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Q. Did you like the energy the second unit brought in right away, especially Trey getting the ball inside?
Fran McCaffery: I did. I wasn’t really excited about the energy of the first unit to start the game. When you play a team like Northwood, they just don’t miraculously show up on your schedule. I mean, you’re talking about a team that was 227 and 49 in the last eight years under Coach Massimino. They won 26 last year. They have eight seniors in their first nine players, eight seniors and a junior. So we scheduled this team by design because we knew they would come in here and go toe to toe with us, which is exactly what they did.
We tried to prepare our guys; they’re going to run their stuff, they’re going to be active, you know, they’re a little undersized, but there are match up situations that can present problems, as well. So we kind of hung with them.
And then the second unit gave us the lead, which is obviously something you hope happens when you go to your bench.
The thing that disappointed me was when we got it to 12, it went from 12 to 6. It’s got to go from 12 to 18, and that I think was the disappointing thing. If you look back on the first half, I didn’t really like the start, but I didn’t really like that stretch. I think we softened a little bit defensively, and that’s the challenge of this team. We don’t soften at all, and that was evident in the second half.
I thought, also, our offense ran much more smoothly in the second half. It did not run smoothly in the first half. We were swinging the ball and guys were coming free on the block, over dribbling, taking shots that were just okay, not really moving the ball with any type of precision, and enabled them to confidently run their stuff, get the ball to their shooters. Fortunately we did a good job on Solomon. The guy averages 21 a game, makes 96 threes last year, and we did Clemmons did a really good job on him I thought, even early, staying after him, because it could have been a lot worse.
Q. Are you happy with Clemmons in the starting lineup?
Fran McCaffery: I think part of the reason is he’s been the healthiest. Pete and Josh have been banged up. Pete had two well, the same sprained ankle but two different times, and so I think that hurt his chances to get that job. It also affects his conditioning, which you could see today. He’s amazing; he gets 16 in 17 minutes; he’s got that ability. He’s a guy that we look at that could eventually be the starter, but right now Clemmons has been the most consistent guy from the opening day of practice until now, and he earned that position.
Now, we’re a little more defensive oriented than we would be if Josh or Pete were in there. I think Josh probably made a better run at that starting job, but he got hurt recently, so that kind of knocked him back a little bit. But he’s shooting the ball really well, playing with great confidence. I thought he made great decisions. Except for the one post feed, he was really good today.
Q. Trey at one time made a nice steal and went way too fast and missed the lay up, but is it nice having to slow a guy down instead of speed him up?
Fran McCaffery: There’s no question about that. He has a hard time going from fast to slow because he just kind of plays the game at one speed, and he’s got a gear that most people don’t have, and that will really help our team, plus he can shoot the ball. So when you’re fast and can’t shoot, they can play you one way, but when you’re fast and can shoot, now it’s hard to guard that guy.
You know, I think on that particular play, I think he was going to dunk it, and he changed his mind at the last second because he usually just jumps up and dunks that ball. That’s what I thought he was going to do.
But I thought he showed a lot of good things. He had probably one or two turnovers that he shouldn’t have had, but what you’re going to find is that he’ll load up our shooters and he’ll get the ball inside and he’ll move the ball side to side like you want your point guard to do.
Q. Jarrod looked a lot more aggressive in the second half, and I think he had nine of the first 11 points. The other bucket was an assist to White.
Fran McCaffery: You know what, I don’t know that that was necessarily his fault. He was open in the first half. Our offense wasn’t running effectively enough to get him the ball. We had one possession where they had switched and Umpierre is guarding him. He’s 5’9″, Jarrod is 6’9″, he’s on his back, and we drive the ball and throw it out of bounds. You know, we have to recognize that. That’s what I talk about catch, turn and face in the motion game, see what you have, then move it on, then put it to the floor if you need to. We were just playing a little too fast at that point in time.
So you’re right, I mean, he did dominate the start of the second half, and we did establish him, but we tried to establish him in the first half, but we were just playing too fast.
Q. How big a concern is the 11 first half turnovers? Is that just because it’s an early season game?
Fran McCaffery: You’re never happy about that. We probably had six or seven sloppy ones that have to go away. We just can’t do that. That’s why we were only up seven. We had opportunities to score the ball near the basket. We had opportunities for guys that were open for perimeter shots and we didn’t have that opportunity because we threw it away.
I think in Dom and Trey’s case it’s a little more understandable in that they’re trying to figure it out. They’re young guys. They’re new. And I think they were they had a little nervousness, without question. But you look at Dom and say, eight rebounds? You’ve got to love that about a freshman. We told him, get on the glass, rebound the ball.
Q. Do you see a situation where Jarrod’s ability to penetrate on the dribble, the dribble drive, could help Aaron because he did a good job of dumping it down there who was in position when the defender would come off and try to stop him?
Fran McCaffery: Well, I think that’s a good point, but I think the challenge for Jarrod is when he does put it to the deck, normally he puts it to the deck to shoot the ball. He doesn’t put it to the deck and make the kinds of plays that you’re talking to regularly. That’s the next step for him. If he does that, then we’re really hard to guard. And he’s crafty enough to do that, drive into a gap and get rid of the ball, drive into a gap and feed the post. You’re talking about a guy who’s 15 7 and we’re talking about what he didn’t do or what he should have done, and I think what we’re saying is you’re talking about a guy who has a chance to be an all league player if he does a few more things, and if he is, then we’re a better team. He was a guy that easily could have had 20 today, 20 and 10.
Q. You talked about Dom. Just showing the athletic ability that he has, he looks like he’s just a natural athlete but has an upside that’s out of this world.
Fran McCaffery: Well, his handle for a guy who’s 6’9″ is very unique. He can go by anybody he wants whenever he wants to. You can put him in the guard position against the press and he can see and make plays for other people. There’s no panic in his game. He sometimes gets to the rim and gets a little jammed up. He’s going to have to figure out and close a little quicker at this level. The one time he shot, he just kind of flung it up there. You know, go score the ball. He’s got a nice touch.
I think what you’ll see him do is drive and finish with dunks a little more often as he gets older and stronger and more confident in his game. His jumper needs work, but it’s solid enough. I’m surprised he didn’t make at least one of those three threes that he took quite honestly. He’s going to be a great player here, there’s no question about it.
Q. Woodbury and Olaseni not playing side by side, was this a matter of the game or do you expect them to not do that very often?
Fran McCaffery: No, they’ll do it at times. I don’t think this was the right situation for it. We were playing against a team that we needed to match up with a little bit, too.