Cincinnati-Houston Postgame Quotes

Feb. 15, 2014

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Houston vs. Cincinnati
Fifth Third Arena
Postgame Quotes

UC head coach Mick Cronin

Opening Statement:
“I thought it was a great experience for us today having to execute the way we had to execute to win this game in the second half. Give Houston credit they were really ready to play. Their passing was great, and their handling of our pressure was great. Obviously they were highly efficient offensively until we were able to finally lock in late in the game and get some consecutive stops to push our lead out. But Coach (James) Dickey did a great job with his team today and had them prepared. It was good for us to have to deal with that because it makes us a better team.”

On his seniors taking over the game:
“A lot of that is Justin (Jackson), Sean (Kilpatrick) and Titus (Rubles) and I agree with you a lot of that is a habit. Hopefully that will service us well in March when all the games will be close because in the tournament everybody is good. If we can get to the last five minutes, we’re in business. At SMU, we got it to seven (points) and they called a timeout, and our goal was let’s try to get this game tied in the last five minutes because we’re undefeated in that scenario. In our three losses, we were down double figures and eight or nine points to New Mexico but I think we get a heightened awareness defensively. We become really hard to score on defensively. We were not connected defensively all day today, but I don’t like to belittle Houston’s effort. I think if you know basketball, they made some good plays. They were executing, they were making shots and they have good players offensively. Late in the game, our defense was what we needed it to be and the difference for us today even though the game was close is we’re prone to some scoring droughts. We worked really hard this week on our execution, our offense, our passing and we only had four turnovers. We got the shots we wanted all day especially as the game went on and our offense got better. It needed to be because we weren’t stopping them”

On if there is some gratification winning a game with an efficient offense:
“Well again, when you get to March you have to be able to win a multitude of ways if you’re going to try to win four to six games in a row. You’re not going to shut everybody out and you’re going to have to be able to answer a counter punch when kids are making plays like Houston’s guys were making plays today. You can’t panic. You have to go down to the other end and execute, so I was definitely pleased to see that.”

On the team struggling defensively and giving up 50 percent shooting the last two games:
“What people don’t realize is how small we are. Until you guys are sitting courtside and you really look at Houston versus us. You would sit there and say it would have been really nice to have Jamaree Strickland this year and why it’s so important to have Jermaine Lawrence back and to get him minutes. So hopefully by two or three weeks from now he gets comfortable again because he has size. But they have offensive players, they got guys that can make shots and (TaShawn) Thomas around the rim is as good as you’re going to see as far as explosiveness and finishing. (Danrad) Knowles was a top forty or fifty recruit, L.J. Rose was a top 50 recruit and so were TaShawn Thomas and Danuel House. They are starting four guys that are ranked in the top 100.”

On if he thinks teams are starting to figure out his defense:
“Yeah that’s part of it too and game plans to get the switch because they know a switch is coming and trying to attack certain guys that may be not our best one-on-one defender.”

On why Shaq Thomas isn’t taking the ball to the rim more like he did today:
“Well that’s the million dollar question. Shaq is still learning how to be aggressive and compete on every level and that’s just a process for him. He is such a nice kid but at times he has tended to be too passive. I tell my guys if you put your career in my hands, I have to find you a way to get you to where you don’t say ‘hey the guy didn’t try and he let me be average’. So I rode him pretty hard this week but why he is not always doing that it’s hard to say and I think for some players finding themselves is a process. Justin (Jackson) has found himself this year and it’s like Jermaine Lawrence, Troy (Caupain) and Kevin (Johnson) in practice. Our red team beats our black team every other day with Dave (Nyrasuk) at the five with those other four guys. They beat them every other day but they just don’t have the experience like the other guys, but Shaq is the guy that can be a consistent 12 to 15 points a game player. That’s what we need and I think that is pretty obvious.”  

#23 Sean Kilpatrick G

On Houston's effort:
"We knew Houston would come in with a lot of intensity. It would be a great win for them if they had beaten us, especially in our home gym. Protecting our home gym is something that we really talk about the whole year. If you protect your home gym, everything else will fall into place. I give them a lot of credit, they came in and played really hard. We were able to tighten things up at halftime and make adjustments and that was all that mattered."

