HOUSTON HEAD COACH Kelvin Sampson
On first half
“Turnovers. We’re going to turn the ball over some. That’s the way we’re built. Chuck (Cavon Baker) is going to turn it over some. Jherrod (Stiggers) is going to turn it over some. Eric (Weary) is going to turn it over some. Devonta (Pollard) is going to turn it over some. We’re not a team that’s going to play a clean game. We’re just not built that way. “
On Vegas Tournament
“We’ve done a great job as of late. Boise State might be the best team we’ve played; or Texas Tech. Both teams are good. At that point in the tournament the only team Texas Tech had lost to was LSU and that was in overtime at LSU. So, that tells you how well we played. “
“I liked that we had 16 offensive rebounds. Any time you can rebound over 50 percent of your misses is a great job on the offensive boards. I’m real proud of that. We had some silly, just ridiculous turnovers. That’s one of the reasons why the score was even close to begin with. We were up 12 or 13 towards the end of the first half, and we had some just mindless turnovers. But, you go into halftime and regroup and get your defense going. Defense was outstanding in the second half. We just dominated the boards. Anytime you just dominate one area of the game you usually win.”
On the difference on defense in the second half
“More aggressive. We don’t have a lot of depth. Jherrod said he’s afraid to get in foul trouble. I told him don’t worry about that; go and play. Sometimes you tend to back off when you’re worried about that. We just pick up pressure on the perimeter, because they were content with just weave, weave, weave, then run their offense. They wanted to keep the game in the forties and fifties. But, once we picked our pressure up and got out and guarded them they shot 28% in the second half. We went out and put pressure on the perimeter, but we also did a great job on contesting shots. In the first half they made some long threes, a couple of those shots I didn’t think our defense could have had. They made a couple of tough shots too.”
On the difference in junior guard Jherrod Stiggers
“The biggest difference in Jherrod is he’s learned to trust his teammates instead of forcing things. He’s had moments this year when he’s let the offense come to him, but he hasn’t been consistent with it. Sometimes you do something because coach tells you, and sometimes you do something because you believe in it. Now he’s starting to believe in it.”
“They’re turnover guys now. I told Chuck one time to close his eyes and throw the ball up, and it may land in one of our hands. I’m joking. When we got here in April we were sorting between who’s staying and who’s leaving with all these transfers; trying to figure out who was on the team and who wasn’t on the team. There was a kid here last year, Jarron Simmons, who was the back up point guard, we thought he was going to stay, but he wound up going back home to Ohio. So we didn’t have another point guard and this was May.
Our roster is a by product of a lot of things. That’s why I don’t worry about it. We are what we are. It’s not like this is the result of four years of recruiting. I’m thankful for the guys whom came back from last year, and I’m thankful for the guys we signed in May. We’re recruiting kids in May, and there is a reason why we’re recruiting kids in May. Chuck is a tough kid, he’s just not a point guard.
Eric Weary is a big reason why we beat Texas Tech. He played great. He had nine rebounds. He led us in rebounding. All these guys add something to the mix. That’s what the great thing about coach is; getting all those great things to come together. But obviously we’re a different team when L.J. (Rose) is out there.”
Update on junior guard L.J. Rose’s injury
“His foot is fine. The problem with him coming back is the atrophy in the calf and quad. He had been out so long. He had surgery July 7, and he missed until September, so when he came back our trainers did a great job putting him on the AlterG, which is a gravity defying treadmill. It’s weightless. But, when he’s coming back he is using muscles he hasn’t used in six months.
All of a sudden he comes out there and boom he sprains his Achilles. He hurt it right before we played Boise. Right before we took the red eye flight in Vegas he was limping in the airport. I told him to take some time off. We got back, and we practiced on the Dec. 26. He tried to practice, but he couldn’t. He tried to practice yesterday, today is off and he won’t practice tomorrow. We’ll try him Tuesday, and see if he can play Wednesday. It’s an early game 1 p.m., so we’ll see if he can roll out.”
HOUSTON JUNIOR GUARD Jherrod Stiggers
On his eight three pointers and how they happened
“It was just the flow of the game. I try to play as hard as I can, but coach says to not force shots, and just let them come to you. I just found the shots. They just came through on offense.”
On his thoughts about the defense in the second half
“We started out shaky. We noticed we had the lead, and we started to let up a little bit. We played good defense in the first half.”