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Men’s Basketball – Kermit Davis First Round Press Conference (03-21-19)

Men’s Basketball – Kermit Davis First Round Press Conference (03-21-19)


You know first of all,
probably in one of the most rewarding years of my
37 years of coaching, to come to Ole Miss which is
back home for me in my state, and to be involved and connect
with the Ole Miss spirit, to take a team that
finished last, picked last, and for the improvement
that they’ve made, I have so much respect
for our players. And then to see the
connection with our fan base, that we probably grew
I think over nearly 25% increase in
attendance in SEC games, which was the most
of any league team. So that part has been great,
and then to play a really good Oklahoma team in
the NCAA tournament. Known Lon for a long time,
he’s had so much success in this tournament, he’s got
another really really good team and I think it’ll
be one of those really really good
8-9 match ups. We’ll start here, second
row in the middle. It think you had
the Ole Miss spirit. Kermit, Devontae Shuler’s
move to point guard was so big as far as the turnaround is
concerned, how far has he come at that position specifically, what have you seen
as far as what he’s been able to do, ball
handling all that stuff? Yeah, he’s probably been
the key to our team, you know we kind
of got nicked up for about five or
six games after the Mississippi State game,
and he’s now back helping. You know he didn’t even
play point guard at Oak Hill for Steve Smith, you know he
kind of played off the ball all the time and played
off the ball as a freshman. But we really met in the spring and I really think
he understood. The biggest thing he’s
done, he’s valued the ball. He’s a tough competitive
guard, on the ball defending. And he really has, you know
Breein and TD’s had these great all had CC years, but Devontae
Shuler’s probably been our most valuable
player on the floor. Coach, here on the left. Kermit, Jeffrey Collins
with the Associated Press. You mentioned this team was
finished last, picked last, what point did you realize that
they had the potential to be an NCAA tournament team and
exceed all these expectations? We took a trip to Canada
that really helped us, I’ve said it before, we
left a lot of bad basketball in Canada, but it gave us really a time to get some
extra practices. An NCAA tournament
team, probably when we beat Auburn at home, you
know and they were ranked and then like three
days later we go to Mississippi State and
beat another ranked team. So probably at that particular
time, then we got ranked ourselves that you
kind started thinkin’ that maybe we do have a chance. Didn’t talk about it to
our team, you know to play in the NCAA tournament
and be a post season team. Coach, on the right, second row. Joe Masader from The Oklahoman. Kermit, you and Lon
Kruger are two of the most experienced
coaches in this field. Do you have any
familiarity with him or crossed paths with
him at any stops? You know I’ve just
known Lon forever. It’s the first time I’ve ever
coached against Lon’s team in any game, but I guess
I’ve just always admired Lon and followed him when
he was at Florida, Illinois, and
obviously at Oklahoma. We both had a same assistant,
a guy named Greg Grensing, that I hired when Lon was at
Vegas fixing to go to Oklahoma. And Greg was a great assistant
of mine at Middle Tennessee but like I said, just a
coach, just one of his peers. I’ve just admired him for what
he’s done and the main thing is about how he’s gone about his business for so
long in his career. Coach, front row. Brian Rippee,
SuperTalk Mississippi. Kermit, it seems
like Bruce has really put it together
in the last month. How much of what you’ve
gotten from him has kind of changed the dynamic
of y’all’s team? Yeah he’s a critical
match up tomorrow. He and Don both, I mean
obviously, number one, Doolittle is an undersized,
he’s really a four man, but he plays a five, so
he gets good match ups. And so, can you guard
Doolittle, can Bruce and Don, especially Bruce,
can he guard him? At 17 feet isolation, that
that line puts him in. So that’s a big critical
key, and then can we throw the ball to
Bruce, pick up fouls and make guys guard
him around the goal? We know he can pick
and pop shoot balls, so yeah if us going
forward, if we’re gonna have some success
in this tournament, he’s gonna have to
be a big part of it. Coach, on the
outside in the back. Courtney Robb, WCBI. Kermit, you’ve had so many
close games just go down right to the wire, is that something
you think you’ve talked to your team a lot about,
finishing at the end of it, but do you think that’s kind
of fueling them as you head into a game with such
pomp and circumstance? Yeah, you know we have,
we’ve played a hard late year schedule, we were up one and
Grant Williams makes a shot before seconds to go
to beat us at home. One possession
game with Kentucky. We go to Arkansas and have
the ball up one, they hit a last second shot to beat
us, and then obviously Alabama, you’re up 16
and get beat at the end. So it’s a concern, but I think
some of those games have been really really competitive
and have played really good in a lot of parts of those
