Q. I confess, I haven’t really watched your team play a whole lot this year. Do they usually play with that amount of effort and intensity? And if so, how in the world did you lose 8 games during the regular season?
NATE OATS: Great question, really. Wes Clark transferred from Missouri. We didn’t get Wes eligible until second semester. So we lost five of the non-conference, three of them without him. And we were down to seven scholarship players, one of them we had to pull off the football team, Dominic Johnson. We didn’t have enough players. We lost to Cincinnati and South Dakota State, who everybody saw play here.
We got Wes back, we were up one at Syracuse, and ended up losing it. That was his first game in 22 months. We had to travel to Texas A&M, it was the travel day from hell. And we were still in that game with three minutes to go, and lost that. We lost to St. Bonaventure, who is playing — they’re playing tonight. I don’t know if they won it. Did they win or not? Oh, they lost? But they’re a pretty good team, too.
And then we got in conference. Conference play sometimes — we had some injuries. Caruthers missed a month and a half with a stress fracture, and he’s basically been playing the game. We shot 11 of 26 at the free throw line in one game.
We do play that hard all the time. We’ve given ourselves a blue collar mentality, we give out a hardhat after every game. We have charges, floor dives, loose balls, deflections, we tally up the whole thing, and give the hardhat out to whoever wins the blue collar points we call them.
We were 7th in the country in scoring. But we score off our defense. So we keep preaching defense, defense, defense. It was pretty good tonight.
Q. You talked yesterday about some of your ideas of how to slow down Deandre. Talking about it and doing it are two completely different things. Are you at all shocked at how well you guys were able to slow him down and almost made him look like a normal human being at points?
NATE OATS: No, because our bigs do a great job. Our guards do a great job. He’s really good, but you can take a big out of the game in college. It’s not that hard. There’s no three seconds in the lane. You can pack a guy, sit right behind him the whole time. You can’t take a guard out. You can’t take Wes Clark out of the game. The thing was if Trier got hot, Jackson caught fire, we knew they were going to have to miss some 3s. It’s not that we don’t have guys with size. We have 6-10, 6-8. Jeremy is long, he’s got length.
So I might be a tad surprised with how well it went but no, we’ve been able to take bigs out all year with how well we play.