HOUSTON HEAD COACH Kelvin Sampson
“I’m proud of the win. Winning is not a beauty contest. There are some people that evaluate these things and those are the same people who saw Miss America walk across the stage find a bunion on her foot. I do not look at that. I am just proud of the win.
There was a lot of adversity out there tonight. There is not a lot of teams in our league that could miss the two guys we had out, Devin Davis and Rob Gray, and still find a way to win. That is why we are 12-3 and 3-0 in the league.
I am more proud of this win than any win we have had this year. This is the best win we have had this year. They all count the same, but there are some that mean a little bit more to you. This is a cultured win. We were shooting 36 percent from the floor and 5-18 from the three-point line. We couldn’t make a shot, but we grinded. We had 16 offensive rebounds. We got the right guys to the free throw line when we had to and they stepped up and made free throws. It was not very pretty, but it was a great win for us to keep us undefeated in the league.”
On close plays at the end…
“We got a little lucky. From my angle, I thought he had made the little bunny that he missed there at the end. I give Frank (Haith), his staff and their kids a lot of credit. They fought. It was not a very pretty game obviously.
When we won at Connecticut last week, we looked pretty. We shot 50 percent and shot almost 50 percent from the three-point line. We played great defense. It was a blow out so we looked good. Then we come out tonight and we don’t look very good, but we were also missing the second leading scorer in the league.
Then we have Wes VanBeck who is not used to playing those minutes. He played 37 minutes and had no turnovers. I am going to have to get on him about his rebounding. He was more focused on making his free throws, which is not a bad thing.”
On key in the second half
“Just getting more organized, you know we had a game plan until right before the game. Rob (Gray) was really sick yesterday and then he texted me this morning and thought he felt better and then he came to shoot around at three today. He didn’t look good at all, he looked really pale. He was okay yesterday but didn’t look very good in practice and he didn’t have a temperature but today he did, he really felt warm. If Rob could play he would play, he’s a tough kid. He said, ‘Coach I don’t think I could go but he wanted to sit on the bench’ but I said, ‘That doesn’t make a lot of sense. Go home, get in bed, get some rest and feel better. We got a big game coming up on Saturday.’
But the difference in the second half was that we were more organized. When they are in front of me I can help them a lot. We are playing so many different lineups and it’s really hard to play without your best player.
I was talking to Eric Gordon earlier about the Rockets and just think what they would look like with no time to prepare if you took James Harden from them. What would you look like; it’s difficult. These guys aren’t computers and neither am I. Everyone has to shift over, Wes (VanBeck) comes off the bench and doesn’t start; he is a role player not a heavy minute guy. Our offense depends a lot on Rob (Gray) whether he is creating or coming off screens or creating space. But now you have to plug something in two hours before the game. Getting to halftime helped us get organized.”
On pushing through adversity with guys out
“There are some guys we have to get more out of, there are some guys tonight that played okay but could have played a little bit better. We just got to keep pushing them and challenging them. But it’s not easy to play without a substitute.
Frank (Haith) has a lot of depth on his team. His starters are all playing 21 minutes, 21 minutes, 33 minutes, 30 minutes and our guys are 39 minutes, 39 minutes and 37 minutes. I knew that as the game progressed I needed to save my timeouts. So there were a couple times I was tempted to call a time out just to rest them like I did in the first half. I didn’t care in the first half. Tonight I knew that I was going to need those timeouts because it was going to be nip and tuck all the way through.”
On preparing for the game on Saturday
“Hopefully we can get Rob (Gray) healthy for that and we’d like to have Devin (Davis) healthy too. That’s just the way it goes, no complaints and no excuses. That’s just the way it is. If there is any coach that can make excuses in this league its Kevin (Ollie) at UConn because he’s got a bunch of guys out. We just have to find a way. Our kids are very resilient. The culture we have established here since day one helps us in games like this. Saturday I hope we shoot better. We are playing against a really good time. We will come ready to play.”
JUNIOR GUARD Wes VanBeck
On how the team handled the last minute of the game
“We just tried to stay together and trust each other. We knew coach said before the game it was going to be a grinded out game and we needed to make our free throws down the stretch.”
On the last defense stop with a blocked shot in the corner
“Unbelievable. He did that last year against SMU. It was almost the exact same play.”
On it being difficult to play so many minutes tonight
“Yeah my legs were a little shaky at halftime but I just tried to push through it and play as hard as I can. Just grinded it out.”