Jeff Dowtin and David Cox met with the media on Thursday to talk about the off week and the challenge ahead in Saturday’s trip to Davidson.
On the bye week: It was a good week to get some rest and focus on this last stretch of games coming up. Definitely take some personal time for yourself, reflect on the season so far and what you can do better for the team. And definitely meet with the trainers, the coaching staff, watch a lot of film, do a lot of stretching, mobility just to get your body feeling good.
On where they stand: The season’t not done yet. For the most part, we’ve been playing at a high level. We’ve got a lot of things we’ve got to improve on. We’ve got a great stretch of games coming up. Just got to stay consistent, stay focused.
On going to Davidson: Same mindset that it’s been all year. We’ve got goals for the season. We’ve got expectations. We’ve got to play hard, play together, keep doing what we’ve been doing and we’ll be OK.
On the Wildcats: All teams in our conference tend to improve as the season goes along. We’re playing them at [their] home, they’ve got the ability to shoot the ball, shoot the 3 like crazy. We’ve got to expect them to have their best game when they play against us so we’ve just got to be ready.
On improvements to make: The main thing for us is just being aggressive from the jump. We tend to start off slow the first few minutes of the game. We kind of try to work our way in. We can’t really do that when teams jump on you early. You saw what happened against Dayton. We’ve just got to be aggressive from the jump, take no plays off early, got to get a feel for the game right from the tip.
On why they've been successful on the road: We’re just locked in, just being focused. Road games are tough. Everybody’s got their own unique repertoire that they go through. We’ve got a good flow right now.
On enjoying road games: I think that’s one of the main reasons we’ve been so good on the road. We like playing in tough conditions, playing against tough teams, playing against their crowd. That gives us a boost. It’s one of the main things we look forward to is playing on the road.
On Davidson's Hyunjung Lee: He’s an elite shooter, for a fact. We’ve got to be a mindful of that. He’s going to be a great addition for them because he didn’t play the last time. We’ve got to expect a lot of 3s.
On whether the week off was good: Yes, for both [the mind and body]. I think I enjoyed Sunday thoroughly, like I haven’t enjoyed a Sunday in months. And the Monday, the panic set in and Tuesday we were right back at practice, so here we are. I did get 24 hours, which was well worth it, to say the least.
On Davidson: We knew going into this game that this was going to be a very tough game. Then you add in the element that they just lost. I can imagine their practices and their focus. They’ll be really ready for us. And then, I’ve been watching a lot of college basketball over the last couple of days and it’s been upset after upset after upset. That’s what typically happens this time of year. If you remember last year - I was reminding our guys - this is where we went on our run. I’d like to give us all the credit but it wasn’t necessarily all us. Some of the teams didn’t approach us necessarily with the right mindset. Hopefully we learned from that. Now it’s changed a little bit and we’ve got to have the right mindset.
On getting off to better starts: I think it’s more of a defensive thing than anything else. I know we didn’t score points against Dayton for the first five or six minutes and I know we struggled a little bit with our scoring in the first half of that game against St. Joe’s; however, I don’t think our defensive intensity was where it needed to be at the start of the game. If it’s not there on Saturday, it’ll be the same result.
On wanting to get back to actionI’m starting to get that sense. I thought today we had a very energetic practice, and I’ve got to give a lot of that credit to our upperclassmen. Jeff, Fatts and Cyril out here getting shots up. They’ve been tremendous leaders for us.
On where they are: Two games ago, we were on a 10-game winning streak and played a top-five team in the country and lost. So, I don’t think we’re in a downward spiral or there’s anything necessarily awry. I think that we have to get our edge back, perhaps. I think it’s more mental. That’s why we’ve talked about, our approach to this weekend, we have to have that hunger going into this game. It’s tougher when you win 10 out of 11 games and you’re dealing with millenials, it’s tough getting them motivated every day. We did a self-scout on Tuesday. We scouted ourselves - the good, the bad, the ugly. We had a little intrasquad scrimmage and we’ve talked the last few days about how focused we have to be on Saturday.
On keys to the stretch run: We addressed some defensive things that we need to get better at. Offensively, we tweaked a couple of things - no wholesale changes. Physically, we were able to get some rest, which is good. Mentally - that’s the biggest thing. It’s hard, again for 19- and 20-year-olds, to understand the gravity of these final five games, particularly after they’ve played so well thus far. It’s very important for them to understand that it can be gone in just a second. It’s very fragile footing that we’re on when you’re not in a power five conference.
On road games: That’s a big part of college basketball. If you’re going to be a good team in college basketball, you have to win on the road. And if you’re going to win on the road, you have to have the right mentality. You have to be very confident, almost cocky. You have to have an edge. You have to have a little extra with you when you go into somebody else’s house and want to come out of there with a victory. Especially Davidson. The crowd is loud and raucous and they’re such a good and talented, well-coached team. I think we’re going to get their best shot.
On the emergence of Hyunjung Lee: We’ve talked a lot about Lee. I think Lee is probably - no slight to those other guys - their best pure shooter right now. He really shoots the cover off the ball and he’s without a doubt their best cutter. When I was with Georgetown, we talked about cutters a lot, with the Princeton offense, so my eyes are kind of locked in on guys who cut well. I haven’t seen anybody cut like him off the ball, ever in college basketball. He’s just really disciplined with it. He’s 6-7. He plays hard. He’s got a high basketball IQ. He didn’t play in the first game, so that’s an added dimension that they have that we have to be leery of.
On Davidson's improvements: Dayton’s been playing the best ball, the most consistent ball. I think right behind them is Richmond. They’ve played some really, really good basketball with and without Blake Francis. And then, over the last three or four games, I think Davidson is right there. They lost that last game against St. Joe’s, but they did have a 21-point lead and they kind of rested and it came back to bite them. They’re a very talented team and they’re clicking offensively right now.