Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
Q: Do you and Thurl Bailey get together very often and talk about those glorious days at N.C. State?
A: We don't talk about it as much as we used to. We might bring up certain things that happened during that time, but we talk often, and I see him at the games all the time. It's definitely a bond between us and Thurl's always been great, because whenever he's talking to someone and I'm around, he'll call me over and introduce me and say 'This is my teammate, this is the guy who got me the ball,' so it's pretty good.
Q: How would you summarize your experience with the team so far in your first year in Utah?
A: It's been great. Obviously the organization itself is just class and top-notch. From afar, you always saw that this organization is just blue-collar, go to work and get your stuff done and very loyal to each other. You could see that. And then being here with these guys, they've been great. The coaching staff has been outstanding. Jeff (Hornacek) and Scottie (Layden), having been around here, when I came in they showed me everything. They helped me with everything, asked if I had any questions. They've just been great. And Coach (Tyrone) Corbin is outstanding to work for, so it's been a great experience. When people ask me about it, friends and colleagues in other places, that's the first thing I talk about is the organization itself. The Miller family, Kevin (O'Connor) and Randy (Rigby), those guys are just great. It means so much when you enjoy working with the people you work with, so that's been a blessing for me.
Q: How would you summarize the team's performance up to this point?
A: "We've done some really good things and we've played well at times. We've had a little slippage in some areas, but overall Coach (Corbin) has been happy with it and, as an assistant coach, just the way the guys are staying together and working. We see our young guys are definitely getting better, so that's certainly something that's a plus. But now we're in the heat of the season, even though there's an All-Star break coming up, everybody's jockeying right now, and they're jockeying a little earlier this year than they would normally because of the shortened season. But the attitude and the effort of our guys, we've been pleased. We've had a couple games, obviously, where we didn't play well, but we've definitely been happy with them.
Q: What has been the biggest disappointment that you've had with the season itself?
A: Like Coach Corbin would say, certain games that we feel like we should win or should have won. Like New Orleans (last Monday), we should have been ready to play that one. We had a big win against Memphis, great win against Memphis (on Sunday), but then we weren't able to come back and get that next one. Coach talked to the team about that. Other than that, these guys have been great at doing exactly what Coach is telling them to do and working at it. And Coach's communication with the players is really, really good. Just the words that he gives them, the things he gives them to think about and do, just to sit back, listen and watch, he's been great. Hopefully we will remember that New Orleans game going forward. But then again, it's the NBA, so any team is capable. It happens, unfortunately it happens. You don't like it to happen, but it happens to everybody, and you don't like it to happen to you and you don't want it to happen to you. Hopefully, we've had a game that kind of opened our eyes a little bit and we'll be ready to go. As Coach will always tell our players, it's not so much about what other teams do, it's about what we do. And if we play the way we're supposed to play, and we're capable of playing, if we do that, then everything else will take care of itself.
Q: What have the Jazz got to do better from here on out this season to get into the NBA playoffs?
A: We have to be consistent defensively. We certainly have times when we're really good, we're active at it. But we have to be consistent, more consistent with our rotations in taking away that paint area and allowing pick-and-rolls and things like that to affect us. We have to be more aggressive. When we're passive, teams score on us. When we're aggressive, we're pretty good. And we had a stretch when we were really going and -- one of the things that's happened and it's happened to everybody -- because of the season, you don't have a lot of practice time. So you have a little slippage in there. Coach (Corbin) was telling the guys we have to get back to where we were when we were really active and aggressive on defense, because defense is going to be the key down the stretch. We've certainly been able to score most of the time, but at the defensive end, when you look at the teams that win, they play solid defense. ... But that takes a lot of effort. We're gonna need more people; he's certainly playing the young guys in rotations, but I certainly think it's going to be all about the defense.
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