COACH JOHN CALIPARI
Q. I think you made 29 substitutions in the first half. Was that the plan going into it or was that a reaction to how guys were playing?
COACH CALIPARI: No, I went to a deeper bench. Dominique (Hawkins) was coming in for Andrew (Harrison), Alex (Poythress) was coming in for James (Young) or Aaron (Harrison), and then we started them, Marcus Lee because of the shoot‑around. I said Willie (Cauley-Stein), if you’re not going to get the jump ball I’m going to start Marcus. He said, okay. I said, okay, so I’ll start Marcus, and that’s why I did it.
Marcus, love him to death, but he kind of panicked a little bit. You have to understand that the shoot‑around we ran the first play seven straight times so he could do it. We got the tip, we went down to run that same play that we ran seven straight times, and he ran the wrong way. He spun around, he looked around. But he’s such a great kid. He’s trying.
But I’m happy that we defended the way we did, we rebounded the way we did. Again, you understand this is a team that beat us a year ago, and let me say this: Beat us good. You can say, oh, you missed a three. No, it was a 10‑point game.
So Andrew got better today, still doesn’t have it. We’re not on the same page yet. I was really happy for Aaron, but Aaron has worked hard in practice, and it carried over. A couple guys had backed up in practice, and it showed today. They didn’t play as well. So hopefully that’s a great lesson for all of them.
Q. Is this cathartic in any way to put that thing behind you?
COACH CALIPARI: It was a new group that I knew it would turn out different. I never looked at last year’s tape to prepare for the game. I didn’t want to see it. I’ve never looked at it, nor will I. That thing is over, this is a new team, and the last three days we did not talk about Robert Morris. As a matter of fact, I watched one tape and then I watched another one this morning. I’m concerned about my team, and I’ve got to get this right. So I don’t want to do stuff to prepare for a game. We need to worry about us getting better, and if someone is good enough to beat us when we’re playing good, then they’re better than us and that’s just too bad.
Q. Could you talk about Dominique a little more and the things he’s doing to break into this lineup?
COACH CALIPARI: Yeah, everything he’s doing now he does in practice. The kid works so hard. His heart rate is ‑‑ I have to stop him because I’m afraid he’s going to fall out. He pushes so hard that you saw when he went in the game how he guarded the ball. He just goes up and he adds energy to the game. You saw how hard he runs the court so we could throw to him, so we could throw lobs, so we could throw to the post. He runs. You know, I’m not afraid to go to him. I’m just not. I think he’s a pretty good player. He’s good for our team.
Q. They ran a lot of different guys at Julius (Randle). They weren’t afraid to triple‑team. How did you think he handled the way they defended him?
COACH CALIPARI: He was better. Now, I thought we didn’t get him the ball enough, and I told him, though, there were opportunities where he could have thrown it to the wing and gone in the post, and he didn’t. And then when he did one time, Dominique drove the ball. Drove me crazy. Just stop throwing the ball. I thought in the second half he just got it and scored it or made a pass. He’s a great passer, and here’s what I keep telling our team: If you go through him they’ve got to stop him. Michigan State let him go 8 out of 9 and we had a chance to win the game, a game we had no business being in. So they’re going to double‑team him, which makes it easy for the rest of your guys.
But we’re still learning.
Q. Even with both teams moving forward from it, you obviously know how much that win meant to Robert Morris fans. Did it resonate here? Do you think this is a game fans were looking forward to?
COACH CALIPARI: Oh, yeah. Like I said, look, this is not a revenge game. I’ve watched them on tape; they play really hard, they’re well‑coached. It was a good game for us because the one thing we’re not doing right now is competing at the level of the other team. In other words, we want to play harder than the other team, and I thought there were times we did that today against a team that really competes.
Now, our fans didn’t want to hear what I had to say. They’re like, ‘No, we want to smash these guys.’ But again, what happened last year for them and their program and their school, they shut down the school. The kids did not have to go to school that day. The game ended, they gave them two weekends off; don’t worry about coming. And I grew up there, so I respect that program and that school, the people associated with it.
At the end of the day, they deserved to beat us. We deserved to end our season right there.
Q. Good or bad thing; I think in the first 10 minutes, Julius has one shot in the whole first half, Andrew didn’t take a shot. Is that good or bad? What was kind of going on there?
