bleedCrimson.net: Your thoughts on the split you got on the road in California. Kind of lost was the fact that you did get a split on the road, most of the talk was about the final score of the UCLA game.
Marvin Menzies: I think anytime you can win on the road that's a good thing. For our guys to bounce back after such a bad performance against UCLA, the score in the UCLA game was kind of skewed. I played a lot of young guys in that game, a lot of freshmen when the game was pretty much already decided and the score got a little worse. But I've got to think about the big picture in terms of minutes and going forward and getting ready for conference. All my decisions are based on getting us ready for conference. We had a chance to get to get some guys on the floor at Pauley (Pavilion) for experience. You lose by one or you lose by 30 it's still a loss. That game was something that we were able to take and test our fortitude and bounce back by getting a win on the road, our second win out of three games. It was good for us to be able to rebound that way. The homestand here, hopefully we can put together a string of games and continue to grow the confidence of these young guys and get them ready for conference.
bc.net: You took on Alcorn State and the overshadowing news was that you got Wendell McKines back which we'll get to in a minute but your team never allowed Alcorn State feel like they were in the game which against a winless team it's sometimes a tough thing to get your kids to focus.
MM: Well our guys did a good job of concentrating on just playing the team and not worrying about their record. I think we were very feisty and played motivated and were almost a little bit too high at times, receiving a couple of technicals, having their emotion up a little too high. But I'd much rather have to turn them down than turn them up. That being said it was a good win at home and we've got a much tougher opponent coming in tomorrow so we've got to be ready for that.
bc.net: Wendell had eight points, eight rebounds, six assists, two blocks and a steal. How would you rate his play in his first game out?
MM: Well, he brought exactly what I thought he'd bring. He brought some toughness and some energy and some athleticism, a lot of things we were missing in terms of rebounding. The continuity was still there because he had been practicing with the team. I was curious to see how that was going to be once we actually played a game but just like practice he performed up to my expectations.
bc.net: What kind of ripple affect does his return have for your team and what that does for Hamidu having another person down in the post that teams have to worry about and also what it does for your guards?
MM: Well, I think that having the bigs able to play solid basketball is a big key for us. We know that we have talented guards. But in order to win against the more competitive teams you've got to have balance from the one all the way through the five position. We're hopeful that those guys will continue to develop and give us the stability we need inside in order to have balance going forward.
bc.net: Wednesday night you have a tougher opponent coming in in Texas Southern. They're 4-6 but they had a good win over Idaho early in the non-conference season.
MM: Yeah they do. They have got a lot of talent. They are a very talented, athletic, 6'6" - 6'7" guys that are rangey and play very hard. They're very scrappy and play very good defense, get after you and cause a lot of turnovers. They're a team that we better be ready to play because if we don't take care of our home court against the team it could be a long night.
bc.net: Monday you take on Prairie View A&M.
MM: I think they're very similar to Southern. They both come from the same conference and I think they both have the ability to compete for their conference crown this year. It'll be interesting to see how we respond on Wednesday. I think that'll be an indication of how we play on Monday. If it's positive then we just need to keep our focus and have the same approach on Monday.
bc.net: Tyrone Watson has given you some good minutes and seems to be a player in the same mold as Wendell McKines, a high energy and has a lot of enthusiasm when he's out there.
MM: Tyrone has been a good addition this year as a freshman. Not having Wendell and Troy available and having the opportunity to play more minutes than maybe he would have was good for him personally and hopefully now that we have Wendell back that experience will help us as we go into conference. He's a very solid freshman that has a great attitude and he's very coachable and those are the kind of kids that just continue to get better and better.
bc.net: You've got an opportunity with these last two games at home to finish the non-conference portion of the season with a record above .500 and to really go into conference play with some good momentum.
MM: Having the opportunity to finish above .500 if we were to play well in these last two games is obviously a motivation for the guys and wanting to play well going into conference. That would give us our most wins in non-conference since I've been here and a nice foundation to build on going forward into next year as well. I think having the two road game wins as well as the overall numbers being up where it can give us an extra boost, I think the guys are excited about that opportunity. I'm pretty optimistic that we're going to continue to play hard and smart and get victories going forward.