I thought we challenged this team to be more workmanlike, machinelike for 40 minutes. We challenged them to make some necessary adjustments after the Gonzaga game. Those adjustments were finishing better in transition, particularly when you have two on one, three on two, because we felt like we left so many plays on the floor that last game. And just be a little bit tougher defensively to stay focused on that end of the floor and understand your assignment. I thought we got to a great start. We were great defensively in the first half and we really hit a point in that game where we really clicked offensively as well, too. The game allowed us to grow and next up for us is a road test, even though it's seven miles down the road, it is still a road game. It's the next thing on our schedule that we need to deal with at this point in time with this team.
How important was it to use this game to get your bench players experience?
It was very important. It was important to get Josh back on his game. And I sent him a text after the Gonzaga game and just talked about toughness and talked about maybe it was my fault not calling his number more to get him a better rhythm in the game. And I thought he responded well on both accounts in this game. It's important to develop that bench, though. Conor, Val, Robert Franks, Viont'e Daniels — all of those guys can help us if we can get them their confidence and get them on their games. And I still think we can go and develop it even more so. Because you still have not yet seen the real Renard Suggs. For whatever reason, he's really struggling right now. So in a game like this, it gives you an opportunity to bring some guys off the bench and get their confidence.
Did you call more plays for Josh Hawkinson than you would in a normal game?
Not necessarily in a normal game, but I wanted to make sure we got him going. So we started the game calling his number quite a bit. There was one point in time in the Gonzaga game you saw us go to Que quite a bit. This game, we went to Josh a lot. We went to Viont'e a lot in this game the second half as well, too. Just to get guys going. We went to Conor quite a bit, so Josh responded well and it was nice to see him respond. We cleaned up some stuff in practice and really focused on getting him open and getting him the ball in better position to score.
Which of the player combinations that you used did you like?
Until I can look at the tape — our starters were really good in the game. I always like bringing Val in the game because Val changes the game with whoever's on the floor. But when you have an Ike Iroegbu and Charles Callison and any other wing overt there — be it Renard or Que especially. That kind of speed over there and you've got a shot-blocker there on that back line that can change the game and can block shots and can give you a chance to get out and run, that's pretty good. So Junior's a great guy, a great defensive stopper, but I really like it when Val's on the floor because it changes things defensively.
How did Ny Redding handle being on the floor with four newcomers?
Well he needed it, that's why I had him out there so he could be point guard and do a better job of what I call his point guard leadership and that's exactly what we told him. You run this team, get guys shots and don't worry about yourself. We can get yours a little bit later in the game. I thought he did a really good job of it.