HOUSTON HEAD COACH Kelvin Sampson
On the performance in the second half and what he contributes it to
“Nothing. Anytime you struggle offensively it’s human nature to force a couple. Even with this poor of a shot percentage, at the five minute mark, Chicken (Danrad Knowles) had one rattle in and out a couple of times. The ball goes in and it’s 57-54. It tells you a little bit about how hard we were playing at the other end.
We need all our parts working on the same night, like against Connecticut. You learn not to confuse shooting poorly with playing poorly. We had some guys that shot poorly against Connecticut. We shot 37 percent. We had a lot of guys playing good. Tonight there were some guys who didn’t show up for whatever reason, and because of our margin of error we just can’t overcome that. Our kids battled.
Tulsa got off to a great start and we came back. We took the momentum at halftime up five. We came down and scored right away in the first possession. We ran a set play at halftime and scored it, and next thing you know they come down and they score. We had a lot of good looks early. The only way to fix some of our issues is recruiting, which we will.
We’re not a team that’s built to beat people off the dribble, get into the paint, and create. We really don’t have that guy. L.J. (Rose) is a very cerebral point guard that plays at his pace. He’s not going to make two, three quick moves and get in the paint and create. So what Tulsa did tonight was switch. They switched their big guys onto L.J. When their big guys are guarding your guards, you have to be able to get by them and get in the paint. There’s no screening action now that creates an advantage because they switched our screens. That was something that we struggled with today.”
On the student section being full and how it relates to the foundation
“It’s critical. We’re coming off a win against Rice and a win against Connecticut. You can tell our students are behind us. You can tell it when I walk around campus with the feedback I get. I know the kids we have coming in. I know the kids we are recruiting. This is going to be fun. It is. I know I may go overboard on days like Sunday when we beat Connecticut, and I know I get too low on nights when we can’t make a basket and lose to Tulsa. You can see the foundation being built.
Our kids are trying. There’s no such thing as no effort. Mikhail McLean broke his foot and is out for the year. Tough break for us. He was playing the best basketball and having the most fun. I was on the phone with him last night and it’s a tearjerker. It’s just sad that he would do that this time of year. LeRon Barnes had a 100 degree temperature. I didn’t see him all day. He didn’t go to class, and didn’t go to practice. I didn’t’ think he was going to show up tonight. When we have things like that it’s monumental for this team. Some teams it’s nothing.
Tulsa has five starters back from their team that went to the tournament. They can survive a lot of things we can’t. Not this year. We have to have everything go right for us. We missed LeRon’s positive energy, and we missed Mikhail’s leadership. Those little things like that are critical to this team. The positive is what you said. Our student section has been full. There’s a lot empty seats in there sure, but you can tell what kind of home court advantage we have when we get this thing rocking and rolling. “
On Tulsa not losing a conference game in a year
“They haven’t played SMU yet, and they haven’t played Cincinnati yet. Tulsa has a good team. They have to play SMU twice and Cincinnati twice. They are two pretty good teams too. Those are, the three best teams in our conference, Tulsa, Cincinnati, and SMU. We have to wait for them to play each other to see.”