Nov. 12, 2011
HEAD COACH James Dickey
On the first half
"We got off to a great start. Our guys were ready to play. We weren't expecting zone, and we haven't worked that much on it. Any time you shoot the ball as well as we did early it makes it look like you're playing well no matter how well you execute. We made some shots which was important. Our guys were ready to play in those first five minutes, but I thought we took our foot off the gas at the end of the half. We held them to 10 points for the first 16 minutes, and then in the last four minutes we gave up 12 points. That was a combination of not playing hard and fouling too much. Joe hit a big basket right before the half so that made it feel like we were in control of everything. I just didn't like the way we played the last five minutes of the half."
On the second half
"We did a much better job in the second half overall. The guys that came off the bench did a better job. The biggest thing was we missed too many free throws. The second thing was we fouled too much. We used our hands too much and put them on the free throw line. We have to do a better job rebounding. We didn't turn the ball over as much tonight. Our guy's shot selection for the most part was very good. We ran the floor well and we were active defensively. We had close to 45 deflections in the game."
On the defensive effort tonight
"We were a lot more active defensively for extended periods of time. There was a lot more talk and communication. We played with an energy and a passion defensively. I told these guys for us to be as good a team as we can be, then we have to be as good a team on the defensive end as we are on the offensive end. We have some guys who are pretty eager on the offensive end because they've got some good offensive skills. There will always be good teams that can control the ball and keep you from scoring. We have to be able to defend and rebound. We controlled the ball a lot better than we did against Concordia, so we improved in those two areas."
On his team's free throw shooting
"If we worked on free throws harder we could be a very good shooting team. Free throws are about two things. They are about routine and mental toughness. You have to be strong mentally to make those free throws, and we have to get better at that."
On freshman forward TaShawn Thomas
"He really got better tonight. He let his man get some offensive rebounds when he shouldn't. We know the ball is going to bounce their way occasionally, but he's going to have to get better at going and checking his guy. When you have a stat line like that, for a freshman, you did pretty well. We've worked on his free throws. He knows what he needs to do. He's going to get fouled a lot so he needs to get more consistent. He was a lot more balanced going to the offensive glass. Plus for a guy who is 6'8" he handles the ball pretty well. When he touches the ball a lot of good things happen."
On Thomas' ball handling skills
"We've worked on that. We haven't seen him handle the ball like that but we knew he could. We've worked on him with what we call bust out. When he gets a rebound he can just bring it up because he makes good decisions. Normally a big guy has to cover him and that's tough to do 94 feet from the basket. He's got very good skills. When he gets that wrist corrected from his shot he'll get better and better."
On what he liked about the game
"Two things: One, we did a good job of sharing the ball. For the most part we find the open man. In transition tonight there were a couple of times we should have given it up but what happens in a game like this, if you aren't careful, is you get to thinking about scoring rather than just playing the game. For the most part we really shared the ball. Then we have a lot of guys who have the ability to knock down shots. We have guys who are confident, which I really like. We have drilled in them that we want them to shoot it. In order to make them they have to have a good look at the basket and be balanced. I like our balance so far."
On junior forward Kirk Van Slyke
"He's gotten stronger. We want and need Kirk to play like he is capable of playing. In order to do that, he's going to have to be an inside out player. He didn't shoot the ball well but he took good shots for the most part. He has been our most consistent rebounder though preseason. He has to stay out of foul trouble. We want him to be able to pick and pop or pick and fade and then also to be able to score outside. He's a big piece to the puzzle that we need. He's a veteran who has been to the NCAA tournament."
On the depth of the team
"It really helps us. Guys make each other better in practice. The harder you go against a guy in practice then the better we're going to be in games. Then it gives us some flexibility in what we need to do. Also it makes our guys understand that they need to bring their a-game. If they don't somebody else is going to be there to get some minutes."
HOUSTON GUARD Darian Thibodeaux
On how the team came into the game
"Focused; everybody had their head on right and ready to go."
On the difference on the floor from last season
"Not taking anything away from last year's team, I'll just say we're a little more together this year and more focused."
On what freshman forward TaShawn Thomas has shown since training camp
"He's shown toughness, and he's gotten bigger. Overall, he's a good freshman player, exceeding every day."
On what Thomas does for the team
"He's tall and athletic. He can get rebounds from Dallas if he wanted to. That's always good in the post. He can score around the basket, get offensive and defensive rebounds, and he pushes it up the floor."
On the energy during the game
"That was fun, I like that. That's always enjoyable."
On Kirk Van Slyke since last season
"He's taken a better approach, taking it more personal. He's gotten bigger and stronger. Every day we're pushing him in practice to do better. I'd say he's improved down low."
Starting the season with a win
"It feels good, but it's still early. We still have a lot of season."
Having fun on the court
"That's me, I'm the energizer bunny on the team and I get everybody going."
On the next game
"Oh I'm really excited. I'm ready to go to sleep, wake up and play."
On being comfortable playing at a high rate for a period of time
"Everybody on our team is pretty fast. That's our tempo."
HOUSTON FORWARD TaShawn Thomas
On first real collegiate game
"It felt good. I had confidence with everybody on the team telling me what I needed to do, so I came out ready. We had our heads on and we were ready to play"
On getting to get to start
"It felt great. I started in the exhibition game but I didn't know if I was going to start in the next game. I just tried to keep playing hard and practicing to earn this spot."
On there being any butterflies pregame
"Of course. There are butterflies every game. I'm not nervous, it's just butterflies."
On momentum during game
"I just felt the crowd getting louder and louder, they were on our side so that just meant we had to keep on pushing until they called that timeout. Then we came out again and still killed them."
On handling the ball
"I wasn't always this tall; I hit a growth spurt like freshman year. My dad used to make me dribble the ball outside all the time."
On how hard it's been conditioning
"It's been real. There are times when you just think you're not going to make it, but the team comes together. Darian is the leader of the team and tells us we have it and get through it."