Men's Basketball-Alabama State Postgame Quotes

Dec. 12, 2016

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SDSU head coach Steve Fisher

Opening Statement:
“Feels a lot better after you find a way to get a victory. Doesn’t matter who you play, it feels good to win. I thought we did a good job of pushing the ball, finding the open man and getting good shots. And that’s what we have to be able to do. So, some good things to talk about and point to. We’ll talk on 15 turnovers and 16 offensive rebounds also for Alabama State. But I liked the togetherness and, you know, the energy that they brought so it’s a step forward. And that’s what we need. And now we will have the opportunity to get San Diego State better and not worry about two days later preparing for the next game. So we’ll get an opportunity to practice, get through finals and get ready to the Diamond Head and see what we can do there. I thought Malik played with the type of energy that you have to play with. Doesn’t matter who you’re playing, you play with that type of energy and good things tend to happen. So it was nice to see that. I was happy that (Montaque Gill-Caesar) could get some extended minutes and I thought he showed some good things. D’Erryl (Williams), who has not played in a while and has worked so hard, got a chance to play. So a lot of things that are making the players leave the locker room feeling good about themselves too so that’s very important. So one-game win streak. Ready to go for two games and on the 22nd or whenever we play Southern Miss.”

On if the team rose to the challenge tonight:
“This was a game that from a talent standpoint, no disrespect, they didn’t have the talent like Loyola, Grand Canyon or Arizona State did. But they played and they competed and they played hard. I liked just the feel of our players before the game. They didn’t mope around and say, “Well, we got to play a game that we’re supposed to [win].” I didn’t have that vibe going in which I liked. And we played hard. I put an offensive goal up that I don’t put up. That was “let’s shoot 50 percent from the field or better” and “let’s get 80 points or better.” We shot 62 percent the first half because we got really good shots. It was nice to see the way we played.”

On if the game was just a “free space”:
“They wanted to play and I wanted to play them. So that’s who we played. I thought we did what we needed to do and we did it in a fashion that I liked. Sometimes you can win against a team that everybody says, “You have to win that.” But you win and you just feel like you didn’t get better in doing the things you have to do to beat good teams. I thought what we did is what we’re going to have to do to beat good teams. Now we’re going to have to do some other things that we didn’t do: take care of the ball. Rebound the ball a little better. But we did a lot of things that this is what we have to do. We said we want to run, we don’t want to have set up and call a set play. Run. Get something out of our early offense. I thought we did a good job of spacing the floor and driving through others and that sort of thing.”

On if team’s defense invigorated the guys to really play:
“Every player in America gets energized when they make a basket. So that’s part of it too. We haven’t shot the ball very well in some games. We were 3-18 in the second half in our last game. You got to be really, really tough-minded to fight through that. We weren’t able to do it to the level you have to. We made 15-24 in the first half so you feel really good about that. The defensive part, though, is what I would hope to be a constant for us. We should be a good defensive team. We should be a good defensive team so we have to believe that we are going to be and then we have to do it. I think that’s a bit of a step forward for us tonight to be able to keep them in front of us and not give them a lot of layups. Challenged the threes for the most part. You have to be able to guard.”

On Jeremy Hemsley’s injury:
“Jeremy’s got a foot that was starting to bother him yesterday. We had an x-ray and it’s not in the same spot that he had last year where he had some prolonged problems. We just felt like it was best that we not play him and give it some time to rest. I think he’s going to be OK, but it felt like it was the right thing to do given a lot of circumstances. I don’t know if I would have played him if it had been someone like an Arizona State that we played to that. I don’t know. We did the right thing for him.”

On the upcoming break:
“We’re going to practice and we’re going to practice hard. It’s a good time to where we don’t have to spend a lot of time saying, ‘OK, this is how we’re going to guard this set play that we’re going to see and this is what they’re going to…’ We’re going to play to get ourselves better. We’re going to say, ‘This is our core defense. Let’s get better at it. This is what we want to do offensively. Let’s get better at what we do.’ I think [the break] comes at a good time. We’ve had a long stretch where really, it seems like we’ve had no days off even though we have had. It’s been a rough, hard stretch and it is even harder when you lose three in a row like we did. So it’s a good time for us, yes.”

On how team could improve:
“Well, two things we were bad at today. We’ve been good with our turnovers until the last two games. We’ve got to get back. We’ve got to say that ball is like gold. You can’t give it away. We have to take care of it. And then we have to rebound the ball better. We can’t give a team that many offensive rebounds. Now, they missed a lot of shots so that’s part of it. But you can’t give them that many second-chance opportunities. And we’ve got to guard better. Even though they shot whatever they did – 28 percent, 25 percent – we’ve got to guard better. We have to say we have to be like this in the next game and then the next game. Don’t give so many straight-line drives and that will help everything we do.”

