March 10, 2011
THE MODERATOR: Ready to begin with the University of Utah. Coach, if we could start with some general thoughts on tonight's game.
COACH BOYLEN: Well, I thought our game plan was good. You know, the zone looked good. The zone functioned well. I thought we worked hard in it. We spent most of the week working on it. I thought it transferred. I was proud of our guys on that.
The difference in the first half was our poor execution against the press and our turnovers for layups. But I thought our halfcourt defense was pretty good. We haven't played a whole bunch of zone this year, but I thought it was improved.
But the offensive end of the floor really hurt us.
I'd also like to say I'm proud of these two guys. Will this last month has been banged up, beat up. David has had an injury plagued year. They played through it. I thought our team grinded pretty good. Hung in there when we got down. We kept working and tried to get back in the game. We were 0 4 on wide open threes in the first half. Missed layups in the first half. I thought we were getting opportunities. But against them it's difficult to make plays, and we didn't finish the plays we had.
A combination of us turning it over and them challenging us at the rim and us missing open shots.
THE MODERATOR: At this time we'll open it up for questions for the student athletes.
Q. Will, how much did the Aztec's full court pressure bother you guys today?
Will Clyburn: It bothered us a lot. Last five minutes of the first half, they really turned us over for layups and we didn't handle it like we should have. Even the second half, we turned the ball over during their press. We should have handled it a lot better.
Q. David, what was it like going against their inside game?
David Foster: As far as on the defensive end?
David Foster: You know, San Diego State is very athletic. We all know that. They're long and great players. So we just tried to go zone most of the game and we did great. It's the best 2 3 zone we played all year long. That was to contain them so they were limited to score inside and to force them to shoot threes and non paint twos, so...
Q. David, did you notice any difference in Kawhi Leonard's performance when he went out and came back in the second half? Was it any more tentative or less physical?
David Foster: To be honest, I didn't notice. He's a tough player. He plays through seems to play through injuries just fine. There isn't much I noticed on the defensive or offensive end, so...
Q. Could you tell us, you're up 10 8, they go on a 22 5 run to close out the half. How did things snowball so fast?
David Foster: Just like Will said, it was their pressure and us turning the ball over, them executing. Just like coach said, we were 0 4 from the three point line in the first half. Those things add up, as we were able to see in that first half.
THE MODERATOR: We'll dismiss the student athletes at this time and continue with questions for Coach Boylen.
Q. What did you notice the difference between the first and second half in Will's play? Clearly more aggressive. Something they did or Will being more aggressive?
COACH BOYLEN: I think a combination of Will being more aggressive. He mentioned to me walking down the hall he felt in the second half he's finally gotten his wind back from being out and from being hurt. He said his legs felt great in the second half and he felt like he had a little more bounce.
I thought this was the first game in maybe five games where he was flying around a little bit, stealing the ball, rebounding the ball better, almost had a double double again, which he's had a bunch of those.
I just thought he looked better, you know. He practiced every day this week. He didn't go through shoot around today because of the heel. But I just thought he looked like the old Will a little bit, had energy and athleticism. He's a big time player, big time player. The good thing is he's coming back (smiling).
Q. You mentioned the zone. What about San Diego State sort of compelled you to play that? Do you think more teams will try to play that against them as this tournament and the NCAA tournament goes on?
COACH BOYLEN: Well, we just felt we had to keep them in front of us. We have a philosophy in our program that we don't give up threes and we try to make people play the in between game, non paint two.
In saying that, the last time we played these guys, we gave up too many layups, too many plays at the rim. We felt if we played the zone, they would have to play over us a little bit and we'd take our chances with them shooting the ball.
Franklin makes three, the rest of the team is 4 14. I thought the philosophy worked pretty well for us. I thought we did a pretty good job on Rahon, pretty good job on Tapley, kept Gay under control a little bit and made those bigs play over us.
We went with our big lineup at times and played the zone, we had 7'3", 7 foot, J.J. at 6'7". Really us playing zone is a credit to them, the physical presence of that team, the power of that team because I have not been a zone guy. We went three years here and never played one possession of zone until this year with this new group and this young group. We've had a difficult time sustaining our defense. Sometimes our best defense has been to change defenses.
We played the combination of man and zone today, and I thought the zone was very good. We spent a lot of time on it during the week. The guys took it to the floor. Really proud of them.
But really it's about them. They're a powerful team. This is as good a team as we've played against since I've been here. Coach Fisher really has them playing well.
Q. You've had back to back big losses here. Talk about the frustration of ending the season on this note.
COACH BOYLEN: Well, I don't know if this was a big loss. If you look at this game, the five minute stretch at the end of the half was the difference in the game. I think Dirk mentioned a 22 5 run. I thought our guys competed and played hard. We have five guys on our team that never played Division I basketball and are in the playing group. It's a process with them learning.
We didn't play as well as I'd hoped. I thought we had opportunities to make plays that we didn't make. But I thought we competed and played hard and I'm proud of my group.
Q. You said going into this game turnovers were going to be a big factor. Talk about how it got away from you a little bit there in the first half.
COACH BOYLEN: It was an even game there going into those last seven, eight minutes. I'm not sure where the run started. We were right where we wanted to be. I thought the pace and tempo was where we needed it to be. We got a couple offensive rebounds. We had done a couple different things that were good. We had some turnovers in that stretch there that got them going. I thought they woke up a little bit from those run outs, dunks and layups. It hurt us.
In all three of our games with them, one spurt has really turned the game. At our place it was eight minutes to go in the game. They made their spurt, 12 2 spurt. At their place they started the game on a spurt. Tonight they made their spurt at the end of the half.
As frustrating as it is, you know it's coming with them. We didn't do a very good job of stopping the bleeding. Didn't do a very good job of it, so...
Q. What was your message to your team, staff and players after the game in the locker room?
COACH BOYLEN: Well, I felt a lot of things we worked on this week transferred. I wish we would have made a few more shots. We keep track of our missed layups, missed opportunities, missed threes. I gave them those stats. The opportunities were there to tighten the game up and to make plays.
I talked about all this group is returning. All nine guys in the playing group are returning. We have guys coming off their redshirts. We're adding pieces. We'll probably add a power forward, which we need. This group's coming back.
I told them this has got to sting a little bit, it's got to sting in the summer when you're working out, it's got to sting when we're in the weight room, it's got to sting to lose in the first round and to have a losing record for the season.
But I'm optimistic about this group. This group has worked hard. We haven't gotten a whole bunch of breaks. We've had injuries. We've had newness. We've had youngness. For a minute there during the game, J.J. is out, Will is out, Washburn breaks a finger, I don't know if it's broken, they popped it back. It was frustrating for a minute. Our season's been like that.
But I really like these guys. This is probably the best group I've had. They're the most committed group I've had. I like our culture of our locker room. I like our kids. So there's no shame in losing a basketball game. The shame is if you don't work and you don't play for your teammate. I think we've worked and I think we've played for our teammate.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much, coach.
COACH BOYLEN: Thank you.