David Cox, Cyril Langevine and Fatts Russell met with the media Thursday to talk about the Dayton loss and Saturday's game with St. Joe's and more. Thanks to Stone Freeman for the assist on recording.
On moving on from the loss: We flipped the page right after the game. You don’t want to lose, but we lost, so we’ve got to move on to the next game. Came in today, worked on scout, and we’ll be ready for St. Joe’s.
On learning from the Dayton loss: Started off slow - can’t do that. Gave them a lot of confidence. We’ve just got to be ready next time we play them and go from there.
On avoiding an upset: We just have to flip the switch because St. Joe’s is a good team. Obviously, they’re not doing so well in conference. You don’t want to give a team like that the opportunity to beat you, so you’ve got to be prepared.
On positives from the Dayton loss: Throughout the game, it was even. But like I said, we can’t start off slow like we did. We’ve got to be ready from the jump knowing that we’re playing one of the top teams in the nation. Just got to be ready for next time.
On the VCU-George Mason game: You’ve got to be ready for those games. Teams that are not doing so well, they go into your house thinking they can beat you. We’ve just got to be ready.
On keeping focused: Our goal is to win a championship and get to the NCAA Tournament. I think we’re on the right track to do that.
On milestones: It’s just hard work. If you put your mind to do something, you can go out on top. My goal wasn’t to score 1,000 points, was never to get 1,000 rebounds. It’s just going out there every night having fun, playing basketball, knowing what’s at stake and playing hard.
On the Dayton loss: They came out ready. They came out knowing we were going to give them a fight, so they came out and threw that first punch and it was heavy. We can’t let teams get out on a 17-0 run because that’s going to hold for the whole game. Outside of that 17-0 run, I felt like we played them solid.
On having the right mindset: Every game, we’ve got to come out like it’s our last game. That’s how they came out, like they were defending something. We have to come out and match everybody’s intensity.
On VCU's loss to George Mason: We saw the VCU and George Mason game last night and we talked about that. VCU wasn’t expecting to lose, but they came out kind of lackadaisical. Us seeing that, it was a wake-up call, so we’re going to try to avoid that.
On what's to come: We were down after we lost to Dayton, but our goals are still right ahead of us. We can obviously still win the A-10 regular season, the A-10 Tournament. Those are the bigger goals that we have and we’re right there to accomplish them.
On NCAA Tournament possibilities: The guys that have been there, me Jeff and Cyril, we went to get there bad. That’s all we’ve talked about all season and all we talk about now. We’re just trying to stay locked in and trying to get there.
On the Dayton loss not being a bad resume loss: It wasn’t necessarily a bad loss, metrically I guess, but any loss is tough to take. We went out there with a gameplan to win. We thought we had an opportunity to win going into the game. It quickly went awry after the first four or five minutes of the game. Obviously, digging into a 17-0 hole is probably insurmountable there, but I was proud of of the guys’ fight. There are lessons to be learned when you lose. I mentioned that last year during our losing streak. It wasn’t just tongue and cheek. I meant that. We were able to identify some things that we need to tighten up and sometimes those things get lost when you’re winning. We were able to kind of sit back, watch film and address these guys about some of the things we need to continue to improve on.
On being able to compete with Dayton: I think they thought that going into the game and I think they felt that way after the game, even after a 14-point loss, just based on how we played in the last 35 minutes of that game. They also learned a very valuable lesson. You can’t dig yourself a hole like that against any team, particualry a team that’s so talented on their home floor. Hopefully, some lessons learned and we can flip the page and move forward.
On staying the course: There are several things still at play here. One, as we’ve mentioned throughout the year -it’s been our mantra - we’re trying to get better every day, we’re trying to get better every wek. Just to give ourselves a chance to be successful and give ourselves a chance at postseason play. The second thing is we’re still in the hunt for an A-10 regular-season title. It’s not a foregone conclusion that Dayton will just win it. We’re in the hunt, so we need this game. So we’re trying to get better, we’re still in the hunt, we’re coming off of a loss so how do you respond? I think that’s very important - it kind of shows the character of a team. The last thing, I was locked in to the VCU game. At home, against a team that they should have won. Sound familiar? We’re at home against a team we probably should beat record-wise. But this league, with the great coaching and the great play - we’ve got Ryan Daly coming in here and he’s a monster. We’re beatable, obviously. If they play their A game and we don’t, we lose here. And then we end up waking up like VCU feels, where they allowed a huge opportunity to get by them.
On St. Joe's: We’ll show them some film in the next couple of days of some of their successes against us, whether it’s scoring or how they defended us. It’s a unique system that they run - five out, all five guys are encouraged to shoot 3s. [Coach Billy Lange] mentioned after their last game that they’re trying to get up 40 or 50 3s a game. That’s where he says basketball is going. We’ve got to switch gears and try to guard the heck out of that 3-point line.
On being resilient: It’s a vital quality in life to have resiliency. If you’re human, you’re going to have rough days, you’re going to get knocked down and you have to handle adversity. More important than the game of basketball, it’s a huge life lesson. Can you bounce back? Can you handle adverse situations? Can you show some strength, and character and resiliency? This team has shown that for the most part. We’ve still got six games to go, so I’ll be leaning on them to show that down the stretch. We’re probably at this point predicted to win a majority of these games coming up, so we’ve got a target. We’ve talked before about how we’re still hunting, but there are teams that are going to come here and try to play their best ball against us.
On bracketology watch: I don’t focus on it. I don’t search to find it. But I was encouraged by Danny to join the Twitter world. I’m not a social media guy. If it’s not a family birth or anniversary, I’m usually not tweeting. But now that I have Twitter and I do open my phone every day, it’s right there in my face and I can’t avoid it. And this is the ultimate goal. I just don’t want to get distracted and bogged down by all that. If we continue to get better and we play every game like it’s the last game and every possession like it’s the last possession - like we’ve done for the majority of this year - then we’ll reach our goals. And our goal is to play in the NCAA Tournament.
On the stretch run and balancing work with fatigue: It’s a little bit of a fine line. You don’t want to push these guys to exhaustion so they have nothing left down the stretch. But you’ve got to understand - everybody’s tired at this point. Everybody’s 25, 26, 27 games in. It’s the last push, so I’m going to push these guys as hard as I can, but I’m also going to listen to them. I listen to the captains, I get the pulse from them. ‘How are you guys feeling?’ And they’re really honest with me. If they encourage me to pull back, I will listen to them. But as of right now, again, all of our eyes are locked in on the ultimate prize, so we know we have to continue to get better.