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Quotes: Coach Sendek talks defense, Bachynski on new role

January 25, 2012

ASU Head Coach Herb Sendek

On our offense
"As we near the halfway point of our conference schedule, taking inventory, there are encouraging signs offensively. We are now fourth in the league in field goal percentage at almost 48%. Significantly, we lead the league in three-point field goal percentage. We're shooting the ball extremely well."

On adjusted field goal percentage
"Most significantly, when you combine those two statistics you get what's called adjusted field goal percentage, and you give the proper weight to the three-point shot, we actually lead the PAC-12. Given some of our offensive turbulences at different points throughout the season, I think that's an earmark of some significant progress. Adjusted field goal percentages clearly are one of the most significant statistics that there is to evaluate your team. Our problems on offense though continue to be turnovers. Right now we are dead last in the PAC-12 at over sixteen a game. Significantly, the team right above us, Arizona, is averaging a full three turnovers less at 13.7 and they play with more possessions than we do. Our turnovers have to continue to be an emphasis for our team as we move forward. Our last two games we had thirteen and fourteen, which is down a little bit. The other thing right now going in the wrong direction for us is our free throw shooting. We've really slipped, in the non-conference we were over 70% and now we're 61%, which is extremely low. So offensively we're doing a better job of executing and putting the ball in the basket, not withstanding some turnovers. The other thing that I think reflects favorably when you look at the adjusted field goal percentages, is we're not getting that many easy baskets in transition and we don't get that many easy baskets when we offensively rebound. We only get back 27% of our misses, which is last in the league. So I think that our half-court offensive efficiency has really improved when you look at those numbers unmasked."

On our defense
"On the defensive end of the floor, we've got to be much better than we have been. I really have been disappointed in our defensive play as of late. Right now we're eighth in the conference in field goal percentage defense. Although, our three-point field goal percentage defense has improved measurably, I think were giving up too many easy baskets. Our deflections are way down. We're only averaging five in our conference play. We had an all time low with nine against Utah. So we're only forcing 10.3 turnovers a game, which up against our 16.3 is a six possession differential and that's a steady stream all season long. I think more than anything else right now, as we look at the past weekend in our rearview mirror and our first seven games, our defense has to be much better moving forward. We've only held one opponent in the fifties. We're giving up too many easy baskets. In two games, Oregon and Utah, the three point shot really hurt us. So you look at our defense and ask, `why?' Do the guys know what they're doing? Based on our walk-throughs, our preparation, and our film sessions, I would tell you that our guys are on it."

On our awareness
"So then you ask, `are they aware'? In other words, they know what they're doing but do they have the state of awareness so they can make real time, almost instantaneous movements, adjustments, and reads during the game? And there I would tell you that we have a long way to go. We have to be able to transfer our knowledge base into game conditions better than we are. We have some real slippage when is comes to just being aware.

On our defensive effort
"So the third area is, what is your effort? We have to do a much better job of sustaining great defensive effort. We have some new players that are still learning what that means and how to do that and we have other players that have to do that under the influence of some heavy minutes, basically not coming out of the game in some cases. Nonetheless, when you look at the composite, I think our guys know what to do; they got to be able to play with a higher basketball IQ in real time. Greater awareness is a better way to say it. And then we have to as a team find a way to sustain greater effort on the defense end of the floor. But I would say, that as much as anything up against the improvement we've made with our offensive efficiency needs to be addressed."

On Trent Lockett's health
"Trent is doing better. He still has not returned to practice and remains uncertain for Thursday."

On the lack of deflections
"I don't know that I could put my finger on it. I don't know if there's a good rationalization or alibi. We're clearly not as active. We don't get our hands on as many balls. Some of that is innate; some guys just have an uncanny ability to do that. James (Harden) was one of those guys. He has long arms. He just invariably would get his hands on the ball. Other guys, even with great effort, seemingly have a difficult time of doing that. But I do know this, with greater effort the likelihood goes up. We've got to do a better job of getting deflections. Nine in a forty-minute game is almost unheard of. I can't remember a team of ours only getting nine deflections. Just being out there, the probability of the ball bouncing off your forehead would be higher than a team getting nine deflections in a game."

