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Quotes: Coach Herb Sendek and Chanse Creekmur

January 18, 2012

On our offense
“Ball movement. We’re really doing a much better job of sharing and moving the basketball. Over the last four games our team has shot 55% from the field and 50% from the three. So we’ve been very efficient when we’ve been able to get shots. The problem is that we don’t always get shots. We’re averaging 17.5 turnovers in the last four games and that is exasperated by the fact that we’re only forcing 8.5. So there’s a 9 possession differential in turnovers that makes it exceedingly difficult for our team in terms of margin of error. Over the course of these four games even though we’re virtually the same at the free throw line as our opponents, once again they’ve taken 56 more shots from the field over a four game span. That’s kind of been the steady drum beat through the season reflecting what happened in the non-conference but I’m very pleased with our improvement outside of the turnover bug. Fifty-five percent against the quality of defenses we’ve played is impressive. Fifty percent from the three is astounding. Those are two steps in the right direction and I think more than any other factor, its traceable to the fact that our guys have improved the ball movement on our offense.”

“People look at shooting percentages and sometimes trivialize it to the shooter but when shots come in rhythm, within the framework of the offense, when they’re shots that you practice, they have a much higher percentage of going in.”

On our new offense
“We have changed our offenses. We have moved along. We’ve simplified it on many levels. We’ve given it more structure. We started the season with a much more transition, oriented free-flowing approach with a lot of pick-and-roll. As our personnel has changed, as we’ve learned more about our team, not unlike a couple of years ago, we’ve made some pretty significant changes.”

On whether or not he’s expecting Trent Lockett in the Colorado game
“I do not. Trent right now is unlikely, in the foreseeable future, but we will continue to evaluate him on a day by day basis. Obviously that’s a significant loss for our team. No one player can make up for his absence. We’re going to have to do it collaboratively. As you know, Trent is leading us in points, steals, rebounds, assists, and shooting over 60% from the field in the last four games. Everything is wait and see. I have all the same questions and Jarrod Spanjer tells me, ‘We’ll evaluate it each day.’ He’s doing all he can to rehab it. ”

On conversations with Chris Colvin
“Very positive. Very upbeat. I think Chris’s turnaround on Saturday was nothing shorts of remarkable. Its no secret he’s been struggling mightily. He even struggled the first half against Oregon State. It was almost disastrous and then for him to go into the game with a little over ten to go, fiercely contested contest and play the way he did, is a remarkable turn around and it’s a real credit to him on how he was able to refocus and recenter himself and kind of just let everything else go. I thought that was tremendous and nothing short of remarkable. That’s not easy to do.”

On Trent Lockett traveling this weekend
“He’s going to be with us. He’s going to be contributing leadership. Even yesterday in practice while he was wearing a boot and on crutches he was bouncing around and offering his support and encouragement and teaching to the players. It was like having another coach at practice. We expect him to give us the best leadership possible, even if he’s not playing. That’s one area that we’ve been talking about now for a couple of weeks and I think now he has really stepped up. He has clearly established himself as the voice of our team. I think his poise and composure has really helped our guys not flinch in some type spots. As a whole our team has done a good job of coming together and they’ve been enjoyable to coach and good to be around. I really like our team spirit right now.”

On Chanse Creekmur
“Chanse is in a great place right now. He’s shooting 60% from the three. He is shooting 65% from the field. Not only have guys like Trent had to assume new positions but other guys have been slotted over a position or two. Other guys have had to learn new spots on the fly here in transition as our team has changed. Chanse has expanded his range of spots on the court. He’s shooting the ball exceptionally well and he’s playing a lot of minutes. He’s basically playing the whole game as is a few of our players. Though he’s really done a great job for us.

On leadership
“I think Trent has clearly established himself as the voice of our team. But I think all of our players are doing a great job of talking to each other. If you listen to the exchanges and the commentary in practice and huddles and the locker room, they’re a team right now that understands how to talk to each other. They’re positive, they’re encouraging, they’re instructing. They have good dialogue which is really important for a team to have.”

On the 2012 signees
“I was really pleased to have a chance to watch Eric (Jacobsen) and Calaen (Robinson) here at the MLK event. I’ve previously had a chance to watch Kenny (Martin), our other Fall signee, and we’re really looking forward to having those three guys on board. They’re all three having good senior seasons and I think everybody is looking forward to them playing for the Devils.”

On the adversity at the point guard
“Its been hard. If you want to oversimplify things and try to put an understanding on this season’s journey it might begin and end with that commentary because lets face it, that’s arguably the most vital position on the court because it impacts the other positions so much. It just has been one thing after the other and its forced everybody to have to adjust. I think it has been our single greatest challenge, not that we don’t have others. In a lot of ways, everything is kind of connected to that at some level.

On the point guard position
“Chris and Max will play the point guard and we’ll have to take it from there. We can’t just pile on those guys. Everybody has to go in on this weekend knowing that they have to carry an extra bucket of water. I’m not revealing any great secrets or disclosing any bracket of genius, its going to be a great challenge for our team. Let’s face it.”

