Quotes: Mike Brennan and players talk win over Holy Cross

American seniors Jesse Reed and Marko Vasic and head coach Mike Brennan talked to the media after the Eagles' 58-45 win over Holy Cross, their fourth straight victory.

MARKO & JESSE
What’s been the biggest difference the past four games?

Jesse: “I think we’re starting to come together as a team and we’re all figuring out how hard it is to win league games. We had a lot of new faces on this team and nobody really knew how much it really took to grind out tough wins like tonight. Coach has been harping on us all year, and I think we’re starting to process it and we’re all starting to gel a little bit more, get a little more chemistry on the court.”

Marko: “It’s really hard to win any Patriot League game no matter what, home or away, especially against a team like that where we kind of run the same offense so it was more like, ‘What are they running next, how are we gonna stop them?’ So it probably wasn’t the prettiest game to watch but we got the win. We got in a little trouble with that 1-3-1; when we started sharing the ball, we found a way to score again.”

Did you notice anything different in Coach Brennan’s preparation and lead up to the game considering coaching against Carmody, fellow Princeton guy?
Jesse: “I mean, coach doesn’t show much emotion. If there was something, he didn’t show it to us but we knew it was going to be tough just because we both run pretty similar offenses. So I think it was more of a pride thing — we run both the same things, but we still want to win in the end, we still want to come out on top. You got to dig in a little bit deeper to try to pull out a tough one like it was tonight.”

Marko: “I agree with Jesse. I don’t think there was anything special with this game today. I think coach just wants us to play our game and to win. So maybe there was something with the history of Princeton but coach didn’t show it — he prepared us well and we got the win at the end.”

Jesse, can you take us through the process of this season for you integrating the new guys and the growing pains?
“You play with guys like Pee Wee and Schoof, the game’s easy. They always knew how to find me, I knew where to find them. We had great chemistry, especially with me, Pee Wee and Marko all living together so we had extra chemistry almost. We kind of knew where each other was gonna be. But it’s been tough There’s been a lot of ups and downs, a lot of downs, finally starting to get some ups, it’s been challenging but it’s exciting because I see the growth in the young guys and the things that are starting to click in their head and they’re finally starting to figure things out. As one of the older guys here, it’s my responsibility to try to bring them along and help them on the learning curve. And to see them getting it, I don’t how much it’s me — it’s all coach Brennan — but I’m trying to throw in things here and there. But seeing them come along and seeing us come together, it’s very rewarding and the last couple games we’re really starting to show it.”

On staying calm after Holy Cross’ 11-0 run in the second half and fighting back
Marko: “Coach Brennan, he’s always telling us other teams are gonna make runs, it’s all about how we respond, not blaming each other, not trying to find whose fault it was for the last point. It was just, ‘OK, guys, let’s settle down and let’s figure out how to start scoring again, how to get their lead back,’ and I think it comes with just playing more games and figuring out how to be more mature about it, handling the pressure of other teams. I think we did that very well tonight. We shared the ball when we needed to and we started scoring.”

On Marko playing the 5. And is that his favorite position?
Marko: “I don’t really care what position I’m playing because in the Princeton offense everybody’s supposed to, at least (it’s) expected for everyone to be able to do everything, to pass the ball, to shoot, to post up, to defend. So I don’t really care if I’m a 4, 5, if I’m dribbling the ball, I just want to do what’s best for the team. If that means playing the 5 sometimes, I’m more than happy to.”

On Jesse picking his spots, being assertive in the big spots
Jesse: “Honestly it’s just playing off instinct but coach Brennan’s been telling me to look to be more aggressive, finding the happy medium between getting the guys involved and trying to be assertive and make plays on offense. So it’s kind of just taken a while to figure these things out. Fortunately the last couple games I’ve been able to figure some things out , but the game of basketball is crazy — a couple games you can, a couple games you can’t. So I’m just taking them as they come and trying to pick and choose my spots and pick and choosing my spots to get the other guys going.”

On what he’s seen from Delante recently. Is there a new confidence?
“Delante’s a very hard worker — he’s always in here before practice, after practice getting shots up, doing things he needs to do to try and improve his game. He’s starting to become more comfortable in the college game. It’s hard to jump straight from high school to college and just automatically be great. But he’s a very hard worker and he (shows) a lot of confidence on the court and we have a lot of trust in him to make plays for us. He’s starting to figure things out where he finds opportunities to drive, where he can pull up, where he can shoot. We just tell him, ‘Hey, keep going.’”

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COACH MIKE BRENNAN

Opening Statement
“Yeah, we scored some points in the second half. We scored some points — gave us a chance to win.”

On Holy Cross going to trapping zone in 2nd half
“They’ve played both of those zones all year long. We weren’t tearing it up in the first half, we were just getting stops and they weren’t scoring — they were stopping us so it’s not like defense was the problem.”

What’s been the biggest thing during the winning streak?
“They just keep working. And our losses were close — you’re losing, we got blown out a few times, a lot of times we’re down by eight with a few minutes to go, down by six, down by 10, it’s not a huge margin.

“We’re just getting better at all the little things and keep giving ourselves a chance to win. We finally did that, we won, and once you do it once, you gotta practice that part of it, too, understanding the importance of positions and stuff like that.”

On Delante and Matic
“Delante’s been scoring for us the last few games, he’s getting a certain comfort level, and the same thing with Andrija. I like everything that he does, is able to do. He didn’t get as many minutes as Delante the first half of the season, so for him to be able to contribute with the limited time that he’s gotten is a credit to him continuing to work. It’s the same with everybody. The guys have worked hard and gotten better each day in practice and it’s finally showing.”

On what Matic is doing well to play him ahead of Paris
“He’s a good passer, he’s just doing a lot of good things out there. He’s making shots, he’s scored in the post a couple times, he’s gone after rebounds offensively and defensively. He’s doing a lot of good things. It’s not like Paris is doing poor or really bad, it’s just that Andrija is doing positive things.”

On finding that balance between getting the freshmen valuable minutes and now winning with a mix of freshmen and upperclassmen
“You always knew what Marko and Charlie we’re gonna give you. It was just going to take time to get Delante and James to this point so they’ve played a lot of minutes and the fact that they’ve stuck with it and persevered, they’re out there and they helping to win just makes you want to play them more.”

What was it like going against Carmody?
“Brutal. I was worried about it leading up to it because you know they’re gonna be prepared and difficult to defend and all that kind of stuff. It’s great to get a win, but I don’t want to do this (against Carmody) often.”