HOUSTON HEAD COACH Kelvin Sampson
“When the season is over we are going to look back at a lot of games. Cincinnati at home, Tulsa at home, Temple the other night on the road; a lot of the good teams. We have had the lead in the second half. Our depth becomes a big factor at about the 11 minute mark and the seven minute mark. That is when you wish you could rest our guys, and take them out like the other teams do.
Frank Haith is a good friend of mine. I have known Frank forever. Frank’s starting five have started all of their games this season. Sometimes you have to have a little good fortune. Having Mikhail (McClean) out, and L.J. (Rose) out is a factor, but I am proud of the way these guys hung in there. They fought. The best way to describe this group is scrappy and resilient.”
On game play of guard Wes VanBeck
“We give guys opportunities. The guys that have played in front of Wes have had their opportunities. I’ve given Wes opportunities. He has turned the ball over a little bit too much, but we keep running him out there, and today he found his groove. Our guys kept fighting for open shots. Wes did what he could do.
The thing I like about Wes is that he is not afraid. Maybe earlier in the year with Central Florida at home, but that is to be expected because it’s the first time he has played at this level. He is a walk-on. He has gotten better through practice. He is a tough kid. He is not afraid and I respect that about him.”
On offense rebounding
“Obviously we are the number two offensive rebounding team in the conference, but we are number two for a reason. A lot of teams have poor shooting percentage but don’t have offensive rebounding, but for us that is how we get extra possessions. We are not going to beat anybody on the first shot: we don’t have good enough shooters, but second and third shots will give us extra possessions, and we need that with the team that we have. We don’t have a center; we have what we have. How can we get extra possessions? Loose balls. We got almost all the loose balls tonight. If the ball was loose we got it. We got second and third shots and extra opportunities.”
“Devonta had five steals himself. Wes drew a great offensive charge. I call them culture stats. What have you accomplished this year? That is what we have accomplished. We were not good at that in October, November, and December. You look at all those games that we lost early, and we were no good at that. We have hung in there and emphasized it. You usually achieve what you emphasize if you have good kids and we have good kids. Now they understand. Now they play the way we have to play. Going forward with this program we don’t have to start over like the way we did this year.”
“We are the second best offensive rebounding team the league. We do that every game. You can go back and pull up the stats all the way back to Morgan State. We had 26 in that game.”
On keeping the lead
“Our game plan during the week was to come out and hit them in mouth early. On the road trips in Florida, it seems like we led everybody at halftime. We lead everybody at halftime. Cincinnati is really good, and we led them twice. We outplayed them but obviously they wore us down with their depth. Today we wanted to do something a little different. Instead of sitting in our zone and trying to keep guys out of foul trouble.
We’ve been fighting for so many things here, not just depth and numbers, but also we can’t afford to have guys in foul trouble. We tried to go out there and press them and trap them and got after them with our man-to-man. We wanted to dictate that. Being at home allows us to do that. We’re up five against Central Florida, we’re up five against South Florida: both games are very winnable. Today we finished it off so credit to our guys. I’m proud of them.”
SOPHOMORE FORWARD Devonta Pollard
On team’s offensive rebounding today
“Coach gave Danrad (Knowles) a marker and asked him how many offensive rebounds he wants the team to get this game. Danrad put up on the board 20, our goal was to get 20 rebounds.”
On the team’s struggles
“I don’t think it’s just being tough for us. Nothing that anyone else does doesn’t make it tough for us. As far as losing our focus and not staying focused in the second half, we struggle the first five minutes of the second half in every game that we played this year. That’s just like coach says before the game; in the middle of the year, he sees it in our eyes that we were ready, but when we come back at half time coming away from the bench on defense, that’s where we’re going to win the games, with our defense.
We can’t come out in the second half trading baskets with the other team, and turning the ball over, and letting them score and not being able to grab defensive rebounds. Like coach said about our second chance points, we’re number two in offensive rebounds. It only takes two people: one to keep it alive and the other to go grab it.”
On Head Coach Kelvin Sampson
“I really appreciate coach. The reason we keep fighting is because he keeps fighting. He never gives up on us. He’s never given up on anybody on this team. As long as we show that we believe he’s going to continue to fight for us.”
FRESHMAN GUARD Wes VanBeck
Decision to walk on to the team
“I played on TJ Ford’s AAU team, and he made the connection with coach. I had a meeting with coach and I asked him if I could join the team as a walk on. He told me his expectations, and I knew I could follow those. Once I joined the team I worked hard, practiced and stayed ready.”
On his game today
“I just try to stay ready. I try to shoot the most I can. To keep my shot right, keep my form right. As coach said, credit to Jherrod (Stiggers) and Devonta who found me open. I had the easy job of making the open shot which I do a hundred times each day, so credit to those guys.”