March 12, 2009
2008-09 Houston Cougars Men's Basketball Postgame Notes
2009 Conference USA Championship
SMU Mustangs (9-21 3-13 C-USA) at Houston Cougars (20-10 10-6 C-USA)
Wednesday, March 11, 2009 FedExForum Memphis, Tenn.
HOUSTON HEAD COACH Tom Penders
On the win over SMU
"It was an exciting game. It was an up-and-down game. There was a lot of scoring and a lot of nice plays by both teams. It is a great win for us, number 20 for the season. That was one of our goals for the season, to reach 20 wins. It is all about survive, win and then move on. Whether I am drawing a bye or playing in the opening round, I am always scared of that first game in this tournament. I have seen some of the squirreliest games. You have seen it around the country in conferences like the Big East and this morning in our conference."
On the balance offense
"Balanced offense was very important for us tonight. We thought when they started the smaller team, that we would be giving it to (Marcus) Cousin early. Then we let (Zamal) Nixon loose a little bit. But tonight was about letting the guys loose and different guys came up big at different times. We went to the hot guys when they were on and that is a credit to the kids. The overall point guard play of Zamal was excellent. He got a little tired at the end. I probably had him out there too long. But we had a good balanced game."
On the game with UTEP on Thursday
"We have UTEP tomorrow and not a whole lot of time to prepare. We know them and they know us. Hopefully it is another great game."
SMU HEAD COACH MATT DOHERTY
"We just dug ourselves a hole. Lately, we've been playing pretty well in the first half and kind of sliding in the last 10 minutes. This game was a little bit in reverse. So, we just let them get too many second chance points, especially to start the game. That dug a hole for us. And then, foul trouble. We got in foul trouble and they got to the foul line and shot 81percent, so, it was tough. I'm proud that we fought back. We could have easily hung our head and quit. But, we didn't. Derek (Williams) had a good second half. Mouhammad (Faye) had a good second half. (Papa) Dia did some good things. It was good to have him back on the floor. Robert (Nyakundi) shot the ball pretty well. We just have to do a better job and grow and mature and continue to recruit good players."
You mentioned the second chance points: 18 for Houston in the first, but just four in the second. What changed?
"Well, I think concentration and more of a focus on it. They probably relaxed a little bit, too. We definitely focused on it and talked about it and did rebounding drills. And, part of it is that they are big, strong, and athletic. I mean, Coleman at the three spot is a beast on the boards. When a loose ball comes off, he's after it. Marcus Cousin is the same thing--big, strong post player who had six offensive rebounds. We're just built that way right now, in terms of our interior players."