Postgame Quotes - Cincinnati vs. USF

Feb. 2, 2014

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USF vs. Cincinnati
Fifth Third Arena
Postgame Quotes

Cincinnati head coach Mick Cronin

Opening statement:
“I’m very happy with the win. I’m not as surprised with the way the game was played. Tough matchup South Florida is for us. I believe that team sports are all about matchups. Their size and athleticism is a problem for us. If we’re not able to turn South Florida over and get out on the break and they get deliberate in half court that’s a problem. The second problem is missed layups and missed wide open three-point shots because you’re not going to dominant the offensive glass against them. They are too big, too strong. So that’s why the score of the game was what it was.

"Give them credit for handling our pressure pretty well, finished around the rim the way that they did. Give my guys credit for finding a way to win despite missing layups. Like I said, it was like target practice from the three-point line. I thought we missed about 10 wide open threes. It puts a lot of pressure on you because you can’t just grab the rebound and lay it in and we’re not stealing the ball to get layups.

“We have a lot of guys logging a lot of minutes in the month of January so we need Jermaine Lawrence back. Fortunately, he has been working out and he is looking good and getting closer.”

On Sean Kilpatrick being able to perform well down the stretch a testament to his passion:
“Yeah it’s the same with him, no doubt about it. The guy is going to “knock on wood” be the second guy in the history of this program to score over 2,000 points. He is maybe the most underrated great player that has ever played here. I was really happy for him Thursday night too because I think it woke people up nationally to who he is.

“The attention helps recruiting when you’re ranked and all of that, it helps the program, but I want it to help my players because they have hopes and dreams. I think he has definitely not gotten the attention. He is clearly the player of year in this league 10 (conference) games in (to conference play). Obviously, there are eight more to go. But he is clearly the player of the year in this league with everything that he does for our team. And that’s saying a lot because there are some real players in this league.”

On if his team expects to win after winning so much this season:
“It’s a lot harder than you think. Ask the 10 ranked teams that lost yesterday. It’s a lot harder than you think, especially when you’re not running around with 13 guys on scholarship, right now. With Jermaine Lawrence out (toe injury), we have nine guys on scholarship that can play and they all played today. Jermaine, Deshaun Morman (foot injury) is hurting and Jamaree (Strickland) is not cleared and Jeremiah Davis III went home (after the fall semester) to be with his family. Not too many teams with nine guys on scholarship are on a 14-game winning streak during the middle of conference play. So (there’s) a lot to be said for my guys. I give my guys all the credit. It’s easy to sit there and judge, but it’s hard to go and get it done night in and night out. The target continues to get bigger on their back.

“I worry about fatigue with this team I have to be especially with Jermaine Lawrence and as much as Justin tells you he is a machine, and at times he looks like he is made of rubber, he is tired. There were three times in a defensive rebounding were he gave up an offensive rebound and somebody jumped over him and that never happens.

“But I give South Florida credit. I don’t like to diffuse, but I thought they competed hard and three things happened that kept the game close. They took care of the ball; we missed wide open shots and we missed layups. Obviously, the only thing we did well was make free throws.”

On what it means down the stretch for Ge’Lawn to start hitting shots:
“Huge. We don’t beat Louisville if he doesn’t knock down two threes. He knocked down two today. Ge’Lawn is a guy that he shot the ball well his whole career in drills and practice, but it is different when you get out there in these types of environments. He is finally comfortable and confident. That has a lot to do with it. Nervousness is a problem on offense. You can’t shoot the ball with nerves either.”

On how aware he is of Justin’s “meanface”:
“I am aware of it. People tell me I have one too. I would say people would be a lot more scared of him than me though. He is a guy that plays with emotion. It concerns me that opposing coaches and referees take it the wrong way. I am worried about his career. I don’t want people to see him for the first time and think that guy is crazy.”

On probably enter the Top 10 tomorrow in the rankings:
“It helps recruiting. It helps attendance and it gets my players the attention that they deserve. Those are the plusses to that stuff. I am concerned with all of the things that are keeping my team fresh, improving, and getting guys healthy.

We have a big week. We play UConn and then SMU on the road. It is a tough week for us. We need that week off. Our guys are all eyeing that week off. We have to find a way to get fresh enough to get two Ws this week.  For us, it is development and where we are trying to go. It doesn’t really matter where you are now. My seniors have goals. We understand the importance of seeding in the NCAA tournament. The last few years, we have had terrible draws. We played UConn in the second round. We caught the National Champs in the second game. The sweet 16 year (2012), look at who we would have had to play if we beat Ohio State (Syracuse). We already had to beat Texas and Florida State. Seeding is important. My players are keenly aware of that because of what happened.”

