Words With Mitch

Notes and quotes from this week’s media luncheon with Siena Head Coach Mitch Buonaguro

Ending the streak

“The one thing we said his forgot to get out of the losing streak were going to have to come together, work together, be together. I think that resonated.”

“Obviously with the 11 game losing streak and everything that has gone on I think for the kids to play the way we did this weekend tells you a lot about the kids. We have a good group of kids. They listen. The defense in the two games was terrific. I’ve gone more to my old zone defense now which I like playing and I like teaching. I think the zone won both games. We didn’t play great offensively in either game. We played okay. I think the zone defense will be a staple now as we move forward because I think it’s been good.”

Team’s feeling after two wins

“There is a certain amount of happiness but Niagara is playing as well as anyone in the league. They’re 5-1. It will be sold out. It’s a tough environment whenever Siena goes up there. We’ve really got to prepare hard for this game to compete.”

Ryan Oliver’s Injury

“The latest on Ryan, I talked to them this morning. I talked to Hammer. They thought it was a sprained knee. It happened in the first minute of the game. Noe he’s having trouble moving the area so they’re going to MRI it today.” (Monday)

Turning scout into action

“It’s one thing to scout well. I have a really good staff. I do a lot of film myself. I like scouting. I’ve always been a big scout guy. I grew up in the scouting era where you go watch a team play 10 times you watch 20 films. I really believe it helps you win games. The key is the players take it to the court. It’s not so much the coaches knowing. You have to transform what you know on the court which is what we did in the two games. The zone defense particularly in the St. Peter’s game was outstanding. We were all over the court. We gave them nothing. They struggled to score.”

Rich Audu stepping up

“I think the play of Rich Audu was encouraging. I think that the last 10 minutes of that game he was a big time factor. He made the two threes. I thought he defended well. I think he really showed that he’s a good player. Moving forward that’s a big plus. He’s going to have to play minutes on the Buffalo trip. I don’t know what Rob status is right now and Oliver’s. He’s become right now a starter. ”

“He was having issues which freshmen go through with intensity level during the practices. He was inconsistent with effort which is what happens a lot of times with freshmen. He’s starting to get it. Plus he’s seen a lot of minutes now. That also changes a guy’s attitude. When he knew that Poole went out he saw a lot more minutes and he took advantage of it. I think even his demeanor in the game was good. He said ‘my teammates got me the ball and I relish shooting the ball’. That means he was confident which is good going into the Buffalo trip.”

Rob Poole’s status for this weekend

“I don’t know. I think it depends on how he feels. Right now he’s still not well.”

The zone

“It’s gotten a lot better on top. Brookins and Hymes have been disruptive. They’re quick. We pointed out some mistakes they were making earlier in the year. I think our big guys were rebounding pretty well out of it, contesting shots.”

OD’s FT shooting

“A couple of things with OD. One thing is he’s been working on them. We just worked on it again today for 20 minutes. Then the confidence level. He’s making them that’ll do a lot for you. He said he looks over at the bench and he looks at me and I have confidence. The fact that I have not in any way not gone to him and not taken him out. Some guys take you out. I don’t believe in that. He’s too important of a player to take out of the game. We need him to win. He’s at a good point right now with his confidence at the free-throw line and I think it will continue.”

Playing with reduced numbers in absence of Poole, Oliver and Burdine

” I’ve always said I think it’s easier to coach a team when you’ve got 6, 7 guys. I enjoy that because I think there’s a certain amount of challenge. I’ve never been a big guy to play 10, 11 guys. If you look at all these scoresheet’s most teams are playing 8 people, that’s where you get the chemistry. The team last year had great chemistry because those 6, 7 guys knew what their roles were. We’ve had almost 11 guys play double-digit minutes. To me that’s not a plus. That says to me you haven’t found the chemistry. The other issue is look how many guys have started. Only recently we have a set starting lineup. It’s been a puzzle. It’s been a maze.”

Key to playing zone with small guards

“With the zone if they’re aggressive and they get after people they could be troublesome. With Evan and Rahk, they’re quick. I thought yesterday they were all over the court. They made it really tough for St. Peter’s to get in the lane. They could both be very good in the zone. Man-to-man there’s a struggle because of their size. When you play zone it’s got to be aggressive. If it’s not aggressive then you’re going to get nailed. People are going to make threes. You’ve got to get to the shooters. You’ve got to be aggressive.”

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