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March 13, 2019

Jean Prioleau

Zach Chappell

Seneca Knight

Las Vegas, Nevada

Air Force - 87, San Jose State - 56

THE MODERATOR: We're joined by San Jose State head coach Jean Prioleau and student-athletes Seneca Knight and Zach Chappell. Coach, an opening comment.

COACH PRIOLEAU: Thoughts on tonight's game. I think tonight was -- or today -- really was the epitome of our team. We are an inconsistent team.

We started off really well. We started off like gangbusters. Shot well. A large part of that was we didn't turn the ball over. Then we had a turnover spree going on for about maybe five or six minutes, maybe even longer. I know we turned it over probably about eight or nine times in the first half.

And then when that happens, you know, it gives the other team just too many chances to make shots. And Air Force can make shots.

Now we went zone. We tried to switch up our zone, 2 zone. We have a 1-1-3 zone. So we switched it up. But the turnovers really killed our momentum. And then we could never find it back after that.

THE MODERATOR: Questions for the student-athletes?

Q. During that 13-0 run, what's going through your mind when you guys jump out like that, because obviously you've played Air Force tight, taking them double OT in the first meeting. Was confidence pretty high at that point?
SENECA KNIGHT: Yeah, confidence was sky high at that point. But we had to make sure we stayed level throughout the game just how quick the game could change.

Q. What do you guys think led to the turnovers and the other issues that allowed Air Force to storm back like that?
SENECA KNIGHT: I'd say that was a big factor in the game. We started out high, but once you started turning the ball over it killed the momentum we had.

Q. Coach, obviously kind of getting off to that quick start, right, your confidence must be really, really high right there. What do you tell your team when Air Force does go on that 25-2 run and kind of takes the wind out of your sails? What do you tell your team at that point?
COACH PRIOLEAU: I used a couple of timeouts. But before that, when we were high, we came back in the huddle. We were all juiced up, high fiving, yeah, hey, hey, here we go.

I've done this a long time. I've tried to tell our guys just be calm because it's a long game and let's just continue to do the things that we do, primarily up to that point.

And I'm not saying right after that, like, it went downhill. But probably, maybe a media timeout after that, that's when it all started. We were just turning it over. They started scoring. And we just couldn't stop the bleeding.

I took another timeout to try and maybe slow us down or just break their momentum and that didn't work as well.

Q. You guys kind of got killed on the offensive boards tonight. I believe Air Force had 11. You guys only had two. What was going wrong for you guys as far as securing the glass?
COACH PRIOLEAU: In terms of rebounding -- and we're not really a zone team all the time -- but zone has worked against them because they're really good offensively man-to-man. And when you zone, that's the hardest thing to do in zone is to rebound out of the zone.

And they were able to crash the boards. They were able to get their hands on balls when the ball went up in the air. And we weren't able to track down any balls that they shot. And it was just the energy factor and along with playing zone. It's just really hard to rebound out of zone, unless you're a zone team.

Like, Syracuse, they're a zone team. Baylor, they're a zone team. They do that all the time, every single day. So they understand how to rebound out of that.

We don't. But we wanted to change it up and give them a different look because they like to go against man-to-man all the time. And it just didn't work.

Q. You bring up the zone. Air Force took advantage of the open shots they took from the zone. In the second half they shot 55 percent, 46 percent from 3. What went into the decision to stay in the zone in the second half?
COACH PRIOLEAU: Well, we stayed with it because we've been in games where teams have cooled off. And then, obviously, we went man maybe a little late. I should have gone zone -- I mean, I should have gone man earlier.

But, again, it's a decision that you have to make, because if you go man, and they start back dooring and they start -- they're still going to get the ball where they want to get it to because they're really good in their man-to-man offense. It was just a decision I had to make.

Yeah, if I had to do it all over again -- it's easy to sit up here and it's easy for the average fan to look at the game from afar and after the game is over say, hey, you should have done this. Well, it's after the fact. You've got to make those decisions right then and right there. And I did. Sometimes it's worked. Today it didn't.

Q. Seneca and Zach, both freshmen, both stood out in this game for the Spartans. Does this kind of performance, does it help your confidence, even though the team didn't play well as a whole? But you guys played well individually. Does it help your confidence going into your sophomore seasons or does this hurt?
SENECA KNIGHT: I would say it helped our confidence just to know that we can compete, go out there and compete in the Mountain West Conference because this is the first time playing in it. So I feel pretty confident about next season.

Q. You guys are freshmen, so this is the first time you've done this. What was your mental state coming here? How did you mentally prepare for a game like this?
ZACH CHAPPELL: Mentally, it's just, we're trying to stay ready and we play basketball every day. So it's just the fact that we have to make sure that we know what we're looking for, don't let the big crowds and all this just affect us and we've just got to play our game. I think we'll be ready next year. I think we'll come back stronger, just ready and we'll change this around.

Q. You mentioned inconsistency in how this game was kind of a microcosm of your season.

Q. Heading into your third season as the head coach of the Spartans next year, how do you fix that? Because your first season consistency played a role in that as well, and this year. How do you fix that problem?
COACH PRIOLEAU: You fix it through time. That's the only way you fix it and we have a young group. We have everyone back. And you have to keep working. That's the only way you fix it. We're not going to change what we are and who we are offensively or defensively.

And with that being said, like, what you saw for the first ten minutes of the game, we can extrapolate that out for 40 minutes. And that's the mantra, that's the theme. That's what we're going to take from this with a young team and a young team that's coming back. And that's how you fix it and that's how it changes.

To change drastically and to change a bunch of things, no, that's not how you do it. You've got to stick with it and believe in what you're doing. And our players believe in what we're doing. I believe in my players. I believe in what we're trying to do. So that's how it changes.

Q. What did you think made Ryan Swan so effective defensively against Michael Steadman after what Steadman had done in the first two matchups against Air Force?
COACH PRIOLEAU: There's a lot of credit to Ryan Swan because he's a really good player. But it wasn't him. It was the double team. So he didn't really play him one-on-one. Not a lot of people can play Mike one-on-one. As a matter of fact, there's a lot of post players in our league you can't play one-on-one. So there's a lot of double teams that come with that.

So, yes, Ryan Swan is a really good player. I love him. I was at Colorado for seven years. He's a Colorado kid so I've known him a long time. He's a great competitor. He's great for their team. But, again, they were double-teaming him.

Q. And with Sid Tomes regarding the 3, what does a scouting report say on a guy like that? He was shooting 12 percent from 3-point range coming in, and he had eight points, hit two 3s. Is that a guy you keep in mind because he'd done this in the past?
COACH PRIOLEAU: No, not necessarily because in zone it doesn't matter if you're a really, really good shooter and you're shooting 40 percent. It's hard to track a guy when you're in zone. If you're in a 2-3 zone or 1-3-1 zone, you can pick whatever zone you want, players can find the free spot in the zone.

So, hats off to that young man. He came in, made some shots. This is Division I basketball. So whether you're a guy like Michael Steadman, who gets almost double-doubles every single game, or a guy like Ryan Swan or Lavelle Scottie, guys that are night in, night out, there are players in this league, there are players all around the country that can make shots and make plays. It's the reason why it's Division I basketball.


FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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