Dec. 4, 2013
Coach Frank Haith Press Conference
(December 3, 2013)
"We're excited about this week. This week's a big week for us. You look at just what's going on at Mizzou with what our football program is doing Saturday and with what's going on with volleyball this weekend. You then throw in the basketball team with what we have going on Thursday (vs. West Virginia) and UCLA on Saturday. I think it's just a big week for our university from an athletic standpoint.
West Virginia's a team I've competed against in the past, and they're always very competitive, very tough and very physical. They play with a chip. You have to bring your lunch pale when you play against them, and this team is very efficient offensively. They shoot 47 percent from three, they stretch you and their 4-man can shoot. At times, they can put five guys out there that can make threes. So they're a very difficult team to match up against, and their point guard has one of the best assist-turnover ratios in the country--it has to be. He has 60 assists and nine turnovers. That tells you right there a little bit about how difficult they are (to defend) and what they do offensively. It will be a tremendous challenge for us on Thursday, and I think we have to be ready."
On the breakup of the schedule...
"We knew we were going to be a new team--a young team. We have two seniors. Obviously, early on, we had a couple of games, then our "buy" games and then you always have a tournament around the holiday season. Going to Vegas, we played a Big Ten team, so it got tougher out in Vegas. Now, it obviously takes another step as you look at the next games in succession. You got West Virginia, UCLA, (Illinois) and then NC State, so it definitely gets tougher and tougher as we get towards league play."
On the criticalness of this stretch...
"Every game is important, but there's no question when you have an opportunity to go up against a power conference team, a team that I look at in watching tape will be very good in the Big 12. I think they're much better than they were last year. They're so efficient offensively that I think their coach will tell you their team (last year) was not as good offensively as they are now. Then you play a UCLA team, and we just saw them out in Vegas. They are really talented, and I think they're better than they were last year."
On how things have gone since being away...
"I watched the games. First of all, Tim and the staff did a great job. It's a tough situation to come into. I was with our team up until the Southeast Louisiana game. It's like when dad is away, you're big brother's taking over. There are some things that slip a little bit, and I think that they got better, though. I think, in watching them, there are some things are team has to get better at. We have to play inside-out. We have to have better ball movement. We have to have better player movement. We'll get better at that. We didn't have much practice time going out to Vegas, and we're practicing this week. I think we'll get better this week."
On working with Earnest Ross on his game...
"We wanted to make Earnest's game well rounded. During his time off, he became a good shooter. Last year, he made threes, and when you see this body of his, we have to remind him you have to go being that (a slasher) and that (three-pointer shooter). That just makes you tougher to guard if you're able to do both. I will say this about Earnest, he's had moments where he's shot quick threes in early offense, and we don't really need those. But he's still leading our team in free throw attempts, so he's doing what we want him to do. I think if he continues to play with that kind of moxie, I think that just makes him a tougher guard. He has a dual ability to drive it and slash, particularly with the way the game's been officiated. And then he can make threes."
On emphasis of driving with rule changes...
"When you watch college basketball, there are times when guys are driving the ball, and in the past, you would say he's out of control. Now, a lot of times you get a foul called. If you're aggressive, the aggressors are the ones getting the favor. There are so many times, you said, `stay calm; just relax.' But now, if you're in attack mode, good things are going to happen for you. So yeah, I think we're preaching more `attack mode, attack mode, be in attack mode.' I do think that we have to get some of our guys, particularly Jordan [Clarkson], to shoot 15-16 foot jump shots--to have an in-between game. So the better defense played, they're going to shut that off, and you have to be able to make pull-up jump shots."
On West Virginia's new style of play...
"He's always run their wheel stuff and their elbow-screening stuff and the five-man motion. I think the team he took to the Final Four was really good at it. They had a really good shooter on that team, and that was the first couple of years after Beilein. But I think it's a combination of some things, and he's a great coach. They always run the motion stuff."
On Saturday's game against UCLA...
"They, too, are very good offensively. Kyle Anderson's probably the key in their offense with the way they run things. He's such a tough matchup because he's tall and he's got great instincts. They shoot the ball extremely well. They all can really shoot the ball. Then you throw on top of that his size in the middle with the Wear twins (David and Travis Wear) and (Tony) Parker. They've got a really, really good team. I think they're ranked top 15, and I would venture to believe they're a top 10 team with the way they're playing right now."
On the bigger picture of the sport's success...
"What a great opportunity for the university. Even just look at Saturday. I think Gary (Pinkel) will say, maybe he won't say this, but they didn't have any opportunity to play on CBS. That team has won and been in the top 10 all year. Are you kidding me? Well, now they're on CBS. I'll say that for Gary. But we're on, too. So what does that do for the Mizzou brand? For six hours of that day, it's Mizzou. We are playing UCLA and they're playing Auburn. I'm really happy for him, and I think it does wonders for our program with what they've accomplished."
On appreciation of being back on the court coaching...
"When we were in Vegas and we had some people there, it was nice to have people cheer when we walked out. I love what I do and I love where I do it. So many people have jobs--I hope you guys love what you do. I love my job, so it's a blessing to have an opportunity to get back doing what I love doing."
On low number of assists so far...
"We're playing attack-mode basketball, putting the ball on people, getting fouled and going to the line. I think when you look at our free throw attempts, that negates some of your assists. So we're shooting a lot of free throws and that means we're being aggressors. Our assist numbers may not be as high, and I think that's the reason for that. I'm not alarmed at that. I want to keep our turnover numbers down per game, but as long as we're shooting a high percentage and we're scoring 80-plus points a game, I don't know if that's a problem."
On what he wants to see more of from Keanu Post...
"It's just a confidence thing with him. We have to keep throwing him the ball, sort of like what we did with Alex (Oriakhi). We kind of force-fed Alex the ball. I think he's just got to get more comfortable in the speed of the game. He's got it in him. It just takes time, and everybody's progression is not the same. First thing we must do is continue to encourage and we have to play inside out a little bit more. I've talked to Keanu about doing the things he can control and that's defend and rebound. If he does that on a consistent level that will really help us right now. The other think you look at is the first seven games we've played. We haven't played many centers and that's hard for a big guy. We've had games where they don't play with centers--they play with 4-man. Our first year here, teams really struggled guarding us when they played us because you were trying to put a Jeff Withey on Kim English. That's what he's had to deal with early in the year. As we get further in our schedule, he's going to get to play bigger guys--even this week."
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