bleedCrimson.net: Your thoughts on the loss at Southern Miss?
Marvin Menzies: First of all Southern Miss is really good. They did a really good job of crashing the boards on us, something that we've been able to take a little bit of pride in here early in the season but they just owned us on the glass, had great second effort with some really talented, undersized bigs and really skilled guards. They had a lot of energy, very fresh legs at the very beginning of the game and jumped out on us and made it an uphill battle all the way back.
bc.net: The last five and a half minutes, you'd been down by 18 twice in the second half and had been able to get it down to seven but the last five and a half minutes they were able to get eight offensive rebounds and hurt the Aggies' effort to come all the way back in a situation that, I really felt if you'd been able to get some of those rebounds, you would have come all the way back to win that game.
MM: Yeah, I think that the offensive rebounding that they had at the end of the game was really the key to stopping our runs. They were just some long bounces and we had some guys in position but they just had fresh legs and were very athletic and were just able to get to those balls and that's what makes climbing back into a game so tough when you give up that much of a lead.
bc.net: You shot around 60 percent in the second half, what did you see from your team in terms of being able to get the looks and shots that you wanted?
MM: We started catching our legs and we got aggressive and were really trying to drive it and create opportunities for each other and as a result we got better looks because we pushed it a little bit more aggressively and got some early looks. We weren't really finishing the fast break in the first half but we did a better job in the second half.
bc.net: Defensively you were able to pressure them in the second half and force some turnovers and it was something that you weren't able to do against them in the first meeting in The Shootout. What adjustments did you make to be able to force them into making some of those mistakes?
MM: When you're down you have to be a little bit more aggressive and gamble a little bit more and we got lucky. We were able to shoot the gaps and they were playing a little bit more cautious when they were playing with the lead and so it was a combination of things. But we also changed our press up a little bit and gave them a different look. It was a combination of things but when you're scrambling from behind you've got to do anything you can to get back in and get the 'W' and we just fell a little short.
bc.net: You finally have a bit of an extended break and are able to get into the gym and work on some things with your guys before the UTEP game on Sunday. What are you working on and trying to clean up this week with the team?
MM: We haven't really practiced yet because of the finals but we'll start practice today. We need to work on our defensive transition and our rebounding so obviously we need to work on those things. Just getting back in sync offensively. I think just not having the gym time of the last couple weeks has really hurt our offensive execution and timing a little bit. I'm hoping we can clean some of those things up.
bc.net: You mentioned that with the lack of practice time since the start of the season that the team is essentially the same team that started the season in terms of development. What things would you like to see growth-wise?
MM: A lot. There's different areas on the floor both offensive and defensive, our timing and execution is just not sharp right now. The system is in place, now it's time to fine tune it and make it run like a well-oiled machine but it's sputtering at times without having the ability to refine it, that's what I'm hoping to be able to do over the next few days or at least start that process.
bc.net: Sunday is the last road game of this calendar year. Starting off the season the way you did with all the road games and all the travel, how important is it to have this stretch of five games at home?
MM: I'll tell you how important it is after we've played them, in terms of how successful we are but I do think that it's important to take care of your house and take care of your home court. We have an opportunity to play a few games here and start that component of this particular team in earning the respect of people when they come into your house and playing for the pride of wearing that jersey and the additional things that go into playing and home and protecting your home court.
bc.net: In the first meeting with UTEP, in the first half, they really spread out the Aggies on defense and kept multiple Aggie players from being around the ball defensively. What do you expect to see from them on Sunday in the rematch?
MM: They did a really good job of playing to their strengths that game. I thought that Coach Floyd and the Miners came in with a very specific game plan and executed it very efficiently that first half. We obviously got the upper edge the second half but you've got to play a full game, you can't rely on another team playing bad, you've gotta play well. I'm sure they'll play much better at home and we've got to make sure we bring in our 'A' game on Sunday.
bc.net: Do you think that having the week off between the Southern Miss game and the UTEP game will help to refresh your team both physically and mentally?
MM: It probably would have been a little bit better if we didn't have finals. I'm not sure yet but I do think physically for sure. The rigors of the travel were definitely felt at Southern Miss in that second game. The UTEP game, even though it's an away game, we get to sleep in our own beds the night before and so I'm hoping there's some advantage to having some similarity of normalcy when it comes to our team.
bc.net: During the winter break before the second semester begins, as far as practice time, do you get to practice with the guys more than you do during the season or are the limits still the same?
MM: The numbers are the same but the opportunities of when you go and what you do, you have more flexibility which is what you want and it gives them more time to get in the gym doing extra stuff.