TEXAS A&M BASKETBALL WEEKLY PRESS CONFERENCE
Monday, February 27, 2012 - Reed Arena - College Station, Texas
Record: 13-15, 4-12 Big 12
Streak: Lost 3
Last Week: lost to (#4) Kansas (H), 66-58 (Wed.); lost to Oklahoma State (A), 60-42 (Sat.)
This Week: Tuesday vs Kansas State (H), 6 p.m. (ESPN2); Saturday at Oklahoma (A), 3 p.m. (Big 12 Network)
HEAD COACH BILLY KENNEDY
"Obviously I was disappointed in the last game. I thought we got frustrated at times and our body language wasn't appropriate. I never want to let losing define who we are and I thought some of our guys' lack of effort and frustration came out against Oklahoma State. Hopefully we've rectified that and that won't happen again."
To clarify one of your statements after OSU, you said someone was stealing money from the university...did you mean the players' scholarships, or the coaching staff?
"I didn't think our players in that particular game earned their scholarship. We talk to them about (the fact that) it's a job, it's a responsibility you have in working and doing things at your best. And I didn't think we had that that particular day. We were cheating on the job, or relaxing on the job, so to speak. And that was my disappointment."
When you did the talking was it a team thing or were you pulling individuals out?
"It was more of a team thing. We scored 76 points against them here. We did some things better. We had 17 assists against Oklahoma State here and only 5 or 6 against them there. Obviously we've struggled scoring all year but I thought we didn't move the ball as well as we have in the past. Defensively we didn't execute the game plan like we had in the past."
When you talk about team chemistry, is it not always the best thing when guys come back?
"Well...Dash hadn't practiced with us for three weeks, then he had two or three days of practicing, then Elston all of a sudden bumps back to the two. Khris comes in, and now we've got to share the ball a little bit more. Elston doesn't get as many opportunities as he did, or our bench guys don't know if they're going to play. So it's like a roller coaster. It makes it hard for guys to adapt to change. At this time of the year you want to have things in place. I think we'll get them in place but we're running out of time and we have to play with a sense of urgency."
With tomorrow being senior night, can you talk about how hard it is for Dash and Dave-and you-knowing they have one year with a coach and the changes they have to make just for that one year?
"David said it earlier in the year, when we talked about him struggling scoring, about how he missed Nathan Walkup. Having to adjust to a new system and new personnel I think has been a challenge for him. He's been in foul trouble an awful lot-he's had to guard some of the better post guys that he didn't have to guard last year because Walkup was their defensive guy. He's gotten into foul trouble and that's hurt him some. Dash has been really good for us most of the year but I think the injury threw him back a bit. He missed a number of games and was frustrated about that, wanting to come back and not knowing if he could, just the ups and downs of dealing with an injury. I know going into it before the injury and before coming back, I think he was playing more minutes than he's ever played. Offensively, I think he felt like he had more freedom than he's had in the past. I thought he was thinking a lot of positive things and I really believe he was having a solid year."
What about for you, losing Dash on the floor when he was kind of the liaison between your staff and the team?
"He's done the best job of anybody of trying to get these guys all on the same page, then all of a sudden he was out of commission for three or four weeks. Now all of a sudden trying to get back in the swing of things has been an adjustment for him. Defensively, he's the kind of point guard I want to have-a guy who can defend, who plays hard and is athletic, and who competes. I've enjoyed coaching him throughout the year."
How big is this week?
"Well, we talked about playing with more of a sense of urgency against Oklahoma State, and we didn't. I didn't think we played like we're capable of. Now we're at home, it's our last home game of the season. We've played well at home. We're playing a team that's coming in here that's on the bubble or needs a big win to gain momentum to get in the NCAA Tournament, a team that we've already struggled against. It's a big game for us because it's our last home game. We've got to build some momentum. We've got to win a game and break through if we want to continue to finish strong. That's our goal, to finish strong. This game is a big game more so because we need a win and to be able to have some momentum going into the tournament if we're going to have a chance to win up there."
Is there any way to best summarize your first regular season at Texas A&M?
