Weekly Coach Menzies Interview :: 01/25/11

Editorial Note:This week's interview was conducted through a teleconference with members of the media from the Las Cruces Sun-News and Albuquerque Journal. The questions asked by are marked as such.

Jason Groves: Your thoughts on being 4-3? You're right there.
Marvin Menzies: Yeah, we're in the hunt. I wish we could have at least split this road trip. Obviously the first choice would have been to win both of them. We were playing pretty going into that, I knew Nevada was due for a good game just watching them. They played very well against us and we didn't play very well. Partly because of their defense, they did a good job. It's one of those games where you look at that one and then the Utah State environment is always tough to win in, we got off to a good start and then shot selection and in general our offense sputtered real bad. That took us out of having a chance to win that one because I thought we defended real well at Utah State. Everything's gotta be a perfect storm, everything's gotta come together to win at that place. They've got a phenomenal environment. You need to have experienced guys and then you need to play well too to win there. Overall now at 4-3, obviously we'd like to have a better record at this point and still say we're competing for a league championship but right now Utah State is in the driver's seat but there's nine games left and that's a lot of games. We've gotta hold serve here at home first. That's the biggest thing we can put our focus on right now is just taking care of business here against Boise and Idaho this weekend. If we can do that I'm sure next week sitting here we're feeling a little different and heading in the right direction.

Jason Groves: Your players said they still feel positive.
Marvin Menzies: Yeah, we're good. We knew it was going to be our toughest road trip of the year. We know we let one slip away a little bit at Boise State so we've gotta show that we can still play with the best of the best. Everybody from 2nd to 6th is still in the hunt for 2nd. Utah State is running the show again. With all those seniors and experience that they have they're doing what they're supposed to do. They're winning on the road and they're winning at home.

We're still optimistic and we still feel good. We've just gotta keep working hard and keep getting better.

Jason Groves: That win at Idaho was pretty big.
Marvin Menzies: Yeah, now you look back and go if we can double up against them we put ourselves in the driver's seat with them, then split with Boise and then we've just gotta kind of wait and see. We've still got Utah State coming here. But then that's assuming you hold serve at San Jose, Hawai'i, Fresno, LA Tech. There's a lot of games to be played and we can speculate until the cows come home. We've just gotta win Thursday. You had some trouble on the road trip with rebounding, what are some of the things that you're seeing in practice that aren't getting translated into the games?
MM: The drills aren't carrying over. We're doing a lot of drills and we're emphasizing it as soon as we saw it was a blemish that started growing. It's just one of those deals that you've gotta keep pushing it and eventually it'll click. It's a problem for us and we've just gotta keep addressing it and showing them what they're not doing on film and drilling it and talking about it and emphasizing it. It'll kick in. We have the athleticism, we have the talent, we've got the length, we've just got to get the repetitions in and get the emphasis put on it which we've been doing. It's gonna kick in. I'm not too concerned about it, not as much as I am the inconsistency at the offensive end right now. Would you say it's more of a positioning issue?
MM: I don't think so. I think it's game slippage and we're just not getting carryover right now. I hate to keep using the word inexperience. We said when we lost Wendell the whole team was going to have to step up. That's 10 boards. That's pretty significant when you have one guy that is out that was giving you 10 boards a game. He's our Rodman and when you lose him then you've gotta pick it up elsewhere and we didn't think we had one guy that was going to go get all those rebounds. We have to do it as a team and we haven't done that yet.

Jason Groves: Do you need another guy on offense to be consistent?
MM: Well you always need another guy to make shots.

Jason Groves: Are you okay with just someone having a good night every night to complement Troy or do you feel like you need "a guy?"
MM: Well, no we need one of those guys that we have to be more consistent, Hernst or Gordo or CK. Any of the starters. Bandja hasn't put up a big night yet. He's somebody that's capable when he's hitting his shots as well. Ham hasn't got back on either. We've got a bunch of guys I know are capable of producing for us, it just hasn't happened on a consistent enough basis. It's just one of those deals where you know it's going to happen, we're just hoping the development kicks in at the right time.

Jason Groves: Have you thought about Troy at the five?
MM: It's crossed my mind but I think we've gotta still work to get Hamidu up to 100 percent again. He's just struggling right now and a lot of it's mental. He's just gotta know that we have confidence in him and he's just gotta play harder and not rely so much on offensively when things aren't going well. There's so much more you can do. We've thought about Troy at that spot but that's a big shift to make at this point. I think we've got to get Chili and Ham to play better. That would be the easier fix. If we've gotta adjust and play Troy there for a few minutes maybe that's something we can do. But that's something we've looked at but we're just going to wait and see how it unfolds based on matchups.

Jason Groves: How much do you lean on these four guys from here on out?
MM: Heavily. Those four guys have to carry the load. It's time for them all to get production, not just one guy a night. It's gotta come from more guys. It's gotta be a concerted effort in order for us to realize our goals here and one of our goals of winning of the conference is slipping away if we don't right the ship quickly. We've gotta be ready to play on Thursday. How impressed were you with your team's halfcourt defense against Utah State? It looked to be one of the best halfcourt defensive performances you've had against them.
MM: I was very impressed actually. After the game that was one of the positives we pointed to. Had we had better shot selection, had we executed a little bit better offensively we would have given ourselves a chance to perhaps win that game in a hostile environment because we did defend very well. We had good ball pressure and in a short turnaround they adhered to the scout pretty well so I was impressed with that. It gives you hope going forward.

Tristen Critchfield: Are you making an effort to limit CK from shooting threes and trying to get him to attack the basket a little more?
MM: We've talked about it. I don't know how many threes he took in that last game but he's making them in practice and you don't want to take a kid's confidence. It's just a matter of when in the shot clock he needs to take them and his body positioning. There's just things as a freshman that he's still learning. I'm never going to tell a guy not to shoot the ball. If I've gotta do that then I've recruited the wrong guy. We've gotta be able to make shots. It's just a matter of having taking high percentage shots and unchallenged shots and shots within the offense. Those are the lessons we've gotta learn. The reason you shoot a low percentage quite often is you're taking bad shots, either challenged shots or just a bad shot within your own technique and form. Those are the things they've gotta learn in terms of a good shot and a bad shot.