#AztecMBB Press Conference Quotes

Feb. 24, 2014

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Head coach Steve Fisher

Opening statement:
"The New Mexico game was not something anybody who has an ounce of favoritism for the Aztecs wanted to see. But it happened. We went in and got beat soundly by a very good team who on that given night was definitely the better team. We don't like the feeling, but it did happen. We witnessed it live and up front. We've been a program that forgives but doesn't forget. We've got to move forward and move forward quickly. We've got a game to play tomorrow. So we're well aware of March 8 (against New Mexico), but we've got San Jose State coming in, they got their first league win on Tuesday and are feeling good they can get two in a row. We need to be ready, engaged, and come out and play really hard, smart and together. With that kind of energy, effort and our crowd at home, we need to get ourselves a victory and feel good about ourselves after a victory. We're pretty healthy. No excuses for what happened (on Saturday)."

On the team's offensive struggles at New Mexico:
"Our 44 points was a direct result of New Mexico, our frustration and settling for sometimes hard (two-point shots) and missing some good shots. (New Mexico's) size kept us from getting to the rim. I've always been an advocate that you adjust to flow of the game, and the flow of that game was, `No harm, no foul.' We shot three free throws for the game, they shot six. So they didn't call anything, and you have to be able to adjust. Part of our MO is getting to the free-throw line 30 times a game, and we got there three times (on Saturday) and didn't make any. So I would say it was a combination of both factors. I think it was New Mexico's players on the floor more than the crowd adding to that."

On if teams are doing something different defensively lately on Xavier Thames:
"I think everybody when they prepare for us, says Xavier Thames is No. 1 on their scout board. They try to make it hard for him. Is Xavier Thames pressing a little bit to try to score? I think maybe a little bit. He had a lot of good looks he didn't make (against New Mexico). He had a handful of hard shots maybe he shouldn't have taken. I thought we settled too much, specifically last game. I think if you look at the other games, he missed shots he'd been making before. I think he tried too hard occasionally to get some shots in the last game, and we as a group collectively fell into what we want other teams to do: Shoot on one pass and didn't swing the ball from side to side. Hopefully we'll be better with that tomorrow."

On Matt Shrigley taking just one shot on Saturday:
"Sometimes you don't get looks. (New Mexico) is a good defensive team and they may have had a little something to do with that. (Shrigley) has had other games where he didn't get a lot of shots. You just have to go back and dissect and see what you did. We shot in the 30s (percent), which we've done in the past, but can't shoot in 30s and your opponent shoots 50 percent and expect to win. We had 13 first half offensive rebounds. Of those 13, I think two we scored on. So you have to be a little more efficient when you get second and third chances. We had 17 offensive rebounds for the game, that's a lot, but we didn't get enough baskets off those rebounds."

On his level of concern possibly having to play New Mexico two more times this season:
"I know we have to face them here and hope we play them in the conference tournament. New Mexico, coming into the season, they were only team in (the MW) ranked and had four starters returning. They're really good, and their bigs create problems because they can score. Cameron Bairstow is playing as good as any big guy in the country with his effectiveness. We've got to hopefully get that chance, and we'll come in and do a little better job on him. He was the guy that stood out, 11-for-18 from the field. They're a hard team to guard, they have weapons. They have the returning MW Player of the year in (Kendall) Williams. They present a lot of problems for teams, but we present problems too. They grabbed us by the throat and didn't let go from start to finish. In that game, even though we weren't scoring, we righted the ship. With 1:30 to go (in the first half), we've got the ball down 25-22. And they got two layups to end the half to have huge momentum going into the second half. My No. 1 bullet point was runs. They go on a 9-0 run and a 21-2 run, and the game was over. They just ran us out of the building in that stretch."

On if the team needs to refocus:
"I think the No. 1 thing we have to make sure we do is know we're a good team, reflect a little bit about what you did as an individual and what we did collectively when we were really playing well. When you don't make shots, it makes it harder. But that can't frustrate you to the point where you act out of character. You have to say, `We're really good and really, really good at defensive end. Let's make it so hard for them to score that we'll have a chance for some run-outs and some easy baskets.' You've got to trust yourself and your teammates. We know we're a good team, and you can't play out of fear and frustration. We played at San Jose State (on Jan. 22) and were 35 points ahead at one point. So my memory is we blew them out of the water. I went back and watched the game, we were 1-for-our-first-10 from the field, 4-for-our-first-17, and the score was 20-16 with three minutes to go at the half. But we didn't go crazy. We got a little spurt at the end of the half, a big spurt in the second half and the next thing you know we had a big lead. So we can't, and our fans can't get unnerved if we go stretches without scoring. You've got to stay the course and stay it when it gets hard."

On falling to No. 13 in the rankings:
"It's probably where we should be. Those other teams have long winning streaks. We didn't want to drop from No. 6 to No. 13 but we didn't want to get beat by 14 at New Mexico either. So we want to win tomorrow and hopefully string a few together to where see if we can climb up a spot or two. I think that's fair where we are. I don't think the world is against us."

On if the rankings will even out with New Mexico still having to play here:
"I do to some degree. I pay a little more attention to Joe Lunardi's early seeds. I think he's closer to what the seed committee will look like than the rankings to be honest with you. Some of these teams ranked below us, Lunardi has as a No. 2-seed. You want to be ranked, but you want to be ranked in terms of selection Sunday as high as you possibly can. And that takes winning. If you win, you'll hold ground or gain a little bit. If you don't you'll probably drop a little bit."

Junior forward JJ O'Brien

On what the players learned from the loss against New Mexico:
"I think the main thing we learned is that we can't come out and play the way that we played and expect to win. We obviously have to pick up our focus on defense and offense both. We have to be better being there mentally. We have to take better shots. We have to play better overall. We can't play bad and expect to win."

On if it's easier to refocus and make improvements after a loss:
"It brings it to our attention more. It shouldn't have to take a loss to do that, but it did. I wouldn't say it's easier. We've always been good at that but it just raises the awareness a little bit.

On the drop in the rankings:
"I think it's fair. We all see it but we're not going to let it affect us or pay it much mind. We have a game tomorrow and that's our main focus. We're still in the Top 25. We're still a great team. We know what we are. A number is not going to define us. We'll look at it but we won't let it affect us."

On the incident that happened immediately after the game at New Mexico:
"I was actually first in the handshake line so I was already at the tunnel. I don't know what happened. I guess some talking went on and stuff was thrown but I'm not exactly sure what happened or who did what or what started what. We've looked at it and it's not anything that's going to cause any more problems."

Junior guard Aqeel Quinn

On what the players learned from the loss against New Mexico:
"I think the main thing is more focus on defense, paying attention to the game plan and coming out with more energy and trusting each other on offense. I think if we trust each other on offense and defense, I think we can be really good."

On if it's easier to refocus and make improvements after a loss:
"I wouldn't say it's easier to do but you're more attentive coming in. We've always been focused on those things but we definitely have to pay a little more attention."

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