Houston Basketball Media Day Quotes
Oct. 30, 2013
HEAD COACH James Dickey
"For us it's really simple. It's about improving on the defensive end and being a consistent rebounding team. We've got some very good offensive players. We know they can score, and they have very good confidence in themselves, but we have got to be as determined (on the defensive side of the ball). For us it's about having an identity, an identity of being more physical and being better defensively and being a better rebounding team. "
"We understand our level of competition. As far as non-conference is concerned, we're excited about that schedule and the challenges that it presents in getting us ready for the American (Athletic Conference), which we know is an outstanding league. Everybody has talked about it. We're aware of the competition, but for us it has to start with what we do individually and as a group and certainly that falls on me and getting our guys ready defensively. "
"It's been a lot of fun to be on the court with these guys. They're a great group, and they have a wonderful attitude. They've worked hard. They did a great job in the summer and our preseason conditioning program, in the weight room with coach (Bryan) Lewis who does a great job for us. We've been certainly excited of the edition of coach (Johnny) Estelle. To our staff, he's brought a lot of enthusiasm on the practice court and to our players on and off the court."
"We're looking forward to next week and finishing up our preparation for our exhibition against St. Thomas Tuesday and then getting ready for Texas State on Friday. That will be a tough opener for us."
On the increase in fouls to be called this season
"We've had a couple of intrasquad scrimmages where we've had some officials that work in college, and it's probably going to be called a little closer than what they called. It'll be an advantage for teams who can drive and who can hit free throws. That's something we want to take advantage of, but we still want to be better defensively. We just have to show our hands more. Our players know that with hand checking you can't put them on. Especially when the guy is out on the perimeter making a direct drive to the basket. "
"You're going to see a lot of long games early in the season, and it will be interesting to see when television complains about how long the games are, how they're going to be called. It's not an emphasis this year; it's a rule, so our players have to adjust to it."
"There are several things to look for. One the hand-checking, and the other is the in the lane on the free throw. When you're the offensive team they're not going to let you dislodge that position down there. That's been called on us in our intrasquad scrimmages. We have to be aware of those situations. "
"They're going to call hand-checking on ball in the post if you leave it on there. Certainly the closer you get to the basket the more physical it's going to be, but out on the floor you're going to see a lot of fouls. Teams are going to get in the one-and-one and the double bonus quicker. It's going to be interesting to see how the consistency goes from the non-conference schedule into the conference schedule and on into the NCAA Tournament."
On the progress made of switching to a more defensive mindset
On what he likes about his team
"I like our level of talent. We've got some depth at the perimeter positions. Across the front line, we've got some depth as well. We've got to get some guys healthy between now and next Friday, but I like our level of talent."
"I like the way our guys finished up last season in the postseason. Certainly we would have liked to continue and win it, but being in the postseason was important to us to understand how hungry we need to be to get to where you want to play in March."
On the point guard position
On the development of junior forward TaShawn Thomas and sophomore guard Danuel House
"It's been well documented about TaShawn and Danuel. TaShawn was First Team All-Conference last year. He's been a starter every year that he's been here. Daniel was freshman of the year. He showed the ability to hit big shots and hit free throws. We talked about him in the off season improving defensively and in the half court by getting to the free throw line more and improving on rebounding."
We've got some other talent guys to go with them. LeRon Barnes was hurt and is coming off surgery. This will be the first time he's been healthy."
"Jherrod (Stiggers) played well for us last year coming off the bench. He's a strong physical player. The two things that we talked about with him was just seeing himself different than a 3-point shooter to be a complete player. He's a very good free-throw shooter. He's got to get to the line. He needs to be a better rebounder for us, and develop the mid-range game, and not just be a 3-point shooter, because the majority of his shots last year were threes. He's going to get crowded and run off that line. He's worked hard on his ball-handling, and ability to drive, and get to the basket, and the free throw line. Offensively those guys can come off screens and post up and score. They're big, and they're long. We're going to have some depth."
"That's one of the things that concerns us a little bit with this new rule. It's going to slow the game down to where depth doesn't affect the game as much as it has in the past, because you could use the depth and run people in and out. If you have 80 possessions, of those possessions you have 62 fouls then there's going to be a lot of stoppage in play. So, it's going to be interesting to see how we can utilize our depth, because we think that we can play a lot of different players in a lot of different combinations."
On preparation for the level of competition this season
"The coaches are outstanding. We have two Hall of Fame coaches in our league in Larry Brown and Rick Pitino, so I don't have to really say much. I'm more concerned about where we start on Tuesday night and what we do next Friday night. We have some tough non-conference schedule. We have some wonderful opportunities there. That's what we'll focus on." "
As far as the league, our players realize the level of competition that we're going to have. Eight of the 10 schools in our league at one time or another in their history have been to the Final Four. The tradition has been tremendous. This is going to be one of the great basketball leagues in the country. This league is going to have an opportunity to get five or six teams in the NCAA Tournament at the end of the year."
SOPHOMORE GUARD L.J. Rose
SOPHOMORE GUARD Jherrod Stiggers
On what he's been working on in the off season
"I'm working on back cutting and getting screens and driving. It started out tough, but I'm getting used to it. I just have to remind myself to not think about shooting and start driving. "
On the new defensive foul rules
JUNIOR FORWARD TaShawn Thomas
On what he worked on during the off-season
"Mostly my face-up game. You know most of my baskets last year were with my back to the basket and teams started double teaming me towards the end of season so some of the coaches told me to start working on my face-up game so that I can move faster so when the double team comes I can be able to counter.
On chemistry of the team and rule changes
On not getting respect in the American Athletic Conference
On buying into defense and rebounding
On play of L.J. Rose
On what L.J. Rose brings to the team
On excitement for the upcoming season
SOPHOMORE GUARD Danuel House
On not getting any respect from within the conference
"We think about it all the time, every time we go out and practice on the floor, but we kind of like it because we can play the underdog role. All we think about in practice is focusing on defense since everyone said we can't play defense. All we have to do is go to the game and perform. We really have to stop somebody because we can't beat anybody if you can't stop them."
On being a part of a new conference with big name teams
On L.J. Rose
On Danrad Knowles
JUNIOR FORWARD Mikhail McLean
On his role as a returner
"My role has been just to have a lot of leadership, a lot of energy, rebound, defend, and hit open shots."
On the mood this year going into a new conference
On large number of returning players
On the focus on defense
On the rule changes
SENIOR FORWARD J.J. Richardson
On upcoming season
"All the rule changes will change us a lot because it changes how we play. We just have to play smarter and have a higher basketball IQ on defense, and we will be better on offense."
On team consistency
On expectations for the team