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November 29, 2012

Steve Fisher

James Rahon

COACH STEVE FISHER:テつ I think it's fitting that with me today is one of the shining stars of our mostテつ victory, James Rahon, the pride and joy of Torrey Pines high School.テつ And I thought James demonstrated what our team has done.
When someone gets hurt, when things don't look quite the way that you thought they might, step up and be a basketball player.テつ And James is and has done that.テつ He had a great game against USC.テつ Got us off to the start that we got off to.テつ I think we were ahead 29‑10 at one point.
My regret is that I didn't find a way to get him more shots.テつ They switched defenders.テつ They said don't let Rahon get a shot.テつ So he did a phenomenal job.
And it was a terrific win for us.テつ You go on the road and play anybody, anywhere, and win, it's a good win.テつ But USC is a good ballclub and you'll see that as time goes on.テつ They are a very athletic, talented team.
So we feel good about that one and now we look forward to an opportunity to play in the Honda Center in the Wooden Classic and to play in the Wooden Classic, period; we have done that twice.テつ And to play in that event named after John R. Wooden is an honor and a privilege, and our players and coaches and fans all know and respect that.テつ
From what I understand, it will be a great crowd, dominated hopefully by Aztec fans.テつ So we are very much hopefully looking forward to a game against a terrific team in UCLA.
Any questions for James?

Q.テつ James, at one point you had as many points as USC did.テつ Was that game kind of a confidence builder heading into the UCLA game?
JAMES RAHON:テつ I think so.テつ Any game that you shoot well, any big‑game type atmosphere like it was at USC, definitely is a confidence builder; not only for myself, but for this team.テつ It was a great road win, and hopefully we can carry that on to UCLA.

Q.テつ How mental was it for you, struggling through the beginning of the season, did it become more mental or physical at one point?
JAMES RAHON:テつ I didn't feel like I was struggling much this season.テつ Just worried about playing my own game.テつ That's what I do each and every game, and I was fortunate to make some shots against USC and felt good out there.

Q.テつ Can you speak to what's gone with UCLA this week, the importance of keeping this team together and how when a team doesn't together off the court, how it hurt your performance on it?
JAMES RAHON:テつ Well, our team is a very close‑knit team, and we are very close with one another and I think that helps us on the court, as well as off the court.
So I think it is very important to have a close‑knit group of guys that have your back when someone is not able to perform or isn't able to play.テつ I think that's a great attribute that we have on this team.

Q.テつ Does it make UCLA possibly easier to beat since they are a little wounded right now with all these people jumping ship, or does it make them more resilient because they try to stick together?
COACH STEVE FISHER:テつ I'll answer that one and James can hit in.
College sports and in particular, college basketball, the landscape is, 40 percent of those who go to a school are not thereafter their sophomore year.
So what happens is the schools that have names, reputations, and talent, that's front page above the fold.テつ It happens everywhere and it's happened‑‑ UCLA is not the first school it's happened to where somebody has transferred and transferred before the semester was ended.
So I watched them.テつ I don't know if you watched them last night when they played Cal State Northridge who was 6‑1, and went up to Provo, Utah and played BYU and should have won the game there and beat them like a drum.テつ They were fantastic last night.
So I think our worry is about us.テつ UCLA has got a lot of good players.

Q.テつ What's the status of the availability for Chase Tapley and Deshawn Stephens?
COACH STEVE FISHER:テつ I would say both are iffy to be honest with you.テつ As we speak, neither have done anything since the game on Sunday and we are Thursday before practice.
Chase has done light shooting, but no contact.テつ Deshawn has had treatment with Tom, our trainer, cardiovascular work, as has Chase, but he has not done anything.テつ He's still very sore.テつ And Chase's knee is feeling better, but‑‑ so we'll just have to wait and see.テつ I would say game‑time decision for both.

Q.テつ You've had a long history of past, present working with freshmen players and obviously we know the kind of class that's come in.テつ In a big‑profile game like this, is there something to ever worry about when it comes to playing major minutes with freshmen like UCLA is about to do?
COACH STEVE FISHER:テつ Really good players, regardless of what year they are, but including freshmen, don't shy way from the spotlight and a big stage.テつ Shabazz Muhammad's first game was on national TV in Madison Square Garden against Georgetown and he, I believe, led them in scoring.
Anderson, the 6‑9 point guard who plays all over the floor, those kids, they don't‑‑ they get excited when they know everybody's watching.テつ But all good players do.

Q.テつ Ben Howland called his team unathletic, do you see that when watching them on film?
COACH STEVE FISHER:テつ They looked pretty good to me when I watched them on tape, but they will be the best‑running team that we will have played to date.テつ They run.テつ You watch this team, they are not walk‑it‑up, set it up, run and set play every time down.
They are trying to run and shoot a good shot within seven seconds.テつ So we'll have our hands full getting back.テつ I think they have got very good players.

