EAST LANSING, Mich. - With head coach Chris Mack back with the program, and playing in their first true road game of the season, Louisville fell just short at Michigan State in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge
Here's what head coach Chris Mack, guards El Ellis and Jarrod West had to say following the loss:
Head Coach Chris Mack
I thought through the first, what, 28 minutes of the game, we certainly weren't perfect, but I thought we were battling. Offensively we just - we've gone into too many droughts so far as I've watched. Then I watched in person tonight. We've got to be able to figure out how to get the basketball in the lane efficiently, so that we can get to the free throw line, so that we can open up even better looks and we're getting from the three point line, and we got to make some layups. We've got to be able to finish in traffic. The physicality that we've talked about, or that's been talked about with our team, has really been about the defensive end. But there's some physicality that you have to play with on the offensive end, and we didn't do that tonight. Give Michigan State a lot of credit, they're one of the best defensive teams in the country, and our guys felt that. First road environment, and we've got to learn from it quick. We got another road environment on Saturday against NC State. But give credit to Michigan State, they're a good team
(On if he thinks he's getting the shots they want, and they're just not falling)
No, I think we have to get cleaner looks. I think we have to get better looks. Obviously, not every one of them are the same. You're gonna have some looks where you'll take it, and then you'll have some looks that - because we couldn't execute well enough to get a better shot - we took one that probably was a little bit lower percentage. I don't think it's out of selfishness, I think it's out of lack of execution, and that has to get better. Again, the toughness factor coming off a cut. Michigan State's going to be really physical. Are you coming off shoulder to hip on the screen? Or are you coming off four or five feet in the screen, because they they push you off of it. Our big guys have to do a much better job getting to the ball screen and getting out of it, so that we can create some type of advantage. Whether that's the guard going downhill and getting in the lane, or the short roll. Again, Michigan State, give them a lot of credit. They don't get extended. They're they're a tough nut to crack. But we have to get better with the execution that allow us to get better shots. That'll build up our percentage, and then give us better opportunities to offensive rebound.
(On Dre Davis, and players having to create stuff for other people)
With Dre, we tried to get him on the blocks a couple times in the first half. It's an understanding that our team has to have. We called two specific plays, we post up Dre, and we just throw it back to the top without giving him an opportunity to put his defender on his back and get the ball. I think if if Dre gets it down there, there's very few three men that are as strong as him. El (Ellis) did a great job in the last 8-10 minutes of the game, of really getting in the lane. He certainly shot it well, but we need that when it's a tight game. We need him to make those plays consistently. It's a little bit looser feeling when you're down 17 points, getting it in there, and sort of making things happen. He's got a burst to him, he can score it, hopefully this game gives him confidence. But we need him when he gets in the lane, and nothing's there, not to charge over guys, and to be stronger with the ball - and he will. He's seven games into his college career at this level.
(On Michigan State's high three-point shooting percentage for the game)
One of the guys we really wanted to key on this was Gabe Brown. He's just a terrific catch and shoot guy. One time we left him in transition. We had a couple guys hit some threes, that quite honestly, hadn't really shown that in the preseason. Pierre Brooks comes off the bench, and he wasn't even playing. AJ hasn't necessarily shot the ball well, he had a dagger corner in front of their bench. So you give them credit. They have some really good shooters. I told our team that we have to learn from the way they execute. They have a mission on the offensive end. They're tough. I know they turn the ball over an amazing amount of times, but they also, for the most part, when they didn't turn it over, got the shot they wanted. We've got to learn that.
(On playing in their first true road environment in over a year)
It's as good of an environment as I've coached in. The fact that teams and programs haven't been full arenas in however many months it's been, and then you add in Michigan State - which is as well known as a tough place to play. Again, probably about the 12 minute mark on, for about five or six minutes, we weren't very good. We got to learn from the environment, not getting rattled, and being able to get good shots, and not let it go the way that it did.
(On if they're still learning the offense)
Obviously, we've put some plays in since I've been gone. I think we've got a long enough play package. There's a few guys on the team that need to know our stuff better, and then there's a large majority of our guys that have to execute our stuff better. When that happens, then we'll get the looks that we want, and we'll become a much better offensive team.
(On if the offensive effort is behind the defensive effort)
It's hard to say. As a coach, you're always trying to figure out where you have to improve. We made a huge improvement the Bahamas. We took a little bit of a step back against a really good team in their building, I don't want that to get lost. We get 10 offensive rebounds, we limit them to eight and, again, they shot really well. It's gonna be a learning experience for our guys. I think that getting back to practice tomorrow and Friday, hopefully will allow us to be a hell of a lot better when we go to NC State on Saturday.
(On if this game was the first step to getting back to normalcy, and getting past the way of operating in the COVID year)
I think that perception vs. reality is different than than what we see in our practice facility. I feel like it's been normal ever since we've come back for the first summer session in June. Our guys have worked with tails off in the offseason, we have a collection of new players. Again, no excuse. We've got to ramp it up, because we're in December. But again, this has to be a learned lesson for us, and I suspect it will be. But no, I don't feel like my feet are finally on the ground. We've been working.
Guard El Ellis
Guard Jarrod West
(Photo of Chris Mack: Nick King - Lansing State Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK)
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