Dec. 22, 2013
Final Stats |
Penn State 91, Mount St. Mary’s 82
Dec. 22, 2013
Bryce Jordan Center
Patrick Chambers, Penn State head coach
Q: Did you expect John Johnson to give you 20 points today?
A: Not 20, but I expected double figures, he’s been doing it for a year now. I expected a good output and it wasn’t just his offense, I thought he did some good things defensively. He helped us get some steals and turnovers. They got 16 turnovers, that’s really good for us. That’s a good team. (Byron Ashe) had a concussion, he was out for a while. (Julian) Norfleet is a really good guard, he really gets downhill and makes the refs make a call. We played good basketball. I’m proud of my group. To give up 12 threes and still come out by 10 is pretty good.
Q: Do you feel like you got some Christmas presents with the new guys coming in?
A: That was the other thing. Since I’ve been in this business, when you bring in a transfer, you usually lose some flow. We were a little choppy in the first half. Ross Travis was sick, he’s been battling sickness. That’s why he’s on a yo-yo. You bring in J.J. (John Johnson) it kind of messed things up, you bring in Jordan (Dickerson) and it kind of messed things up. I don’t want to take anything away from Mount St. Mary’s, but we were definitely disjointed a little bit. I felt we did a better job in the second half.
Q: How important is it to get this game in and get those new guys in before Big Ten play?
A: It was huge, because after Princeton, you want to get the bad taste out of your mouth. You’re up 20 and lose, you want to just get back. Usually, you have another game in two days in basketball, it’s not like football. We were stewing for a solid week. Our practices were great and these guys were energetic before the game. I knew Mount St. Mary’s was off for a couple weeks, got some guys back healthy. (Jamion Christian’s) a good, young coach, he’s doing some great things there. I’m glad we got this win before the Big Ten starts, the new season or second season, so to speak.
Q: You faced a similar situation at the end of the game that you did against Princeton. It seemed that your veterans made veteran plays. How nice is it to do that in the next game after Princeton?
A: I completely agree. You have flashbacks of Bucknell, Ole Miss and Princeton. What we want to do in those huddles is calm everyone down and put guys in the right positions to be successful. I felt like we did that, I felt like we worked on it in practice. We executed some different things. We tried to take Norfleet out of the game. The last minute and a half, we did some good things there.
Q: In terms of three-point defense, did you do anything different in the second half?
A: They were on fire. It happens. I don’t know what to tell you. Princeton in the last two minutes of the game caught fire and this team caught fire in the first half. I’ll go back to Indiana making 16 threes here my first year. You do everything you can to try to change rhythm. We went to a three-quarter court press, we went to zone, we were switching. I threw the whole kitchen sink at them and they still weren’t missing. We didn’t do anything differently. However, we had some early bad turnovers. When you have those, much like against Princeton, they’re going to lead to open shots and a scramble. When you’re scrambling, that’s when you’re most open to making mistakes.
Q: Were you trying to push the pace? Did you feel you needed to push the pace?
A: I did. These stats are amazing to me. They made 12 threes, we only made two, just amazing. It felt like we were doing a good job getting to the rim and getting to the foul line, so we had to continue doing that. I feel like we’re in good shape. We practice hard and we have a great strength coach and I get after them. We were trying to keep the game at a high pace, because we knew Norfleet would have a lot of minutes and (Rashad) Whack would have a lot of minutes, they did, they played 39 and 34 and (Sam) Prescott played 32. That’s what we were trying to do.
Q: Can you give an end of semester report for your team?
A: I would probably give us a B or a B-minus. However, this is the most wins since 2009. That’s something to write about or tweet about. That’s great for these guys. It easily could’ve been 10, it easily could’ve been 11, but for whatever reason, it’s not. You have to learn from those losses and that should make us more prepared for the Big Ten. We should be very well prepared for the road and the teams that come in here. I’m excited. I felt like our non-conference has done a great job for us. We played every style you can imagine. That excites me, we’ve seen everything. There’s going to be nothing that we’re not ready for. Now, we have two new guys, it makes our bench a little deeper, in case of foul trouble. We have to get Jordan in there. He looked like a guy who hasn’t played in a year, that’s okay and he’ll continue to get reps. Maybe I was a little too aggressive with my non-conference, it was difficult, but with hearing that stat, I’m happy that we are where we’re at right now.
Q: How important is it to get wins in the non-conference regardless of who you’re playing?
