March 28, 2008
AMHERST, Mass. -
The UMass basketball team welcomed members of the media to practice on Friday afternoon as the Minutemen prepare for an NIT semifinal match-up with defending NCAA Champion Florida on Tuesday at Madison Square Garden. Head Coach Travis Ford and various players fielded questions from the media in attendance. Here is some of what Coach Ford had to say.
Coach Ford on playing Florida:
They are a team that is playing with a great sense urgency. You can see the difference in them. Very talented basketball team. Very very talented basketball team. Very similare to the one we just played as far as very good young talent, probably even more talent then Syracuse. As far as guys who can do a lot of different things. Obviously a lot of these guys are freshman and new to the college game and also under a new system. Very up tempo style of basketball.
Coach Ford on playing Billy Donovan:
It has never been a problem; I have scheduled him twice in the past before. In situations like this, who ever looses is out. For us in the regular season it is a great time for us to see each other and hang out. It is a little different this time because it is not planned and there are consequences to whoever looses.
Coach Ford on being compared to Billy Donavan:
He has deffinetley had an influence on my playing and coaching career, he is somebody that when I was at Kentucky I learned a great deal from, somebody I looked up to, somebody I spent a lot of time with individually. It would be hard not to because I have been
Coach Ford on the Minutemen's play over the past two games:
Coach Ford on the strength of his bench:
We have come back a lot this year. What we have done in the last two games, it leans on the shoulders of our seniors. You look at those guys and they don't want our season to end. They are the backbone of our team right now and I give them a lot of the credit.
I don't think we win the game without Luke Bonner
. I don't know if we beat Syracuse without him, with the production he gave us with scoring, rebounding and always being in the right place on defense. This time of the year you need those guys stepping up. When other guys get in foul trouble we have great confidence in everyone coming into the game. With Tony (Gaffney) out we were going to play Papa (Lo) a little more and I even threw Matt Hill
in for a second. Guys will get there opportunities and they need to make the most of it right now.
Coach Forbes scoring against Florida:
Obviously we are a lot better when Gary is scoring the basketball but as we showed the other night he is a great playmaker. We don't necessarily need Gary to score points, it is big for us but Gary does a lot of other things for this basketball team then score. Obviously that sticks out when you score 20 ppg but he created a lot of shots the other night against Syracuse; to Ricky (Harris), to Luke (Bonner), and to Etienne (Brower). Three plays that no one else could make, he is strong enough to do it and he gains opponents respect when he drives people tend to follow him. So he made some big plays even though he did not score.
Coach Ford on having a home court advantage at Madison Square Garden:
I do think, of all the four team that we will have the most support. I know that fans around here are very excited about it. I think that a lot of the people that come to the game that have no affiliation will pick us because we are a New England team. I think that we are going to have a great great following.