HOUSTON HEAD COACH Kelvin Sampson
“Our biggest issue is showing up our breakdowns on defense. We show potential, promise to be a good team. It is like playing a piano. Four guys will be doing exactly what they are supposed to be doing, but one guy has a breakdown, then we will have three or four really good defensive possessions. Again, we have four guys playing really well, then another guy has a breakdown. We have to be more consistent on defense. Our best offensive player didn’t play today, and we scored 81 points. We are a good offensive team. I really liked the way we moved the ball. The ball moves on this team. We have guys that can get to the free-throw line. We have guys that can get fouled. Ronnie (Johnson) went to the line eight times, (Danrad) “Chicken” (Knowles) four, and Galen (Robinson, Jr.) five.
Devonta (Pollard) was just a ball mover today. He probably could have scored four or five more baskets, but he elected to move the ball. Every basket (Damyean) Dotson got in the first half, all his threes, were off of an assist. Wes (Van Beck) came in and made some plays off assists, and then he drove it because of our spacing. Defense. That is the only thing we are going to stay on top of them about. That can make us a pretty good team. We have a chance to be a pretty good team if we can shore up our defensive breakdowns.”
On working senior guard L.J. Rose into the lineup
“I wanted to see him. He is so far behind Ronnie and Galen, it is not a matter of getting him there and replacing them. I don’t foresee him replacing Ronnie or Galen, but I want to see him. When L.J. got hurt last year he was playing the best basketball of his life. We were up 12 on Cincinnati at home and mainly because of the way L.J. was playing. He had just come off a game where he had 25 points at USF. He was playing good.
His season did not start until mid-to-late December. Mid-December was mid-October for him. Mid-January/mid-February would have been mid-December. It took him so long just to get to the point where he was catching up, which was almost when the season was over. Then he breaks his foot for the third time in about nine months. I did see him play, and he didn’t start going until this month some time. It has been a while. Obviously he is overweight. He is not in very good shape either. When we made the decision to sit Rob (Gray Jr.) and LeRon (Barnes), I thought the guy that would benefit would be L.J.
He did some good things. He has to get his weight down and get in better condition so he can guard. If one guy breaks down it looks like our whole is broke down. They got some layups in there today, because we were supposed to be reading simple math, and we are making it trigonometry. We are not studying trigonometry fellas this is very general math.”
On the depth of the roster
“You can’t compare anything to last year. Last year is not a year that anything should be compared to. On April 20th we had five guys on the team. Last year isn’t even fair to talk about. This year’s team is a normal basketball team. Last year’s team was very abnormal, although they did win four in a row, I was proud of them for that.
It speaks to the gluttony of guards that we have. I am not going to try to play all these guards. I am going to play the best guards. My job is not to keep these guys happy. My job is to put the University of Houston in the best position to be successful, and I know how to do that. That is why practice is important. Guys that don’t practice well, guys that don’t come with it don’t look at me, because it was you who made the decision. You made the choice, not me. I choose the ones that are playing well. Ronnie, Galen, Rob, Dotson and LeRon, those are our top five guards right now.
After that, look at a guy like Wes. Wes can play. Had he played 25 minutes today Wes would have had 14 points. Look what he did against East Carolina, but he is not ahead of those other guys. The reason he got a chance to get in there today is because we didn’t play Rob and LeRon. Rob has got a pretty significant ankle injury, and I don’t know if he is going to be able to play Monday. LeRon could have played tonight, but LeRon is always getting beat up. Last year he played with a dislocated thumb almost the entire second semester after Christmas. Obviously you would like to see your first team in there today just to keep them moving, but it was good to be able to rest some guys.”
On the next game against Grand Canyon
“We are playing a really good Grand Canyon team on Monday that is coming off of a win at San Diego State. They’re 8-2 and have just been killing people. Winning at San Diego State is pretty good.”
HOUSTON JUNIOR GUARD Ronnie Johnson
On adjustments the team made in second half
“We started focusing more on our jobs like getting defensive stops and rebounding. Once we stopped worrying about the offensive end, and just let everything play its role. Coach fired us up a little bit, and we just tried to eliminate the defensive breakdowns we were having.”
On his back to back 3-pointers
“I just thought I was open, and I can make those shots so I’m going to shoot those shots.”
On the team’s ability to make multiple 3-point shots
“We have players like that, definitely Daymean Dotson. If he hits one, then he's liable to hit 4 more. Same with Rob Gray (Jr.). If he hits one he can hit four more. Even L.J. Rose and Wes Van Beck are good shooters.”