On changing our scheme
"No, I think the scheme is very good, its very sound. When you look at the tape its not a function of scheme, it's a function of fundamentals. No different than on offense, what plays you run tend to be an illusion as well. We have to better at the fundamentals and the basics. Our defense, for all intents and purposes it is man-to-man. So I think that's a cop out. I think that's a crutch. We have to be better at the fundaments and we have to do a better job of defending, even if that means doing so with low deflections. We have to do a better job of taking away easy baskets from our opponents."

On the team's effort
"That's the part you look at most carefully. Then you look at the explanation. You look beyond the surface of label effort. Are guys simply not trying? As I look at our players individually and evaluate what they're doing, I see some guys who are still trying to figure out what effort means. This is their first time in our program. They might be playing harder than they ever have in their lives. Then we have another category of guys who all of sudden are playing many more minutes than they ever have played, and in some cases literally aren't coming out of the game. Guys like Chanse and Carrick and these guys, until we made a couple of adjustments here lately were playing the entire game. This is a team that did have much better defensive numbers earlier in the season. We had very good defensive numbers not withstanding our three-point field goal percentage defense earlier in the season but as we've gotten in the conference play and the competition has only gotten stiffer, it seems to me that that area stands out. Having said all that we have got to be able to sustain greater effort on defense."

On the source of turnovers
"Its not just coming from the point guard spot, its coming from all spots, in all categories, in every way. I've charted every turnover that we've had and categorized them, looked at them, turned them upside down, and put them under a microscope and it's a hybrid. I think its become to convenient for us to say point guard. Its something that we all have to take ownership of and do a better job with. Something as simple as triple threat has been a very specific and ongoing emphasis for our team and once again, not unlike the defense end it comes down to the fundamentals."

On Chris Colvin
"I thought Chris did some good things for us. He was thrust into a role that he had not been in for quite some time. I thought he did a much better job quarterbacking our team, getting us in our sets, having the pulse of the team in the palm of his hand. I thought he was much better with that. I think he cut down on turnovers, so I was encouraged by some of the things he did. He obviously got 15 points at Colorado on some nice dribble drives."

On taking a punch
"We have to do a better job of taking a punch too. We took a punch at Colorado. We went into a sold out arena. The place was rocking. The band was booming. They hit us right between the eyes and we didn't take the punch very well. Against Utah we took another punch for different reasons and once again, we didn't get up from the standing eight-count quick enough. Our first five possessions against Utah we had four excellent shots, none of which we made. So right away some air goes out of the arena for our team. I mean four good shots. First possession of the game we executed to the T. We got the ball inside, two feet from the basket, it hits the back rim and we're back on defense. Wide open three, miss, back on defense. So when things don't go our way, we've got to be more resilient than we've shown."

On the team's morale
"I think the collective psyche of the team is good. The guys had a terrific round of preparation going into the Utah game. On Friday they were excellent. On Saturday morning we had a walk-through in the ball room at the hotel and they were energetic, they were talking, and it's as good as I have felt about preparation at any point this season. Then the guys met on their own and just talked about what they had to do, unprompted by any coach. So they're in a good place. Where we're having a difficult time sometimes is making the transfer when the lights are on and its time to play. Even going back to some of our non-conference games that we expected to win and did not win, if you look back at how we practiced you never would have saw it coming or the correlation. So the collective psyche of the team remains very good. Yesterday we had maybe our best day of practice all month. Guys are in a good place and they're trying. The interaction, the conversations, and the dialogue among our players are as good as it gets. In other words, if you're at pregame meal with us, if you're in the airport, or the locker room before the game, and you just listen, you would say, `that team is probably winning most of their games. They really are connected. They really know how to talk to each other. They really have good leadership. They're positive.' If you could just listen to the volume and turn of the picture you would think that team is in a good place. So to answer your question,I feel really good about us and I also feel good about our program. We have a very good plan, we're going to move forward and be fine. We've hit a rough patch; in part with things we could have done a better job of controlling and in part quite frankly with things that have happened to us beyond our control. But we have a very good plan, a very solid plan. It's a proven plan through many, many years. We're going to be fine and maybe even stronger because of it. Sometimes that happens and you can't panic, you can't flinch. We're not going to walk around here like Eeyore. We have great attitudes, we have a great work ethic, we're going to recruit high character guys who earn their degrees, and who play good team basketball. Nobody likes to go through what we're going through in terms of wins and losses but we're working smart, we're working hard, and we have a really good time proven plan. Just like any business if you hit a rough patch, its your choice if you want to walk around with a dooms day flag and walk around like you're Eeyore but it doesn't make anything better. So we're positive, we're upbeat, looking forward to this weekend, and we can't wait to get to practice this afternoon. And that's our attitude."

