March 5, 2008
2007-08 Houston Cougars Basketball Postgame Quotes
UCF Knights (16-13, 9-6 C-USA) at Houston Cougars (22-7, 10-4 C-USA)
Wednesday, March 5, 2008 * Hofheinz Pavilion * Houston, Texas
HOUSTON HEAD COACH Tom Penders
"You couldn't write a better script, story, or a movie for this game. It's great. I'm so happy for the seniors, particularly Lanny (Smith). He's had so many struggles and injuries during his career here. I've kept telling him I'm never going to give up on him. It was good to see the confidence tonight that he played with. Aside for winning the game he had a good night last night. This gives me good feelings about going through the pain with him.
"I hate going with freshman as talented as they may be if I have seniors that have been proven. So it's been a great night Tafari Toney just played super. Dion (Dowell) was playing really well, but they went with four guards and I took him out thinking that I'll be able to put him back in there. Instead, they stayed with the four guards and Tafari played so well. But all the seniors played so well."
"When (Lanny) hit that three right before halftime. I felt like doing a 44-inch vertical because he works so hard and spends so much time after practice and just about all it takes for a guy. I keep telling him to not look at his stats. There are guys all over the place that struggle in the pros, and they let their stats affect their confidence."
We have what I think over the last few weeks been able to give him (Lanny Smith) a little more rehab work and less running in the gym and his foot is feeling a lot better. It's not as bad as what some people might think. It still bothers him a little bit. He takes medication to help the pain. The article today in the Houston Chronicle about Lanny was super and so well deserved. The prayers I said last night were for us to not only win the game, but God I hope Lanny have a big night."
"We can flip flop Lanny and Fluff. We can use Fluff sometimes out front and sometimes use him as a two-guard. Defensively, that's the difference. Lanny defensively is better than the two freshman. The two freshmen might have a little bit more speed and explosiveness to score, but after tonight my feeling is Lanny's back in the starting line up. No matter what he wants even though he likes to come off the bench."
"I was begging the freshman the last 10 days or so to come in and pick up the pace and push the ball and let's get the ball out of Fluff's hands and they don't want to take the responsibility. So having Lanny being able to do that helps. He was able to get some driving lanes to the bucket. When they lay off of him in the first half or challenged him to take the three he knocked it down. I know that he could that for his career I know he was 30-35 percent 3-point shooter. I know he's capable of doing that. A couple of years ago I put him at the two and had Brian Latham push the ball so that we could use Lanny's offense. It often takes one game like that to just turn it all the way around. I'm a great believer in that. Now there is no reason for him to have any self doubt."
On Marcus Malone Not Being Hesitant to Shoot 3-Pointers
"I was mad as hell when passed up the open three. Most people would say that's smart basketball. No, Malone can hit 5 of 10 from outside the three and hit 3 of 10 from inside the arc. I keep telling him that he's going to make the shot just don't hesitate."
"Marcus is another story of a kid who reappears from out of nowhere and never gave up on himself. I keep telling them lets take advantage of what Fluff has been doing. And it's good to see guys doing that. Because Fluff is drawing double coverage and he's getting bumped and bang around and leaves other guys open. It gives them open shot or open driving lanes. Tonight we finally did that which was great."
HOUSTON SENIOR GUARD Marcus Malone
"It was just a blessing that we could come out in front of our parents and win today. We've been through so much as a group on and off the court. It was a blessing for us and we thank god for every minute of it."
"I was trying not to pick up a silly foul the whole game. But coach told us we need a still like we did versus Kentucky. We need you to shoot the gap, be loose and just make the right judgment. I knew Taylor wasn't going to shoot the ball due to the scouting report that the coaches gave us. I knew he was going to spend baseline and I just wanted to be there for the steal and luckily I came up with it."
"Lanny was due for a big one. He has been through so much. I'm so happy for him. He's a role model for U of H both on and off the court. He carries himself in a great manner. Things may not always go his way and he's had his fair share of injuries but he still battles. He's our strength; he's always there to give us a lifting word or a prayer. I'm so happy for Lanny. He deserves all the accolades. In this game, it was really about him because he's a true senior. He's been through it all.
"We know we hold our own destiny. It was time for the seniors to step up. We've always had the leadership but it was just time for us to make plays and do it on the court. We've always talked about it and tonight we went out and performed it. Tonight was a prime example of Taft, Dion, Lanny, Fluff and myself making it happen"
"I can't explain it. I can't contain it. Before the game all the guys on the team we're telling us that all of us seniors were going to cry. I told them I wouldn't but I couldn't keep it in. The past five years have been hard and to end it this way on the court is a dream come true."
"We believe. Only the guys in the locker room control our destiny and that's how we came out and played tonight. Nobody has given up on our ultimate goal that we've trying to achieve. Everyone still believes."
"I have to give all praise to god. I've been praying but this whole season has been real tuff on me. I stayed up the last couple of nights coming to the gym by myself and looking around reflecting back on my career and I knew I was going to have my chance tonight. I didn't want to go out the way I had been playing. So I just played with my emotion tonight, more emotion than I've played with the whole season and it all came together for me."
"Its nothing physical. I think the whole deal has been mental and tonight I didn't' think I just played. I felt like my old self again. I didn't think about making mistakes or coming out the game, I just played the way I knew I could."
"Everyone else kept saying it was gone, too. But I knew I still had it. I just have to praise god. I had 3 surgeries and I didn't think I would even be playing again. To be back on the court to be able to do what I do is truly a blessing."
"The way Fluff (Rob McKiver) has been playing not only these past couple of weeks but the whole season we know that every team from here on out is going to key on stopping him. Somebody else had to step up tonight to help him out because they were just all over him every time he touched the ball. I knew it give me an opportunity to step up and help the team. I noticed in the first half we were able to get into the paint. We got into the bonus early in the second-half and we were trying to play smart and get to the paint every time."
"I think this game to me means more than anything. Before this game, I was saying that my most memorable game was the Arizona game when all the fans rushed the court. But individually, this game means so much to me just because of the struggles I had to go through, not only this season but my whole career. To end it like this at home means a lot to me.
HOUSTON SENIOR FORWARD Tafari Toney
"Tonight was a big night. This game determined our position in the tournament. So when coach mentioned that in the locker room, we just transitioned from Senior Night to having our game face on. I tried to come out relentless."
"Everybody was on their game today. After that ECU loss, everyone was working so hard. We came in the gym before practice and stayed after and worked hard. Everyone was in here working, not just me."
"It was real good. There were a whole lot of love out there and that feeling was real good.