Sunday, January 22, 2017

Kevin Willard quotebook: St. John's postgame

On Angel Delgado and his 21-point, 20-rebound performance:
"You know, (Kassoum) Yakwe and (Bashir) Ahmed are two great athletes, and when they come in with (Tariq) Owens, he gives them more height, but we thought we might have a little bit of an advantage down low just because Yakwe plays so hard, but he is a little bit undersized at times with Angel's size. I thought Angel did a good job of being patient, taking what the defense gave him and obviously, defensive rebounding really helped us."

On Delgado leading the low post attack:
"He's our workhorse, he does it every game. We actually gave him three days off after the Villanova game, just because he had been logging so many minutes. He's been playing fantastic basketball, and when we play three games in six days, it was a lot of minutes for him. But we gave him three days off to kind of get his legs back, and I think it helped him."

On putting Delgado back in to get his 20th rebound:
"I didn't know he had 19. He did, and he let me know. I was only going to put him in if we got a free throw, got a foul. I wasn't going to put him back in, but it was a live ball, they were driving, they were attacking the rim. I didn't want him stepping up there or something happening to him."

On Desi Rodriguez:
"Desi's fine. Desi's a tough son of a gun. He landed right on his elbow. It's a little swollen, but he'll be alright."

On Myles Powell and what he worked on in practice:
"After Villanova, we took off Tuesday, we took off Wednesday. More than anything, he got two days of rest. This is a lot for a freshman. More than anything, we did a lot of dummy offense on Thursday, having him shoot the basketball and just seeing the ball go through the net, I think him scoring a layup; more than anything, helped his confidence, just to see the ball go through. Sometimes a shooter needs to see the ball between the net one way or another. We played very good defense in the first half, which got us in transition, and gave him some open looks. I think it helps him, but more than anything, he got two days of rest, which I think he needed."

"We all understand he was averaging 15 points a game in the non-conference. He's only shooting 21 percent right now, but we all know how important he is and what a weapon he is. The guys know it, they like when he's on the floor because it really spreads things out for the guys. We all have so much confidence in him when he shoots. We're a lot like him. When he misses, we get almost surprised, and it's almost like a letdown. I think more than anything, we've got to keep pumping him up, because he's a tremendous scorer."

On breaking St. John's pressure:
"We worked on it for three days, considering the fact that we decided to give Villanova, make that press look like it was Louisville. We just worked on being a little bit crisper and getting the ball up the court, being more aggressive and attacking."

On Desi Rodriguez at the four:
"When matchups dictate, yes. That was the other nice thing about being home for a few days. We were able to work on that a little bit. We didn't have any time, and that's what makes Villanova so good and so hard to guard, is when they bring (Donte) DiVincenzo in the game and you have to match up small. We just didn't have time to get ready for that or put something in that we could run offensively. We spent 15 minutes a day for the last three days having Desi at the four and playing small."

On Michael Nzei and Jevon Thomas:
"Mike is getting better and better and better. We've also worked with Mike on getting some minutes at the five, playing small, because I really do feel like he could help us at that spot too. Again, I thought Jevon played a good first half for us defensively, I was happy with the way he played. Mid-year transfers are tough, man. I'm still getting used to having him as a weapon and trying to figure out the best way to use him. I thought Jevon gave us a boost defensively in the first half."

On ball movement:
"We're averaging 15 assists in conference play, so I've been happy with the way we passed the ball. I think the biggest thing is we only had 14 turnovers, and we only had four at the half. More than anything for us, it's not the assists, we actually get a lot of assists. We just give them to the other team."

On staying calm despite a three-game losing streak:
"We weren't beating Villanova with one day of preparation if we won 19 games in a row. I knew that if we could just come back and practice a little bit, and get in a good rhythm, let the kids get back to going to class and just being normal; just getting into our normal rhythm, I knew we would bounce back. I had no doubt about it whatsoever, and that's what I told the team after Villanova. I said, 'it's over. Let's just get back to what we do, which is practicing good and playing good defense,' and we had the three best days of practice we've had all year, and it showed in the first half."

On importance of today's win as it relates to NCAA Tournament prospects:
"Right now, I think we're exactly the same record we were last year at this point. We're in exactly the same spot. I think the difference is last year, we hadn't played as many road games. We've already played four road games, and two of the hardest ones, Creighton and Villanova. We're right where we want to be. We didn't have any panic, I wasn't worried. It's just a matter of you've got to win your home games. We're going to have to go on the road at some point and play better on the road."

On Butler and Wednesday's matchup:
"I think Chris (Holtmann) is doing as good a job as anybody in the country. I have so much respect for the way he runs his program and the kids he has in the program. The kid (Kamar) Baldwin is playing phenomenal, Kethan Savage, we played against here with George Washington a couple of years ago and I knew what a great addition he'd be. The two big guys that no one talks about are (Tyler) Wideman and (Andrew) Chrabascz, and no one talks about those two kids for some reason, I don't know why. They're as valuable as any big guys in the league, and they do a great job. They rebound, they defend, they set good screens; and obviously, you have one of the best players in the country, not only the conference, but the country in Kelan Martin. They're a huge test, they obviously got to play yesterday so they had a nice day off while we battled. We have a little shorter preparation, but we just have to get used to that."

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