Postgame Quotes - Cincinnati vs. SMU
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Jan. 1, 2014

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Cincinnati vs. SMU
1/1/14
Fifth Third Arena
Postgame Quotes

Head Coach Mick Cronin
Opening Statement:
“Obviously, it’s always good to get the win. Justin Jackson was good as you could possibly be today, probably on every phase of the game. He had 16 deflections, 17 points, five blocks, five steals, three assists, and no turnovers. (It’s) almost impossible to have a better stat line then he had and put forth a better effort than he did.

“I thought Shaq Thomas and Jermaine Sanders really gave us a lift as well, which is important for us because you got to be able to win games when Sean Kilpatrick struggles to make shots.

“We were able to pull away in the second half without making a three-point shot against a team who forces you to make threes. In their only two losses, they gave up double-digit threes. So I thought we were going to have to make some shots. If you would have told me that Sean Kilpatrick was going to go 1-for-7 and we were not going to make a three in the second half, I would have told you that we would probably get beat. So, I was really proud of our guys for grinding it out; getting to the foul line; displaying the toughness that they displayed defensively and grinding out the victory.”

On what his thoughts with Justin Jackson defining himself as a “machine”:
“That’s a term I use with him and, as you know, throughout his career he gets too emotional when he makes mistakes. He looks over at me all the time. But I’m trying to get him to mature and become a machine and do the same thing every day. Focus, concentration, toughness, taking your time on offense, making easy plays. That’s who you have to be every day so you don’t have the ups and downs. You become a dominant player every day. You have to keep the right mental state at all times and right now he is playing like one of the best big guys in the country.”

On what has made his post move so efficient:
“He has great quickness which he has always had and the other thing is his added strength and his understanding. He has been extremely coachable and has an understanding where the help is to let us get the floor space and attack and read whether he should pass it or finish it. But I’m a big believer that the added strength has really helped his balance as a finisher which has helped his confidence.

“I saw that with Kenyon (Martin) during his senior year. It becomes a snowball effect. Now he is so confident he believes nobody can guard him in the low post. I just have to keep him in the weight room because he is a high metabolism guy, he can burn it quick. I have to keep his strength level up which was a big problem with Kenyon too at the same age. Those guys burn it quick so I have to keep him eating and keep him in the weight room.”

On if Sean (Kilpatrick) hasn’t been getting the same shots the last few games as he was earlier in the season:
“My assessment today is he is rushing his shot again. He looked like the guy from last year today, shooting it as if the ball is on fire. I don’t care how good of a shooter you are you can’t make shots that way. Second of all he is a scorer not a shooter. He has to square up and shoot shots at the pace he can make shots and if guys want to take that away, just keep getting fouled. There isn’t anything wrong with shooting 18 free throws every game. If he misses a free throw, it’s almost news now. Why he would ever rush his jump shot is beyond me, but he will be watching the film tomorrow and try to get a better understanding of that. I think a lot of it is he gets anxious, he wants to help the team, maybe he thinks we are struggling on offensive at times.”

On if he sees Jermaine Sanders confidence beginning to grow:
“Definitely and that’s really important for us and our program because Justin (Jackson) and Sean (Kilpatrick) being our two leaders right now. Guys that we have developed over time and that’s a big part of what we do and in our recruiting is tell our kids when we sign them we are going to develop you and you’re going to get better every year and you have to come here to work. Obviously, we don’t get a whole lot of guys that are going to be here for a short period. So, it’s important that Jermaine Sanders develops and guys like him develop.

“Shaq Thomas had his best game in a long time today, his defense was the best it’s been in a long time. Guys like Troy (Caupain) Jermaine Lawrence, and Kevin Johnson are getting valuable minutes and in a couple years from now or maybe by next year those guys will be guys we count on to win games. So you got to continue to develop those guys.”      

# 5 Justin Jackson, F
On his injury in the second half
“We just bumped knees, it was minor. It was just in the time of the moment. That was it.”

On SMU continuing to shoot over him
“I hope they keep coming into me. It is better for us. If they come at me, most of the time I am going to block a shot or I am going to make them miss and I know my teammates will be getting the rebound.”

On his confidence after winning the American Player of the Week twice
“I don’t pay attention to the media to be honest with you. I just play my game, if I am doing that, it is what it is. I just worry about getting the W, that is all I care about.”

