SDSU Men's Basketball News Conference Quotes

Dec. 12, 2017

SAN DIEGO -

SDSU Head Coach Brian Dutcher

On practice:
"After taking Sunday off, we got back to practice (on Monday). I made a point that we have 12 days between games and we're going to take advantage of that. Yesterday's practice was tough, it was three hours so it was as long as we've gone all year and I thought the team responded well. They came out and worked hard, their attitude was great and we're making progress."

On the next 12 days: "Practice was pretty competitive, we did a lot of full court because I want to make sure I get them in shape leading into conference (play). We went up and down pretty hard, we did a lot of transition drills and offensively we went up and down. I thought it was really productive. Today, we'll back off a little bit and do some skill work. We'll work on shooting and individual skills, playing off ball screens, post ups, so we'll do more individually based today. We'll have a mix of competition and skill development. I think our kids will appreciate that, instead of going competitive every day, you need to have some shooting and skill work. That's what we'll concentrate on today."

On this year's Gonzaga team:
"I haven't watched a lot of tape yet because the game isn't until next Thursday. Justin (Hutson) and my assistants have watched them and said they are very good. They do what they do. They have guards who shoot the ball well, they post it up, they screen and roll into the post, they have a presence in the low post and Mark Few has done a great job there. So you know what they are. They are the same every year. They just change pieces and they are competitive, ranked and dangerous. We will be up for the task and excited to have that kind of challenge."

On what it does for the team competing against a team that was in the national championship last season:
"I think it has less to do with they were in the national championship than the fact that they are ranked this year because they have a lot of different pieces, I think they lost four starters off that team. But in typical Gonzaga fashion, they have guys that have been in the program that redshirted or transferred that are stepping up and playing new roles. So it's a different team, but it's a ranked team and to have a ranked team coming into our building is always exciting and I know the kids will be excited to get out there after a long layoff and play against them."

On the health of senior guard Trey Kell:
"Trey has a thigh bruise so he did not practice yesterday and I don't think he will today and he will continue to get treatment. So in that aspect it's good to have a 12-day break. As much as getting that thigh healthy, it's going to give him an opportunity to get some running done. He missed two games with an ankle and came back and got kneed three or four minutes into the game on a screen. Even though he tried to play through it, he talked to me yesterday and said `Coach, I appreciate you taking me out. As much as I wanted to be in there, I knew I wasn't effective and I appreciate you not letting me play with that.' So he came out, we shut him down, he got on the exercise bike, we iced him and now we'll see how he responds to treatment over the next two to three days. The nice thing is we don't have to rush him back, we can get him healthy and -- it's a challenge, coaching is a challenge. You play without Malik Pope for a half, you play without Max Montana for three to four games, you lose Trey for two games. You are losing captains and seniors, but the good news is some kids get very valuable minutes. We have freshmen running around out there and if the Aztec fans aren't excited to see the future of Aztec basketball -- guys like Jalen McDaniels, Matt Mitchell, Jordan Schakel who are playing quality minutes and efficient minutes -- then you are missing the picture. We've got good young kids we're excited about who have done a good job for us as we've lost starters."

On Senior Center Kameron Rooks:
"Kam has played quality minutes for us and when you talk about the power forward and center position, it's different than guards. You have three guards out there, whether you call them wings or guards, so there are three people to play those spots and more minutes there. So you look at Rooks, (Nolan) Narain, Montana, McDaniels and Pope, and you have five guys who play two positions so if a guy gets off to a good start and he's the hot hand, we'll ride that hand longer. Jalen McDaniels against Bradley had 12 points, 14 rebounds so we rolled with him longer. For Kam, we didn't get out to the start we wanted in either half and it's not directly related to Kam, but we had to make a change and we were going to leave Malik Pope in and give the other guys opportunities. I've talked to Kam, he is all about the team and all about winning and no matter how frustrated he is that he didn't get to play against his old team as much as he wanted to, he's responded like a champion. He's about the team, he's about the right things, he's about getting better and so it's game to game. He may come out against Gonzaga and play 30 minutes, it all depends on how well you are playing because I've got great depth. If you play well, you'll play more minutes."

On the loss to California:
"The Cal game was a flashback to our Gonzaga game to open the year a year ago. We thought they would play man-to-man and maybe mix some zone in and then they played 80 percent of the game in zone last year. I had a feeling that Cal might zone because they have young kids and they are a work in progress, too, and they opened the year trying to press and play uptempo and it didn't serve them well. And then they got beat at home by Central Arkansas, a team that took UCLA to overtime. I know people get caught up in the name of a team but Central Arkansas is pretty good and they beat Cal at home so Cal had to make a drastic change in a day and a half. They said we have to slow our pace down and the best way to slow your pace down is to play a 2-3 zone and that's what they did. They slowed the game down with a 2-3 zone and it was effective. We didn't shoot the ball well and everyone knows against a zone, you want inside-out, you want post touches, but you have to at some level shoot the three ball in. That's what the zone gives you, open looks and I thought we had a bunch of good looks that didn't go in."

On what has to change in order for them to hold onto second-half leads:
"Obviously turnovers, taking care of the ball is critical in any game. I think a live-ball turnover at the end of Cal, even if we missed a bad shot, we would have had a chance to come back and defend, but when you make a live-ball turnover and give a guard a run-out and foul them, we don't have a chance to get back and play five-on-five. We have to take care of the ball, that's every team in the country. I like the grit of my team, I think we saw against Georgia, we got behind early and fought back. We got behind early in the second half to Cal, 14 down, and we fight back and take a four-point lead. Unfortunately, we weren't able to hold onto it. If you have a chance to get a senior in the game like Trey Kell who has been through it, maybe he has the ball in his hands, but we didn't have that opportunity. So sometimes it's putting your team in the best position to win games and obviously players have to make plays at the end of a game for that to happen."

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