HOUSTON HEAD COACH Kelvin Sampson
"We had so many wide open looks the first half. We have an edit machine that we go back and look at possessions on tape. I can't remember certain possessions but you go back and review them. I tell our guys `you've got to knock some open shots down.' We got a lot of good looks and had some tough luck too. L.J makes a three, and they call a foul on Devonta. They scored on the last possession of the first half so, at halftime, the game could have been easily tied. We battled through some tough breaks in the first half. The second half we just had some head scratching turnovers, turnovers for no reason.
We just had unforced errors, but once we settled down and made a couple of our shots, Jherrod hit some good threes. LeRon Barnes might not have been the best player on the floor tonight but he was absolutely the toughest player. He's a tough kid, and he is a winner. Our guys fought. We're preaching a lot of things this year. Culture... we are laying the foundation of how we want this program to be, what we want to be known for. These kids are really getting better at it. We were playing a top-25 team in the country, and we ran a little hammer play out of a timeout for Jherrod, and he got a wide-open three in the corner. If the ball went in it would've been a 1-point game. It told about how tough our kids are getting and how much better they're getting."
On team growth
"We've had growth in mental toughness. We've fought a lot of things. The biggest thing we fight is just our size. A team like SMU takes advantage of our weakness, and we just don't have the size to combat that. They bring it at you in waves. We tried to get them in other ways. Our kids defended. We did a great job on Moore tonight. They made a lot of tough shots at the end of the shot clock. We got them deep into the shot clock and then we came out of the possession with nothing to show for it.
They played great defense, and then they hit a shot at the end of the shot clock. We are getting better, and I can tell it. People from afar are judging on the record and I understand that and that's fair. I also know what we're building here, and I know where this program is going to be in a year or so. I really appreciate these kids. I love this team. I loved their effort; I love their attitude. I love how they practice everyday. We have some deficiencies, and there isn't a lot we can do about them. There are a lot of life lessons being learned and a lot of growth being made so I'm happy with them."
On team commitment
"It's just culture issues. It's guys not practicing the way I want them to practice; they have to earn it. I'm not going to give them anything. This program, it's a great university, a great city, and we're going to have a great basketball program here. The most important thing we have going for us this year isn't going to be our wins and losses... it's going to be the culture that we build. It's the kids coming into the program next year and the kids coming back. They're going to be great teachers for them. The kids this year had to learn on the fly.
On LeRon Barnes
"He's a tough kid. 10 rebounds, he's 6-foot, 5-inches. If I had somebody that would carry our flag, our banner, it would be LeRon. I want our program to be known for guys like LeRon Barnes. I love that guy."
On if teams that are undermanned are more rewarding
"One of the teams that I enjoyed the most was the 1989 Washington State team. Those were great kids, a lot like these kids. Our two best players... one had an infection on his right thigh. It blew up, and doctors couldn't figure it out. We lost him for the year in November. We had a 7-foot center that broke his humerus, and we lost him for the year.
"We played a bunch of kids that should have come off the bench, and we had nobody come off the bench for those guys. We wound up losing 18 consecutive games. We beat Southern Cal; we win our first conference game. But then we lost 17 straight conference games.
"Then the next year we won 17 or 18, the next year we won 22, the next year we won 18 or 19, next year we won 20, the NCAA tournament. We're off and running. That team is important. That team took the bullets for those teams that came after. This team is doing some of those things. You think about the last four games. We beat Rice, two good halves. The thing that I keep explaining to these kids is there's a difference between playing poorly and shooting poorly. We shoot poorly a lot of nights, but that doesn't mean we play poorly.
"We played well against Rice... we just can't make a shot, but we win. We beat UConn and couldn't make a shot. We shot 37 percent and beat them because we played well. Against Tulsa, who is in first place, its 36-29 and we're up seven with the first possession in the second half and we couldn't make the shot. In the last week, we beat Rice, we beat UConn, lose against Tulsa and we're 2-1.
"We come into the SMU game. SMU is the best team we played this year. Under two minutes to go in the game, we're down four, and we have the ball. Our kids are competing their tails off. They're learning the most essential thing about competition. You keep fighting. If I have to use my timeouts before the 8-minute mark in the second half, then so be it. We're going to keep these kids fighting."
SMU HEAD COACH LARRY BROWN
On seeing what UH is going through
"I get it. When you lose (Danuel) House, (TaShawn) Thomas, and (Joseph) Young... put those suckers on this team, and you're thinking of an NCAA team. I like seeing the development of kids. Things that are worthwhile don't happen overnight. They have a wonderful coach.
I coached my first college game at Kansas here, and they had a pretty good group. I just want to see this building filled like it was. This is a great basketball city, and I'm sure they'll get it done."
On how UH was today as opposed to in the past
"We made shots. Nic was 5-for-11 from 3-point line. They played real hard. The first half was a competitive first half. The first five minutes of the second half were pretty competitive, and then all of a sudden, we made shots. You become a pretty darn good coach when you're shooting from the outside, and everything is going in. And you're begging your guys to throw it inside.
I tell my guys all the time you cant worry about who you play... you have to worry about how you do the things you value. This will be a good learning experience for us because everybody's aware of what they did to us last year in the conference tournament.
We have to value every game we play and try to get better. Lo and behold, we got - I can't believe it - we got ESPN coming to SMU. Can you believe that? I know our students didn't know how to storm the court when we beat Connecticut. I don't know if they'll know what to do Saturday. That'll be kind of comical."
On finishing out the season
"I've never really given any thought about where we are. We always try to figure out what we need to do better. I'm throwing out 11 wins because this is a neat conference, but we just have to take it one game at a time. We're not the same team now that we don't have Justin, Martin, and Keith. We can't take anybody lightly. We're not just going to be able and go out and play reasonably well and be successful.
The remaining part of our schedule is against a lot of quality teams. Our fans are so excited about playing Connecticut and they have such a great pedigree. We have to show we can play with the better teams now."
On Dean Smith and his memorial
"I found out early Sunday morning, when they called Roy (Williams), and Roy called me; everybody called me asking me to comment on it but I wasn't ready for that.
"When I started reading all the things that were written and said about him, aside from basketball, a side that I don't think a lot of people knew, it was a great feeling to know that he touched me, touched my family, and touched so many people.
"I was there when we recruited Charles Scott, a great kid. Things weren't going great for him at that time. He had to overcome a lot of obstacles when he started. And to realize that Charles deserved to be there, it was the right thing to do... that's what he was about. And he never talked about it. He never would take any credit for all the successes our program had."
"They had a small memorial. Everywhere in Chapel Hill, there were signs of appreciation. It was wonderful to be part of that. He touched my life. I don't think there will be another one like him.
"We're losing some unbelievable people that have made contributions to our sport. But more or less, we're developing young people. I look out in the audience and you got Michael Jordan, Worthy, Billy Cunningham, Rasheed Wallace, you can go on and on. They're all there. And I think every one of them would say exactly what I'm saying. He was a mentor, he was like a father and he shaped their lives. It's pretty neat."