Head coach Mike Brennan spoke to the media after American’s 65-59 loss to Army, which dropped the Eagles to 7-17, 5-8 in the Patriot League.
On the team’s comeback from 15 down to within 61-59
“All year we’ve gotten to these moments where you get hit in the mouth and the team goes on a run and we’re done. Today it happened and we battled back. They went on a run but we still battled back again so that’s progress in my mind and despite Army’s league record (5-8), they’re one of the better teams in the league, they’ve been together, they know what they’re doing so they’re a really really good team. So to put yourself in a position to be there at the end, us not playing well — not making shots — and still fighting and being there in the end, I feel good about our guys and where we are. Despite our record, I like the team and I like what they’re doing on a daily basis.”
What was the difference in how AU played vs. Army this time vs the first time?
“More aggressively offensively, we got better looks. It sounds funny we only scored 15 points in the first half, but we were way more aggressive and we were getting open looks, we were just missing. So that’s just part of the process and then they get confident, they see that they’re gonna get open looks, so the second half they’re a little more confident and obviously Delante scoring playing the way he does is a big help.”
On the decision to foul in the last 3 minutes with Army in the bonus
“Well, I gotta get better too. It’s my first time with the team in close games at the end. We only had one timeout left. When we got it to I think it was maybe 7 with 2 minutes, it was right over 2 minutes, I didn’t want them to foul but I couldn’t get the message out there. We put them on the line, they made one of two. … I wish I had more timeouts. I wish the NCAA didn’t change the rule and take away the timeouts because we need them.”
On Delante showing poise and making right decisions down the stretch
“We recruited him for a reason. We knew he was gonna be good, and he’s been doing that every game. He’s been getting to the rim, scoring, shooting, scoring every kind of way. Obviously at the end of games it’s different, you’re going to the hole, the other team’s not trying to foul you so it’s a little different. But still to have a guy to be able to do it and be successful and he’s a freshman, and to be able to score layup, floater, behind a guy, it’s hard to do. He works every day. He works his tail off every day in practice. He’s gotten better at literally everything. We’ve just got to keep throwing stuff at him, keep working at it.”
On Army’s points in the paint advantage
“Ferguson, he’s a guy that has gotten a lot better over the years. He’s really worked and I give him a lot of credit — he’s one of the better centers in the league. We didn’t do a great job of making him work for position, but to be honest at the end of the day I’m more worried about the 3s because they get hot and they got up 19 or however many 3s they got up. They usually shoot a better percentage so we’re trying to take away 3s — it’s hard to take away multiple things. But we’ve got to work on our post defense obviously.”
Is Ferguson someone you can point to when talking to young big guys about where they can get to in terms of a big who’s really progressed from year to year?
“Well he gives me hope. They haven’t seen him, it’s hard for them to visualize that. For me it’s like, I like where our freshmen are. I think Andrija — I think those 3s are gonna go in. He’s going to be able to score with his back to the basket, he’s gonna be able to do things. Hopefully we can get him to do it a little quicker.”
On the past 4 opponents; Patriot League’s top teams starting to flex muscle and respond to ‘Patriot League being down’?
“I don’t think it’s down, I think everyone is good — there’s a bunch of good teams. So there’s not two or three really good teams and everyone else, usually everyone else is down and they beat up on the team that are down. There’s no down teams. There’s no bad teams. Everyone’s good, so everyone’s beating up each other. But we just got to stay positive with our guys. They’re competing, they’re in the game, they’re right there, it’s just part of the process getting over the hump — learning how important stuff in the first half is, how it affects the game. It’s a four-point game with however much time is left, a minute — there’s a lot of things you can do to change that. We got to continue to work on that.”
On team’s depth and different guys getting minutes
“Obviously we’re just looking for consistency, consistent effort and Andrija’s been getting better, I like what he gives us. Lonnie didn’t play a minute tonight but that’s — that has nothing to do with how much he’s gonna play on Wednesday, it’s what does he does in the next two days because I like some of the things that he gave us in the BU game. Maybe I should have tried him tonight, who knows? But I like all four of our freshmen, and I like our whole group. The upperclassmen have stuck with it. There’s a reason these guys are sticking with it and continuing — practices it’s hard, it’s difficult but they’re still, it shows their effort that they’re getting better.”