bleedCrimson.net Weekly Coach Menzies Interview :: 12/30/09

bleedCrimson.net: Your thoughts on the Texas Southern and Prairie View A&M games?
Marvin Menzies: Texas Southern, we knew that we were going against a very talented and athletic team. They had been playing teams on the road close. They had been very competitive in games until late in the game where their depth ended up being a problem and teams were ending up blowing them out down the stretch. Having beat Idaho at home who is a team that we think is very talented in the WAC, we knew we were going to have our hands full. I thought my guys did a very good job of being prepared mentally for the game and being solid. We had a lot of breakdowns obviously still in our progression of trying to develop through the course of the season but at the end of the day I thought we were solid when we needed to be and pulled out the victory. I thought it was a good win at home.

The Prairie View game was a little bit different in the sense that that team we played was a little deeper and a little more athletic and obviously a team that had a better record and played Cincinnati to seven at Cincinnati. Their record is a little deceptive, they were 5-5 but they had three major pieces to their puzzle out in their point guard, a wing and one of their big kids. When they had everybody together they were very very good and they are leading their conference right now. We knew that they were going to be a good test for us. We really pumped the guys up on that. I thought they came out and played very well against them. I think that playing them close in the first was something that we needed and also in the second half and got rolling and stayed within the system and played within ourselves, we also needed that because we wanted that to build on going into this weekend's games.

bc.net: You had talked about your kids' energy level coming out at the start of games and it's really seemed to have picked up over the course of the last few games.
MM: I think your energy level will be conducive to the comfort level you have with your system and the more comfortable you get the more aggressive you can be. I think we're starting to experience that, we're starting to experience guys that are more comfortable in understanding the subtle nuances of our offense and also the signature of our defense and as a result they're able to be a little more aggressive offensively and defensively based on just their experience that they're gaining from running it.

bc.net: Wendell McKines is now averaging a double-double in points and rebounds which is not a big surprise given his production last season but what has been a very pleasant surprise is his assist numbers. He's had six assists in each of the three games he's played.
MM: You know when you sit down and watch the game you can learn as well and I think having Wendell sit out those games that he did, he's taken the right attitude towards getting better. He's been very positive and energetic in practice and I think going forward he was able to see things a little bit as a coach and so when he had the opportunity to get back on the court he's matured as a result of that.

bc.net: Looking back at the non-conference play you're 7-6 heading into WAC play and four of your six losses are to teams that are 34-5 combined but one of the games you'd maybe really like to have back is the loss at Cal State-Fullerton?
MM: Yeah, that's the one that we lost a big lead on the road. It's tough to win on the road as it is but I don't think that we played a very good game that day. We had a good stretch in the first half but it wasn't enough to beat them at the end of the day. It's one that you chalk up and say, "Boy I wish we could have that one back." But every loss you wish you could have back and have another opportunity to play better. We didn't play well against UTEP here and lost and not just lost but lost in a bad way. Obviously we wish we could have that one back as well, just to play better. The UNM game here is a close game with a few minutes left to play and we wish we could have that back down the stretch. All of them you wish you could have back but that is definitely one that as you look at this stage of the season. Our thoughts are really focused on the next segment of the season now which is the 0-0 record we have going into conference and that's how we're approaching it.

bc.net: On Saturday you face Utah State, they come in with a pretty solid defense, they're only giving 60 points per game and have three players in Tai Wesley, Jared Quayle and Nate Bendall that are all putting up very similar numbers in points and rebounds.
MM: They're going to look to push the ball in transition and they try to go inside a lot and they're shooting it well from the three based on the fact that they get a lot of inside touches so they get open looks. They're very very good at executing their halfcourt offense. They have a seasoned team with a lot of experience and as a result we've got to go in and play one of our better games in order to get a win. Guys need to understand what we're trying to do on the scouting reports and guys also have to play a full 40 minutes.

bc.net: With the way last season ended against Utah State is there any extra motivation on the part of the players?
MM: Well I think there's motivation based on it's the first conference game. I don't know how much each individual player is going to bring extra because of that game. I think that we're all focused on getting off to a good start in conference. Being a team that's ranked ahead of you and being a team that's obviously a staple and one of the upper echelon teams in the conference. You look at it as a great opportunity to do well and come out successful.

bc.net: On Monday you take on Nevada, they're averaging just under 83 points per game on the season. They have kind of a short bench this season and the style of play in the games between the Aggies and Wolf Pack in the past has been more of a physical, grind-it-out game, do you see this one being more of a track meet and does that play into your favor?
MM: You know sometimes you can look at two teams' style of play and think, "Boy, they're really going to get after it." But I think whenever that happens both teams typically try to do a much better job on the defensive end and they're focused on it because they know the other team does well offensively and you end up sometimes grinding out the other way with a lower score. It could go either way. We're obviously going to try to push the ball and score a lot in transition but at the end of the day the pace of the game is secondary to the outcome and we need to play well enough to protect our home court and that's the goal.

bc.net: What is the health of Hamidu and B.J. West?
MM: B.J. is day-to-day and Hamidu is steadily improving. We'll see where it goes.

bc.net: With these two games being at 9:00, is there any change to your routine?
MM: Pretty much the same. Kids in this day and age don't go to bed until late anyway so it's not a major concern for us that we're playing at 9:00. We'll back things up a little bit, a couple hours in terms of our practice time and our shootaround but that's the only adjustment we're going to make.