Jan. 11, 2010
By Jacy DeRocher
CARBONDALE, Ill. - Saluki men's basketball head coach Chris Lowery fielded questions from the media before Monday's practice. SIU plays at Creighton at 8 p.m. on Wednesday.
Is this a good time to play Creighton?
"It is a good time for us to play anybody. We need to get back to the basics of what we did well when we won six in a row. We aren't keeping (opponents) out of the lane. In our last three games, the guard play has been really dominant. We had guys that got 20 on us. We had guys get in the lane, and those are things we have to correct. It starts with our own individual commitments on the defensive end, which we have shown none of in the last three games."
What is the message you are trying to send to your team?
"The message is get back to basics. When you lose, you have to concentrate harder. Even though we won six in a row, we still talked about focus. It finally caught up with us. When your focus is not right, and things don't go your way, you have to respond to adversity the right way."
Is your team lacking confidence?
"I don't think it's confidence. We didn't guard. It was not defending and turning the ball over. Five-straight turnovers when you are up seven, that has nothing to do with confidence, that had everything to do with our focus and lack thereof. So, we have to get their focus back and get them back to committing to listening. When we listen, we are a good basketball team."
How important is the matchup with P'Allen Stinnett?
"It is going to be very important, but he is not the only matchup. Obviously, Cavel (Witter) off the bench is doing well for the team. They have some of the better big guys in our league, so we need to make sure we contain them and yet still do a good job with everybody else."
Why is Creighton struggling?
"It is not my team, so I don't know. I mean they have very good players. They don't have an issue with talent. We don't have an issue with talent, either. It's focus, it's doing things right all the time. If you had seen them play Michigan earlier this year, you would have thought this was the best team in our league. If you saw us player earlier in some of our games, the way we come back and the way we maintain our focus, you would think that we could never beat ourselves, but we have the last three games. We have beaten ourselves."
The records really don't matter when these teams play, do they?
"That is definitely always how it is. The records don't ever matter, probably more so in the past. It was a much more heated rivalry, but now it's a respectful rivalry, because of the success both programs have had. We know it's going to be a lot of people in there going crazy, and it is going to be the same when they come here."
Is it a good thing to be on the road?
"I think definitely it is. I think we need to rally around each other, be by ourselves and be with each other. It gives us a chance to kind of focus on the things that we have done wrong better with less distractions."
What went wrong in the Drake game?
"I thought that we did some things that we needed to do to win. but we didn't value the ball enough to win. If we get five shot attempts -- we turned it over in the first 10 seconds of the shot clock all five of those possessions -- those are at least 20 to 25 seconds each time, so that limits what they do. We didn't defend hard enough the last minute. When you don't defend, and you let guys get layups, and we let guys get offensive rebounds, and we don't block out at the free throw line, those are discipline issues. We work too hard as a staff to get our guys ready. We prepare extremely hard. For that to be happening by our players, and some of that has got to be on us and some on them. We put a lot of pressure on them to take more ownership in the team, even the younger guys."
Have you changed anything in practice?
"We haven't changed it at all. If anything, we have ramped it up even more to make them have a since of urgency."
Do you think Tony's (Freeman) injury and Kevin's (Dillard) situation had an effect on the team?
"Tony had been playing the best he has since he has been here. We have never made an excuse about that, and Kevin is not an excuse at all -- when you don't do things that are team-oriented, you get punished. It wasn't an issue where it should have carried over to the game, but it was the first few minutes of the game, and that is his own immaturity in not understanding that I did something wrong, but coach is giving me an opportunity, and I need to go play like I can play."
Are there any lineup changes planned?
"I don't think so, but we will see. That's not the point. We didn't do anything wrong to supposedly lose the game until the end. So a change in the lineup has nothing to do with it. It has everything to do with us as individuals doing the right things all the time and understanding that anyone can beat you."
Was chemistry an issue with the Drake loss?
"We didn't have any team issues at all. We just didn't guard, and it showed. You don't allow guys to have wide open shots. You don't allow guys to get in the lane at will, especially when we have seen better guard play from other guys in the league and in non-conference. That is not disrespect to (Drake), but it's the truth. It was our own guys' shortcoming as individuals, and that's where we have to get them better mentally to understand the focus you need to compete not only on a daily basis but a season basis. There are no chemistry issues with this team. There are not any blow-up issues with this team. The issues are individually, and we just need to continue to get better."