Nov. 22, 2013
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Q. Is that a glimpse where Uthoff can just take the shots that are there? It was kind of an effortless thing.
COACH McCAFFERY: You know, I think it is. He’s got a really unique game and he has strengths in every area. So the key for him and what I try to tell him is just go do all the things that you do. So sometimes it’s three point shooting, sometimes it’s driving, sometimes it’s rebounding in traffic, pushing the ball on the break, making a play for somebody else. Sometimes it’s blocking a shot. His length helps him in so many ways. I mean, to block obviously, but typically defensively even more so. But the most important thing about him is he has no panic in his game. He just plays. If they’re in zone, I’ll do this. If they’re in man, I’ll do that. If it’s a running game, I’ll react accordingly. But I think that’s the beauty of who he is.
Q. For not having played for two years though, did you think it would come this fast for him?
COACH McCAFFERY: I did, and for this reason. He was arguably our most consistent player in practice from August 1st to the 10th, and then after we started in September.
Q. He has such poise on the court. Nothing rattles him?
COACH McCAFFERY: Nothing rattles him. He reacts to quickness. If you put a small guy on him, he reacts to size. If they put a bigger, stronger guy on him, he’s just going to move around and figure it out. He’s going to figure out how to be effective in that because every game is different. You know, they played a lot more zone tonight than I thought they were going to play. They started with a bigger lineup, and they played more zone, okay? Well, now you’ve got to play differently than if they’re in man. Where you getting the ball? How are you going to score against the zone? He knows what to do. You don’t have to tell him anything. He’s an easy guy to coach.
Q. In the second half they got it down to 13, and then you had a sequence of events and they got the three pointer. How much of a boost do you feel that was?
COACH McCAFFERY: The thing that was disappointing was we had the ball at the rim the first four or five possessions and we came away with nothing. To their credit, they go on a 7 0 run. But if you look at this team, that’s what they do. They were down 15 in the second half against Temple, came back and took the lead. They were down to Monmouth and they came back and won. And they were down to Penn State, and they erased the lead, not the whole thing but about 20 points of it. So this is a team that was not going to go away. They’re experienced. They’ve got size and quickness. So we were expecting them to make a run. I would obviously liked to have in the second half changed some things, but two guys made two big plays and got the lead back up to 16, 17, and then it wasn’t so hard.
Q. What was your strategy against their post player? You guys worried about getting into some early foul trouble?
COACH McCAFFERY: Well, you’ve got to make them guard. You’ve got to move your feet. If he gets it, he’s really tough. I mean, he’s as good a post player as I’ve seen we always say don’t give a guy an angle. He is phenomenally good at creating that angle himself. You know, he seals. They do a good job of getting him the ball, but he’s got a great pair of hands and he take it right up and scores with either hand. He’s way more athletic than you first think he is, because he’s strong, but he moves and he runs. So this is a guy who will be a double double guy, a potential Player of the Year candidate.
Q. Tonight you were really good defensively . . . ?
COACH McCAFFERY: Well, defensively we were really good because we forced 25 turnovers and did a really good job on their perimeter players. Offensively we shoot 39%, you know? So it was critical that we really disrupt what they do. They’re a set play team. We did a great job against the man, and in the second half we played more zone and did a really good job there.
Q. Is this team one you want to see going to Bermuda?
COACH McCAFFERY: Yeah, I think in many ways it would help to be 5 0, and we are. We recognize the caliber of competition we’re going to face next week, but feel we’ve made a lot of progress.
Q. On a personal note, can you talk a little about the significance of competeing against your alma mater again?
COACH McCAFFERY: I said this the other day, it was much more emotional for me the first time, and I was substantially younger and it was in the Palestra. A place that had been very close to me growing up, going to games with my mother and father and my brother. We lived in the Palestra every Saturday night it seemed like for six or seven years. So to go back in there and coach against my alma mater in my 20s was a different experience than tonight. Nonetheless, you know you see the red and blue and obviously I have tremendously fond memories of that institution. We had great teams. One of the main reasons I’m in coaching is I played for Bob Weinhauer, my favorite coach ever, somebody I have tremendous respect for, a true mentor, and he actually came out last year and spent about a week with our team and that was great to spend time with him. We wanted to get the win, but other than tonight, I’m rooting for them. I’m rooting for Jerome. I’m rooting for that team. I talked to Vince Curran before the game, and this is a team without question that I think can win the Ivy League Championship. I watched them beat Harvard at the end of last year. Obviously, that is the standard right now in that league. But this team can beat them.
Q. You see Gabe progress, especially in the off season, but it seems that all that hard work seems to be paying off in the offensive game.
COACH McCAFFERY: He’s so much more confident. With him it was always there, but he never had the confidence to go out and do it in a game. He did it in practice. You’d put him in a game and he would fumble and he was jittery, but now he’s so much more confident. I yanked him in the second half, and I told him, I’m going to put you back in. You’re not getting buried here. But we’ve got to talk about what you didn’t do and you go back in. And he was so much better. Last year that would have affected him in a negative way. This year he handles it like a pro and goes back in there and fixes up.
Q. (No Microphone) they had three, Melsahn had two. They’re in the heart of the first half there, you really dominated the paint.
COACH McCAFFERY: We have so many guys that are big that can get things done inside, and what it ends up doing is it puts so much pressure on them not to foul. You think you shoot 40 feet or you think everything is off the dribble. Now some of it was, but a lot of it was second shots getting fouled on putbacks because of our size. So there are a lot of ways we end up getting 40 free throws. Pretty much in every one of our games we’ve shot a ton.