Today the Diamond Head Classic had a teleconference call for the media. Here is what Paul Hewitt had to say:
Question: Even in the absence of Jon Arledge, you return a lot of experience to your team. Can you talk about improving on last year’s record and the expectations you have for your season so far?
COACH HEWITT: So far we’ve gotten off to a pretty good start. We’ve had some unusual circumstances, as you mentioned. John Arledge not being with our team any longer. Missed a few games with an early season suspension, and we’ve had some injuries. But this break has been good for our guys. We’re in finals right now, but we’ve had some pretty good practices, and we’re looking forward to getting out to Hawai’i and competing.
Q. Speaking of Hawai’i, the tournament format, you play two days and then you have a day off, then you play Christmas Day. Do you like the format? Can you comment about your first round opponent Iowa State?
COACH HEWITT: Yeah, I think the format is really smart. It makes sense. You get two games in and give the kids a chance to catch their breath a little bit, then even us coaches get a chance to catch our breath and prepare for that last game. Iowa State is obviously off to a terrific start. A very balanced team, highscoring team. It will be a great challenge for our guys.
Q. Do you have any plans for that break day? Are you going to let the guys rest up and tour the island?
COACH HEWITT: We’ll probably do a little bit of that, but I’m a pretty boring guy. Probably just stay in the room and watch some tape.
Q. Coach, as you mentioned, Iowa State is very balanced. How do you Cope with that as a coach when you’re going through your defensive strategy?
COACH HEWITT: You know, it’s back to basics. We’ve got to contest shots and rebound the ball. They’re so good offensively. One of the things you can’t do is give them extra possessions by turning the ball over or giving up offensive rebounds.
Q. Coach, I think you guys will have by the tournament start a decent break time from games. Just your thoughts on has that helped you rest up, I think, after you guys had a cluster to start the year.
COACH HEWITT: Oh, it’s come at a good time. Obviously, for final exams, we’re not allowed to play games during that time. But we had a couple of guys, Marquise Moore, our freshman point guard was hurt. We’ve got a couple guys dinged up, so it’s been good.
Also for us, there are some thing that’s we needed to work on especially in the defensive end. We’ve had some really, really good practices. We’re very pleased with how hard we’ve gone in practice, and hopefully it will show when we play against Iowa State.
Q. Coach, how do holiday tournaments like this prepare you for conference play?
COACH HEWITT: Especially the timing, number one, the competition is great. But the fact that we’re doing it around the Christmas holiday, and we open up our conference schedule I believe January 8th against VCU, so we go from a field that starts off with Iowa State to the conference schedule. So it will prepare us well.
Also looks like Anali Okoloji might still sit out another game or so:
Anali Okoloji, suspended for Oklahoma game, will travel with team to Hawaii but unclear when indefinite suspension will be lifted #masonmbb
— Steven Goff (@GMUWashPost) December 16, 2013