Q.テつ With them short‑handed, do you think it will be an advantage for you guys to turn this game into a practice meet?
COACH STEVE FISHER:テつ Last time I looked, we are a little bit shorthanded ourselves.テつ We want to run but we want to run selectively.テつ It can't be 40 minutes of just wild up‑and‑down, up‑and‑down, up‑and‑down.テつ I don't think either team wants to do that.
But if you don't get some easy baskets, you probably won't win.テつ And easy baskets occur a lot of times in transition, so we have to run.

Q.テつ Last night was the first time since the Georgia game that they implemented the 2‑3 zone.テつ Is that something that you guys have been practicing all week?
COACH STEVE FISHER:テつ Well, they have played some zone all season.テつ They played zone against both Georgetown and Georgia in New York.テつ I think he's saying, okay, what can we do to help ourselves with the guys we have got out there.
I think now that they don't have Josh Smith, who is a big‑time center, but didn't maybe have quite the mobility to come out on the floor and guard, they are more capable of guarding man‑to‑man.テつ I have to think.
But they are going to play some zone against us, there's no question about it.テつ I would, too.テつ I would, too.テつ I would play zone against us, also.テつ And we have to do a good job of attacking the right way and we have got enough looks ‑‑ and I said before, I think the fact that we played Syracuse on the opener, and we worked so hard preparing for a zone; we are much better prepared at this stage to play a zone defense than we have been in the past.
But, you have to make shots.テつ You know, eventually, if you don't make a perimeter shot, and James did that for us to start it for us in the last game, they will get tighter and tighter and tighter on you and you can't do anything‑‑ they won't let you do anything inside.テつ So we are going to have some shots and we are going to have to make some shots.

Q.テつ Do you do anything differently defensively with them not having Joshua Smith and no low‑post‑‑
COACH STEVE FISHER:テつ Well, the Wear twins can do damage in the past.テつ Shabazz, with his size and athleticism, especially if a smaller guy is on him, will take you in the post.
So they are going to throw the ball inside.テつ They won't have the size and strength maybe that you say with a Smith or Parker.テつ And Parker may play, but they are going to throw the ball inside and we are going to have to be prepared to play low‑post defense.

Q.テつ What kind of challenge will Anderson be, being a point four that's going to be able to play multiple positions for them?
COACH STEVE FISHER:テつ He's very talented.テつ He's a pass‑first player, and everybody likes to play with guys like that; that would take more delight in getting an assist than he would in getting a basket for themselves.テつ Sees the floor well, good with the ball, and he will continue to get better as his career goes on.テつ But he's a very good young freshman basketball player that finds that open man.
I would also say, take a look at their stats with Drew, their point guard.テつ I think he has 56 assists and nine turnovers to date, which leads the nation in assist‑to‑turnover ratio.テつ So they have got a good, smart point guard passing team.

Q.テつ And with Jordan Adams, he was the least heralded of recruits coming in and he's led the team in scoring.テつ Can you discuss his game?
COACH STEVE FISHER:テつ Adams, I watched the game when he made 17 straight free throws in one game.テつ He can score the ball.テつ He knows how to score.テつ Those kind of players, any age, are at a premium.テつ He's very good.テつ He's very good.テつ I saw where he started last night.
So I would anticipate that he would start against us on Saturday.テつ And he's a hard guard.テつ He's got size to take you inside.テつ He's got 3‑point shooting ability.テつ And he is very confident right now in his offensive game.

Q.テつ UCLA has a lot of new pieces and so do you guys.テつ A lot of people just see the talent and don't realize how hard it is to integrate all those pieces together.テつ How hard is it and how long can it take for a team to fully mesh and play together?
COACH STEVE FISHER:テつ Dynamics of a team are ever‑changing, and you can have everybody back the exact same faces from year one to year two, and it's not the same team; in terms of expectations, for others, for players, for the fans for their team and on and on and on.
When you are UCLA and you have 11 National Championship banners there, that's pressure.テつ That's pressure.テつ They have the No.1 recruiting class in the country.テつ So there are immense expectations.テつ And yet, Ben's been there, done that.テつ Took them to three straight Final Fours.テつ He knows what he's doing.
I think what you have to do, whether you're San Diego State or UCLA or anybody, you have to not worry about what others are saying, not pay too much attention to the folks that really don't know, and do what the coaches want:テつ Play hard, play together, play smart.テつ And that's what we all strive for.
I've been impressed in watching UCLA.テつ They had a 19‑point lead on Cal Poly and couldn't make a shot.テつ It happens.
We had a 19‑point lead on USC and went through a stretch where we couldn't make a shot.テつ That happens.テつ That's basketball.テつ The NBA game the other night, the Bucks were down, I believe, 30 points, in an NBA game and came back and won.テつ So it happens at every level.

Q.テつ Do you think UCLA has a different team from their game against Irvine, for instance, to who they are now?
COACH STEVE FISHER:テつ I would hope so.テつ I would hope so if I'm them, yes.
Every day, every practice, every game, you hope that you're getting better and learning, and they are. テつThey are much better.テつ I hope we are, too.

Q.テつ And is there anything you can take away from their previous‑‑
COACH STEVE FISHER:テつ No, other than hope that they don't make shots and get back and stop them from getting lay ups.テつ That's what we have to be able to do.

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