A: They’re the hardest games. You have small, quick guards. Everyone on the floor can shoot. They really take your bigs out of the game, even though we’re bigger and tried to go inside, it didn’t matter because they’re making threes and we’re making twos. At the end, we played small, we played Ross at the five and that’s what you have to do. You have to put your egos aside and go win a game.
Q: How do you want to integrate Jordan in?
A: I want to see him get more minutes. He has to continue to go on the right direction. The speed of the game is a lot faster than it is in practice, it is what it is. He’s going to continue to get minutes, he has great attitude in there. He was fired up to play. He was disappointed in the way he played, but he didn’t care, because he was so excited about the win. That’s the type of kid you want to build around.
Q: Are you guys all healthy going into conference play?
A: Yeah, how about that? Knock on wood, everyone is pretty healthy. There are some bumps and bruises, like any team in the country. Ross Travis I was very concerned about, because he was sick the last three days. Normally, he plays 30-34 minutes and you feel good about him. We had to get him out because of the illness to keep him hydrated.
Q: It felt like Tim (Frazier) was not pressing as much today and you had almost six guys in double figures, how confident does that make you feel?
A: I think Tim learned so much from last game. I think he went out and you saw the way he’s capable of playing. He let the game come to him, he made simple, solid decisions. He knew when to shoot, he knew when to pass. He did a lot of good things out there, made winning plays, got winning rebounds and played with such a clear head in the second half. He was not going to let us lose that game. I think he used the disappointment and anger from Princeton as a positive.
Q: What is the team schedule for the next week?
A: I gave them off tomorrow. I thought being down 11 and coming back, showing some resiliency and being relentless and not giving in and good body language, I gave them the day off. We’ll be back on the 26th and have four days of solid practices going into the Big Ten.
Q: If Santa could give your team one gift, what would it be?
A: I think Santa’s given us everything. I’m seriously. We’re deep, we have good guards, we just got a big and we’re deep at the four and five. I think we’re headed in the right direction.
John Johnson, junior guard
Q: How did it feel [to be back on the court]?
A: It feels great to be back on the court after sitting out for almost a year and a half.
Q: Did you expect it to go so well? That was about as good as you could’ve drawn it up.
A: I don’t really go into a game expecting to play good or bad but my teammates were looking for me, they found open shots for me and I was able to have a good game.
Q: What was going through your head when you stepped out on the court?
A: I was just focused on playing defense and getting stops. Once I heard some of the people that came up for the game cheering and yelling for me, it gave me a lot of confidence.
D.J. Newbill, junior guard
Q: What did it do for you and the other guys on the court to have an additional scoring presence [in John Johnson]?
A: I think it took a lot of weight off of our shoulders. I think John did a great job coming in and creating a spark off the bench, which was exactly what we needed him to do. It was good for him to find open lanes and drive and he was able to make some shots. It makes us that much deeper on the offensive end.
Q: What was said at halftime and how did you guys respond and come out in the second half?
A: Attitude. We came in and coach told us that we had to play harder, we were putting ourselves in a predicament so just to have a great attitude, come back out and we have 20 minutes of basketball so just go out there and do it.
Q: Was there any carry over this week from what happened last week?
A: Yeah, going into the game and all week in practice, we had that bitter taste in our mouths from losing that game but we learned from it and moved forward. We were down in this game but we stuck with it. We were down by 11 at one point and coach said that we have never been down by that much and came back to win the game. So, this shows how much better we have gotten since the last loss and it shows our heart and how collective we are as a group.
Dave Matturo, Mount St. Mary’s head coach
Honestly, I am very encouraged about how our team played today. I thought that our toughness and competitiveness were at a high level. We have really been building this up over the last few weeks and I am really excited about where we are going. I don’t know if people notice how good this Penn State team is. I love how they play offensively and defensively, they are so versatile and they are really a tough team to game plan against.
Q: You guys are really the first team to see John Johnson play because he has not played here yet, what did you expect from him and what did you see?
A: I really wasn’t happy when I found out he was playing because we had a chance to see him at Pitt last year, so because of that we were doing a lot of game planning for him a year ago and we knew how talented he was. He is going to be a great player here at Penn State. He is very hungry and I could tell by the way that he was playing today that he is comfortable with the guys he is playing with and has a lot of faith in the coaching staff.
Q: What sparked the run in the first half?
A: Well, we talk a lot about what we call the tsunami affect. We want to keep coming at you in waves and we want to play a lot of different guys. Any time we are playing well, our pressure game is really at its best. We were able to make them uncomfortable with our trapping and that allows us to spark and play fast in transition.