Marty Simmons took to the airwaves Monday night for his first weekly radio show from the Turoni’s by campus. The show is broadcast at 6 p.m. most Mondays during the season on 91.5 WUEV.
Here’s some of what the Aces’ coach had to say.
Simmons said UE still isn’t as far along as he’d hoped: “We just haven’t had the carryover (from practice), and now we’re going to play what I think is one of the better teams in the country. We’ve really got to step it up. Even tonight in practice — we’re not awful, but we just aren’t as sharp as you have to be if you’re going to compete at a high level. With the returning players we have, that’s a little disappointing. We’ll just continue to work at it, stress, talk and teach.”
Said rebounding and turnovers both better against Illinois Springfield, and, “Defensively, at times, we’ll see some improvements, and usually it’s at the start of the game or after a timeout. Again, after we change ends three or four times, we lose our attention to detail and jumping to the basketball and communication and so on and so forth. That’s an area that we have to improve upon.”
Simmons wants the Aces to be patient when running their offense: “We’ve got a versatile team, and if we share it, run hard and get right into the offense, we can be a tough team to defense. And my biggest thing is, I want our guys to make the other team guard us. Don’t settle. Don’t give in early in the (shot) clock unless it’s something we really want. I just think that we’ve got enough guys that if we reverse the basketball three or four times, we’re either going to get a great look or a drive that’s going to create some opportunities. That’s something we’re really working on hard in practice.”
On Egidijus Mockevicius: “We’re not set on who we’re going to start, but we knew (Illinois-Springfield was) going to start their big kid and we wanted to make sure he got some minutes. He’s had some difficulty with fouling in practice. He’s just adjusting to the physicality in what you can do and can’t do.”
What does Notre Dame do offensively? “If you turn it over, they turn it into points pretty quickly. They’ll push you. And then they spread it out, obviously, and they try to get looks for the big guy inside. They’re very good at passing and making the extra pass, they’ll set some ball screens to try and isolate him and get your defense rotating, because they’re excellent, excellent passers and they can all shoot the 3. From what we’ve been able to see, and it’s early, they keep it pretty simple, but they’re really good at it.”
On getting into Coaches vs. Cancer: “The league has mandated all the schools to play in what they call exempt tournaments…some can be very costly. Our staff does a good job of researching all the tournaments, and we’d actually originally planned to go to Vegas and spend a lot of money. This tournament (Coaches vs. Cancer) kind of opened up.”
On the 1 p.m. tip time against Notre Dame: “It doesn’t matter. I honestly am one of those guys who likes to get up ready to play. Go shoot, get a good meal, lace ‘em up and play. That’s not going to be a problem. We’re just excited, again, to get the season started and have the opportunity to play such a great program as Notre Dame.
On non-conference schedule difficulty after ESPN ranking it 9/10 difficulty: “Sometimes when you don’t have Indiana or Carolina on your schedule, you don’t get the credit for playing a difficult non-conference schedule. At Notre Dame, who’s in the top 25, and I’m just telling you Buffalo has an outstanding program, Yale’s got an outstanding team, Western Illinois, Tennessee Tech’s a team that went to the postseason last year. Murray State was a team ranked in the top 10 at one time, I believe. Colorado State’s getting votes. Butler’s getting votes. You can just go down the line. There’s a lot of great opportunities there, and if we’re a team that’s serious about having a chance to play in the postseason, then we’ve got to rise to the challenge.”