Feb. 26, 2011
HEAD COACH James Dickey
"Let me congratulate Mike (Davis) and his ball club. They were terrific tonight. They are a team that is playing for a regular-season conference championship and NCAA Tournament berth, and they played that way. Aaron Johnson was terrific tonight; he had 10 assists. He is as good a point guard in being able to run the club and making everybody on his team better. He gives them the ball in great positions, and they did a good job with spacing. Mike has done a good job with his sets.
"They got off to a great start. There are a lot of people who can shoot when you don't guard them. I talked to my guys about the first five minutes of the ball game, saying this would be the way UAB would come out to start the game. You know what was at stake on their part, and that this game would be very critical, and we didn't match their intensity.
"There is not a lot of energy in the building, and that is our fault. That is the way it has been the last couple of games. We have to create our own energy. We have not played well here the last two games, and that is really disappointing. We didn't play with a lot of fire and defensive intensity. We had certain guys who played well. The microcosm of the game is in the next-to-last possession when Maurice McNeil misses three shots, Kirk Van Slyke gets an offensive rebound and misses it.
"We missed a lot of easy shots, especially against UTEP. To start the game, we ran a nice set. Mikhail McLean got it down low and missed it. Then Maurice got it down low and missed it. We could have been up four but didn't do that. They really took off. They played with a lot of confidence. They shot the ball well, distributed it well, and they are a very good team. They deserved to win."
On the team's competition level
"You don't ever like a loss but when you are not playing high-level basketball, which is what we play at. Conference USA is a league that is so underrated. There are so many great coaches and so many great teams. The first thing that jumped out at me when I first got here was that there was so many teams in this league that had 20-plus win seasons last year.
"There are some outstanding teams, quality coaches, great players. We don't have one dominant player, but we have guys that the NBA are looking at as far as prospects. When you have those type of teams, veteran teams like UTEP, which is one of the older teams, to Memphis, who is one of the youngest teams, you have to bring it every night. You have to play with great energy and, if you are keeping score, you have to play to win."
On the lack of offensive execution
"We stood around a lot and missed a lot of easy shots. We had several easy shots, but early our offense was stagnant. We would just dribble down and float the ball into the post, and we weren't getting very much movement. We weren't reversing the ball. We talk about ball movement, player movement and a combination of the two. We were stagnant at the beginning, and we got to settling. After we got inside at the beginning of the game, then we started settling for perimeter shots."
On the key to the last two games
"I have to find something to say to them that sparks them and inspires them. We are going to Tulane, and I know those guys will play. They hit 14 threes on us here, and UAB shot 28 threes tonight. They are going to space us out, and we have to do a good job against that. We are going on the road, and we have won only one conference game on the road. It's going to be about a mindset. It's going to be about an attitude when we go in there."
SENIOR GUARD Zamal Nixon
On what to work on for the next two games
"It seems like we've been taking two steps forward and then two steps backwards. Even in the losses at UTEP and Memphis, we really did a good job of competing and fighting. Tonight, we just didn't play with any energy or defensive intensity. You always want to make your next game your best game, and we have two games left in the season, and once the tournament comes, it's like a new season. It doesn't matter who's first or second; everyone's record will be 0-0. Hopefully we can put something together over these next two games and build a little momentum going into the tournament."
On telling the younger guys that anything can happen because of last season
"Personally, I don't want to put that in the guys' heads. That we can do what we did last year. That was tough, winning four games in four nights. I don't want to put that into their minds, especially the younger guys, that we don't have to play hard the next few games, and we can just wait until the tournament. I've just been telling everyone to keep competing every night, and do the things we have to do to win ballgames because it's never going to be easy to win four games in four nights."
On how approach has changed without senior guard Adam Brown
"We've done a really good job this year of stepping up when guys haven't been on the floor. There have been numerous times we haven't had everybody. We've been without Kendrick, Alandise, Mo and even I was hurt during the exhibition game. We've been doing well picking up the slack for other guys. Alandise had to fill in for Adam, and he'll pick up the slack in his absence."
On if his teammates got deflated after the opening UAB run
"It's possible, but there were also times when we were chipping away at the lead. No matter how much you get down, you can't in your head because the game of basketball is about runs. They had their run early on, and we just as easily could've had a run to crawl back into it. We had our chances to make runs and just couldn't execute, and we didn't have that defensive intensity that we needed."