March 6, 2014
Box Score |
USATSI Gallery |
Memphis vs. Cincinnati
Fifth Third Arena
Cincinnati Head Coach Mick Cronin
“Obviously, it couldn’t have been a better night for our seniors. They had 71 points and no turnovers. I told them it starts at the top, it was all coaching. That was a joke just so you know. Seventy-one points and no turnovers is comical, it is impossible, especially in a fast paced game. They also led us in deflections. Justin had 11, SK had six and Titus had five. Their will was tremendous tonight and it really has been all year. At the end of the day, if we can play good offense to where we have the chance to rebound the ball or have the chance to get back on defense and take our time on offense, we are going to be tough to beat. I don’t care who we play. We are so capable of stopping teams. We had trouble with Memphis’ transition, but they are the best in the country at that. I think they are the best I have ever coached against as far as speed getting down the court with their senior guards. They get down the court and get the ball back at you at the rim. Josh (Pastner) is smart. He is a good coach and I think that was their game plan because we are hard to score on in the half court.”
On only having three turnovers tonight:
“It is funny because you score 97 points, but the whole thing is about taking your time. Be strong with the ball and take your time so you have a chance to see what you can do whether you should pass it, shoot it, or drive it. Be strong with the ball and just make simple plays. We never got comfortable against UConn. We have a problem where we don’t play as hard on offense as we do on defense. We always play hard on defense, but sometimes on offense we rest. We want offense to be easy. Against really good teams, it is not easy. You have to be able to read the defense, execute what you are trying to do and have spacing and organization against the best teams. We tried to simulate that in practice. I think our younger guys , even though they didn’t put up a lot of numbers, they helped us win this game by the way they practiced Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. They really tried to get after us defensively in practice and make it hard on the older guys in the five on five sessions in practice. That is an area where we obviously got better in a short period of time.”
On if he can ask Titus’s mom not to miss any more games:
“There are a couple of games in Dallas in about a month where she lives. It would be nice to play in front of her.”
On if he is worried about a letdown on Saturday:
“No, I am disappointed that we are playing at noon on Saturday. I pointed this out to our players that Memphis plays SMU and Louisville plays Connecticut. They obviously didn’t think Cincinnati would be playing for the Championship.”
On if the time will be a factor:
“It doesn’t help. We have to fly to New Jersey against a team that played last night and drove a bus maybe two hours to play UConn and was home last night in their beds. Our program is all about toughness so this is the ultimate test of toughness for us on Saturday. I am concerned more so of Rutgers talent. They almost won at UConn. They have good players. For whatever reason, their record is what it is, but talent is not the issue. I am concerned about their players are. I know what Myles Mack and Wally Judge can do. Those guys are top 50 players. Wally is a McDonalds All-American. Myles is top 50 in the country. Kadeem Jackson is another All-American. I am more concerned about Rutgers players than the game time.”
On Austin Nichols:
“He is always going to score when he is on the floor. If he can get his touches, he is going to score because he can finish with both hands. I think we were the first school to offer him. I remember watching him with Brad Stevens. Cincinnati and Butler were his first two offers, you can ask him. I have been impressed with him for a long time.”
On what advice he would give to Memphis as far as defensively:
"I think, sometime you have a young player like Nichols who's a great player offensively but he's a freshmen, so sometimes he struggles on the defensive end. Also one of the problems you have when you play small, and I've done this, is you play three guards and it's hard to be great defensively because size matters. You're not going to be able to defend the paint the way you want, although they did a good job boxing us out tonight, you're not going to be able to stop easy points in the paint and you’re giving up two or three inches at each position. I think their stats are misleading because they play so fast and their games are high scoring that they have more possessions in their game. You have to look at their points per possession defensively and that's more of a tell tale sign rather points per game."
On why Titus was able to have a great game offensively:
"We were trying to exploit what we thought was a mismatch because he had a freshmen on him. Nichols was playing so well that we were trying to get the third foul on him early in the second half because he was 5-of-6 at halftime. He has a quickness edge, along with experience, and he got to the free throw line which was huge. From that what happens is you get your confidence by hitting a couple of 15-foot jump shots."
On the energy of the fans:
"Our fans have been awesome. The crowd was unbelievable tonight. They came early to support our seniors, which helps recruiting. We've had a lot of great crowds here over the last four or five years. I like to focus on the people that come, because eight years ago there were still six or seven thousand people here when we had to lay the foundation to build the program that was wrecked. A lot of things are rewarding but I try not to reflect, I try to stay young and worry about what’s going to happen in the future."
On what it would mean to win a conference title:
"It would be huge. Especially this year and this league because it's a big-time league this year with the five teams at the top of league, and once Houston gets healthy they've proven that they are pretty good. It would be huge. As I’ve told SK and Rub, they want it bad. Once the plane landed coming back from UConn and they heard Louisville lost, I heard them cheering. As I’ve said all year, when you have guys that care and want to win it makes your job so much easier. If you win a championship that banner will always be there, and you can bring your kids back to tell them "hey I was a part of that team."
On if this is one of the saddest good times:
"I'm going to enjoy it as long as I can. I'm a glass half full kind of guy, but it will be sad when I'm sitting on the podium in the NCAA tournament, and even if our last game is a win that would still be tough. SK and Jack got emotional on me and made it hard for me, but there is a lot of basketball left to be played. Big game for the Bearcats Saturday at noon. Big game."
#23 Sean Kilpatrick G
On what he was thinking as he thanked the students after the game:
"The fact that I won't be able to play in front of them again. I spent five years here."
