Feb. 27, 2012
SAN DIEGO -
FISHER and FRANKLIN
San Diego State head coach Steve Fisher
"It's an exciting time for anyone that bounces the ball. It's the last week of regular season, leading into all the things that everybody starts to talk about. We'll be ready and the number one thing we need to be ready for is a long trip to Boise to play Boise State. You remember, and we remember, the game here and the way it was played. We have two road games, but all that matters is the first one."
On Jamaal Franklin:
"I would say this about Jamaal that I have said when he is not present. No player has worked harder on his own individual skills and development. From the time he walked in the doors as a freshman, he revamped his jump shot to where he is right now. So to reference (any questions about his improvement in his free-throw shooting) that is work; that is him working. That is him changing things about how he shot the ball when he came in as a freshman. He was filmed and he saw that he had flaws in his mechanics. He worked diligently to get the proper form and technique. If you watch him now, especially at the free-throw line, the routine he has now is impeccable. It doesn't vary. That is why when he goes to the line, like everyone in the building, he knows that he is going to make the free throws. He has done that with multiple parts of his game. That is what has allowed him to grow his game and that is what has allowed our team to grow this season. He has been such a huge part of it and everybody knows that."
On if Chase Tapely has changed anything in regards to his shooting:
"I don't think that Chase has done anything with the way he is shooting the ball. I think that when you miss a few, then those shots that were almost automatic before become a little problematic. He had some good looks Saturday night, from three-pointers to little runners that he had been making. That being said, they also have done what we all do, `Ok, who is the number one guy on our scout board? Tapley. How are we going to defend him on the three?' So they have given him less looks. He is having a harder time getting open looks; he is having to work harder to get those looks. Obviously he has had good looks; he didn't shoot very well Saturday. When you look at the second half of the conference season as compared to the first half when he was shooting 50 percent from three point range, he has not shot that way. Maybe he was shooting a little bit better than he should have been shooting and now maybe he is not quite where hopefully he will be starting on Wednesday."
On if he noticed that playing with Kawhi Leonard had helped Jamaal Franklin this season:
"Honestly, no. I mean it's nice to say and I know Kawhi, who was at the game on Saturday, would be flattered to hear that. Obviously you learn tricks of the trade when you go against a guy that is that good. The number one trick that he learned was to pursue to ball, go after the ball. For every shot that went up, Kawhi said, `If it's not going in, I'm going to get it.' Jamaal has become pretty good at that part of it, he just goes and gets the ball. That, sometimes, is what you have to be able to do."
On when the last time he had all players on a team playing well:
"I'm not sure. Rarely, looking at the stats, do you have everybody shooting 50 percent or better. I'll tell you where we have them all playing well is at the defensive end. That is why we have been in every game even when we haven't shot the ball very well. I do believe that early in the season when Chase was shooting the ball so well, I talked about how much more reliable he had become with his defense. He is that way today. (Chase) and James Rahon are two scorers from the perimeter, who have become very efficient, effective, long ball defenders; chasing guys. That will wear on you a little bit when you move from the defensive end to the offensive end. I'm hoping that we will play well enough, collectively, to get a win on Wednesday and then another win on Saturday."
On if the improved defense is a result of hard work by James Rahon and Chase Tapley:
"Absolutely. They have taken more pride and ownership to not get stuck on screens. We talked last year about how if we were in a paintball contest, D.J. Gay would never been hit. Paintball is like a screener, the screener is covered in paint. D.J. (Gay) would have been the guy that never had paint on him. Don't get hit, don't get stuck. If you get hit, spin off of it so that you don't get full body stuck. They all have done a much better job of that, especially Chase and James."
On the conversation he had with Jamaal Franklin at the end of last season concerning his increased role on the team:
"In April I talked to all of them about, here are things that I think that you do well and here are areas, I feel, that if you could help yourself grow your game you will not only be helping yourself but the entire team. We talked at length about that. I believe it was right before conference play, I had all of them, I said like a time capsule, I want you to write down three specific things that you want to see happen for you in the conference season. I will look at them after the season and see what you say compared to what the season says. So I am anxious to see what those guys put down, including Jamaal."
On if he foresaw Jamaal Franklin having the type of season he is having:
"Probably not. I probably would not have thought that he would be quite as stat-filled with what he has done, but he is. With Jamaal, it has been well documented, sometimes he does things where you say, `What is he doing?' And sometimes you stand up and cheer when he finishes doing what he does. He has gotten better but he still has room to grow, which is also good. One of the best things about Jamaal is that he is fearless. For him, the last play is gone. If he shoots an air ball and he has a good look the next time down, he knows it is going in. He would never, ever hesitate not to shoot it. He has a mentality that you win with. He is unafraid, not afraid to fail, not afraid to make a mistake. When he makes a mistake, he jumps back up and says, `That is the last time I'm going to make that mistake.'"
On how much energy Jamaal Franklin provides for the team:
"He works. That is one thing that you must say about him. He competes and he competes very very hard. He has worked, we continue to work on competing as hard mentally as he does physically. When those come close to meshing, he becomes pretty electric out there in the right sort of way."
On if after losing four starters, if winning a conference title was a discussed goal for this team:
"I don't know that we ever really said, `Ok here is the goal. We are going to win the conference.' But we wanted to make sure that everyone in that locker room knew that we had players good enough to win. Now win, what does that mean? We had players that were good enough to look an opponent in the eye, each time we walked out on the court, and say we are good enough to win. Then play as hard as you can. If you truly are good enough to win then it will usually take care of itself. We didn't have a board up at the beginning of the season that stated our goals, in terms of winning and losing."
