Post Game Quotes

Nov. 30, 2007

Recap | Box Score

Coach Herb Sendek
Opening Comments:
'We definitely have a team filled with personality, as you'll come to learn throughout the season. I really love coaching this group. They're a terrific group of guys. I've got to have my hands up too, because they know how to deliver a good rib shot themselves. I thought our guys really came out ready to play, jumped out to a 19-2 lead. During that span, I thought our defensive intensity was excellent. I thought our offensive execution was superb. I thought we really showed some signs of improvement on the defensive end, coming out of Maui. Our defensive numbers, against a very skilled, good shooting Cal Poly team, I thought were excellent tonight. That doesn't mean that we don't still have a good ways to go on that end of the floor. We still are struggling to sustain the kind of great effort that you need, and like we talked about previously, that's not just a matter of wanting to, but knowing how to and developing that habit. Offensively, I think turned the basketball over too many times, and probably took about five or six ill-advised shots, so those possessions have to be cleaned up. All in all, a good win. I had great respect, and obviously still do, for Cal Poly. They had beaten a very good Utah State team by 14. Utah State just went to Iowa and won by double digits. So we were very alert and aware coming into this evening's game.'

On the team's 13-0 second-half run after Cal Poly had cut the lead to eight:
'Early in the season, our team has shown the ability to stop a run and reverse it like that. That's always encouraging, but we had a good team effort. Throughout the game, different stretches, different guys really stepped up for us.'

On their free throw shooting tonight:
'We shot the ball well from the free throw line, something we've been working hard to improve. We have to continue to do that. Part of it is getting the right guys there. But I think looking back to even our exhibition games, that's an area that we've improved some.'

On having more depth this season:
'We're working to develop greater depth and more depth. To play this game the right way, you never stop. It is really demanding if you really want to play the right way. So it's important to have guys who can come in and give you a burst of energy and make big plays. If we can just have everybody buying in to that type of team concept, it will serve us well.'

On if the team has developed a tough defensive identity yet:
'No, I don't think we have developed that identity yet. We've talked about the need to do just that. I thought last year, we eventually carved that identity for ourselves. The guys who were here last year know what that's like. I don't think we're in that neighborhood yet, no. We certainly desire to live there, but we're not there yet.'

On how this season's home opener compared to last season's:
'Everybody always talks about scouting your opponent and being prepared for your opponent, and that's certainly important, but it's even more important to know yourself. I just think this time compared to a year ago, we're just much more familiar with each other and what has to take place. I'm probably speaking more from my own perspective than anyone else's.'

On the team's depth and balance tonight:
'We had an opportunity to get quality minutes from a number of guys. I love balance. Teams who have balance are usually the most difficult to defeat. That's good to see.'

On James Harden:
'He's a talented young guy. He does so many different things well. The thing that's so great about James is he knows he still all these to work on. He's not somebody who feels like, OK, I got this all under control already. He wants to learn, and you point something out to him on film, when you show him something, he acknowledges it, he sees it, and he understands it. Then he goes about trying to get better at it, which is the kind of guys you love to coach.'

On the rebounding tonight:
'It was better. We talked a great deal about that coming out of our LSU game. LSU is a hellacious rebounding team, and we really had our hands full in that area. It was good to see us compete a little bit better on the backboard today. 17 offensive rebounds is excellent. We were kidding Eric [Boateng] a little bit in the locker room, that one series he might have got three or four offensive rebounds, reminiscent of Moses Malone, how he used to do that, go up miss a couple, miss a couple, then got it, and his rebound numbers would be terrific. But Eric is so honest, he's like Honest Abe, he definitely confided in us that he wasn't trying to do that.'

On the combination of Jeff Pendergraph and Boateng:
'I think it's developing great. Two high-character, quality young men who are just so possessed with getting better, and you're not going to find two better team guys, just really team-oriented, which I just have great respect for. I thought, in that first half, just like he did in Maui, Eric gave us a tremendous lift. He really did. We have to keep in mind, he's just at the beginning. Even though he's not a freshman, he hasn't played in two years. That's not easy. It's one thing to practice and do all that other stuff. But when you go out there in front of several thousand people, the lights are on, there's a guy with the microphone, there's the officials; it's different. I think he's done really well considering not being able to play for two years, and I think he's just going to continue to get better and better.'

On Ty Abbott:
'Ty really tries to play hard on the defensive end of the floor. He's a very confident offensive player. The one thing about Ty is that he's really precise in everything he does. If you come to practice, you would see somebody who really pays attention to details, whether it's snapping a pass, whether it's planting his feet the right way on a cut, he's a detailed guy. Those are the guys who typically have a great chance for improvement.'

On outside shooting tonight:
'As much as we were consumed with defending their 3, we were only 1-8 at the half. It wasn't until the juncture [with three consecutive made 3's in the second half], that we were able to get some breathing room. As much as we talk about rebounding and this and that, the game is a lot easier when that ball is going in the basket. It's still the only thing you get points for.'

F Jeff Pendergraph
On how they felt in their first game back home after Maui:
'We're making improvements every day. This was a good game for us to make sure we kept getting better, especially from the Maui tournament. We couldn't just come home expecting to just beat somebody because we ended well at Maui. We had to keep going and keep working on building that identity that Coach keeps talking about.'

On building a defensive identity:
'Last year that was our thing, that defense, and we're trying to get that started as soon as possible.'

On how this season's home opener compared to last season's:
'There were so many more fans. It was so much better. We were just feeding off of them the whole time. We were getting tired, and you could just hear everybody cheering, standing up, clapping and yelling. Even though we're winning, these guys are still clapping and cheering. We came out to a nice ovation, and when the young guys got in, the fans kept it going, just because some people were out, they didn't stop. They just kept cheering for everybody.'

On the team's adjusting to playing with each other:
'I think it's just everybody is working well together with everybody. One of the things Derek [Glasser] was talking about before that is that every squad that's in needs to be that grimy squad. It can't just be the veterans are the grimy squad because they've been here and they know what it takes. Everybody needs to be that grimy squad today, and I think that helped. That was one of the things we worked on and were talking about. If we're doing that when we're playing on defense, it makes things so much easier to click with each other on offense, because on D you know everybody has each other's back, and then on offense we just feed off each other.'

On how this team compares to last year's at this time:
'Probably a lot better. We have a lot of experience to gain. Last year we had a lot of veterans and seniors, so we're kind of lacking in experience. But I think once we can get some more games under our belt, we'll be tough to handle, especially if we can get our defense to where we're going, and then with our high-powered offense, we can be a problem for a lot of people.'

On Coach Sendek's strategy with him and Eric Boateng:
'I can't tell what Coach Sendek thinks. It's hard to see inside his head. You can never tell what he's thinking. One time he'll be thinking something, and the next thing you know, he pops out of nowhere, and you'll be thinking, who is this guy? Where's Herb?'

G James Harden
On his first home game:
'It was a great experience. We came out with some intensity, 19-2 run. We came out with some fire. That's what we need to do every game, no matter who we're playing. That's what Coach put a big emphasis on, just play hard, no matter who it is, no matter what situation it is.'

On whether he made any adjustments to his game at halftime:
'I just kept playing the same. My teammates kept getting me the ball. We just kept working as a team, and we got some shots to fall.'

On what improvements the team still needs to make:
'Our defense. We need to improve our defense a lot. But other than that, we moved the ball real well. Our offense is going to come. It's just our defense, and getting an identity on defense.'

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