Jan. 13, 2010
HEAD COACH Tom Penders
"The early start, both offensively and defensively, was critical. We had them off balanced on offense and our kids gained more confidence as the game progressed. We threw a couple new defenses out there, and our guys worked hard at it this week to implement it. UTEP is a tough team to defend; they have one of the league's premier players in Randy Culpepper. We did a lot of positive things tonight, and the kids played together. We were a little careless with the ball at times but UTEP is a very quick team, and they use their hands well. We were better at it in the second half.
"Usually our games with these guys go down to the last possession. I kept looking at the clock thinking they were forgetting to add points to their total. We knocked down a good amount of free throws tonight, which is what you have to do to win ballgames. They've been working hard at that in practice, and I was glad to see it pay off."
On the defensive schemes:
"We have played these guys in the past, and we know their personnel. When we have pressed them in the past, they've burned us. They have the speed and athleticism to do that so that ruled out the press. We decided to alter our defense to keep the ball out of a couple of players' hands like Randy (Culpepper) and Christian's (Polk). We were prepared to use more defenses but we only had to run a couple at them. The kids were really focused tonight and paid attention to detail"
On the offense:
"Everyone was getting touches. Our circle-motion defense is designed to do that. Get the defense running to one side and then make them run some more. They executed it well. Again, these guys we beat are a very good basketball team."
On the players-only meeting:
"We've been quietly encouraging them to do that - to have your own meetings and to take ownership, be more accountable. It can't always be the coaches telling them that stuff. I'm proud of all the seniors, particularly Sean Coleman. I'm thrilled he's getting playing time now because he's a class kid. I always feel a lot better when the kids call their own meetings."
On the preparation for tonight:
"They were paying attention. Sometimes the players get upset during the game but during the timeouts they were all calm and paying attention. Even during pregame, I noticed they were all calm and confident. I said to the other coaches that I think they're in the right frame of mind. You don't want the players too jacked up before a game then they're unable to perform. But we started the game off with four made three-point shots."
SENIOR GUARD Aubrey Coleman
On what it means to bounce back to beat UTEP:
"It was big because everyone knew we had to get this win. Everyone came in and locked in. We were here until 11 p.m. last night in a team meeting to make sure everyone knew how important it was to win this game. We executed our game plan perfectly."
On coming back after UTEP made their run:
"We had to refocus and remember what we were playing for - the win. Everyone was focused on the court; we knew what time it was."
On hitting over 1,000 career points tonight:
"I don't have words. I can't worry about that. I just need to do what I do every night to get the win because that's what its all about."
SENIOR GUARD Kelvin Lewis
On recording 10 rebounds to get a double double:
"Coach told me to rebound more and help the team so we could get more possessions. My shots weren't falling very well so I wanted to stay on the floor and help in another way by playing good defense and getting more rebounds."
On bouncing back to beat UTEP:
"We knew that the Tulsa game was going to be tough, and we fought but Coach said effort without results doesn't mean anything. We played this game with a whole new game plan, and we got the job done. Now we have to worry about ECU."
On staying focused:
"We just made sure the little plays didn't hurt us at the end of the game. We were fighting for the loose ball and were taking charges. The little things add up at the end of the game when it's close."
On Sean Coleman as a leader:
"He's a real captain. He's a leader on and off the court. He helps us even if he's on the bench. He helps us with defense and fixing our mistakes. Sean's a big-time leader for this team."
JUNIOR FORWARD Maurice McNeil
On playing against a talented team:
"We had to battle them. I know they're big and strong so I have to play with more energy. We had to run the floor and make them get tired. They had to keep subbing in so they couldn't get a rhythm."
On their team meeting the night before:
"We talked for two hours. Sean Coleman really took charge and asked everyone to go around the circle and say what's most important to him. Everyone really opened up. We then walked to court and got ready for the game."