Dec. 3, 2013
SAN DIEGO -
Head coach Steve Fisher
"We've told our players, (the Wooden Legacy) is over. We're moving forward. We've got another game to play, and that's the beauty of what we do. But if you go back and rewind, we've had three games against three different styles and types of teams, and we were able to adjust, adapt and find a way to be successful. It starts with how you guard, taking care of the ball, getting to the free throw line and making your free throws, rebounding the ball and then being efficient in your offense. And we have been all of the above. We've had success and that makes you feel good about what you've done and confident as you move into tomorrow. But we need to make sure we're focused on San Diego and not thinking about what happened up in Anaheim last weekend. We're moving forward to play a team that is playing as good of basketball as USD has played since going to the second round of the NCAA Tournament (in 2008). They're a very good basketball team and have proven that in a lot of different ways. All our players have to be shown is San Diego at New Mexico (on Saturday), was a two-point game with less than two minutes to go. (USD) is confident right now and they have reason to be. So we're excited about the game, I believe it will be a really, really good atmosphere and we're very much looking forward to the challenge of playing them."
On if he's happy USD played New Mexico so tough:
"I think that gives you one more thing to show and talk about, but last time we were (at USD) it was a one-point game at halftime and we struggled mightily. We've done that more than once against this team, especially over in their building. They have lots of different ways to hurt you. Johnny Dee is as good of a scorer as we'll go up against, and Christopher Anderson is as quick a point guard as there is in the country."
On how much of a disparity there is between the two programs:
"(USD) is a very good basketball team. They've won seven games, and when you win, you believe you are going to win again. They've won, and that's an elixir that we all grow and benefit from. They will be ready to play us."
On being ranked in the AP Poll this week:
"I remember being ranked No. 24 during preseason in 2010, and we did cartwheels. We made a big deal out of it. It was the first time we had been ranked. Our kids are proud of the fact they're ranked, but I don't think that's an issue. We know we have a good program. If we win, good things will happen in so many different ways. But we're proud of that face that we have a program. We're not going to win every game, but we've got a program that is respected and highly regarded, and when you beat teams of like caliber, then everybody talks about you."
On his biggest takeaway from the Wooden Legacy:
"We've got depth, we used it and we used it effectively. Dwyane Polee II, who had played minimal minutes in significant moments, came in the Creighton game and was terrific. He made two or three shots. When (Polee) comes in, the ball seems to find him. He gets more shots per minute than anyone in the country. He gave us a spark, but we've had that from a lot of different people. Skylar Spencer only played 13 minutes in the Creighton game, and was playing pretty good. We wanted to play him every second we could against Marquette because we needed size. We've had situations where we've been big and effective, and some situations we've been small and effective. Still, people ask if we can shoot the ball. I'm sure we'll see zone (defenses). We have in the past and we'll continue to. We have to find ways to get good looks, and then we have to make them. Guys have to be able to make some plays. We've done that, and that gives everybody, including me, the feeling that we'll continue to do that."
On their size advantage in the backcourt against USD:
"We have to make sure we keep Anderson in front of us. He finds those gaps and he's so quick that when he comes off a ball screen, if you're not on guard or paying attention, he'll get into the heart of your defense and make plays. He's a very good player. Johnny Dee is a scorer, he's not a shooter, and he can score in a lot of different ways. He reads screens well. I'm very impressed with what he does. So we'll be challenged. We'll have to adjust. I'm not positive who will start out guarding Dee, there probably be different people who will guard him, but you can't give a scorer easy looks. It's nice to say, but it's hard sometimes to do."
On J.J. O'Brien's injury status:
"He injured his hand in the first half of the Creighton game and played all the rest of that game, scoring 11 second-half points. He played all of the Marquette game. We bandaged it up and put some cushion on it, but he played. He'll wear that pad on it, but (O'Brien) will play and I believe he will play effectively. He knows how to play, so I'm not overly concerned about that."
On if he's still comfortable using 10-11 player rotations:
"Yes, we want to do that. 10 of our 11 guys played significant minutes in the tournament. We will use our depth, and hopefully that will be helpful for us and helpful as we move into the second halves of games. You hope not having to play anyone for 40 minutes that you can take out an opponent's legs a little bit and get them a little more tired than you are."
On if Xavier Thames is the team's go-to scorer:
"I made the statement after we played the three games that Xavier Thames is playing as well as any guard in the country, and he is. Look at his numbers, and not just the points, but the efficiency. He won't shoot that way all season, but he's a confident shooter and a fifth-year senior that knows how to play. And when he's making shots the way he is, we want him to get more shots. But we're not a one-man band. We've got different people that I do believe at any moment can be the leading scorer for that night. I really believe that we'll have four or five guys averaging double figures for us when the season ends. (Thames) won't be the leading scorer in the conference, but he may or may not be our leading scorer at the end of the day. That's one of the positives about our team."
Senior forward Josh Davis
On if he thinks USD is motivated to beat them:
"From my experience playing at a different school last year, that's an excellent team and I think, coming into this game, it is a big shot for them, especially now that we're ranked. It's a game that we really can't take lightly."
On being a nationally ranked team:
"It feels good to be ranked but like Winston (Shepard) said, we want this to be a starting point and we want to keep building off of the wins and move up."
Senior guard Xavier Thames
On the Wooden Legacy Tournament:
"We had a great week at the Wooden Legacy, but now it's time to move forward and get ready for University of San Diego."
On what he remembers from the game against USD a few years ago:
"Like Winston (Shepard) said, we were down one point at halftime. Every time we play San Diego, it's always a good game. They're a good team and have a good coaching staff. I just remember us being down one point at halftime. It was a hard fought game all the way to the end so I'm sure it's going to be like that again on Thursday."
On Coach Fisher's saying that Xavier Thames isn't the "go-to" guy:
"That's definitely true. We have other guys. (Shepard) could be the leading scorer one night. Josh, J.J. ... anybody could be the leading scorer. It's not just me. I want to thank them for giving me the ball this past week. Without them I wouldn't have gotten those numbers."
On J.J. O'Brien's injury:
"It's hard seeing him not at 100 percent, but we know he's going to give it his all no matter what the situation is. He's going to be out there Thursday no matter what the situation is. Hopefully he gets better but I know he's going to be out there giving it his all."
Sophomore forward Winston Shepard
On University of San Diego:
"We respect them. The past few years of the rivalry have had some tough games. Coach spoke to us about two years ago that the team was down by one point at halftime. I don't think we're going in there with a big head or think that we're Goliath or anything. We just want to go in there and get a win against another quality team."
On if he is pleased about their performance in the Wooden Legacy:
"Absolutely. We've been working hard all year and all summer and we're starting to get some good results but we don't want this to be the high point of our season. We want this to be the starting point. We just want to keep going."
On what he's heard and seen out of USD:
"Coach has talked to us and I've seen a couple tapes on them. They played really tough against New Mexico. I think they almost beat them. Anytime you can go to the pit and almost beat New Mexico you're a pretty good team. Just from that standpoint alone we're not going to take them lightly."
On his early season performance:
"Speaking about my performance, I feel like I've been playing pretty well. Similar to what I said about our team, I kind of want this to be a starting point for me but I definitely feel like my play has picked up from last year. I still have some things to tighten up but I definitely feel like I'm playing better than last year."