SDSU junior forward Malik Pope

On picking up the win after three straight losses:
“SDSU’s not known for being a losing team, so we’re just as hurt as everybody else and we just had to get back to the grind and fix what was broken, so that’s what we’re trying to do. (We’re) making progress, so when we go to Hawaii we’ll keep this momentum going and go from there.”

On the defensive intensity and playing “Aztec Basketball”:
“It’s all about being hungry, to be honest. You don’t get what you don’t deserve.”

On maintaining momentum heading into the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic:
“We’ve been there for three years, so there’s nothing new, you just prepare; take care of business (with finals) beforehand so we don’t have to worry about it when we leave for Hawaii.”

On his performance today and this season:
“(I’m) not disappointed, more frustrated; trying to stay out of injuries and trying to stay healthy. I just need to keep being healthy and get out of this slow slump I’m in. That’s hard, to be honest, mentally because of my physical health. I just want to play for my team, so if I need to go out there hurt, healthy, whatever it is, I just do what I can and today I just tried to put two halves together and I actually felt great, so that really helped.”

On playing in games with limited practice time:
“You can tell on the court when someone hasn’t practiced much, because you need repetitions and confidence (on) both sides of the court. That was really hard for me, but with (my) experience I just learn to get by.”

SDSU sophomore forward Zylan Cheatham

On Coach Fisher challenging the team:
“I think it was a step in the right direction, to say the least. Coach Fisher has definitely challenged us. He wanted us to bounce back, and we stepped up, but we still have a ways to go.”

On the difference of tonight’s performance:
“I think our intensity, honestly. It just seemed like it was a different feel in the locker room. Our guys were just so anxious, so ready; not to say we aren’t any other night. We made the right plays; we played for each other.”

On needing a win:
“Oh man, to lose three straight, especially at home and two road games. It’s tough being apart of that, especially since it hasn’t happened in so long. It hurts so bad to be that team, that group. I think it is a token to our character, in my opinion. It seems like when things are going the worst, we find a way to change it and dial in.”

On the team feeling complete with Malik Pope back on the court:
“No question, he’s one of our soldiers, one of our best guys. To go to war with this guy, for me three years. He’s a part of the team; we grind everyday together. When he goes down, it’s obviously a missing part. He’s a starter that logs big minutes, and does a lot for us. When he was out, it was something we had to make up for scoring and just alone his presence on the court. I’m obviously glad to have him back, not just because he is my best friend and roommate, but my teammate.”

On Jeremy Hemsley being absent:
“It was tough, you never want to see one of your key guys go out. But, I think it opened up opportunities for some guys, and I think some guys showed what they can do. I’m proud of our guys for not hanging their heads. To see our guys respond is honestly very positive, it is something we needed to see. Obviously, we hope the best for Jeremy, and we’ll do whatever we can to get him back on the court as soon as possible.”

On the long break ahead:
“I’m definitely looking forward to getting some treatment and some rest. Also, getting some more shots in, and tightening up some things before we fly out to Hawaii. I’m sure most our guys are looking the same way. Rest is always critical. I’m happy we get that 10 days, or however many days it is.”

Alabama State head coach Lewis Jackson

Opening Statement:
“Well, we couldn’t get into anything. Our opponents did a great job of taking us out of our offense. They were long, they were athletic, they got into our passing lanes, they out manned us physically and they kept us from getting into our offense, and then we struggled to score. As a result, we had a problem with our defense as well, being able to keep them out of the paint and they had great ball movement. They moved the ball around and they shot it well from the perimeter, and then they had a good inside presence. They had twenty-something points in the paint at halftime. So, they made it very difficult for us tonight. [I was impressed with] how well they got down defensively and guarded, how well they moved the ball on offense and kept us off balance with good ball movement, looking for each other and things like that, and knowing what they were looking for within the offense.”

On SDSU junior forward Malik Pope’s performance:
“All of them played well. [Malik] Pope is long, he’s athletic, he can put it on the floor and he can get to the rim and finish. He shoots free throws well, he can shoot the three, so he really stood out for them.”

On his team’s performance:
“Well, we didn’t play well. We knew it would be a tough game for us coming out here. But we were concerned about working on us and trying to do some things right, and we just didn’t have enough guys playing with the confidence that we need to be effective against a team like this. So, we just have to go back to the drawing board tomorrow and get ready for another one on Wednesday.”

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