Arkansas- Little Rock at Cincinnati

Dec. 6, 2012

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Arkansas- Little Rock at Cincinnati

Fifth Third Arena

December 6, 2012


Postgame Quotes


Cincinnati head coach Mick Cronin

Opening Statement:

“It was a great effort by our team defensively tonight. Really happy with our pressure. We set a record, seven years as a coach here and we made 70 deflections. I believe we had 39 at half. We also set a record with 22 steals. Tremendous effort on the defensive end. Obviously it dictated the tempo of the game. Never let Little Rock get their bearings on offense. That I was happy with. We rebounded the ball a little bit better tonight. Still got to get better with our offensive execution at times. We’re careless with the ball, taking ill-advised shots at times. We got to get our points per possession up. But, staying focused on defense and our efforts. Playing with more physicality David [Nyarsuk] and Cheikh [Mbodj], they combined for 24 points, had one missed shot between them. So I was really happy they gave us some inside presence, really happy.”


On early defensive surges:

“I think when you play certain teams, it’s hard to simulate recovery speed and athleticism in practice. That’s a big part of it. Teams haven’t sent that.  It’s really hard to simulate. It’d be like trying to simulate SU zone in practice. You can talk about it, but until you see it. What I was most happy with today with is that it was for 40 minutes.”


On with UC’s faster offense if more turnovers are acceptable:

“No. More possessions there are going to be statistically higher per possession, because there are more possessions in the game.  That would maybe mean one or two more. We’ve been four or five more. We still have got to improve in that area.”


On if this team has the same killer instinct other Cincinnati teams have had:

“It’s just depth. Two years ago, we were a deep team and we used our press a lot. The difference with this team is that our pseudo-four men are really three men that are athletic and can press, where Ibrahima Thomas couldn’t. We’ve worked so hard on instituting certain things with our style of play. We needed some practice to work on our pressure and doing a better job of dictating the tempo. We had great practices. I was really unhappy with the job I did preparing our team for Alabama. I thought I let us get soft. When I say I’m not happy with the way we played against Alabama, I’m the coach, so I try to evaluate what happened and why it happened. So, it stopped us from getting soft.”


On getting Shaq Thomas in the game:

“He just needs minutes. The more minutes he gets the better he’s going to play. He just needs minutes. He’s a guy with a lot of talent. He’s still figuring it out where to be on offense and certain decisions.”


On if there was a point if he felt comfortable with the Bearcats play:

“Our defense was excellent from the jump, but we were zero for six on our first six possessions with three turnovers. We were sloppy would be the term I would use. We got to quit wasting possessions. My goal is to be a higher efficiency on offense. Right now we’re number 12 in the country in defensive efficiency in the country statistically. We’re ranked 42nd in offensive efficiency. That’s where we’ve got to improve. To be great, you’ve got to be great on both ends. You can win a lot of games being a heck of a defensive team. But to be really great you got to be able to score. And you’re going to run into teams that can score on you. You’re going to have to be able to trade with them.


“That’s what happened last year, knocked us out of the tournament against Ohio State. We ran into a team that could score, was efficient on offense. We shut them down for periods of time, but you’re only going to shut a team like that down for periods of time. You’ve got to be able to score against them. We got enough guys that can put in the basket. We just have to do a better job executing.”


On if there’s a player he goes to when he feels the team isn’t being efficient.

“Yes. In the second half, we did a better job screening for Sean Kilpatrick. For us, it’s a learning thing because we’re trying to play fast and if we don’t get a layup on the break, we’ve got to be more organized with what we’re doing. We got to get away from forcing the play that’s not there, and then flowing into execution. When we don’t have an easy basket on the break, right now we’re forcing a break that isn’t there. We got to flow into execution. That’s where I got to do a better job, our point guards got to do a better job of getting us organized. When we get organized, we’re pretty decent with our execution.”


Cincinnati Player Quotes

No. 23 Sean Kilpatrick, G

On what Coach Cronin was upset about with UC’s start:

“We started off in the first half kind of sluggish, but it was pretty good toward the middle of the second half because we started turning up the defense a little bit more. We can’t just win with our defense, we have to be able to execute down the stretch.”


On if he could tell when the other team is rattled due to UC’s defense:

“Yeah, you can tell when they are tired because we continue to sub in fresh legs.  That’s the strength with our team. We have so many guys that can play multiple positions. We have a lot of depth on our team, so when they are rattled like that it is better for us because they start to turn the ball over and we get easy buckets like layups.”


On noticing UALR calling four timeouts in the first half:

“We have great ball pressure. (Justin Jackson) and (Titus Rubles), they are on the ball like that. That is amazing because they are so long and they have speed as well. With them being up top with us, it helps a lot.”


On being proud of setting a school record with 23 steals:

“Proud, but that’s expected. That’s something we have to keep doing every game and that is something we have to continue getting better at. I’m not sitting here saying I’m satisfied with it, I appreciate it, but we need to continue to keep doing this every night.”


On things done during games to create an advantage against the other team’s defense:

“Back cut. If I can back cut it will loosen them up a little bit to make them have to play me both ways now. I know that a lot of teams are going to key on me but it will help my team get open, it will help the rest of the team score. I am not the only scorer on this team, so it helps me a lot because it relieves a lot of pressures off me. It opens up our offense and that is something that coach (Cronin) wants the most so everyone can keep moving around and later on down the stretch they have to respect the back door now so everything else opens up for me.”


On the guards getting a better feel for where the big guys are going to be so the lobs can be effective:

“With (Cheikh Mbodj) being as agile as he is now, with him losing the weight over the summer and now that he can move like one of the fours, it is incredible. It helps a lot more because now we can just throw it up anywhere around the rim and he’s going to catch it. (David Nyarsuk) is seven foot, of course he is going to catch it, and you’ve got Justin (Jackson), the live wire, he is just catching everything.  Once we are able to do that, like I said before, it is able to open up everything else because now they’re going to have to respect the lob and now we can just do our thing.”


No. 13 Cheikh Mbodj, C

On getting more aggressive on the glass tonight:

“I was just trying to be more aggressive on both ends of the floor, trying to help my team be in better position, rebounding. That’s what I was trying to do today.”


On guards getting better at the lob near the rim for the big guys:

“It is part of a set play, too. If they don’t have anything, they will throw the lob because our man will go to stop them and so the lob is always open there and they do a good job of being aggressive and passing us the ball there.”



Arkansas- Little Rock head coach Steve Shields

On key thoughts coming into this game tonight:

“I knew coming in we had to have poise and toughness with the ball. I thought Cincinnati did a good job of taking us out of what we wanted to do offensively and forced us to play at a pace we didn’t want to play at.”


On Cincinnati’s defense:

“I thought it was very good tonight. They got the pace of play to where they wanted it. They created turnovers. We had 32 turnovers which is unheard of and then we didn’t have the poise and toughness that we needed.”


On moving forward:

“We were 7-3 coming into tonight with a very young team. This is a learning experience for us when you think about it. We’ve got six freshman, four sophomores and two juniors against a very good Cincinnati team that was ranked No. 11 in the country. They’ve got a very good team and certainly have a chance to play a long way into the tournament with Mick as their coach. He does a great job and creates a great intensity at the defensive end. They’re a great rebounding team. I was concerned with that coming in. I think they were averaging 16 offensive rebounds a game. Tonight, they beat us by seven on the boards, but the difference in the game was their ability to create turnovers.”