On how much seeding is a motivation to win:
"I read that Tim Shelton was asked where he was going to hang his jersey at the end of the season and he said, `Hopefully right next to a ring.' So they all want to win a ring. In order to do that we need to win two games. If we win those two games, it doesn't matter what the seeding is, we are going to be pretty good. We want to win."
On if he thought the team could win the regular season title after enduring a three-game losing streak:
"I try not to get caught up in it but if I am on a truth serum I would have probably said that the way that New Mexico had been playing, it would be hard to envision them losing back-to-back games. And yet, with what we do, it's not really truly hard to imagine any of us losing two straight games. This is basketball and these are teams that are all capable. You better play well, you better shoot well, you better get a lucky bounce, stay out of foul trouble, be injury free and on and on. There are a lot of teams that, with four games to go, have a one or two game lead and end up not winning their championship. We had good fortune that was upgraded by others. We had to win two games to be sitting in a three-way tie for first now and we are going to have to win two more games to be, at least, in a tie for first come next Saturday."
On how tough the travel will be to Boise State and TCU:
"I have never played in Boise; I have never been to Boise. I have watched tape. (UNLV) had good fortune when they won in overtime when they played there. We got lucky and escaped a wide open three that would have won them the game when they were here. I am sure they will be talking about that. We get the privilege of having back-to-back Senior Days on the road. We will play Boise State on their last home game for their Senior Day and we will play TCU on theirs. And you know what that is like by being here. These are games where it doesn't matter who you play. You are extra charged up and motivated. So we will have to be at our best on both of those games.
"Boise is a good team. Jamaal talked about that they will spread the floor, they will drive and kick. They are good, they are very capable. They have had some close losses and some real close victories."
SDSU sophomore guard Jamaal Franklin
On if he thought the team would be in a position to win conference after enduring a three-game losing skid:
"I knew that we would get it together. I didn't know that New Mexico was going to lose and that we would (be in this situation) - tied for first. I knew that if our team could just win our games that a lot of things could happen. We all look forward to making our season better every day. After we took three losses in a row we all had a team meeting, got together and talked about what we needed to do. We just built from there."
On the upcoming tough travel to Boise State and TCU:
"They are two long trips but this is what we came here for, this is what we have to do to win. It's going to be a long trip but we have to get through this Boise State game then we have to worry about TCU. TCU took down two of the teams we are tied with so we have to go in there and take both TCU and Boise State seriously. We could have lost to Boise State if they would have made that last shot so we can't take either of these two teams lightly."
On what he learned about the team after it bounced back from three straight losses:
"We feel that our weakest spot is rebounding the ball and turnovers, but we try to make ourselves better every day. Coach (Fisher) puts points on the board that we need to work on during the game, what we need to improve in and we try to work on that every day."
On what he did during the offseason to prepare for the rigors of conference play:
"I worked out very hard; I was still going to see (strength and conditioning coach) Randy (Shelton). Xavier (Thames), Chase (Tapley), LaBradford (Franklin) and I worked out very hard over the summer. We also had individual work outs with just the players. We all prepared ourselves for this. I try to take ice baths before every game to make sure my body is feeling 100 percent."
On rebounding the ball against Colorado State:
"The last time we played against Colorado State we lost the game because we were short in rebounding. I just wanted to win so if it took me taking four charges and being Tim Shelton then I would have done that. Rebounds were one of our weaknesses, but we are getting stronger every day and getting better at that."
On being the leading rebounder on the team:
"I guess I just have a knack for the ball. I'm trying to get a knack for the ball like Kawhi (Leonard). I'm not as great as Kawhi, but I'm getting close to it."
On what he learned from Kawhi Leonard:
"I learned a lot of things from (Leonard). Rebounding, guarding (Leonard) all last year, I learned a lot. Just going after and having a knack for the ball. To me, he is the best at (rebounding), I think he was the best in the country last year (at rebounding)."
On how he improved his free-throw shooting:
"Just work. Spending a lot of time in the gym and shooting after practice is how I think I have gotten better at shooting (free throws). The more time you put in the better you get."
On if he thought he would have as much of an impact this season as he has after last season:
"After (last season) I knew that I would have a big role. Coach (Fisher) talked to me after the season ended and he let me know that he was going to need me to have a big role this season. As a freshman, backing up Kawhi Leonard, who was a first-round draft pick, I had to learn from that. My freshman year was pretty much a learning experience. I got to learn from the best and now I have the opportunity to be one of the best."
On how important it was to have Xavier Thames and James Rahon improve their game:
"It was great knowing that James (Rahon) got out of his slump. I always tell James that he worries about his shot, but it's not about that, we need you for March. When he is out of a slump close to March, it's a good thing. Xavier, he did his job, he very rarely turned the ball over and shot the ball well. He showed the mid-range pull-up jumper that I always see in practice."
On Boise State:
"They are a very good team, they defend well. They will step up and take a charge, too. I got into foul trouble very early (in the last game) because they were taking charges. We have to make sure that we stay under control, beat them on the boards and defend the three. They are a great shooting team and like to spread the floor out, just like we do."
On if the team is worried about seeding for the tournament:
"We aren't really worried about that right now. We have to get through these first two games (against Boise State and TCU) before we start worrying about seeding. If we lose these two games then seeding doesn't mean anything to us. We have to take this one game at a time."