bleedCrimson.net: Your thoughts on the past two games, the loss against New Mexico and the win against Arkansas-Pine Bluff?
Marvin Menzies: Obviously I wasn't here for the New Mexico game, they guys played really hard. We just didn't have enough depth to win on the road in that environment with Troy going out. I was proud of their fight and their heart and who hard they played. We've just got to continue to grow. There were times when we had three freshmen and two sophomores on the floor and they just weren't ready to win in that type of environment yet.
Pine Bluff was good to get back in the win column. That team has been on the road a lot and we caught them without a lot of legs. They're a better team than they showed that night. I thought we did what we were supposed to do which when you have a stronger team at home you should dominate and we did that.
bc.net: Your younger guys stepped up against Pine Bluff playing without Hamidu most of the game and without Troy and Gordo for the entire game and as you mentioned Pine Bluff is a better team than they showed on Monday night having given Hawai'i a good game, hanging close with No. 12 Missouri (down by two at halftime) and leading Auburn by four at halftime.
MM: Our backups, most of them were guys, they're young but they had played before so it wasn't like they had no experience at all. But it's good to see them getting better and learning and we did a very good job on defending Pine Bluff which gave us a lot of fast break opportunities and a lot of points off of turnovers which was something that when you're able to do that you don't have to come down and run a lot of sets and that helps us a lot and lets those guys lean on their natural ability.
bc.net: Renaldo Dixon has been playing more in the past couple games, you took the redshirt off of him against UTEP. What was the decision behind that?
MM: We were just depleted injury-wise. I would have liked to have redshirted him this year, I thought it would be good for him and the program going forward but we have a need and we still have a chance to do well in conference. We figured we had enough time to get him six games under his belt and get him some experience going into conference where hopefully even when we get guys back we'll have a little more depth and that'll help us in games where we have foul trouble or if we have a need to go deeper into the bench because of our style of play that game. It just gives us another weapon.
bc.net: What are some of the things that you're pleased with over the past four or five games since you returned from road trip out to Arizona and Massachusetts?
MM: We've been playing much harder. We've been playing with a bit more rest and it's showed on the defensive end. I think we're getting a little better offensively. We're doing some things technically now with a little more passion rather than just going out and just trying to win. We're trying to do the things it takes to win and doing it with better focus. That bodes well for us because we've had two close games and the victory against Pine Bluff. We're moving in the right direction. You want to be playing your best ball in March and we're still on target to do that.
bc.net: Tomorrow you take on Oklahoma Panhandle State and Saturday night you take on Pacific.
MM: Oklahoma Panhandle will be another opportunity to get our younger guys some experience and also rest those kids that are banged up a little bit right now. They're a solid team that can shoot the ball well. We've got to get out and defend the three and do the things that we know are necessary in the scout to get the win.
You go into Saturday's game against Pacific that's a very very good team in the Big West that I feel if we don't come to play a very good game, we could drop that one at home if we're not ready. We can't take these guys lightly at all. We did beat them at their place but we were full strength with two players that are gone that are playing professionally and three other players that are out with injuries that were starters. We'll be lacing them up with a completely different team so it's going to be a different challenge.
bc.net: What's the prognosis on the three players who are out, Troy, Gordo and Hamidu?
MM: We should know more by tomorrow, all three had MRIs yesterday. They could be anywhere from two to six weeks on each guy depending on what the doctors say.