Martin, Players Preview George Washington

Senior Jamar Samuels will be one of several Washington, D.C., players going against the hometown Colonials on Thursday.

Nov. 29, 2011

Head coach Frank Martin
On how practice has been since the team got back…
“On Sunday, the first two hours were a lot better than I expected to be, and then we got real sloppy.  Guys got tired, and after spending four and a half days on the couch watching TV, and then all of a sudden, you have to get your mind tuned in to that relentless and focus you have to have in basketball.  We got a little sloppy but we made it through.  We didn’t have practice yesterday, but today’s practice was pretty good.  These guys are a lot of fun to be around, and fun to coach.”

On the brutal schedule coming up…
“It’s hard.  Winning is hard.  Succeeding is hard…winning the Big 12 is hard.  If you’re scared of hard, you should not be in this.  I’m not into predicting wins and all that stuff….I only care about the next game on the schedule, the next day in practice.  I’m excited to see our team play on these neutral sites, at Virginia Tech, and starting (on Thursday) against George Washington.  They’re long, they’re athletic.  They’re in the mix of those 3-5 teams that could win the Atlantic 10 this year, including Saint Louis who won a tournament, Xavier who just won at Vanderbilt and Dayton, who won the Old Spice Classic in Orlando.  The A-10 is a tough league and George Washington will be a hard game.  We have a tough stretch of games coming up.”

On if the stretch of games will allow him to learn more about the team…
“Absolutely.  I’ve learned from this team every time we’ve lined up and played so far this year.  I learned at the scrimmage, our exhibition game, the three regular season games we played….you always learn from your team, no matter how young or experienced your team is.  I’ve seen guys respond in positive ways during difficult moments, I’ve seen guys being willing to accept responsibility, I’ve seen young guys step up and competing and doing their jobs to help us win games.  I’ve seen a lot in the first three games.”

On players stepping up…
“Will (Spradling), Rodney (McGruder)…I’ve seen both of those guys do it in two different games in different ways.  I’ve seen them do it by their approach every day.  We’ve seen (Thomas) Gipson respond after having a miserable first half in the Loyola game to playing like a grown man in the second half.  I’ve had everyone say Jordan (Henriquez) is putting up numbers, but I think he’s played awful.  But then the second half of the Maryland-Eastern Shore game, he finally did some positive things out there that had an impact in a positive way, so hopefully that helps him to continue to get better.”

On what George Washington does well…
“They control that tempo.  That’s their coach’s personality.  He’s done that everywhere he’s been and they control that tempo.  They won’t get sped up...their point guard is shooting 50 percent from the field and scoring nearly 16 points a game.  Their three wings….their two starters…one is very good off the dribble and shoots it, their other one, Nemanja Mikic, led the country in 3-point field goal percentage as a freshmen.  One of their leading scorers - Aaron Ware - comes off the bench and all their wings are all in the 6-foot-5 or taller range.  Their front line can guard players in the post, block shots, and are active.  They can score, but they can guard the posts 1-and-1 and can rebound.  But controlling the tempo, getting their right guys the shots, that’s when they’re really good.”

Junior Rodney McGruder
On previous knowledge of George Washington…
“I know a little bit about them because I have a friend that goes to George Washington. Martavious (Irving) and I have been talking a lot about them and the things they like to do on offense and defense.”

On playing against Lasan Kromah of George Washington…
“It excites me playing a guy I know. Growing up we played against each other in AAU. DC Assault and Triple Threat were the two best AAU teams in our area, and he played for Triple Threat, so we played against them a couple times.”

On watching George Washington in film…
“On film, they are a tough team. They get after it, and they have guys that really can score the basketball.”

On how Thursday’s game will be preparation for the future…
“It shows us if we will be ready for the Big 12. In the Big 12, we have stretches when we play every Wednesday and Saturday. It just prepares us and lets Frank (Martin) know what we are capable of.”

On practice after break…
“It has gone well. We have been competing, getting after each other and trying to make each other better. It has prepared us for our next opponent, George Washington.”

Junior Martavious Irving
On the upcoming game versus George Washington…
“As a whole, they look like a very good team who are going to make a lot of noise in the A-10 Conference. Watching film on them, they have a great point guard, and there wing players are good slashers and drivers. They have solid big men who are athletic and block shots.”

On practice after break…
“We came back on Sunday and got after it. It was like we never left, and it was really good. Frank (Martin) pushed us the whole practice, and we have been productive since we have been back.”

On Thomas Gipson…
“It is very relieving knowing we can always throw it in there because he is going to do something with it. Having him down there along with Jamar (Samuels) and Jordan (Henriquez), makes it easier for us. When I first saw him in the summer, I knew he was going to be a productive player for us right off the bat because of his size. He is not one of the taller bigs that we have, but he knows how to use his body so well. None of that really matters when it comes to his height. He has very long arms and a great touch around the rim. I knew he would help us from the start.”