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March 4, 2013

Monday's with Major

Opening statement from Alan Major

Unfortunately, last week we had a couple tough losses. I think it's just a matter of getting our confidence back. We've shown we can play good basketball, and right now it's a matter of recapturing that. With a team our age there's a tendency to forget the little things. Personnel has changed a little bit, but we still have enough guys to get the job done. So the big thing this week is just getting in their minds to recapture the things we did to play great basketball. More than just winning these last two games, I want us to finish [the season] playing better.

The second half (against St. Bonaventure) the other night was a step in the right direction, we just didn't have a good first half, but I thought we showed fight to finish it. Now we want to carry that into Wednesday night for the entire 40 minutes.

Q: What's the one thing you can pin-point to the recent struggles since the Butler win?

Alan Major: I think defensively we've gotten off the map a little bit; if I knew why, we probably wouldn't have. But we have a few guys banged up, Willie Clayton hasn't been the same since Butler; he's dealing with a tender foot. Some other guys have some knick-knack stuff, not enough to put it out there, but beyond that I think it's more an identity crisis in a sense.

You know, they're young kids, teenagers, and one day they're up-and-going and another day they're sort of somewhere else. This is the closest I've been to fatherhood, but I think that's what you run into when you raise kids, they just have stretches where they're not themselves.

Q: Considering the severity of Willie Clayton's foot injury, have you considered sitting him at any point since the Butler game?

Major: Well, it's not an injury that can get any worse; it's more one that you have to maintain. It's just kind of a tender foot; he's wearing a boot quite a bit outside of practice. It's actually gotten better, he said over the weekend it started feeling better… He was able to be in practice today, really for just about every repetition, which he hasn't done in the last two weeks.

Q: Have the young guys, the freshman, hit the wall?

Major: It may be, I don't think so, but that usually tends to be the popular belief when you get to this time of the year. But you know, I'll poke-fun or tease them and say, "You're not a freshman anymore."

It could be more of a physical factor, as games add up, but I don't want to lean totally on that. And we have relied on [the freshman] a ton, and I'll probably be more impressed when I look back; they probably performed above-and-beyond what a lot of freshman can do in college basketball.

Q: Being at the top of the Atlantic 10 at one point of the season, and falling so far since; how do you keep your team from falling apart now?

Major: You just have to remind them that they're still a good team… I don't like what's happened here recently, but that's a part of college basketball. I think the single biggest thing we could ever teach kids outside of snatching a rebound, outside of finishing with a right/left hand jump-hook, is resolve. If they don't get anything from me as a coach, but they carry [resolve] into the rest of their lives, then my job is done. That's what we get the opportunity to do, is show what type of resolve we have; and what's resolve? No matter what situations you've faced, you keep coming back however many times you need to.

Q: With Darion Clark and Chris Braswell showing unnecessary emotion on the court, picking up technical's, and Clark even walking off the court during a game, has there been any discipline in the locker room to avoid player-emotion determining a loss?

Major: Within our team we dealt with it, some things get dealt with publically, some internally. I don't like it, but sometimes when you have those stretches you get frustration. We talked about it amongst the team that that's not the way you handle [losing]. Internally we obviously dealt with it.

Q: Most likely you'll need to win the next two games (at Duquesne, Saint Joseph's) to punch your ticket for the conference tournament. Talk about the task you have at hand.

Major: Duquesne's been right there in a bunch of their games, they're another team with a really deceiving record. They had a great win at Temple early in the year. They're a 3-point shooting, up-tempo team, play a little bit of small-ball…

Saturday (Saint Joseph's/ Senior Day), no matter how many seniors you have on your team; you always want to finish strong on that particular day. Our last home game, against Saint Joseph's was also our last home game two years ago; that game actually decided whether we got into the conference tournament or not. So there's an incentive there hopefully, more-so there's the incentive that you want to finish strong for your seniors on their last home game. You want to send your home crowd out on a good note, because our home crowd has been tremendous this year.

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