On what went well in the final six minutes:
"It was stops and rebounds. We were able to grab everything and we were able to switch everything when they came off pick and rolls. That was something we really focused on. Being able to front the post, as well, was something that played a huge part."

On Ge'Lawn Guyn's two late three-pointers:
"They were huge. He's a shooter and every time we pass him the ball, we yell at him, 'Shoot!' We know he's a guy who can knock down threes and open the gap for us, especially when teams are collapsing on us as the guards penetrate, they leave him open. He's a shooter. He comes in and works hard every day. When you work hard like he does in practice, it translates in games."

On the sellout crowd:
"That shows you how our fans are. They believe in us and that's something we appreciate."

On defending home court:
"With us being the seniors, and the juniors that will be captains as well, we have to step up and take charge. We're number 10 in the country; everyone that comes in here is going to play their best game against us."

On Shaquille Thomas' game:
"He's 6-9, he can shoot over anybody. He has the ability to break down his defender and make plays. That's something that I get on him a lot in practice. If you have the ability and you're 6-9, think of what you can do if you make yourself more assertive. Jack and I are the older brother for him, getting him to be more assertive."

On how the offense went:
"For the past week we've really been focusing on our offense and swinging the ball. We've been keeping the ball on one side of the floor and that wasn't helping our big men get to the weak side for rebounding and get easy rebounding opportunities. Being able to swing the ball to the other side, especially in the second half, was huge for us. Coach has been emphasizing the offensive scheme because we're so athletic and we're so fast, that if we have an open gap, we're able to blow past our man and hit the big guys on the blocks."

#5 Justin Jackson F

On Houston's effort:
"Give all the credit to Houston. They played a great game, they came in with a gameplan and ran it. We didn't come to play Cincinnati defense like we usually do, but we won the game and that's all that matters. Second half at Houston and first half here, they outplayed us. Second half we wanted to outplay them and win the game and that's what we did."

On him and Kilpatrick scoring most of UC's points late:
"We're seniors. We know this is our team and we need to help our team win the game. In that last five or six minutes we've got to take over and that's our time to win the game."

On Thomas' game:
"He's 6-9 and when you get him in the paint, there's nothing you can do about it. I can't even do anything about it."

On his confidence level in Kilpatrick:
"A 1,000%."

#3 Shaquille Thomas F

On his 11-point performance:

"I knew the last couple games I've been struggling, so all week it's been in the gym, getting up shots and working on my game. I knew I had to come out and redeem myself. I just tried to come out and be aggressive. Especially when Jack picked up his second foul (in the first half), I knew I had to come out and score so I just tried to be more aggressive and more consistent.”

Houston head coach James Dickey

On the final score not indicating how close of a game this was:
“I was proud of our team, but certainly Cincinnati is deserving of being a Top 10 team. Kilpatrick, what a special player he is. I thought he was terrific in the second half. He made big plays and put the team on his back. Our guys competed. It was a three-point game with about two and a half minutes to go and Guyn hit two threes off great penetration by Kilpatrick. When you look, both teams in the second half had trouble getting stops. They shoot 61 percent and we shoot 62 percent in the second half. We went through a stretch there in the last couple of minutes where we couldn’t get a basket and they got more stops than we did and that turned out to be the difference in the game. You have to make big plays down the stretch. I thought they got some stops and they also kept the ball alive and forced us to play defense longer when you look at those 13 offensive rebounds. They got 27 rebounds and only one more defensive than they got offensive.”

On the two threes by Ge’Lawn Guyn at the end of the game:
“He had an easy look. It was inside out paint touches because we let Kilpatrick come off of the curl. They do a great job of having him come off down-screen curls. He got to the paint, forced help, and he is going to find the open man. He did that and then Guyn knocked down two big shots.”

On his team’s balanced scoring:
“I thought our guys really competed hard. They are a tough team. They are tough mentally and physically. I was proud of the way our guys competed. We just have to get better stops and we have to value offensive possessions late in the game. We have to get the ball in the hands of people that can make plays. We had a couple of turnovers and a couple of possessions where we didn’t get good looks at the basket. We just can’t do that.”