Dec. 15, 2013
Villanova head coach Jay Wright...
Opening statement: La Salle's guards really gave us trouble in the first half. I know (Jerrell) Wright scored more points but it was because we were getting beat off the dribble by their guards. And we knew that their guards were good so we couldn't press them. In the second half, we just backed-off and kind of used are size. I thought starting the second half; we had good stops, playing bigger and created the separation. Once we had a pretty good (lead) separation, our depth played a factor. That first half they were very good.
On the team's depth: James Bell played seven minutes in the first half. He goes out and starts the second half and he is fresh. I thought in the first half it was close and then Kris, Dylan, Tony and Josh came in and we made a run. It's productive depth and it's really nice to have.
On the guard play and how it creates mismatches: What happened in the first half, we hadn't been used to playing somebody that is smaller and quicker than us. We were struggling with that and I think it took a half. They were smart. They were just getting the right mismatches and going one-on-one and we were getting beat. I thought the second half we got kind of used to their speed and quickness.
On the team: They are mature. It's a unique group. You have (Tony) Chennault, (James) Bell, (JayVaughn) Pinkston and (Darrun) Hilliard that have been there but the freshmen can come in any way. The three freshmen we have just came in really mature with high basketball IQs. They really have allowed us to move quickly as a team in terms of everything they do because they pick things up so fast. I just think we have real good chemistry. They understand it's early and we haven't played a conference game yet. They like where they are but know it's early.
Freshman guard Josh Hart...
On providing a spark: One thing coach (Jay) Wright always tells me is he always relies on my energy. James (Bell) caught two fouls trying to recover on help so I knew once he went down all I had to do was go out there, play as hard as I could and get the team a spark.
On his role (coming off the bench): I was always kind of a starter. That's one thing coming into college basketball for a freshman is one of the biggest challenges. But when you have these groups of guys and this coaching staff, everybody is behind you and pulling for you. So it just makes you kind of free and when you're coming off the bench you feel comfortable just like you're a starter.
Junior guard Darrun Hilliard...
On what it would mean to sweep Big Five play: I think it would be a great accomplishment for our team. Personally, I don't really take too much notice to the Big Five. But I think it would be a great accomplishment for our teams, for the fans and the whole city that supports us.
On the keys to getting in rhythm: Play hard that's pretty much it. I'm just trying to play hard, play good defense and execute for my teammates and brothers out here. Just trying to be solid and whatever La Salle gave me and my teammates set me up for, I tried to deliver.
On the team's (winning) roll: It's pretty cool I guess but we still have a lot of work to do. Myself and my teammates feel like we can get better. We don't want to settle. We want to stay humble and hungry. We are 10-0 but we still have a whole lot of work to do.
La Salle head coach Dr. John Giannini...
Opening statement: First I'll speak a little bit on Villanova. You look at guys like (JayVaughn) Pinkston and (Kris) Jenkins who we looked at in recruiting and those guys are in incredible shape. Their bodies are completely different then when they got here and each of their guards is significantly stronger and quicker. Their skill level is extremely high. These guys don't hesitate to shoot threes, they knock them down. We wanted to run them off the three point line and force to them into some midrange shots and they made them no problem. What I'm getting at is there an infinitely better basketball team than they were eight months ago. They were pretty good eight months ago but each person on their team is just better. Knowing their staff well, I know that they've really grinded. They've raved about their strength coach; they have a great staff that does great stuff with skill work. And their skills and physical strength and quickness are at the highest level which is why they are undefeated and have beaten top-25 teams. We've regressed but it hasn't been in the last week. We've actually gotten better this week. We had a great week of practice but we're not the same players and there is no one reason. For every individual player there is a different reason. I still think our big guys are very good. (Steve) Zack didn't have his normal good game but he still had five rebounds and did some good things. Jerrell (Wright) of course was terrific. The guards who are struggling are veteran proven players but their really struggling and each individual is for a different reason.
On why Tyreek Duren is struggling: I really think he did too much this summer. We knew he had plantar fasciitis in May so we held him out of our six weeks when we were working with the guys. He loves basketball and was working out with Jameer which I think was a great opportunity and has helped him out with his growth. My suggestion was that the season's far more important than the summer and I think he probably did a little too much. As a result, this was the first week he's told me that he was pain free. That is good. I just really think that he's had so much time off that he hasn't been his self.
On how difficult is Villanova to defend: They are really good. And they can all shoot. When a guy like Kris Jenkins is 6'7 240 lb. freshman who just pops from the corner or knocks it down with a hand in his face and he's about their eighth best shooter so that gives you an idea of how good they are right there. Their terrific and they're big, strong and quick to the ball. And they're really hungry. They didn't win that game today or even over the last week. We practiced very well this week. They won that game over the last eight months. They did not get like this quickly. Those guys put in the work and on top of it they play unselfishly, very hard, want to win and have a lot of energy. But I'm telling you, their physical strength, quickness and skill level has all improved over a year ago, every single one of them. They really worked.