COACH CALIPARI: We’re still figuring each other out. As you could tell I changed a lot of stuff for this game, and I did it in three days, and I told them, guys, there are things we did against Michigan State, we can’t play that now, so now it’s out. Forget about it, we’re not playing that. Here’s what I’m adding today, and those are the things we did today. And so at times they did them well and other times they didn’t. Sometimes they forgot stuff because I just put it in. Now we have a practice tomorrow, a game, a day off, and I’ve got four more days.
You noticed we pressed a little bit. I put in a press the last three days. I’ve got to add more of a press.
You know, we’re trying to work against zone just so we’re ready to play zone because the next two teams we’re playing play zone. But we’ve got a lot to do right now, and you know, those two are important pieces.
Andrew and Julius are important pieces. I love the fact he had 15 rebounds. And again, he went after five other balls with one hand; he could have had 20, because when he gets two hands on the ball you’re not getting it from him, he’s too strong, but his habit is one hand.
Dakari (Johnson) did the same thing today. I took him out. Quit reaching in with one hand. We tried to catch a couple passes, one‑handed balls, went out of bounds. It’s one of my pet peeves that I always am on them about those kind of things.
But like I said, we made strides. We got better.
Q. After Michigan State the other night, some of the things you were looking for as far as getting back in transition and body language and that sort of thing, did you see what you wanted to see tonight?
COACH CALIPARI: Some, but if I saw it, I took them out.
Q. Did you see improvement?
COACH CALIPARI: Oh, yeah, and when I saw the head go down, you’re out. Next guy. You want to stay in the game, play.
Your game can’t be dictated by how many shots you make or how you’re playing because then you’re not worried about your teammates. So you miss two or three shots, now you can’t play? Head goes down, you’re out. You’re done. Can’t play you. Figure it out. It’s not about you, it’s about our team.
I’ve been very clear that this ‑‑ we’ve got to become a great team, and we’re not right now. We have terrific players, but we’re not a great team.
Q. Their coach mentioned that they wanted you guys to beat them from the outside, and he said Aaron hadn’t shot that well, Andrew hadn’t done that. Tonight they did. Will you talk about the outside game?
COACH CALIPARI: Well, here’s what I said prior to the game: Even like a James Young, he goes 1 for 6. I’m saying this is one of the best shooting teams I’ve had, and we’re just not making shots right now. You go through spells. Now the question becomes, okay, if you’re not making shots how are you helping us win. Well, I pout and I put my head down and I lose my man on defense. I don’t run back so they get a lay‑up. Well, that helps us lose, that doesn’t help us win.
But these guys, that’s what they’ve been right now. So today, like I said to Aaron after, you can’t be energized because you made shots, you’ve got to be energized because you’re playing basketball, and if you hadn’t have missed shots, okay. James Young was exactly the same way; he misses shots, he goes in the tank. You can’t be that way. You’re not going to be on your “A” game every night out, but what do you do to help us win.
Q. After he did come in the game, how did you think Willie played, 13 rebounds, four blocks?
COACH CALIPARI: Willie played pretty good, played with good energy. You know, I think, again, he gives us that added guy who can switch out and play if he had to and guard a guard for a pinch if he has to.
I like the fact that Marcus Lee gave us great energy. Did you like the press? That’s Marcus Lee at the beginning of it, and it was pretty good, and he got us ‑‑ changed the game up for us.
But we played nine today. Eight and then Dakari and Marcus Lee. It may be a little bit game to game who’s playing better, who gets more minutes.
Q. The spots that Aaron was scoring from today was kind of all over the place. I know he hit a lot from the outside, but he seemed to move around. Is that kind of his game? Is that where you want him to be?
COACH CALIPARI: Well, here’s what I would tell you: Julius took nine shots, James Young took 11 shots, he took 12 shots, five by Alex, a bunch of fours. That’s who we are.
I want him to score near elbows more than I want him to shoot 3s. That’s what I told him. But what’s happened is they totally left him. He’s a good shooter. I mean, he made it, but he’s a shooter. So he did score a lot of different ways, and he got fouled, made his free throws.
Now, the greatest thing that Andrew did is he had eight rebounds. Your point guard gets eight rebounds. That means transition baskets, we had none, we had 26 defensive rebounds last game, had two points. That’s 26 attempts to go get a basket, we get two. That means everyone is jogging, or walking. No one ran. And you could see the last couple days that’s all we worked on, and if a guy jogged, I took him out. You must be tired. It’s okay. You jogged. Well, I hit the guy and the line jumped up and I slipped on the broom. Okay, sub him. (Laughter).
FastScripts by ASAP Sports