Dec. 31, 2011
Head Coach Lon Kruger
"It was a really good game for us, a good challenge. Quick turnaround from Thursday night, a disappointing loss. Our guys handled that pretty well. Northwestern State did a really good job of handling there and battling back throughout the second half. They got our guys' attention real quickly. For the most part, our guys had good focus. They looked out for plays for each other. We handled the ball decently well. I thought it was a really good game for us. I thought individually, that was Sam Grooms' best stretch of play all year. He has been doing a lot of good things. We are excited about that. There were a lot of good plays for each other and we have got to keep making steps."
On what he wanted to accomplish in no-conference play:
"We have taken a lot of steps. Most importantly, we have gotten a little bit tougher. Big 12 (play) is exciting. Guys look forward to it. Guys look forward to every game. When you get to conference play all across the country, it takes on a little added level of enthusiasm. That will be no different here. The challenge is tough. Every time we line up, 18 times, it's going to be a huge test."
On the advantage of Fitzgerald and Osby being able to hit mid-range jumpers in addition to score in the paint:
"It always helps to have ability to score on the block and knock down the midrange jumper. More and more we are getting opportunities to get in that mid-range for each of them because Sam continues to push in transition. They're both finding more opportunities in the paint in transition. Of course, Pledge shooting the ball from the perimeter opens up things inside as well. They are starting to complement each other pretty well and starting to figure out -- as we are as a staff -- what we need to be doing in Big 12 play to give ourselves the best chance. We are going to go up a bunch of levels these next couple of months and they know that."
On if this game was about gaining confidence back after the Cincinnati loss:
"The challenge was more about doing what we need to do to get better today. I thought our guys did. Disappointing loss on Thursday, when you are up 12 with six or seven minutes to go; you definitely want to finish those. Not finishing left a lesson I think they'll learn from and hopefully do better. Hopefully next time if we get in a situation like that we will do better."
On if he let the team figure out what was going on today:
"It is always important that they take ownership of what is going on. This group is growing in that ability and will continue to do so. It's a matter of them feeling it. It means a lot to them. They will show that through 40 minutes of action in their possession. We have had great stretches, but we've had too many stretches where we are still learning. In Big 12 play, you can't afford long stretches of the learning part. We have to go to line up and lay it out there. We are going to get knocked around at times and we may lose a ball game at times. But we have to lay it out there every time; fully be engaged and fully be ready. If we do that, we'll get the best results we possibly can."
Junior Guard Sam Grooms
On Northwestern State taking away the lane from him in the second half:
"A lot of stuff that happened in the first half (for me) was within the flow of the offense, in what we were doing. I was able to get transition stuff. (In the) second half, it was a little bit more congested and was easier for those guys -- Roe (Romero Osby), Steve (Steven Pledger) and people -- to get easier shots. So it was the right play to make."
On his confidence level from the beginning of the year:
"I'm a lot more comfortable now than I was before the season began. It took a lot of practice, a lot of my team believing in me and Coach (Kruger) trusting in me the entire time. It's tough, especially coming from junior college. It's a lot faster pace (here), more is expected of you. I'm a lot more comfortable now. I know I have a long way to go, clearly. I have things to improve on. My team has been helping me, everyone on the court. I have a lot of room to grow. I'll work at it."
Junior Guard Steven Pledger
On OU's second-half run to pull away:
"We just came together. And I told them, we're not going to have another letdown. That's something we're not going to do."
On scoring 12 of his 18 points in the second half:
"I was trying to be more aggressive. I know I was a little passive in the first half. I knew we needed it, so I came out and did what I had to do."
On the challenges of upcoming conference play:
"It's going to be really tough. We'll have to take it one at a time, but I know my team is ready for that. We've put in the work to go play against the top teams in our conference. We'll go out there and do our thing."
Junior Forward Romero Osby
On Coach Kruger letting players take control in the second half:
"Coach always talks about initiating some enthusiasm and some aggressiveness. Sometimes, even in practice, he just lets us figure it out; he doesn't want to have to say it all the time. He wants us to better basketball players and become better as men. Sometimes, you have to figure it out on your own. He challenges us to do that, which he does every day. We just got it today."
On the challenges of upcoming conference play:
"It's always going to be a challenge when you play good teams, top-25 teams, but that's what we expect. We don't expect to go out there and play against (just) anybody; we want to play against the best. We want to see where we measure out so we can end up being the best team we can be. It's going to be exciting. It's going to be tough, but I think we're ready for the challenge."