SDSU Men's Basketball News Conference Quotes

Oct. 31, 2017

SAN DIEGO -

SDSU head coach Brian Dutcher

On the upcoming season:
“Well, the season is here. I guess that’s the good news. We have the exhibition game on Thursday against the [UC San Diego] Tritons and then we open up the regular season on the 10th against San Diego Christian, so we’re ready to throw it up and start some basketball here on the Mesa.”

On surprises and concerns so far in practice:
“I like what I’ve seen from the team. We have great experience and that always gives a coach comfort. You’ve got Trey Kell, senior, Malik Pope, senior, Devin Watson, fourth-year junior, Jeremy Hemsley, junior, Max Hoetzel, fourth-year junior - we’ve got a lot of experience and that makes my job easier because these guys have been through it, they know what they’re doing and it shows on the floor.”

On the team’s scrimmage:
“You know, the thing I liked best – we struggled to score the ball last year and in a 40-minute scrimmage, we scored 98 points and the best part of that is we only turned the ball over six times. So when you score 98 points and only turn the ball over six times, that’s a pretty good start. I’ll take that number all year, I don’t know if that will happen, but we rebounded the ball – I think we outrebounded them by 15 – so from a statistical standpoint it was about as good as you could hope. We played the right way. I thought the kids really shared the ball, they played with each other well and I played all 10 players and they all deserve to be out there, they’re all good enough to play. So it comes to me to decide what order I want to play them and how many minutes each of them will deserve moving forward.”

On if the rotation will expand because of the fast pace of play:
“Yeah, the rotation is interesting. Nolan Narain is probably the guy that played more than I thought he would. Kam [Rooks] is a big man at 7-1 and we’re running a lot so he’s moving up and down the floor so my decision was when I took him out that I moved Malik Pope to the five-man spot, the center, while he got some rest or play Nolan and Nolan played well at practice and played well at scrimmage so he’s kind of moved into some of those backup minutes at the five-man. If he keeps pushing, he may push Kam along even harder, so I’m real happy with what I’ve seen off the bench from all my players and I guess the biggest surprise would be that Nolan keeps coming and coming, I’m really pleased with him.”

On how much versatility the team has:
“We’re playing multiple positions, like Malik can play stretch four, a power forward that steps out and shoots it or he can move into the block and play the center. I guess the guy that’s maybe changed the most is Max Montana. We played him at small forward to start the game and then we moved him to a stretch four, so he’s a hard matchup. I think Max hit five threes on seven shots and he stretched the defense. He had four assists, one turnover and seven rebounds so he had a great stat line, so I’m real pleased with Max, too, and his versatility. Obviously, Trey Kell showed that he can post up as a big guard, which he did on Saturday, and he can step out and shoot the three so the versatility is obviously great for us an hard to prepare for.”

On redshirt freshman forward Jalen McDaniels:
“I’m really happy with Jalen right now, he plays with such a high motor and when they say high motor it basically means they play hard all the time, so Jalen plays hard all the time. He didn’t get a lot of rebounds, but he got his hand on a lot of balls. He runs in all the time from the perimeter, attacks the glass, shot the mid-range jump shot, he’s proven he can make the three some in practice, he’s long so he is going to be a real contributor this year. I think the Aztec fans will be really excited to see some of these new guys – Devin Watson, Jalen McDaniels, the freshmen Jordan Schakel [and] Matt Mitchell – so we got a lot of new pieces that we’re putting out there that the fans can see for the first time on Thursday night.”

On possibly conserving plays or schemes during Thursday night’s exhibition game:
“We’re not running as many sets right now, we’re playing basketball. So when the set play is over, we’re doing a better job of getting into some free-flowing basketball so our spacing is good. There is not a whole lot to show, once the play is over we got the floor spaced [and] we’re either throwing it into the post, setting spontaneous ball screens with good spacing, driving and kicking and so I think that’s the main difference between this year and last year. The guys with experience are playing better together as they space the floor and that is what we’re doing more of, so you might see less sets and more just basketball, so I’m happy with where we’re at with that.”

On the three-guard look of senior Trey Kell, junior Devin Watson and junior Jeremy Hemsley:
“They did a real good job together and I was interested in that because in practice I like to play Jeremy against Devin or Jeremy against Trey and mix those combinations because Jeremy is going to have to play some point guard. He can’t come in if Devin’s the point and Jeremy plays no reps in practice. I haven’t played them a lot together, I did in the scrimmage and they played well together without having a lot of practice experience doing it so I was interested to see how that went. That’s a combination whether I start it or play it together, it will be together on the floor. They did a real good job playing with each other.”

On the goal of the exhibition game:
“On the scrimmage on Saturday, I played it like a game. I didn’t have set rotations where at the first timeout I brought five new guys in. I left Trey and Devin out there, they might have played the first eight or nine minutes out there together because I can see that happening in a game. That’s how I’m going to approach it, maybe play more guys, but I’m going to use a substitution pattern that is more like a game instead of just trying to mass sub five guys for five guys. I’ll give them a more game rotation in it and I think hopefully that will help me as I prepare for my first game and help give the team a comfort level of when they are going to come out and how many minutes they are going to play to start.”

On his first game as head coach:
“I’m excited. You know I’m not real nervous right now, but I’m sure when we get closer to game time, I’ll be nervous to coach my first game. I was surprised I was seated pretty much the whole time during the scrimmage at USC, but that’s a byproduct of the players I have on the floor. When I have guards out there that can run the show and call plays and they don’t need me to stand up to tell them what to do or call the play right away, then that’s the best scenario. Let them go out there and play, they know what they’re doing and I told them before we played and I’ll tell them again – practice is the classroom and we’re giving you all the answers, now go out there and take the test. You shouldn’t need me to do a lot during the game, I’ll make an adjustment or two, but you have all the answers you need so go out there and play and they did a good job of that. So when you’ve got those veteran guards, coaches can be seated a little bit more so I’ll see how that goes as the season goes on if I’m up off the bench a lot or if I’ve just got a great comfort with my team where I just let them play.”

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