#23 Sean Kilpatrick, G
On the team effort to keep USF off the offensive glass:
“It was a huge team effort. We tried to find little ways to help Titus (Rubles) and Jack (Justin Jackson) out. Those are our two anchors down low and those are the guys that really get us going with the rebounding aspect and being able to box the USF team out. Justin does a tremendous job when it comes to that because he can actually box everyone out and get the rebound for us.”

On the team’s five early turnovers in the second half:
“We were really rushing. We weren’t really cutting hard to the ball. That is what happens. It is part of the whole game.”

On earning national respect:
“We are still going to play with the chip on our shoulder like we have been all season. The number next to our name doesn’t really mean much because any team on any night can really come out and bump you. That is something that, as the three seniors, Me, (Justin Jackson) and (Titus Rubles) need to keep instilling that in our young guys. The younger guys are the ones that pay attention to that because they are young. But the older guys and the juniors and sophomores understand that we have been in this position before and is has gone downhill before. We have to continue to keep working. Now there is a bigger bullseye on us and we have to continue to keep coming out with a better effort every night.”

#5 Justin Jackson, F
On Sean Kilpatrick playing well despite being sick:
“I mean, SK (Sean Kilpatrick) is SK. He is going to come perform every night. Sick or not sick he is going to play basketball. That is what I expect out of him and that is what he is going to do.”

On the importance of beating USF:
“It is very big. It is bigger than the Louisville game because coming off a big win like that, everyone thinks you are going to let up and take the ‘L’ at home. We are trying to show the world that we are not playing and that we are really here to win. We are really here to be the best team that we want to be and that we can be.”

On the difficulty of matching up with USF:
“South Florida is a pretty big team. They are pretty big down low and they have size on the wing. They are a good rebounding team. They don’t shoot the ball that well, but they can get offensive rebounds, so that is a plus for them. We aren’t that big. And we just came off a big game. They had a whole week to prepare. We were playing like an NBA schedule, you get a day off and you come right back. You just have to grind it out. They are bigger than us, so we had to make sure to box out and get the rebound.”

On using his quickness to get around the USF post players:
“I was just going at them. Yes, I have my quickness, but I do have a little bit of strength under me. So I am going to go at them and just play my game. And that is what I did.”

On winning 14-straight games and being undefeated in conference play:
“That is a big accomplishment but we are not here to be undefeated and lose when it is time to win. We want to get better every day and make sure we do what we need to do to win all the games we need to win. We want to be on the big stage when it is time to play in March. That is our main focus – to make sure when we get to March that we have a good seed and do what we need to do because that is all that matters.”

USF head coach Stan Heath
On how he feels after a close loss like this:
“I am encouraged. We have played Cincinnati twice, Memphis twice, SMU twice, and Louisville once. Seven of our nine games have been against the top four teams. I see major improvement in the last two games. We won against SMU and grinded this game out to the wire in the last two of three minutes against Cincinnati who is the number one team.”

On shooting more threes towards the end of the game:
“We went brain dead. We took them, we probably shouldn’t have. A couple of those were because the clock was winding down so we just got stuck with that shot. It is something that we haven’t been very good at this year and we know it. We don’t take many of them. I give our guys a lot of credit because they don’t force that shot. Sometimes you have to take it when they are playing zone and packing it in. I encourage my guys to take the open ones.”

On the difference between their first and second half shooting:
“Two things. We just had to make adjustments at halftime. We were taking so long to get the ball across against their pressure. It just took us out of rhythm on the offensive end because once we crossed, we just kind of stood around and tried to figure out what to do. Part of that is, the offensive play was away from our bench. We are young. We have young point guards and we have young big guys out there. When the play comes on our side of the bench and we can communicate better with our team, we score better in the second half when the ball is in front of us. “

On what adjustments you made for playing Cincinnati this time again:
“The biggest adjustment you try to make is to try and get better offensively. We did some more double teaming, we got some pressure at half court and got some traps. The biggest thing is when you play Cincinnati, it is not like you have to adjust a whole lot. You just better bring your fight, your toughness. You have to take care of the basketball, and you have to find ways to score because they have a really stingy defense.”

On allowing the least points they have all season:
“Our defense hasn’t been good. It is getting a lot better right now.”