Wednesday’s quotes from the Paycom Wooden Legacy

Providence coach Ed Cooley – “This is one of the best tournaments in the country and we’re very appreciative to be here and play in the Wooden Legacy. We want to make sure to continue to improve. We’re coming off a really tough home loss and we want to make sure we remain confident and stay together and hopefully we improve through these three games. We’re glad we do have an off day to reset our mind good or bad, but this is a tournament where teams excel, get better and many teams from here will get to the NCAA tournament. It gives a good scoring presence in the post but he’s still a long way away, he’s been out eight weeks. We’re going to have to do a good job of bringing him along slowly, but we need him to recover fast. We’re tough, we can really defend, we are going on a couple scoring droughts. The biggest thing we’ve got to do here is come out to a better start. We’ve been getting off to a lot of slow starts, getting behind. So, let’s see if we can come out early and sustain it.”

Wake Forest coach Danny Manning – “It’s great competition and for us our first game is Charleston, so we know what they’re doing, and we’re prepared, then it gets tough after because you don’t know who your matchups are. The rest of your scouting reports will be in the hotel walking through. That’s different for the new guys but the returning guys have a grasp of it. Continuing to battle. We played some true road games early in the year and we feel that’s going to bode well for us as we continue to move through the season.” (On being the first Wooden Award winner to coach in the Wooden Legacy): “I didn’t know that. That’s pretty cool. I was fortunate to win that award and to be a part of this event with such a historic figurehead, that’s pretty cool.”

Arizona coach Sean Miller – “In our case we’ve had an opportunity to play six in a row at home, but it is different it allows you as a coach and a team to grow. Not only are we playing one game away from McKale, but we’re going to get three games in four days. It will be a challenge for our freshmen for sure but every team’s kind of facing the same thing. It is different and for us to not acknowledge that would be foolish, especially in our case with so many new faces. You’ve got to be ready to go. In the last two years we played in some heavyweight tournaments as well. I think we’re more ready this time around and we’ve talked a little bit about to our guys that we want to get back to playing well in these types of tournaments.”

Charleston coach Earl Grant – “We want to keep improving, learn about ourselves, maybe get a little better every time we go out, get to the point where we can play closer to 40 minutes. We’ve played good basketball, but it hasn’t been for long enough. The losses we’ve had, 30 minutes of good basketball isn’t enough. Obviously in order to be successful you’ve got to defend and rebound. I think what has happened to us is we’ve held teams to low percentages from the field so there’s more opportunities to rebound the ball. The next part of our development and growth will be let’s try to rebound that first miss, that’s when we become a really good team. Here we spend time together, you’re away from your normal routines, you’re away from your arena, you’re away from your girlfriends and family. The only family you have is your teammates and it’s a good time to grow. And it’s a good chance to play against high-level teams in an early-season tournament.”

UCF coach Johnny Dawkins – “We’re just excited about this opportunity. We get a chance to play against some very good teams in a tournament type of environment. You’ve got three games in four nights, all things that help you build your program, build your camaraderie as the season progresses. I’m encouraged by my guys’ resilience. We’ve been in a lot of really good games; we’ve had a challenging schedule and our guys have responded. We’ve been down in a number of games and found a way to come back and compete in every one of them and that’s what we want to see. We want to continue to improve on our overall play, strengthen our defense as well as our offensive chemistry. We have nine new players so there’s a lot of teaching going on right now.”

Penn coach Steve Donahue – “It’s a great event for us obviously in a great environment, play great teams, historic programs, power 5 conference type of teams and you just like to see where you compare. There’s a lot of things you do with scheduling, but these ESPN tournaments allow you play these teams on a neutral court. It gives you a little more fair chance in this environment. We’re still evolving. Of all the teams I’ve had here at Penn this is the biggest upside team with so many good young players. You see a little bit of a roller coaster because of that as well. We have three good leaders and some freshmen I think can help us in the league that can help us get to the NCAA tournament.”

Pepperdine coach Lorenzo Romar – “We haven’t been able to put a complete game together yet. We’ve played well in spurts and poorly in other parts of the game. That’s what we’re working on, trying to put a complete together. Our chemistry is good, we have to learn the importance of playing every possession right now and that’s what we’re trying to develop. But the chemistry is good, our guys enjoy playing with each other, get along, competing for the same purpose. This helps us prepare for the end of the year in the conference tournament, that’s for sure. Also, in a short period of time you learn a whole lot about yourself. I know we’ve played six games, but you play three games in four days against top-notch competition you leave here with a pretty good idea for the month of December where you are and what you need to work on.”