Weekly Coach Menzies Interview :: 01/19/10 Your thoughts on the Fresno State win on Saturday night?
Marvin Menzies: We had the fortune of playing some really good defense the second half, things started to click a little bit and it made a difference for us in the turnaround in that game. We weren't very efficient with the press in the first half and then the second half we got it going. It was good to see the guys keep fighting regardless of the score. You got some good bench production in that game.
MM: Yeah, it's going to be critical that our bench produces when they come in. We can't rely on just one or two guys to get your scoring. Maybe in crunch time you have to rely on those guys but for the most part when you play the better teams you're going to have to have a real team effort. I think we got some extra special minutes from Aboulaye, his first double-digit minute game playing 12 minutes. Hernst having zero turnovers and 10 assists, it was just a lot of chemistry when those guys came in. A lot of energy. Tyrone Watson came in off the bench and gave us a nice boost and didn't fall off when he replaced Wendell. It was good to see. Hernst's 10 assists and no turnovers in 38 minutes was a pretty special performance for a point guard.
MM: It is and it kind of got lost in the shuffle with the win and JY and Gib having pretty special night in terms of offensive output but for a point guard to play that many minutes and have no turnovers and 10 assists is a special achievement. Hernst is a special point guard. He's very heady, he plays within himself and is getting back to last year's form of being a high assist to turnover ratio guy. Thursday night you take on Hawai'i who has had some injury problems this season that has set back their team a little but they're still playing pretty well and picked up a good win over San Jose State.
MM: It's always difficult to play in Honolulu. You have a pretty challenging and demanding travel and then when you get off the plane and you have a team that is really hungry and coming off a 'W', it'll be a hard fought battle but I'm confident that if we continue to play as we've been playing and improve as well, we should be able to come out of there with a 'W'. The matchup between Hamidu and Hawai'i center Petras Balocka should be a good one, Petras had a 20 point/20 rebound performance earlier this season.
MM: It's one of those game where those two guys are going to go to war. There's no question that there's going to be a lot of battling going on the interior and they've got some good young guys as well. Our interior play has to be sufficient for us to come out of there with a 'W'. You guys jump on the plane right after the Hawai'i game and play San Jose State who is a lot better than their record shows and they have one of the best players in the league in Adrian Oliver.
MM: Oh yeah, they're definitely better than their record indicates. They play everybody close even in their losses. They've done phenomenal job of building their program over the past couple of years. They have some good stability and very good guys returning and they're still relatively young as well. I think they're headed in the right direction as a team and we've got to put ourselves in the right preparation mode as soon as the Hawai'i game is over, regardless of the result. We've got to make sure we're preparing ourselves in a professional manner. We've got a quick turnaround and we've got to be ready to go mentally more than anything. It's going to be physically demanding with the travel but it's the mental toughness that's going to be able to win you that game on the road. The last three conference games your team's defense has really come up big in the second half. What's been the difference between your team's solid defensive play in those games versus the early games?
MM: It's just a maturation process. You hope you can continue that trend without falling off. We've got a lot of guys that are returners that know what the expectations are and they have a lot of goals that they've set for themselves and the team that we're still in the process of meeting. They know at the end of the day if we're going to be able to achieve those goals our defense has to be a priority and their attitude in approaching defense has changed gradually. It's one thing to talk about it but it's another thing to go out and actually have that extra emotion and passion defensively. I think that's been the one difference that we've had in the last few games.