my knee and knowing that the doctors did a great job. I think now conditioning is the biggest part. My knee is fine, it doesn’t hurt at all.”
On how it feels to get the first game under the belt…
“It’s a pretty big relief. We had a lot of expectations coming into this season, and I think we started off the right way.”
On playing aggressive, up-tempo offense…
“I think first thing, we came out with a real aggressive defense. In the first half, I think we got to a 15-0 lead because we forced a lot of turnovers in the backcourt. When we were able to do that, that obviously led to points, so defense first. When we play tough defense, that will carry over to the offense.”
On Coach Smith preaching on using the full-court pressure…
“He preaches that every year. Before every game, he tells us to go do it. That first five minutes when the adrenaline is running you get a little tired, but today it seemed like we had a little bit of juice out there so we were able to press basically the whole game. Coach really stresses that a lot, and today we were able to come out on top. “
Minnesota Guard Austin Hollins
On thinking the team will use more full-court pressure…
“Yeah, I think with a lot of the depth we have this year, our full-court pressure is definitely something we’ll use a lot more.”
On his own effort (career-high 20 points and five steals)...
“I felt really good tonight. I focused on getting in the passing lane and just playing defense. That was the main focus. The offense came once the defense came, and I think that’s with the whole team. Once we played D, we got a lot of fast breaks and got up and down the court.”
On if he knew he set a new career high for points…
“No, I did not.”
American University Head Coach Jeff Jones
“We got whipped about every way you can. Minnesota did a great job. They did a good job defensively. They worked their offense, and when they missed, they crashed the offensive boards. We did not have any answers for them. They certainly are an excellent team, but I would have liked to have seen our guys put up more fight.”
On more success in the second half...
“When a team like Minnesota gets up that much, it is only natural for a small letdown. I did think our guys were trying to respond. The fact that it got to that situation is the issue we have to deal with. We did try to respond. The big thing for us is getting back to the drawing board and the practice court to get better.”
On the key issues of the first half...
“I think it was two things. Number one was the turnovers. They forced us into 22 for the game. Number two, it was tough to get into any kind of offense because (Minnesota’s) defense took us out of everything we were trying to do. Give credit to Minnesota, but we have to be better at basic basketball fundamentals if we want to give ourselves a chance to win at a place like Minnesota.”
On what can be taken towards the rest of the season...
“We need to improve pretty much everything. There was nothing tonight that I felt we could be satisfied with. When you play these teams, it is tough and challenging. At least we have film that we can go back and show them. We can talk about specific things and, hopefully, the players will be in the mindset to listen and focus on the things a good team has to do.”
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