Feb. 22, 2006
NCAA MEN'S BASKETBALL
February 22, 2006
La Salle 65
@ No. 6 GW 77
GW Coach Karl Hobbs
Do you think this is your best win, given that you had to deal with adversity (the injury to Pops Mensah-Bonsu) for the first time?
"I couldn't agree with you more because the guys had to respond. They were going into a situation where they hadn't been before. We never told them whether Pops was coming back or not. I challenged Mike, Omar, and Regis to step up and we responded the way we should at home. I was proud of the way we finished the game."
What did La Salle do that was so effective in denying you fast-break points?
"They shot the ball extremely well. They handled all our pressure for the most part. The guards made some terrific shots, and that's a much-improved basketball team. Their record and statistics bear that out."
What made the difference in the 18-8 run that gave you a 10-point lead and get some breathing room?
"We were able to pressure them and force a few turnovers. We also moved the ball a lot better in terms of our secondary break...There were a couple of quick reversals that enabled Maureece [Rice] to score. We reversed the ball again and Mike Hall was able to knock down a 3...Those shots were very big and, due to the speed of the game, Regis was able to get a tip-in down the stretch. That was the difference."
What adjustments did you make at halftime to get the offense going?
"Our defense sort of generated some of that. Once again, we moved the ball and were able to get the kind of shots we wanted. In the first half, we didn't move the ball as well. We did move it extremely well in the 2nd half."
On the play of Regis Koundja in the 2nd half...
"He was outstanding tonight. He brought a great deal of energy and anticipation on defense. I liked how we has able to take control in the huddle...they responded to that. He's a talented player and is playing better every game as he gets more comfortable with what we're doing. I couldn't be more proud of the way he played tonight."
Was Steven Smith a focal point of your defense?
"Every time he steps on the court, he's the focal point. Everything starts with him. The guards play very well off of him, which allows them to be better players. He can pass out of double teams. The nice part about him as a player is that he doesn't force the action. You would think in a game like tonight, he'd get 14 shots up. But he just lets the game come to him."
Any thoughts on going up to Fordham Saturday?
"I'm nervous. I have a lot of concerns. We're going to a small building and they're a very good team at home. I suspect it will be a game very similar to the game today. It's going to take the same kind of effort it did to win this game."
GW junior G Danilo Pinnock
On the team coming together after Pops' injury...
"The fact that he wasn't out there was a rallying point. Pops is such a valuable member of this team mentally, physically, and emotionally. We used that to rally around and we were successful."
Do you feel like you as a team are overachieving?
"I don't think too much; I just play. [laughs] It's great to be going through all this, but it could be gone with one or two losses. So I don't worry much about that. I just play."
On the team's run to build a 10-point lead in the 2nd half?
"That's just the way we play, that's how we planned it out. We're going to get you eventually--it may be in the first 10 minutes, it may be in the 2nd half, but we'll get you eventually. When we do, we're going to make you pay."
Did going down by 5 points motivate you to play harder?
"We've been in worse situations. We were down 17 in Cincinnati, where road teams don't win often. We've been down 12 with 4 minutes left and we've come back to win. So when we were down by 5, we were worried, but we weren't that worried. La Salle is a great team, though, so they did have us nervous."
GW junior F Regis Koundjia
With Pops out in the 2nd half, did you take it upon yourself to step it up a little bit?
"Yes. When he went out, Coach Hobbs told me to go after every rebound. That's what I tried to do."
La Salle Coach John Giannini
"I thought George Washington was tremendous offensively in the 2nd half. They made shots, they executed well--46 points in a half is a great job on their part and not a good job on our part. They did everything...Defensively, we were able to score on them when we didn't turn it over. They use turnovers any way they want to. So basically, we competed hard, we made shots in the 2nd half. But they had their way offensively and in terms of forcing turnovers."
How were you able to control GW's transition offense?
"We really focused on it. We know how good they are with that...If we didn't turn it over, we had a chance to win the game. But 19 turnovers to 9 is an awfully big discrepancy to overcome. It was probably the difference between it being close at the end and not being close."
When you saw that Pops couldn't play in the 2nd half, did you change your approach?
"He's a great player, one the best players in the league. But they did a better job attacking our zone in the 2nd half because they had 5 very skilled guys on the court. They had more people who could pass and shoot, they ran things in their package with more movements as opposed to what they do when Pops is in the game, trying to get it to him down low. I think the personnel they had on the court helped them attack our zone a little bit better."
How difficult is it to identify their players, the way GW constantly substitutes?
"We know them pretty well, so it's a little bit easier for us. If you're a non-conference opponent, they're just very interchangeable, more so defensively than offensively. When they switch four different guys, they deny, they pressure. That's why you can't get open.
How does GW compare with Villanova and other top-tier teams that you've seen?
"Villanova's ball-handling and shooting is extraordinary. Defensively, the teams are very similar. I do think GW is one of the best teams in the country, but Villanova combines that defensive quickness with shockball-handling and shooting skill."
La Salle senior F Steven Smith
What was it like playing against a defense like GW's?
"It was tough...They're big and athletic, they're probably the biggest team in our conference. So we had to just keep working and try to find something that would work. They did an excellent job today. They were prepared, and they made me work a whole lot harder than I like to. I give them all the credit in the world."
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