Dec. 29, 2007
Villanova head coach Jay Wright...
Opening statement: That was a good, grind-it-out win. It was a good game for us going into the Big East because it was like a Big East game in being very physical. I give La Salle a lot of credit. Defensively they are very physical and their length bothered us some in terms of our three-point shooting. They took away our three-point shots and forced us to drive the ball. That's where Corey Fisher was great. They just stayed on our perimeter shooters and forced us to go 1-on-1. It was a good move. It was smart and it worked. Our defense was good tonight also. We were good defensively and I was happy about that.
On the team's defensive progress: We still have a lot of work to do but I can see the progress and I feel good about it. Tonight Corey Fisher guarded Darnell Harris most of the night. He had 14 at halftime but only one or two of those were on Corey. We lost him in transition a couple of times and he was out a couple of times but Corey guarded him most of the second half and he only had two points that he hit on Dante. I thought Corey did a great job defensively tonight and that really excites me.
On getting up for Big Five games with a 14-game City Series win streak: It's not a problem yet because it's still new to a lot of these guys. They don't realize anything about a streak. Guys like Curtis Sumpter and Mike Nardi and those guys can tell you what their Big Five record was. It's not a problem yet because many of our guys haven't won that many yet. It's a good learning experience for them. The game at Temple was a tough game but it was typical. These guys haven't seen it yet. We had a lead and you think you have it but it's a Big Five game and Temple made a run. Tonight this game was very physical and like a Big East game. I give La Salle credit for that and think it's big for us going into DePaul next week.
On the offense: I'm not concerned about the offense. If you have good players that can score you don't worry about that. You know your personnel and we have guys on the bench who can score a lot. I'm not worried yet but if we get into the Big East and it becomes a big problem then we'll see. We still need to get better defensively. We gave up 13 offensive rebounds tonight. We're going to play teams bigger than La Salle but they are good. They are quick off their feet and really good on the offensive glass.
On the first 11 games: I am happy that we're 10-1 and I feel good about this young team. They have found ways to win and I am happy that in the last couple games we are learning to play defense together. We toughened up a little bit and improved. When you are young you don't realize how guys play hard every possession. Those are two things I feel good about.
On the surprises so far: I think Corey Stokes can give us a lot more. He seems to be the guy that is trying to find his place. That has surprised me a little bit but he is working at it and I know he's going to get there. Dwayne Anderson has surprised me too. He gave us great minutes tonight. The surprises so far have been good ones.
On the team's depth: That has been a pleasant surprise too. Everybody has kind of come along. Corey Stokes will get going a little more but we know he's going to get there. The depth is new for us and to be honest I'm still learning how to handle that. I think a big part of any success we have this year will be how we all handle that. Some nights it will be one guy's turn and other nights it will be another guy's turn. That can be a negative sometimes but it has helped us get to this point in the Big East. Guys get hurt or tired and worn down during the season so the depth is something that's going to be very valuable to us.
On starting Big East play: The Big East season is definitely a marathon, especially now that it is 18 games and none us have been though that together. Our depth will play a big factor in an 18-game Big East schedule. You get physically and mentally worn down. I will talk to the team a lot about that and about how important our depth is. We are going to have to see how that plays out. Antonio Pena is coming on and Dwayne Anderson has been coming up big. We also have Andrew Ott and Frank Tchuisi still on the bench and they are coming on too. They are part of our depth because we may need to use them in the Big East.
Sophomore guard Scottie Reynolds...
On the game: We showed a lot of poise out there. Like coach said it was physical but we kept playing each and every possession hard whether it was going our way or not. The guys coming off the bench did a great job. Dwayne Anderson and Antonio Pena did a great job and everybody came in with a lot of energy. When we went into halftime I told everybody that we had come out with a great attitude and everybody was on board and on the same page. Going into the Big East that is something we need and we got that out of this game.
On his offense with Corey Fisher at point guard: In the first half Corey got us going and did a great job. I went to the point and wanted to be aggressive because I knew they were switching. The best way to beat their defense is to drive the ball and I tried to be aggressive and not wait for the ref to make a call. You have to go in and try to get your shot up. My teammates did a great job of encouraging me and to keep playing hard. I wanted to be aggressive and attack the rim and Corey did a great job running the team.
