Jan. 12, 2008
UH vs. Arizona Quotes
Houston Head Coach Tom Penders
On the performance of G Zamal Nixon:
"You don't expect freshmen to play as well on the national spotlight against the kind of players he was playing against today, but in my opinion this was a breakthrough game for him and one of the reason why we feel that he'll be a fixture for us and a cornerstone player in the next four years. We've made him earn every minute and think that's the right way to do it. He's really coming on and playing well. I'm pleased with him, but he's hurting right now. He's one of those kids that will give you everything he's got. He's a very unselfish kid and unselfish player. He's not very happy about it (the loss), but the bright spot of the day was his play."
On the performance of Arizona G Jerryd Bayless:
"We couldn't get stops and we had a hard time containing Bayless. You could see why he's not spectacular, but he could beat you with a lot of different things. He's a very good shooter. He's a very solid offensive player. He doesn't try to do what he can't do and he certainly makes them a much better team. You could see why they struggled without him."
On setting the tempo:
"We were trying to, but when the shots are not going down it makes it hard. It makes it twice as hard when you can't pick up your tempo because you can't set your defense. Arizona is really good ball club."
On Arizona's defensive strategy to take away Houston's open three point looks:
"We felt like we could drive on them. We felt like we could get to the paint on them. You got those kind of looks all night long, but they were looking to take away the open three. When we were down by eight we had a set play for Dion (Dowell) and his shot went in and out. Robert (McKiver) had a play set for him too and it went the same. They were playing to defend our three point opportunities and we don't mind that. If they are going to take away our threes then we are going to drive. Our best driver is Zamal Nixon. Brockeith Payne and Robert McKiver are all very good drivers and usually they can get to the foul line if they don't they take the shot or dump it off to the open man. What they did was to not allow the open threes and they gave us something and we took what they gave. When we had the open threes I remember in the first half we had an air ball and fumbles early in the game that was just game nerves."
On Houston's game plan to beat Arizona:
"What hurt us was that we had the opportunity to get out and have a really good start, but in our first four possessions, we had four turnovers. Kelvin (Lewis) threw it away. Kelvin dribbled it off his foot. And then there was a carrying call. That didn't help. I felt that it was very important for us to get ahead in this game and make them pressure us. Make them do things where they have to get out and expend some energy. I still felt with four or five minutes left that we were going to catch them. We just didn't have enough guy play the kind of game that they are normally capable of doing."
On Lanny Smith's short minutes in the game:
"Zamal Nixon was our point guard. Just look at Zamal Nixon's line. He kept us in the game. He was playing very well. And that happens. The other position we have Robert McKiver, and he's our best player. We have Marcus Malone or Kelvin Lewis and both of those guys do a good job at the three spot. Nixon is a very talented player when he is playing well, and I'm not going to hold him back. He earned his minutes today. It wasn't like Lanny Smith was playing terrible or anything. He just had trouble getting it done. Zamal came in and gave us a spark and kept us in the game. Without him, we would have been blown way out of the building. Zamal Nixon for us was clearly the best player on the floor today. We had a good performance from Tafari Toney and I think Marcus Cousin, although he didn't do much offensively, he was very active and that's a good sign. Hopefully he'll be ready to go for conference play."
Freshman Point Guard Zamal Nixon
On defending Bayless
"We watched some film on him from the couple of games he did play. We knew he was a talented player. We knew we had to be on our best to stop him."
On Houston's slow start
"We came out a little sluggish in the first half and we had a good opportunity to capitalize on their slow start. But it's always hard playing from behind. We can't make too many mistakes on offense. We need have to get stops defensively."
On Bayless' big game
"I think they did a decent job defensively. I think Bayless is one of the better players we have played against this year."
On Houston's struggles shooting the ball from behind the arc
"Shots usually fall for us in previous games. A lot of our shots didn't fall for us today. We usually shoot well from the three point line, but we were 5-for-22 on the night. And those are shots that usually help us build a lead or stay in a tight game."
On playing in a big game on a big stage
"It's a big confidence builder when there is a large audience watching. Facing such a highly touted freshman (Bayless) and the kind of battle we had tonight was a good confidence booster."