games, that’s just something we’ll have to draw
on, but you’re right we’ve gotta do a better
job of closing games out and just making basketball plays
at the end of those clocks. Coach, on the right, second row. Clarion-Ledger. Kermit, coming off
that Alabama game, how has been the
focus of the recovery in practice after
a loss like that? Yeah we got after ’em pretty
good, just when we got back. The next day, on Friday,
we watched the tape, before we left from Nashville
to go back to Oxford. And then on Saturday and Sunday we had two really
physical practices. Not very long, hour
and 20 minutes, but got back to trying
to rebound and defend. And then as the
week, we got selected to come to the regional,
then we’ve kinda backed off, but it’s
been really good. I want to get that
out of our system, you know and back playing. We need to go up and
down some, and so yeah I think our attitude
and energy level has been really good this week. Second stand on the
right side, coach. Jim [mumbles] from
The Oklahoman. Kermit, this seems to be
like a pretty good guard oriented match up,
especially with your group. But what do you see
on the other side? Specifically with
Jamal Bieniemy, their freshman point guard? I just told Lon, I
saw him in the hall, and I said, “God Lon, I watched
your probably ten games ago and watched until
now, and he’s gotta be one of the most improved
players in the Big 12.” I mean you can tell he’s
just kind of grown up as a freshman, he’s got
great size, great pace, the biggest thing he just
takes care of the ball. And then obviously James
is a real physical kind of a celebrated guy that’s
played in the Final Four, and I like ’em and their
other guys are real physical, driving guards, so you’re right,
our three guards are gonna have to play really
well tomorrow. Right here in the middle, coach. Parrish Alford, Daily
Journal in Tupelo. Kermit, a lot is made
of experience in this tournament and you have
some, but your players don’t. How do you think
that factors in? Well you know, I think
because you’ve got Oklahoma, you’ve got some guys who’ve
played in the Final Four, you got a team that
played in it last year, in the tournament, but I
just think that when you play in leagues like ours,
when you’ve played in those kind of
games, every night, I told our team yesterday, I
said, “Guys, you’ve been tested in every way possible a
college team can get tested, by what you went through
in an 18 game schedule in this league, and so, you
know they’ve been in these big environments and big arenas and
do you have a little nerves, probably a little jitters your
first when the ball’s tipped and you get it going, sure,
but the biggest thing is just stay true to
yourself, do what you do, don’t try to go
out of character. And just be who we are, the
best version of our team and hopefully they’ll
do that tomorrow. Coach, back right corner. Courtney Robb, WCBI again. Transition defense has been
something that your guys normally do very well, how
important is transition D just gonna be in a
team against Oklahoma? Any time you play
Oklahoma or Lon’s team, transition defense is
always big because Doolittle can get the ball off the
defensive boards and bring it up as a center, a so-called center. So it makes your adjusting,
getting back defensively some different match ups,
and so obviously the way that they shoot the
ball and the perimeter, they get the stretch
four is so good. I mean he’s as good a
stretch four shooter as it is in college basketball,
so you’re right, that’s something that’s been
kind of a staple of ours for many many years,
wherever we’ve coached, and it’s gotta be
true to form tomorrow. Coach, on the left. Kermit, Jeffrey Collins
of the Associated Press again. How helpful has it
been to have the, I guess as of tomorrow,
the eight days off? Did your team kind
of need that rest after a pretty much of a grind? I think, mentally, I mean
nobody wants to get beat in their conference tournament
by any means, obviously we’re disappointed but probably
in the end, I think mentally it’s been really
good for our team. A team that like I
said, went to Canada, had extra days of practice,
so we have really stuck to about an hour, hour and
10 minutes this week at most. So I do think, I saw it
with Bree and even TD the last couple days,
a little fresher legs and fresh minds,
hope it does help. In the front. Kermit, excuse me, Parrish Alford, Daily
Journal in Tupelo. Kermit, Lon said he had
an awareness of you. Have you guys coached
against one another? No, we have not, we’ve
just known each other for a long time and just
through the recruiting and different basketball as you
cross paths and like I said, it’s just been a great
respect on my part for Lon. What would you say
is kind of a staple, I guess of his teams and how you have seen them
through the years? You know he’s always– they’ve
guarded at a high level. And the way the ball moves
offensively, I think he’s just always had great
spacing, he was one of really the first guys, I know the
dribble drive and spacing and driving balls and I just
think that their best players shoot it, he puts them in
spots to catch and score, and he’s done that
his whole career.

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