Jan. 14, 2008
Travis Ford Press Conference
On the week's play
We got off to a pretty slow start in conference play. Saint Joe's came in here and played a great game. I knew they were one of the best teams in our league. They came in here running on all cylinders and made big shots. Ahmad Nivins proved that he is one of the best players in our league and we got severely out-rebounded. I did not like how we competed in that basketball game, but this is a marathon--not a sprint. This is a tough league and every night out, you have to be ready to go.
On makeup of team
This team is one with a few veteran players and a lot of young players, and I think the young players do not let a lot worry them. They are pretty carefree freshmen. The other guys have been through a lot of different battles. The way we play, you really don't have time to be worried about a whole lot. If you get caught worrying about the crowd or a missed shot, you are probably not playing the way we want to play. Our guys don't have time to think about outside distractions.
On the tempo of his offensive system
This type of system is my favorite to coach. Not that I don't enjoy adapting to my personnel. Over the past couple of years, we have had some of the better big men in the league. But now I think our team is more geared to the style that we like, as far as pressing, getting the ball up and down the court, and using our shooting ability. It is the way I like to play, but it also fits this basketball team. A coach has to be smart and adapt to his personnel. You can't be stubborn, but I think this team really fits this up-tempo play.
On time taken to build team
On coaches who stick to their style of play
We have been playing this way for the past two years. The first two years here at UMass had been a more power, inside-oriented team. We did not get the ball up and down that much last year. We were really more of a half-court type basketball team. Trying to get the ball to certain people, like Gary Forbes, to be able to get them in a position to carry us. Forbes can score in a variety of different ways and Chris Lowe is a quick point guard. Ricky Harris has really come on for us. We have versatility with many different guys, so we just changed gears 100 percent. Our team is still trying to figure out exactly how I want to play, but they work hard.
My style would never have worked with the type of guys we had. Stephane
Lasme and Rashaun Freeman
were great players and it was fun to coach those guys. I would take those guys on my team on my team any day of the week, but I have always tried to adapt to my personnel the best that I can. As much as I'd like to play a certain way, my days of playing are over You have to let the players play, and put them in the best possible position to be successful. That is what we try to do.
On how players must improve
The players have not adapted 100 percent. It has not become a habit yet. We haven't gotten in our presses quick enough, and to be honest with you, I don't think that we haven't shot enough threes. Guys are tapping out, and hesitating at times. There is still a long way to go with this basketball team. We are still working hard, and that is all we can ask of them. Hopefully, we will compete better than we did against St. Joe's.
On A-10 schedule
I would like to talk to who gave me this schedule. This is a beast of a schedule to start out. There are no off nights. You get what you receive, this schedule was put in front of us, and we'll play it. There is no question it is not an easy one. As I said earlier, this is a marathon--not a sprint. There will be some battles in this league amongst a lot of different teams. It could be the team that survives, the last team standing, that wins the league. It could be that much of a battle.
On preference of team make-up
To be honest with you, it is great to have a good big man. You can do a lot of things defensively and offensively, but I like the 6'5'', 6'6'', 6'7'' guys who can shoot, pass, or put it on the floor. They make things happen. Last year's team, when we were in a half-court set, we lived and died on each possession. Getting the ball up and down the court as we are, the lead can change fast either way. You could be up big and lose it, or you can come back from being down. I like playing this way, but I enjoyed coaching Lasme and Freeman, because when it comes to big guys, there are some interesting things you can do. It really helps your defense at times because they'll protect the basket for you.