Weekly Coach Menzies Interview :: 01/07/10 You defeated Utah State 55-52 on Saturday night and you've got to be pleased that you were able to win a game that was really played at Utah State's pace.
Marvin Menzies: I was. It really came back to down to defensively doing what we needed to do down the stretch. They did a good job on us defensively and we did a good job on them and that's what ended up getting us over the hump in the last five minutes of the game. We couldn't score and we did a good job of putting pressure on them and not allowing them score at the same rate they were earlier. In that game Jonathan Gibson had 19 points and hit the big shot at the end of the game that broke the six and a half minute scoring drought. Talk about the play that you set up for Jonathan.
MM: Well he had obviously been pretty effective throughout the game and so we drew up a play that was designed to give him the ball and give him a read off the pick and roll situation and whether to keep it or drive and dish, it was his call based on how they defended him. Most people that know Gib know that he was going to try to get that ball up if he could and they defended him in a way where he did get an opening and an opportunity to shoot it. On Monday night you hosted Nevada but you weren't able to carry that momentum over from the win on Saturday night and Luke Babbitt from last season to this season appears to be a couple of levels above where he was last season and your team didn't have an answer for him all night long.
MM: No, he was really really good. He just shot the ball so efficiently and was 10-of-14 from the field and picked and chose his spots really well. He's a very very good player and took advantage of every opportunity that he had and didn't force anything. The team trailed the entire game and was down by 17 with about four minutes left but you were able to close the gap and even though you still lost the margin of victory was only 10 and your team didn't give up.
MM: Well, we're at a stage of the season now where that's not even an option. We have to play every game a full 40 minutes and let the chips fall where they may. At this time and and this time of year you're either going to be able to close games out or you're not. They had the lead and they closed it out and we had the lead against Utah State and we closed it out. It's a game of runs and hopefully before you get to that last four or five minutes you've got a lead and you're able to close it out and that's what we're hoping for going forward. Through the first two the one of the stats that really sticks out is that the Aggies have only gone to the line 20 times. How important is it for your team to get back to the point where they're shooting and making more free throws than your opponents are attempting?
MM: Well, it's one of those deals where the ebbs and flows of the game depend on how the other team is defending. It's one thing to say "get to the line" but if they're sagging and just challenging your shots late it's tough to get to the line. It's like Boise State, they're not very aggressive in their defense in terms of climbing into you full court and really turning the ball and heavy heavy pressure on the ball. They have a few guys do it at times but it's not really their signature. That's a game were it's going to be tougher to get to the line unless your interior guys are very strong with the ball and can get it done there and that's where we're hoping we can do it. This weekend you make the trip to the state of Idaho. It's not always the easiest trip to make particularly in terms of travel and now Boise State and Idaho are both very much improved teams.
MM: It's a tough trip based on the competition. Any time you go on the road it's obviously a challenge but when you're facing two capable teams it's the type of situation that your guys should be excited about and excited about the opportunity. It's like when we had two top teams coming in, even though they were at home, they were top teams so you're excited about it. Now you're going on the road and playing two games and so our kids need to be in the right frame of mind and need to have the right perspective going into both those games and right now, today I feel like they do. Your turnover margin through two conference games is +4.0 and that leads the league. That's got to be something that certainly makes you happy.
MM: Guys have been doing a very good job of taking care of the ball, we learned that in the offseason about how important that was and so that's one of those things you hope carries over for the duration of conference because it's a very important statistic. What's going to be the key to picking up at least a split on the road and hopefully a pair of wins on the road this weekend?
MM: The key is to go out and improve on our execution both defensively and offensively and if we go out with the attitude of concentrating on what we do and doing it better then hopefully it'll bring back favorable results.