"Really like riding a roller coaster. It's just been up and down. In practice, not having this guy or that guy, and trying to get our culture-the way we want to do things is different than what was done in the past, so trying to establish that has been a challenge. And then me missing the first few weeks...there's just so many things that have been thrown into it. We're still alive, we're still fighting...it's good things that are happening, but they're not going to come out until the end I think. I don't think you'll see it until the years to come. It's been more of a first year rebuilding of a program than I thought it was going to be."
Do you think everything was overrated for you coming in, considering this team was picked to win the Big 12?
"Obviously the injuries played a big part, but I do think the expectations were greater than what this team actually could do, when you look at it after the season. I wouldn't have said it before the season, but when you look at how good Iowa State ended up being...you look at Missouri. This was supposed to be a down year in the Big 12, and you've had three or four teams in the top 20 throughout the season. So the round robin has been a challenge, more than I anticipated. The competition has been more than everyone anticipated."
Do you feel this is a team that could get in the tournament next week and get on a roll?
"Yeah, I think we can play better and we can get on a roll, but it's going to take the nine to 10 guys we have to play at their highest level. That needs to happen soon. We didn't have that happen the last game, but we're capable of playing a lot better. Once you get going at the end of the year you have a chance to build momentum, and we're hoping to be able to do that."
You talked after Saturday's game about how you saw a game like that coming for a few weeks now...
"Well, we've been kind of hanging on by a thread so to speak. Our practice habits aren't great. Factoring in new players and roles changing, guys playing a lot of minutes and starting going to now not playing...so our morale in practice hasn't been as good as it needs to be at this time of year. When teams are fighting to get in NCAA Tournament play, you've got to be at your best. And I just didn't think we were at our best. We played Kansas, and Kansas didn't play well and we got a little run in the second half. I thought Missouri we did play well. But I just think everything starts in practice and you reap what you sew. And I don't think sometimes we've been the hardest working team in the league, and we've got to change that in our program."
Is this time around against K-State one where it'll be key having Dash Harris back, because his spot is where K-State went to get points last time?
"Yeah, he's going to be a big help in this game I think, defensively and offensively, being able to break pressure. We made some shots in the first half and got a lead on them, but over the course of time they pressured us and we turned the ball over a lot. Hopefully having him and having Khris-who can make some plays off the dribble-will help."
Can you talk about your relationship with Frank Martin?
"Frank and I go way back. I offered Frank a job when he was in between jobs in Miami when I was the head coach at Southeastern Louisiana, because I knew the kind of coach he was and the kind of recruiter he was. It didn't work out but we've maintained a relationship from then on. I really think he does a great job. To be the winningest coach at Kansas State in the first however many years he's been coaching there says a lot. He's done a tremendous job."
Is that stare scary to you?
"(laughing) Haha, no. Frank's a big teddy bear, people don't realize that."
Would you still tell his players that?
"His players love playing for him. That's how he is. He loves those kids more than most people really know."
What makes him a teddy bear?
"He's got a soft heart. He cares about people and he cares about his players in a deep way. I know that because I know guys who played for him in high school when I was coaching in Miami, and good friends of his who grew up with him. The loyalty he has and the relationship he has with his friends is pretty good."
SENIOR G DASH HARRIS
Is it hard to believe Tuesday is your last home game?
"Yeah, definitely. It seems like these last four years went by with the snap of a finger. I've had some great times in Reed Arena, and it's coming to an end. It's kind of bittersweet. You love being out here and you're going to love that round of applause they're going to give you for playing your last game, but then again it's your last game. I'm sure it will hit a soft spot tomorrow."
How big is this week to get some confidence back heading into the Big 12 Championship?
"It's big for us. That's what we want to do, get some momentum and some confidence in our play before we head off to Kansas City for the Big 12 Tournament, in which I think we can do very well."
SENIOR F DAVID LOUBEAU
On what a win Tuesday would mean...
"It would be a great moment if we could win this game. It's our last go around in this gym, the last one we'll remember in here."
On the struggles of the season and looking ahead to the Big 12 Championship...
"It's been real tough. At this time of year we're usually a high seed and getting ready for the Big 12 Tourney. Now our backs are against the wall. But we have real hope that when we get to the Big 12 Tournament we can make a run and win it and still get to the (NCAA) Tournament."