By Brian McInnis
The shorthanded Rainbow Warriors never quit last night against a sound Florida State team, firing away in the final moments of their Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic opener to make it a single-digit loss, 70-62.
Postgame comments from coach Gib Arnold and players Joston Thomas and Zane Johnson reflected that.
Opening statement: I thought the guys played hard, I thought the guys battled. You know, this team has never quit, they're not going to. The team has got a lot of passion, played the game hard, played the game together.
You know, we did some things that hurt us. We gave up 23 offensive rebounds to an outstanding team that rebounds well and is long. But you can't give a team like that 23 more shots. We turned the ball over way too many times (also 23).
But you know, we guarded them. We held them to 32 percent (shooting). We shot the ball from the 3-point arc better than anyone has against them. And we stayed in it, we didn't give up. For that I'm pleased, but obviously, you know, we need to win these games. And that's what this program wants to do. We want to come in here and beat teams like that, especially on our home floor, and one day win this tournament.
Q: Thoughts on the crowd (of about 8,000)?
A: Great. Great crowd, kept us going. You know, we were short on numbers, we were tired, it kind of kept us in there a couple times where it got real loud and they got behind us. It bothers us that we didn't get a win for them, but I hope they saw the passion and effort in this group. They played hard for them.
Q: On Bobby Miles, had to play him all 40 minutes?
A: Had to. I had to. And he'll play 40 tomorrow night (against Utah). He'll play 40 on Christmas. He'll go 120 minutes (in the tournament). He's not coming out, he knows it. It's what we've gotta do, unless he fouls out. Then we'll probably put Trevor (Wiseman) over at the point. You saw a bit of Trevor today with his ball-handling skills. I thought he did a good job handling the ball.
Q: When Bobby picked up the two fouls in the first 4 minutes, were you concerned?
A: Yeah, when he picked them up quick. You can play the entire season with two fouls, is what I told him. And I mean, he was fine, he was smart the rest of the game. ... He could stay in for the full 40 minutes.
Q: It seemed like Joston played pretty smart with four fouls near the end ..
A: Yeah. Yeah. We had to. The substitution pattern was a little different than what I would have had. Defensive schemes were a little different, I probably would have stayed in man. I thought we did a better job of rebounding and guarding them in man, but we got into foul trouble and we kind of had to go zone. The depth situation obviously hurt us.
Q: Does playing that good a defensive team help in the WAC?
A: They held us at 35 percent, we held them at 32 percent, I was pleased with that. But they're long and they can switch anything, and they can hedge the ball screens extremely well. You can't get past them. Chris Singleton can guard a point to a center. And so there's never a mismatch offensively. One of the main things we do is we try to create mismatches on the offensive end, and whether they switched or trapped, there was never a mismatch.
Q: Was packing it in defensively a conscious thing?
A: Yeah, we definitely want to keep it outside vs. inside-out. And I think we did a good job on their shooters.
I thought we played hard, but because we was young we didn't really understand the depth of the game. But we going to bounce back from it. The only thing you can ask of us as a young team is that we play hard, try to jell together. Recently, we just got together. We started off good, we're going to try to keep it going.
If we limited our turnovers, in the first half I felt like we would have been up by two. ... I had four (turnovers), so I'm just going to be accountable for what I did. I just felt like I could have gotten more on the glass. It just wasn't clicking for me offensively. But defensively, I thought we did a good job. (Today), we're going to get offensive rebounds, knock down some shots, and get back to what we do.
Q: Did you guys feel your lack of depth?
A: I mean, most of the guys approached it like a regular game. ... (The freshmen) aren't used to that kind of environment. Now we got a game under our belt like that. I feel like tomorrow and the rest of the tournament and any other big game we got down the line, it's going to be good for us.
Q: Was FSU's defense bothering you?
A: I mean, they was kind of physical, but it wasn't nothing we couldn't handle. We go through that every day in practice. I felt like the turnovers got us. It was nothing that they did personally. It was what we was doing. So I give credit to them.
Q: On not giving up, does that carry over?
A: Oh, that has to be a constant thing in basketball. You never can give up in basketball. You got 40 hard minutes, you never know what can happen.
We played well ... it's good that we didn't give up, but if we cut down on our turnovers and rebounded on the defensive glass, it's a totally different game. It's disappointing, but we just have to move on.
Q: How much did you guys feel your lack of depth?
A: Without Hiram, that's another guard, and that means heavy minutes on me, Bobby and Bo, but we're conditioned and we want to play 40 minutes, we're capable of playing 40 minutes. We can't make any excuses there. It all comes down to boxing out and turnovers.
UH faces a large team in Utah, which has two 7-footers. UH center Doug Kurtz was a teammate of the Utes' leading scorer, Will Clyburn, at Marshalltown (Iowa) Community College.