Jan. 21, 2008
Coach Travis Ford on week's performance
I thought we showed a little more toughness than the week before. We came out and really worked hard in practice. We focused very hard, especially going to Dayton on the road--a very tough environment. We focused on the game plan and did not let outside distractions bother us.
Coach Ford on toughness of team
We were out rebounded badly in our first Atlantic 10 game versus St. Joe's. They dominated us on the glass. Obviously, we are not a great rebounding team to begin with, but we were better than what we showed that game. We challenged our team to show a little more pride and be a little more competitive.
Coach Ford on Mid-Major schools
There has been a lot of talk about that. I would like to know how you define a Mid-Major school. I have heard a lot of different explanations from a lot of different people, but I do not think the Atlantic 10 should be considered a Mid-Major conference at all. We are a league that competes with everyone, even the BCS schools. I try to stay out of that because everyone has a different definition of what a Mid-Major school is, and I think it is more of a personal opinion than anything.
Coach Ford on Ricky Harris' development
We saw this improvement out of Ricky last year in practice. He would dominate scoring the basketball during practice. He could score in mass waves. He was playing behind some very good seniors last year and I told him to be patient because his time would come. I think our style of basketball really allows us to have as many offensive possessions as possible. This young man really works extremely hard every day, and has a scorer's mentality. He always has--from high school to prep school to here at UMass--he just a knack for putting the ball in the hall. I know Ricky is the most improved on our team. I don't know what most improved really entails. In terms of production from last year to this year, he has drastically improved. I haven't seen everyone in the league or gotten a chance to study them, but there is no question that when a kid goes from scoring a few points per game last year to averaging 20, he has to be one of the leading candidates for most improved player. Ricky is an extremely competitive young man. It gets the best of him sometimes, but he is one of the most competitive players I have ever coached. He is very emotional and I like that.
Coach Ford on St. Joe's game
We need to compete harder. We did not compete with them the first game and they were absolutely terrific. Their team came in extremely well prepared. They executed and played a tremendous game. They took us out of a lot of things that we wanted to do. I was not happy with how we pressed, so I want to make sure we do a better job of pressing and causing more turnovers and havoc. We allowed them to do whatever they wanted to do, and you have to give them credit. They were well prepared that night and they have a terrific team. Now they have Rivera back, it will make them even better and there is no question that they are one of the top teams in our league.
Coach Ford on unsung hero
I think our post-guys are the unsung heroes of the team because we play them by committee. Dante Milligan, Tony Gaffney, and Luke Bonner all play about the same amount of minutes. We rotate them in and out of those spots. They do not get a lot of publicity, but those guys do all the dirty work. Gary Forbes, Ricky Harris, and Chris Lowe get all the publicity because they score all the point, but our post-players really help them out by playing defense and rebounding. I would give that award to Milligan, Gaffney, and Bonner at this point in the season.
Ricky Harris on his year
My freshman year was more of a learning year. It was a time for me to learn from older players that were in front of me. I turned not playing a lot of minutes into a positive. It motivated me to get in the gym and work on my game really hard. I think from last year to this year I became more mature, and a better person because I learned so much last year.
Harris on surprising Media with success
Honestly, coming into the season, there was a lot of second-guessing where we would be at this point in the season because we lost Stephane Lasme and Rashaun Freeman. But we worked hard in practice each and every day and listened to what Coach Ford had to say. Basically, we took his teaching and ran with it. I want to say it is a surprise that we are doing so well, but I'm happy with how we're doing it. Everyone comes into practice each and every day and works hard. When you work hard, good things happen.
Harris on personal goals
Coming in to the season, I just wanted to be consistent and help my team in any way I could. Whether that entails scoring or making a defensive stop--anything I could do to help my teammates, I wanted to do.
Harris on freedom of offense
On this team, we have a lot of scorers. When we are on offense, we don't worry about what shots we take or whether or not they go in because we know, and Coach Ford knows, that we are going to get the ball back. But on the defensive end, Coach Ford emphasizes trying to keep your man in front of you or not giving up middle. This is Coach Ford's style of play--we don't worry about being taken out of the game for one bad shot. When you mess up on the defensive end--that is when you should be looking at the scorer's table and be worried that you are coming out. I don't think that in our system, there are any bad shots. Other people may think it is a bad shot, but Coach does not think it is a bad shot because the way we play, we know we can get it back. We still stay within the offense, but if you are wide open, shoot it. It doesn't matter if you are the last person on the bench. If you are wide open and don't shoot the ball--that is when Coach is going to yell at you. Basically, he just gave us the confidence we needed on the offensive end to shoot the ball.
Harris on distribution of shots
Chris Lowe does a great job of controlling the offense so that the right people can take good shots at the right time. If you look at the stat sheet, you will see that the amount of shots I take is almost equal to the amount of shots Gary takes. Chris does a great job of getting everyone the ball. There is no I in this team. Everyone is on the same page.
Harris on St. Joe's game
St. Joe's is a very good team. A few weeks ago when they came here and beat us, they were extremely aggressive. They have a great coaching staff as well. We just want to prepare well, so that hopefully we can go down there and get the job done, unlike we did at home.