On a victory at Rutgers Saturday guaranteeing at least a share of the American Athletic Conference regular season title:
"It would mean a lot. Being here five years, four with Justin and two with Titus, it's something we've been striving for the past couple of years. It's an accomplishment. To have that in our possession and go out there and get a win is something that we really need to do. We know what it means for seeding and it's something our seniors deserve."
On how good the team can be when Rubles is contributing offensively:
"Very dangerous. We all have weapons. You have me, Jack and Shaq as well. Add Titus into the mix. He plays defense, but he's an offensive player. He may not have displayed that the last two years because he came in and did his job, but if you leave him open, it might be over for you. We know with the ball in his hands, something good is going to happen."
On the pregame senior ceremony:
"When they announced us and Jack went before me, then I came out and we all hugged each other, we all whispered in each other's ear, 'It's time to go.' We have to have that energy and we have to keep striving to be better. We gave up a lot of points, but we know down the stretch when there's five minutes left, there are a lot of teams that can't score, but we do. Going into the tournament with this exposure and this positivity is good for us."
On working with the media over the last four years:
"We do this for y'all. You're in here every day to support us and write good things about us. Having those type of people behind us and having you guys believe in us is something we really appreciate."
#5 Justin Jackson F
On what went well:
"Focus and doing what we need to do best. Doing all the little things."
On if he was emotional during the day:
"Not until we got out to the court. Then I started getting emotional."
On what he did to stay out of foul trouble:
"Don't foul. I just kept telling myself, 'He's coming to you. Don't foul. Don't foul.' I know if I do, when I go to the bench, it's not going to be pleasant."
On Saturday's game at Rutgers:
"There's a lot at stake. We're on a mission."
#2 Titus Rubles F
On his career-high 24 points:
"I wanted to come out and put on a show and do that for my mom. I was just playing with supreme confidence. I want to thank my teammates for getting me the ball when I was open. They knew today was a big day for me, so they looked out for me.
On snapping the two-game losing streak:
"It means a lot. I was talking to my teammates telling them the last time we lost two in a row we went on a 14-game winning streak. We just had to get that hunger back every time we step on the court we have to be the most dedicated team, willing to dive after balls. Today was good game, but we still gave them too many points. We've got to tighten up all the wrinkles because now if you lose, you go home, after the Rutgers game.
On playing with Sean Kilpatrick:
"He was my roommate when I first got here. Coach told me, 'We have to get you in a room with Sean Kilpatrick. He does everything right.' Even on his bad days, I can't tell. Everyone will be at practice and everyone will be tired and you can see it on their faces. He'll be tired, too, but you can never tell. I just appreciate that about him and it makes you want to go harder. When the best player on the team is going just as hard every day, it makes you want to go hard. Jackson, too."
Memphis Head Coach Josh Pastner
“Give Cincinnati credit, they played great. Rubles had a career night. One of the officials came by and said he had officiated Cincinnati six times this year and never seen Rubles play like that. I’ve said it before, it’s going to be a struggle for us when our four guards shoot combine to be 9-27 from three. They came on late, but it’s just going to be a struggle for us when we aren’t making some threes. But you have got to give Cincinnati credit. I loved the way that we played from start to finish. We battled and competed, and I am proud of our guys. We have to find a way to bounce back because we play at 11 a.m. on Saturday, and we have to try and get a win.”
What are your thoughts on the defense:
“Our defense was not good. You’re not going to beat teams when you allow a team to shoot 61-62 percent in the second half and 55 or so for the game. Plus we had 14 turnovers, and they scored 20 points off of those turnovers. You are not going to win like that. If you’re going to give up that many points, we better be shooting an unbelievable percentage offensively, and we didn’t. So our defense didn’t get it done tonight.”
On how Austin Nichols played:
“Austin was great offensively but not good defensively. He has got to be better defensively, and we need him to be better. He played good defensively on Saturday versus Louisville, but he wasn’t as effective today.”
On giving up a lot of layups:
“We can’t have guys drive from 30 feet from the basket right to the rim, which is a sign our help defense isn’t there. It’s also the guy guarding the ball. We just can’t allow guys to drive straight into the lane. That’s been an Achilles heel for us for a lot of the year.”
Difference from when the team plays well defensively versus not playing well:
“We had a great week in practice, and we had our best warm up of the season. We had a tremendous shoot around and great film session. Sometimes you can see things coming from the way you practice and warm ups, but every game is unique and you never know. That is why you have to be really good every game. If we could get where we need to be every game like we did versus Gonzaga and Louisville then we could beat anyone in the country and win the whole thing, but if we play like we did tonight then it makes it tough to win games.”
#4 Austin Nichols, F
On what was the difference between tonight’s game and the previous meeting:
“I just got in rhythm, and they gave me the ball early.”
On what the issue was for them defensively:
“It seemed like all their players were shooting well today. I know (Titus) Rubles won’t do that most of the time, (Sean) Kilpatrick can do it but it was just Rubles night tonight. He was hitting just about everything he was throwing up and that happens it was just one of those nights.”
On what this lose does to their confidence:
“No one on our team likes losing but I’m just proud of our teammates for not just folding. We kept pushing the whole game and unfortunately they hit some free throws and they were hitting some shots and just pulled away from us.”
On what the mood is like in the locker room:
“Like any lose it’s definitely going to be kind of quiet but Coach came in there and told us we have to move on. It was a good hard fought battle but they just beat us and we have to get ready for Saturday.”
On Sean Kilpatrick scoring 34 points:
“I think he is capable of doing that every game but tonight like I said he threw shots and they were going in for him. I don’t know if it was senior night or what it was but he is a great player, Cincinnati is a great team and they have some great coaches. Give credit to them and it was just a career night for him.”