HOUSTON HEAD COACH Kelvin Sampson
Opening Statement “In the first half our defense was really good. Our defense was the story of the first half. In the middle 20 minutes at Temple, our defense was really good, but that was our 3-2 zone. Tonight, in the first 20 minutes, our defense played the best man-to-man that we have played.
“Basketball season is about getting better; that is all that coaches should be concerned about. Coaches can’t get caught up in who you play next, who the next three is against or how many wins you have. I have been doing this for so long that I’m always focused on how to make our team better, how can I make this kid better and how can I get this kid to play harder.
“Before the season started I put four dates on the board: Oct. 11, Nov. 11, Dec. 11 and Jan. 11. The significance of that was that we are going to be a lot better on Nov. 11 than we were on Oct. 11, and we were going to better on Dec. 11 than we were on Nov. 11, and then we were going to be better on Jan. 11 than we were on Dec. 11; that was our goal.
You have to get better, if you are not, then why are we here. To get better you have to invest. That is work, and you can tell. For a long time, we were spinning our wheels defensively, but we just kept at it, kept working and you can tell that these kids have really gotten better at that end. We missed a lot of shots tonight. I pretty sure that (Damyean) Dotson made every one of those against USF, but tonight he couldn’t throw it in the ocean if he was standing on the shore. For the most part, the night was about our defense. Any time that you hold a conference team to 45 points, or 32 percent (shooting), this same team that outscored Connecticut 17-to-nothing. we had a lot of respect for them. It was a good win for us.”
On the team’s improvement from game-to-game
“We have our kids convinced that we aren’t going to beat many teams with our first shot. We are really a second- or third-shot kind of team. We put a huge emphasis on offensive rebounding. Kyle Meyer had five offensive rebounds tonight, but we also keep track of this statistic called tips, where he may not get it but you tip it out or keep it alive with a tip. Another one of our little philosophies is that it takes two people to get an offensive rebound… one guy to keep it alive, and the other to go get it. We missed 36 shots, but we had 20 offensive rebounds.
Another goal that we have is that we want to rebound 50 percent of our missed shots. If you do that, then that is outstanding. We’re third in the league in offensive rebounding right now, and we talked about this last night at our film session. The big key to this game (Tulane) is going to be our offensive rebounding. We saved a lot of possessions. We had 17 second-chance points. When we beat LSU here, we had 11 offensive rebounds at halftime, and we had 18 second-chance points at halftime in that game. That’s part of who we are; that’s part of our identity. Something we emphasize on a daily basis is offensive rebounding.”
On starting conference 3-0
“It is kind of like playing HORSE. The way that we used to play when I was growing up, you had to go to the free-throw line to prove it. After you put ‘E’ on somebody you had to go make two free throws. Tonight was our two free throws.
If this was a 3-game conference race we would be in good shape, but we have 15 more games. It is Jan. 5, and we have been at it pretty good. We haven’t had a lot of breaks lately, and we don’t play until a week from tomorrow at Cincinnati. It will be a chance to get our kids rested. We have some knicks, knacks, and injuries that a lot of people have this time of year. It will take some time to heal up and try to get better between now and Jan 13.”
HOUSTON JUNIOR CENTER Kyle Meyer
On the team’s rebounding philosophy “It has been a philosophy that we’ve had since the beginning of the year. He (Coach Kelvin Sampson) came and told me that I need to come in and average 10 rebounds. Obviously I haven’t done that yet, but I’m getting there. I’m progressing each week. I’m getting a lot of these tip-outs that he emphasizes.
If I’m not able to get it I want my teammates to get it. Overall, even if I don’t get the points or the stats, I want another possession for our team. That’s kind of been my philosophy. I may not get the ball every possession. They don’t need to run a play for me or anything like that. My points are going to come from offensive rebounds, so I’m going after it to get it and that’s how I’m going to produce for this team.”
On the team’s feeling in the locker room
“Unsatisfied. That’s the one word to describe it. Everyone can see there’s so much more that we can do better, so much more. We see it on film every day, mistake after mistake, but they’re all correctable. We’re not saying we’re doing things awful or not producing the way we should, but there are still things we can improve on. If we can hold a team to 45 points, why can’t we hold them to 40, hold them down to 35? There’s a lot of progress that can be made. We’re going to go back in and see what we can do better, practice the rest of the week and see what kind of improvements we can make for Cincinnati.”