Saturday, December 17, 2016

Kevin Willard quotebook: Delaware postgame

On whether tonight's win was tougher than expected:
"It shouldn't have been. It definitely seemed that way. We probably had our worst four-day stretch of practice that we've had in a long time, and that's why I'm late. We talked about that a lot, just getting back and refocusing on practice. I don't think we practiced well in the last week, but that was also a reason why I think we didn't play well."

On Madison Jones:
"I think Madison has played well all year, I think he's played very steady. I was very happy with his confidence to step in and shoot the ball, and then I thought he really gave us a good boost on defense."

On Angel Delgado:
"Angel actually sprained his ankle. He stepped on the manager's foot right before the game. He wasn't going to play. I said, 'you can't play seven minutes, you're averaging 11.8 rebounds a game. If you're going to play, you're going to play your normal 32 minutes, because we're not messing up your rebounding numbers for playing seven minutes.' And he looked at me, and I don't think he understood what I meant at first. You can't just play seven minutes and get two rebounds, and I think it finally hit him. I said 'either you play or you don't play,' and that's when he said he was going to play. He played great."

On going to his bench and a deeper rotation:
"I think Eron Gordon has been playing well in practice, and I've been trying to find him more and more minutes. I thought he did a good job while he was out there. I'd like to see him get some more minutes because he does a lot of good things out there, but again; as we move forward, it's going to be harder to expand the rotation, but certain guys, I'm trying to find more minutes for."

On not being able to take a commanding lead:
"In the first half, it was our free throws. Technically, we probably should have been up 16 at halftime if we had made half our free throws. We missed both front ends of the one-and-one: Mike (Nzei) missed two, Angel missed two, so that's nine free throws technically if you hit both one-and-ones. If you play good offense and you get to the free throw line and you don't reward yourself, you're going to sit in that eight-to-ten point range. In the second half, we got up 13, got up 15 and then we had two turnovers in a row for their easy buckets, so we kind of just stuck in neutral."

On Desi Rodriguez's dunk and giving up a transition layup to follow:
"Yeah, we seemed to celebrate. I don't know why we're still watching Desi dunk, he leads us in dunks, but we all seemed to celebrate and give each other high-fives and forget to go back and not give up a layup. I'm glad they like to give each other high-fives after a big dunk, it's exciting, but I wish we'd have gotten another stop."

On matchup plans now that Veer Singh has transferred:
"We don't really play anybody that has, I talked about this with my staff the other day: If you look at college basketball, the amount of small forward that are 6-foot-7 posting up, they just don't do it. We post up Desi a lot, but I don't find it a problem. I have no problem putting Khadeen or even Madison, he's even tough enough to guard one of those guys. As much as I love Veer, that would never be the solution anyway if he played a big, scoring offensive wing."

On what may have led Singh to transfer:
"I think it's sometimes it's really hard losing someone that you like in the program. Sometimes it's tough losing a good young man, sometimes it just doesn't work. There's nothing like 'hey, X, Y and Z,' sometimes it just doesn't work. His freshman year, he was playing great early on, then he hurts his wrist and he's out for a month, he comes back and he gets a weird sinus infection midway through December and just when he comes back, he loses 20 pounds because he couldn't eat. His freshman year was shot and this year, he just couldn't get off to a good start. It was kind of tough, and sometimes kids need a mental change. He'd been trying and we've been trying, but sometimes it's as simple as it just doesn't always work. We loved him, he loves us, but sometimes you just need a change."

On Friday's game against Rutgers:
"Especially back when they were in the league and we played each other twice every year, no matter what the teams are, I think it's always a big game. Obviously, they're playing well and Steve (Pikiell) is doing a phenomenal job. He's got them rebounding and defending at a very high level, but I think it's; for an in-state game, the players understand the juice, I think the fans understand. It's always been a big game."

On Jevon Thomas' impending return and where he fits in:
"I have to figure that out in a week. I've been putting him with the second team, trying to get him to work with Myles Powell a little bit and see if he can find Myles because I think it'll help Myles Powell a little bit defensively, kind of free him up a little bit. They actually played pretty well in practice together. We've been practicing with three guards, both Khadeen and Madison with him, and we've been really good defensively; we pressed, so I think it's going to be a matter of seeing what matchups are out there and what we can exploit. It's not an easy fit, to be honest with you, but I'm looking forward to having him back."

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