On Washington
"They're a really good team. They play a physical brand of basketball. They get after it on the defensive end. They are an excellent rebounding team and they're a talent rich team."

On honoring alumni
"It is great. I think its one of the best things that we've done, to go back and begin to honor some of the great and legendary players. It was exciting for me to do that last year for Joe Caldwell, Lionel Hollins and Byron Scott. We're thrilled to be able to do that for Fat this Thursday and look forward to continuing this tradition next year. We have several others who have been identified to join in on that honor."

On Jahii Carson, Bo Barnes, and Evan Gordon
"Jahii, Bo, and Evan are all doing great. They are on our scout team. Predominantly this time of year at practice, so they do a lot of opponent simulation, which isn't the best, but you're still playing basketball and they're doing very well. They add a great character quotient to the team. They're very skilled and we're really looking forward to having them with us next year."

Jordan Bachynski:

On our defense
"That's one thing that Coach Sendek has really been focusing on, increasing deflections, more defensive intensity, and getting back to the fundamentals. I think if we can do that, we're great athletically. We have some great athletes on the team. Carrick Felix is unreal, he can jump and he's fast. Both Ruslan and I down in the post are able to change a lot of shots and get a lot of deflections so I think if we apply what we're going over in practice, we're going to be way better off defensively."

On settling into his role
"I feel like I'm definitely coming into my own and that's a big part of what Coach has been working on with me, getting back my instincts and getting back my game mind. They've been really patient with me. They're really helping me out and I think I've made strides but I still have a ways to go."

On his reaction time
"I definitely think that's a big part. I'm a very analytical guy and that goes against how I need to react and just trust myself but I've found out that when I do trust myself and my body to do what it can do, I'm way better off."

On his free throw
"Basketball is as big of a game physical as it is mental and that's what I've really been struggling with this year. I've been working hard with a sports psychologist and with my family to try to get my mental game to where it needs to be and that's a reflection of my free throws. I was once told that basketball is 80% mental and 20% physical and its really tough because we spend all of our time training our physical and we don't know how to train our mental. So that's what I've been trying to do, train my mental game. I've never been a great free throw shooter, like 75-80% but I've never been just worse than Shaq."

On his confidence level at the line
"I definitely feel a lot more confident. Like I said before, I'm not thinking about my free throw when I'm out there. I'm trying to feel it instead of going over every little movement. I've been trying to trust in my muscle memory and as I've done that, its improved."

On the team's morale
"We're in a great place mentally. We're looking to how we can improve and how we can learn from what happened this weekend and what everyone needs to do to step up. We're just looking forward to this weekend and showing the changes that we've made and know we can make."

On the team meeting before Utah and why it didn't transfer over
"The walk through on Saturday was one of the best that we've had. Everyone was sharp and everyone had energy. It was a great walkthrough but like you said, it just didn't translate into the game. I don't know what it was. Whether it was the altitude, I don't know what it was to be honest. Instead we're focusing on having a lot of energy and coming and hitting them right at the gate. I know that a lot of time we have struggled from the beginning to come out fighting so we're trying to focus on coming out with energy and basically hit them in the face before they know what's coming."

On playing against his brother
"When we played club ball at home we played against each other once in awhile but haven't much. Its mostly just been in the backyard for fun. Its always been a great battle. I actually just got off the phone with him and talked a little trash. I kind of encouraged him to (stay in the PAC-12). I think it will drive us both to be better. We've always competed over everything whether its board games or who can eat more. We're always competing so I figured if I see him doing well, I'm going to want to do better. So having him in the conference is going to be great."

On his performance at Utah
It was a culmination of things. A lot of things came together and I just felt more confident. I knew what I needed to do and I knew how to do it and I applied those things. I think a big thing for me is to remain consistent. I know throughout my career I've had spots of brilliance, I've had spots where people have asked, `why isn't he on the floor more?' but I think the big reason I wasn't in the past was because of my inconsistency. I'll have a great game and then I won't even show up the next game. That's my new challenge: to carry that over to the next practice and the next game."

On reaching his potential
"To be honest, I don't think I'm close. I have so much more in the tank and I'm trying to access that. That is what Coach Sendek and all the coaching staff are trying to help me out with."