Monday, March 10, 2014

AAC Coaches Do Some Talking Before Tourney Time

Some quick hitters off today's AAC coaches teleconference call, in advance of this week's championship tournament in Memphis:


“I look forward to getting back on the court. We’ve got a sour taste in our mouth after our defeat at Louisville. I think we’ll become a better team off that defeat. I just like the resilience of this team all year. It’s the focus of our seniors, and the development of our players to get that champion mind-set.”

“It’s gonna be a great crowd. We’re looking forward to being int hat atmosphere. The game changes from each game. First game, DeAndre came out, he was shooting and penetrating. The second game, we got to the free throw line a lot. We’ve got to trust each other. We can’t have seven assists like we had against Louisville … We’ve got to make the right decisions. Sometimes, throwing a shot over a guy who’s 6-11 isn’t a good decision. Maybe finding Niels Giffey for a jump shot is a better decision.”

(on Shabazz Napier and Sean Kilpatrick)

“They mean a lot to both teams. I imagine Mick (Cronin) says the same thing. They're the heartbeat of our team. (Napier) leads us in all the important categories … he just means so much to our team dynamic. I also know Kilpatrick is the same way. When they need a big shot, he’s always making it – maybe a dump-down pass, maybe a rebound. Big-time players make big-time plays."

(Kilpatrick Player of the Year?)

“If he got it, it’d be a worthy choice. He’s had an awesome career there, and I know he’ll be playing at the next level.”

*** The conference player of the year vote is going to be interesting. Most of the coaches evaded naming who they voted for, but UCF's Donnie Jones noted that Kilpatrick should be the choice.

Rick Pitino sounded like he might think Kilpatrick should win, too -- though it should be noted he was responding to a question from a Cincinnati reporter.

"I think you could pick three, four different players," Pitino said. "Russ Smith, Shabazz Napier, Sean Kilpatrick are all capable of winning that award. I don't think Anthony Davis won the SEC player of the year and he got national player of the year (with Kentucky). It could not go to Russ Smith, and he could be a first-team All-American. If you took (Kilpatrick) out of Cincinnati, it would hurt them tremendously, because they count on him so much for points. He's a worthy candidate to win that award."

Said Larry Brown:

“I put all three names down, and there were a couple of others I considered whose teams weren’t quite as successful. I don’t know how you choose between any of those guys. I think they’ll all be playing next year, at a very high level. They’re all great team guys, and they all finished at the top of their conference. That’s a really, really tough choice to make.”

Not surprisingly, Cronin believes Kilpatrick should win it.

"But we have three guys in this league worthy of being first-team All-Americans," the Cincy coach said.

*** Memphis coach Josh Pastner was full of compliments. He called the AAC "the best league in the country," continuously pushed for Mike Aresco to be rewarded with a lifetime contract and said Ollie is a "future Hall of Famer ... no doubt about it."

As for playing UConn on Thursday night:

“Any time you play a game, home, away, neutral, you're gonna feel a little pressure. But especially at home, a little more. But this league is loaded. If you don’t bring you’re A-game, there’s a good chance you’ll lose. You’ve got to be on-point in everything you do. And that’s extra true against team like UConn that’s well-coached and has so many good players, like they do.”

"We have to do a great job defensively. They are a great 3-point shooting team, not a good 3-point shooting team, a great one ... Napier is a stud, Boatright is a stud, Daniels is a stud. They have multiple studs."

*** Pitino on the AAC after its first year of existence:
"Very strong, very competitive, and a very well-run conference. A little weaker at the bottom than the Big East, because some of those programs are rebuilding.”

*** Eddie Jordan subscribes tot he theory that its tough to beat a team three times in the same season.

“The team that’s lost twice, it’s just human nature, their motivation is higher, they have a little bit of an edge, their will and determination is probably a little bit higher than the team that beat you twice," he said.

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