Juwan Howard's Post-Battle For Atlantis Comments
First I want to give all respect to all the teams we competed against in the tournament. All respect to Gonzaga, who has a first class program and coach I've followed from afar. They just play the right way. But most importantly, I'm proud of our guys for competing so hard in this tournament.
On his team's focus all weekend despite the scenic setting:
This was a business trip for us, and we were here to win. I'm so proud of this group and how they competed throughout the weekend. What surprises me the most is our group never complained about anything. Not even the business trip aspect of it with all that beach and water. They just said hey coach, we got a job to do. I love the water. Sleeping on the beach and on the water is one of my hobbies, so I had to sacrifice as well. But now we can say all that hard work we put in, those sacrifices we made, it was well worth it.
On his celebratory dance with the team after winning the title:
We work hard as a group, so why not have some fun? Why take life so serious all the time? Have fun!
On the impressive bench play from his reserves all weekend:
We have a next man up mentality. So when (Jon Teske) got in foul trouble, fortunately we have guys like Colin Castleton, Austin Davis, Brandon Johns, and other skilled bigs that are super competitive. They really compete with each other in practice, and it's a beautiful thing to watch.
On the culture of his program:
We're a family, and that's one thing we always stress. We believe it, and we feel that. Our staff is one of the most-connected staffs, there's no egos. When our players see that from the leadership, they think why not fall in line?
On cutting down on the turnovers after the first two games:
The turnovers were a huge emphasis (after the North Carolina game). Some of the best teaching that goes on comes from watching film. Players are trying to make the right play, and not trying to make mistakes.
On building on the momentum coming out of this tournament:
Now, the season's just begun. So we've got to continue competing, learning, and getting better. I'm sure we're on the map now. Not saying we weren't before, but when you're beating teams like this you're no longer under the radar. So we have to enjoy this tonight and tomorrow, and then know when we get back to Ann Arbor we have more work to do to prepare for Louisville.
On why he uses a picture of NBA veteran P.J. Tucker to communicate in-game with his players:
P.J. Tucker called me yesterday to wish me a Happy Thanksgiving, and wanted to know why I was using his picture. And I told him it's because of this video of him I showed my team while he was competing for a spot on the U.S. National team last summer. Now, here's a guy who's a veteran who's made a lot of money, and still you were out there talking and communicating so much defensively. So I used you as an example to my team we need to be more like P.J. Tucker.