Freshman guard Corey Fisher...
On guarding Darnell Harris: We always know who teams' go-to guys are coming in. I knew he would play hard and my teammates helped me tonight. Tonight we just played hard against a good team.
On scoring nine straight points during a first half run: I didn't know I had nine straight points but I just tried to come out and play defense and help the team try to win.
On playing at point guard: I knew they would play good defense and switch a lot. Sometimes if I see an open lane I try to drive it. If not I try to get my teammates the ball and let them make shots.
On Big Five games: We know they are going to be a war and we just have to come out and give it our all.
La Salle head coach John Giannini...
Opening statement: I thought the game was decided, in retrospect, in the first half. The second half was extremely evenly played. Every time they expanded the lead we had an answer for it but we couldn't overcome the deficit we started out with. Our kids played super hard in the second half. We don't have great passers and we missed some free throws but the biggest difference in the game wasn't defensively and it wasn't rebounding, but skill level. Villanova made a few shots and passed the ball a little bit better. I think we made them earn the win in the second half. We wouldn't go away and played with great effort. I like my guys. I don't think they could have played much harder in the second half.
On La Salle: I really spent a lot of time this fall cutting down on our turnovers and working on our execution. I think that hurt us more than it helped us because now we are trying to get better defensively. We are emphasizing effort and playing faster so some of the turnovers when we are pushing the ball up the court you have to live with. We are athletic and we have some depth. Those are our strengths so we have to play hard and play fast. We aren't going to pick you apart with pinpoint shooting and passing and we aren't going to put multiple knock-them-down shooters on you. We have good kids and good athletes who play their guts out and that is what we did in the second half.
On playing Mississippi, DePaul and Villanova in the last three games: If you look at the last three games we have played some pretty good teams and showed the ability to compete against good teams. That's a starting point and something we need to build upon. I know games have their ebbs and flows and aren't consistent beginning to end but our rebounding is important because we are good at it and it is a good measure of our intensity level. In the second half we outrebounded them by one but in the first half we got outrebounded by five. It would be different if that's even in the first half. When we play teams at this level we can't have the ebbs and flows as much as what often happens naturally. We have to give a superhuman effort and be good from beginning to end. I think we did that tonight but that's hard to maintain through a whole game.
On Villanova: They missed some shots but when I talk about shooting I am also talking about the basket and about overall offensive skill level. We can all agree that Villanova is a skilled basketball team that can dribble, pass and shoot. To see that they shot 34 percent in the second half, I don't think it means that they were bad but our effort level had a lot to do with it. We have the ability to switch on defense which a lot of people can't do and that had a lot to do with it. I give our guys a lot of credit for that. Again, the game was decided in the first half and the second half was completely evenly played. Villanova won the game in the first half.
On having 22 turnovers: That's not a concern because it's expected and happens every game. That's just a little worse than our average. Passing the ball is a weakness for us. At the same time I do expect us to rebound even or be able to outrebound Villanova. I'm not surprised that we outrebounded DePaul because that is a strength and passing the ball is not. It's unfortunate but not a surprise. I wasn't surprised that our defense could hold them to 34 percent shooting in the second half.
On Big Five games: The Big Five is important to us because it is such an accurate measuring stick of where you are nationally. You don't have to worry about playing Mississippi and DePaul because history shows that if you are good in Big Five games you are going to be a good program. For Villanova to have won 14 Big Five games in a row is historic and a tremendous credit to them. Whoever breaks the streak will have a small piece of Big Five lore to themselves and that will put them on track to being the best in the city and of national relevance. It is a big deal to be good in Philadelphia because it means you are good outside of the city too.
La Salle guard Darnell Harris...
On the difference between the first and second half for himself offensively: I don't really think there was a difference. They always had a guy on me and weren't helping off me. I tried to play the role of the decoy in the second half and get the ball inside. I didn't want to force any shots tonight so I don't think there was really a big difference.
On Villanova's guards: They are good guys and we have a lot of respect for them. We have good guards too and our whole team is full of guards. Villanova's guards had a good game and we fell short in the first half. If we had brought the same effort as in the second half in the first half we could have taken them down to the wire.
On Big Five Games: We talk about it all the time. It's a goal for us to get Big Five wins and to be the best in Philly.