Pranav Ramasubramanian | December 24th, 2019
Al Attles was just inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame this year for his contributions to the NBA and the community. The Hall of Fame decided to honor him more by kicking off the Al Attles Classic this year with a quadruple-header in college basketball with the games being scheduled to be played at the brand new Chase Center. Here’s what some coaches and players had to say about the games they were a part of at the post-game press conferences.
Head Coach: Sean Miller
Question: It seemed like the team couldn’t break the press defense early on. What kind of changed in the second half for the team to chip into the lead and make it a nail-biter at the end?
Answer: Well you know Saint John’s does a great job of forcing turnovers and they really had us on our heels, especially in the first twenty minutes. I think at halftime we had ten turnovers, but that’s how we’ve been all season long because we have spurts where we just don’t play well and spurts where we do play well. In the second half we only turned the ball over three times, which was excellent, but we needed to take better care of the ball because our halftime deficit in large part was due to them turning us over. The majority of our turnovers didn’t happen in the backcourt against their press, it actually happened in the frontcourt against their pressure. It took us a while to adjust, and as the game chipped away we got more comfortable, but we didn’t come out of the gates playing hard enough because we were unable to match their intensity. Saint John’s deserves a lot of credit for doing that without Mustapha, who is obviously one of their best players. They did a great job flying across the country and playing their style.
Question: That’s now two straight narrow losses. What needs to change about late-game execution?
Answer: You know when you lose tough games a lot of times the spotlight is on the last play or plays, but every play is the same. It’s being really good at the end of the first half, it’s going into halftime not down fourteen while taking care of the ball as we had ten turnovers in the first twenty minutes of the game. A big part of our loss today was the deficit that we had throughout the game as I can make the argument that we rallied and we played our best basketball towards the end whether the last play goes in or doesn’t that remains to be seen.
Head Coach: Jerod Haase
Question: The win over San Diego today helps you stay unbeaten in December. How do you look forward to the challenge of playing Kansas in your next game?
Answer: Good question. We are gonna enjoy, study and learn from this one. Then we will start preparing for Kansas and we all know that’s a great challenge because they are a big-time program playing at a high level. Thankfully I am going to go unwrap presents with my kids and slowly start thinking about that, but right now I’m going to enjoy this one because it was a good win.
Saint John’s Red Storm
Head Coach: Mike Anderson
Question: The team exposed Arizona’s defense today by attacking the interior for baskets. How much of that interior play was influenced by your pre-game message to the team?
Answer: Yeah I thought the game was sped up, therefore as we created some turnovers and quick shots not letting them get comfortable it helped us push the ball down the floor to get mismatches opening up the floor. Once the floor opens up we getting attacks to the basket without a doubt. We are an attacking team, we are not just gonna be a jump-shooting team and that’s what I really kept emphasizing with the team. Let’s keep attacking, and attacking them so even in the second half when Arizona blocked some interior shots the team stayed persistent driving to the rim. They took the gameplan first-hand and they did a good job.
LJ Figueroa, Junior guard/forward
Question: You had a very aggressive mindset today. What was the motivation behind that?
Answer: I feel like my teammates put me in a great position to score the ball. We practice it every day moving and cutting to the basket while screening away. We also learn how to play without the ball. That’s definitely helped me in my game just finding the little soft and sweet spots on the court. I felt like it was my responsibility as I am a more experienced player on the offensive and defensive end.
Head Coach Mike Anderson interjects.
Coach: We needed him today because of Mustapha sitting with me so LJ needed to get some buckets. As a matter of fact, we talked about it today and he said he got me today. I’m glad you got me today.
LJ: Thanks, Coach.
Boston College Eagles
Head Coach: Jim Christian
Question: The team had to overcome multiple uphill battles to win the game. How was the team able to fight through those battles?
Answer: Yeah I think you just have to stay through the frustrations of the game. They were caused by some turnovers and missed shots early on, but you just have to fight through it during the course of the game. Even guys who had individual frustrations early went on to make some free throws and huge plays later in the game. That’s what you need to do as it’s a 40-minute game out there.
Jairus Hamilton, Sophomore forward
Question: You made the go-ahead three-pointer with NBA players D’Angelo Russell and Eric Paschall in attendance. How did that feel?
Answer: Oh really, I didn’t even know they were there. That’s so cool and great. D’Angelo Russell and Eric Paschall I mean Eric Paschall is having a great rookie year also D’Angelo Russell had an All-Star year last year. That’s an amazing feeling to have that since it happened.
Saint Mary’s Gaels
Head Coach: Randy Bennett
Question: The team was reeling in the second half until Jordan Ford initiated the offense at a more efficient pace to get everyone going. How huge was it for Jordan Ford to finally step up in this game?
Answer: Well somebody had to do it because we were struggling to shoot the ball starting out one for eleven from three. He usually wears you down eventually because he’s got too many tricks up his sleeve while hitting floaters so it was good to see. We didn’t make free throws down the stretch and it was key for him to step up. He was also key in the way that he helped us take the lead from Nevada and hold on to the lead until the final buzzer.
California Golden Bears
Head Coach: Mark Fox
Question: The three by Kareem South at the end to try and tie the game seemed like a rushed shot. Was that because of what Boston College did defensively?
Answer: Well obviously it was a big moment so Boston College was playing super hard defensively. They had taken away the first look, but we created another wide-open look that just didn’t go in. I don’t think he was rushed I just think he missed the shot. Overall the game was decided far before that because of our missed free throws in the first half. You can’t afford to do that against good teams.
Nevada Wolf Pack
Head Coach: Steve Alford
Question: In the second half, even when Matthias Tass went out with an injury, the team let up too many offensive rebounds. Why do you think that was the case?
Answer: We had some mishaps on the backboard, but I thought more importantly with four minutes to go we had a tie game and offensively we didn’t get the shots we wanted because of carelessness. I think it was because you could see the experience with Saint Mary’s compared to our inexperience in this game. We needed a close game, but defensively we held them to 15% shooting from three and did a lot of other good things on both ends of the floor. While I loved the team’s effort, we just couldn’t finish the game well.
Question: Malik Fitts was unstoppable today. Why couldn’t the team stop him?
Answer: I don’t know if he was unstoppable, but he’s been playing really well. He had 23 points, but I thought we made him work. I also thought we made Jordan Ford work on offense so I was happy making Ford and Fitts work for everything that they wanted. I liked how we chased them away from the three-point line, but they responded by making the two’s we forced them into and they deserve credit for that. We just didn’t score enough points.
San Diego Toreros
Head Coach: Sam Scholl
Question: The team had unavoidable struggles on offense. Was it because the team shot too many three’s today?
Answer: I don’t think so I mean I will go back and look at the film, but I felt a lot of the three’s we took were good ones, we just didn’t knock them down. Joey had a bunch of good looks, but overall as a team, we were unable to hit those shots. We are eventually going to have to make three’s to be good offensively so we’ll judge on film how good those opportunities were from the three-point line today and learn from there.
Unfortunately, the audio will be unavailable for the interviews as all audio rights have been reserved towards the Basketball Hall of Fame and NCAA. A special thanks to Ashley Orozco, who helped conduct the media sessions with good poise helping the media get interviews effortlessly. All four games on Saturday went down to the wire with Saint John’s upset win highlighting the day contributing to a competitive and unpredictable college basketball season so far.
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Main Credit Image: Embed from Getty Images