On having fun playing basketball
“(It happens) every time I step on the court. I did (have fun all along) but my role just changed. Coach needs me to be a scorer this year, so that is what I am doing. Last year my role was to play defense and be the energy guy. That is what I did, I just do what Coach asks me to do.”

On SMU’s coach Larry Brown comparing him to Ben Wallace
“That is an honor. Anything you get from that guy is an honor.”

On beginning to get a reputation in the league based on his performances
“I don’t know. Like I said, that is something I don’t even worry about. All I worry about is making sure I get better every day. We have practice tomorrow and that is all I am worried about now.”

On where the team is now
“As a team we are right where we want to be but we still want to improve. That is what we want to do every day, we want to improve and get better.”

#23 Sean Kilpatrick, G
On Justin Jackson’s energy
“That is something that we expect from him because we know that is in his DNA. That is something that he doesn’t lack at all. You don’t have to tell him to play with any type of energy at all. That is something that we really expect from him.”

On the team getting to the free throw line a lot
“If you are able to get to the line a lot then you are making the other team play defense. The game opens a lot for you. We know that on the cuts and everything they are most likely going to try and hold us or move with us and we are going to try to set them up to get fouls. That is something that we really emphasized the most in practice.”

On having a few off nights shooting the ball
“It is how the defense is playing me, but then again, they are just rolling in and out. Great shooters are not going to hit every shot every night. That is something I need to continue to keep learning about. My teammates are going to tell me to keep shooting. I am going to get the shots that I want, it is just that they are falling in and out. They are great looks. But if I am down on myself even a little bit, this guy (Justin Jackson) slapped me in the head and told me to keep shooting. That’s a good thing.”

On forcing more turnovers in the second half
“We were letting them get to many easy passes in the first half. When we came back at half time, everyone was in the locker room talking about turning the heat up. That is what we wanted to emphasize the most, getting deflections.”

#15 Jermaine Sanders, G/F
On his three-point shots towards the end of the first half
“I was surprised I was that wide open.”

On his confidence over the past few games
“My confidence is very high right now. I know I can shoot, so that is what I am going to keep doing – shoot. I know my team needs me and that is what they need me to do – do what I know how to do on the court and be aggressive. Coach Cronin always tells me that the team needs me to be in a position to win the games, as we need everybody. So I just need to be active and play my role.”

SMU head coach Larry Brown
On his thoughts of the game:

“(Justin) Jackson was great in the first half. His energy and his five blocks were great. They weren’t shooting it well and I think his pure will and energy gave them the lead at halftime. Second half, we had 11 turnovers. We turned it over too much. We put them on the line too much - 31-9. You are not going to have too much success like that. We turned the ball over 17 times on the road. Our defense was pretty solid, but Markus Kennedy getting in foul trouble kind of hurt us.

“They are well coached. They try hard. Every kid comes in and gives them energy. They are a quality team. We had a chance to win the game, but you can’t turn the ball over on the road. Even with that, late we were down six and gave up a second shot to a guard. It is good. It is learning for us.”

On what he’s going to find out about his team in this challenging stretch:
“I know about our team. I like our team. It is a process, but we have young kids and I love our freshmen. They are not afraid and they are going to get better. I know how to play Ben Moore. I know how to play Keith and Sterling in an environment like this against a quality team, I think a tournament team. Those three guys were least affected by the crowd. That makes me feel good. I like my guys. We have been down here (points down) and I want us to get up here (points up). We are just going to keep working on it. It is great being in this league. It is great having this exposure and opportunity to play these quality teams. I am excited about that for everybody.”

On the process:
“One time in my life I inherited a winning team. When I went to UCLA, they have lost three lottery picks that year. I went to Kansas and we had a couple of losing years, but those were established great programs. In the NBA, the only team with a winning record I had was Detroit and they had lost four straight in the playoffs, but Rick Carlisle set a foundation. That was great for me. I like these opportunities. I have Eric Snow and George Lynch with me and a great staff. I have young kids that want to be coached. I am very fortunate to be in this situation. It is a great league. We are a great school. We have tremendous players in the city and in the area. We just have to keep working.”

On if he could imagine not coaching:
“No. I am sure there is going to come a time. As long as I feel like I am able to help and improve the game and make kids better. I look in the mirror and know I am 73, but in my heart I don’t feel that way. I am thrilled because I look down at the other end and I have respect for Mick and what he is doing. Every game that we coach when I see the other guys down there, I feel lucky I am in the game with the people we get to compete against.”