Paul Hewitt Interview - December 29, 2010

Dec. 30, 2010

On the 62-57 loss at Siena:
“It was disappointing because we played really hard. I thought we prepared very well. Our guys had excellent practices going into that game. We just didn’t shoot the basketball well. Defensively we were outstanding–held them to 38% from the floor, held them to 62 points in their building. I really felt bad for our guys because of the effort they put out. We just didn’t get it done.”

On the team’s poor shooting in the second half against Siena:
“Shooting is so fickle. I thought we took good shots. I thought we moved the ball well. Again, we had some great looks that just didn’t go down for us. If there was one area that I was a little disappointed in our team, it’s that when we missed some of those shots, I thought it impacted our effort in a couple of transition situations where [Ryan] Rossiter got out and got layups. But overall, I don’t think our guys could have worked harder in preparation for that game. They were focused, even though it was a tough trip getting up there. I think they were a little tired, but still, we were ready. We were ready to play, and we showed that in the first half. In the second half, shots just didn’t fall and we got a little discouraged.”

On having a long layoff given cancelled Fordham game:
“With all the travel problems we had getting all our guys back, I think we may have caught a break not having to play. It would have been a short turnaround in terms of getting guys back. We were supposed to practice the 25th, Christmas night, at 7:00. Most of our guys weren’t ready to go until 2:00 the next day, the 26th. But again, our effort in practice has been really good. These guys are really maturing, all of them, and their approach to practice, preparation, things like that–it may end up being a positive in the long run.”

On expectations of Mercer on Friday:
“They’re a good team, a well coached team. They run a lot of sets. We’ve got to be ready to defend the various sets they’re going to throw at us. It’s been interesting. I thought we’d be a high-scoring, good-shooting ball club, and we turned out to be a better defense and rebounding team than I anticipated. But we’ve still got to get the shooting thing straightened out.”

On how different Mercer is this year from last year:
“They’re a good basketball team. Their record is not indicative of the type of team they have. I anticipate they’ll have a good year in the Atlantic Sun. They have a freshman Langston Hall who’s turned into a really nice player. He’s shooting over 40% from three, and he leads the conference in assists at this point.”

On points of emphasis in practice this week:
“We’ve done a lot of shooting in practice. I think from an execution standpoint, our execution’s good. We’ve just been shooting a lot, focusing more on two-point shots as well as the three-point shots, just trying to develop some confidence. They’re working way too hard to get the results they’re getting. These guys have been really good in how to approach everything, especially guys like Glen [Rice Jr.] and Iman [Shumpert] who are new to this role of being the top guys on the team. They’re really playing with some maturity.”

On getting Brian Oliver out of his shooting slump:
“We’ve been doing a lot of shooting drills in practice. And more than anything else–don’t dwell on it. I told him at halftime of the Siena game, `Just keep taking good shots. You’re too good a shooter to shoot the ball like this.’ And we need him to make shots, it’s just that simple. He feels awful about it, but as long as he keeps taking good shots, we’ve got to live with it. And the other thing we’ve got to do, we’ve got to get the other guys–[Kammeon Holsey] I thought played really well against Richmond. He didn’t have quite as good a game against Siena, so our hands were tied a little bit. We need to get other guys so when Brian doesn’t have it going, we can put other guys in the game and give him some alternatives.”

On Brian Oliver playing better at home than on the road:
“Well, I don’t know, because Brian’s best shooting games have actually been on the road. He’s scuffling, no question about it. He’s kind of like a hitter who’s just in a slump. I keep telling him, `You can’t swing harder. You’ve got to just relax and swing easier.’ He’s just bearing down too much. The other thing of course is always to get in the gym, and this is a great time of the year to do that, not having classes and everything.”

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