On Colorado’s altitude
“If guys look at me and want to come out of the game, I’m going to pretend the altitude has blocked my hearing. I’m going to claim that my ears are popping because that’s all we have. We’re going to pretend we’re playing at zero altitude.”

On Colorado and Andre Roberson
“He’s a great rebounder. He leads our conference. From what we hear he’s very high on the NBA scouts list right now. They’re a talented team. They’re really good at home. We’re just going to have to battle and know where he is and try to get a body on him. Some guys just have a knack, a sixth sense for getting the ball. Other guys, the ball can hit them in the head or the hands and they don’t come down with it. He’s one of those guys who he gets the ball. Its not a function of instruction or coaching or some detailed laboratory formula, some guys get the ball no matter how big they are and other guys can’t find the ball even if you tuck it in their shirt.”

On our rebounding
“We’re a gang rebounding team anyway. Right now through the last four games our opponents are offensive rebounding 35% of misses, which is a little bit high. I’d like that number to be closer to 30% ideally. We’re giving up too many second shots right now, regardless of who our opponent is that’s an area that we need to be better. We have good size and we really don’t have any excuses for not being a better defensive rebounding team. We’ve had some really good stretches where we’ve kept the team off the offensive glass and then we’ve had some other moments where that’s really let us down. I think of the Southern Miss game in particular.”

On adversity in the past
“Unfortunately we’ve had seasons similar to this where the injury bug has caught up with us or we’ve gotten caught with lack of depth at a certain spot but I guess having said that, with this latest turn of events with Trent’s ankle, its almost uncanny when you think about all that has had to happen to be in this position as we go into this weekend’s games. We’re talking about four different players for that position and we’re talking about the reality of a young man we’ve never seen play, who’s a walk-on and have a really important role, not as a senior but as a freshman.”

On playing in a new venue
“I’m not excited about any of that. What I try to do more than any other point since I’ve been a coach is coach Arizona State and focus on us. All the teams we play are well coached and well prepared and they all have nice gyms and good players. I find that our team demands all of me. So I’m really focused on Arizona State from the time I get up till the time I go to bed. I’m not really intertwined with the opponent.”

On Jonathan Gilling making the play
“We celebrated it again yesterday in the film session. It was truly one of the greatest plays of all time. Chris Colvin through the advance pass in transition to Jon. He was open from three and he’s a very good three-point shooter. He has two attributes that really stand out. One, he had the unselfishness and willingness to make the extra pass to Chanse in the corner. But he also had the presence of mind as a young player to say I have a good shot but my teammate has a better shot because he’s in the zone. He’s feeling it. He hasn’t missed. So he had the unselfishness and willingness, coupled with the instantaneous presence of mind to make that pass. That was just beautiful basketball. That is just so easy to celebrate. You can’t ask for anything more as a coach. So we celebrated it after the game in the locker room, we talked about it, and then during our film session on Monday we celebrated it again. I loved it. Its just wonderful and I love coaching Jonathan. He has such a great basketball IQ. He’s really a good player. He has a tremendous and promising future in basketball. I just loved it. Those kind of guys you can help, you can coach them. They can absorb things and they understand. It was a great play.”

On Ruslan Pateev
“I think he’s really spending time understanding the importance of mental preparation. You talk about playing well, in the last four games he’s thirteen for fifteen from the field, 86.7%. He’s making his free throws. He’s had a better presence at the basket. He’s had some nice blocked shots. He’s had some good chest to chest. He’s always been a terrific passer. He also has a high basketball IQ so he’s in a good place. I think he’s playing his career best basketball over this last stretch. I’m confident that he can continue to build on that.”

On getting the ball inside
“You could say that we could get the ball inside to him but once again, that’s an area that goes back to that turnover bug. Feeding the post is something a lot of guys are challenged to do. On one end there’s the willingness and on the other hand not everybody can stick it in there with the same aptitude. I think our guys are willing, we’re beyond any concern with that, but we need to continue to improve our awareness and our aptitude when our postmen do have their men in a good position to receive the ball. Suffice it to say, all season long that continues to be an important point of emphasis for our team.”

Chanse Creekmur:

On our offense
“We take our time on possessions and try to get the best shot. We’ve been taking care of the ball and trying to just grind them. That’s basically the key. I think we’re getting more valuable shots. We’re going inside and we’re looking backside. We’re playing smart. We’ve always played together but now we’re capitalizing on our shots. We’re finishing around the hoop and knocking down our shots.”

On his improved shooting
“I was just in a slump at the beginning of the year. Shooters go through slumps. My confidence is up right now so its always good to shoot confidently.”

On preparing for Colorado and Utah
“We haven’t looked at Utah yet because we try to take one game at a time but Colorado is a good rebounding team. They play hard. That’s basically what we’ve looked into so far. We haven’t gotten too far into that.”

On the success after losing Keala King
“He was a good player for us so we just had to step up to fill up his points. We’ve done a good job so far.”

On Colorado’s altitude
“I’ve played up there before when I was younger so I know what its like. You run out of breath quicker but its not like it’s a huge difference.”