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TRANSCRIPT: Everything Ole Miss head coach Chris Beard said after Rebels fell to South Carolina, 72-59

TRANSCRIPT: Everything Ole Miss head coach Chris Beard said after Rebels fell to South Carolina, 72-59

OXFORD, Miss. — Despite trailing at halftime, the Ole Miss men’s basketball team fought back in the second period but would ultimately fall to No. 20 South Carolina 72-59 on Saturday in the SJB Pavilion.

After the game, head coach Chris Beard met with media. Here’s everything he said:

Coach Beard’s Opening Statement:

I just want to congratulate South Carolina on a good road win in our league. A lot of respect for their team and their players. Well coached. You know, in my opinion, they are not only one of the best teams in our league, but one of the best teams in college basketball, certainly a team that’s still in the fight for the conference championship and will definitely be a factor in March. 

“From our point of view, it’s a hurt locker room right now. Our guys thought we had a couple of good days of practice. Our guys were emotionally attached to this game. You know, year one, you always have a lot of objectives, and if I had to put it in one sentence, our objective has always been in year one is to be a part of the fight. There’s a lot of teams in college basketball right now that aren’t a part of the fight, teams that are already talking about their conference tournament or this and that, and that’s not us. And I think our players deserve all the credit for the kind of season we’ve had to this point, because it’s the reality. It’s late February and we’re in the fight. 

“So today was a huge game for us to protect our home court. We just didn’t get it done, but I just told the guys…this whole thing in team sports. It’s one of the best educations you can ever get. No disrespect to math class or history class. But when you play a team sport, you just learn every lesson that you’re going to need to be a man, a great father, great husband. This is adversity, and when it hits you, it hits you hard and you’ve just got to deal with it. So, I’m excited to get back to the practice floor tomorrow with our guys to see how we respond, because there’s no question we’re a little bit banged up right now mentally and physically. 

“I also want to just make sure that I’m saying this really clearly — we’re a no excuse program, but I also take my responsibility to take up for our players very seriously. So, Brakefield is playing banged up right now. He’s had some issues with a wrist and I just really appreciated his effort this week in practice and trying to play in this game. So I definitely want to make sure that that’s known. I know there’ll be a lot of things written this week, you know, here and there, but Brakefield gave it his all tonight. But physically, he’s got some adversity right now that we’re going to try to help him in any way we can. 

“In terms of the basketball game, it’s hard for us to play without Matt Murrell on the floor. You look at the box score tonight. We’re plus six with Matt on the floor. Our team’s not set up for Matt to play half the game, but that’s adversity. And we’ve got to handle that better, from a coaching standpoint. We thought about playing him more in the first half with the two fouls, but I thought we were close enough in the game there to the end of the first half, so that’ll be something I have to sleep with tonight. But definitely we’re not going to be able to be the team that we need to be without Matt being on the floor more than that. So we’ll look at those fouls and we’ll try to teach and improve him as much as possible. 

“Same thing with Flanigan. We need our best players on the floor. So I haven’t seen the flagrant call, but I know when the officials go over there and they get the the benefit of looking at the video, I’m sure the call was the right call. But that was a lot of adversity for us to handle tonight, not being able to play with a healthy Brake(field) or having Matt out on the floor. 

“I give a lot of credit to South Carolina. It’s a well-coached team. It’s probably the one team in our league that when you try to come back from a deficit, it’s very difficult with their patience and experience on offense, and we just needed to get some stops and we just couldn’t string enough stops together to get the game manageable in the second half.”

Question: Chris, you talked about a hurt locker room and talking about being in the fight at this point of the season when a year ago, that’s not where they were. How do you see your leaders handle this stretch lately and knowing what they still have in front of them?

Coach Beard: “I’m proud of our players. Look, our expectations were this time of year to be in position to still be fighting for the conference championship, and we find ourselves in a different situation. But again, this is life. You know, you just keep competing, you stick together in these kinds of times. But, I’m extremely proud of our players. I think our effort has been, our hearts have been where they need to be all year long. 

“We just ran into a really good team tonight without three of our best players being able to play. I think all that stuff will be written after the season, the narrative of this season. But you can’t deny that we’re sitting here in late February, and this is a hurt locker room right now. Why? Because we’re still in the fight and a lot of basketball left, four games left. You know, we got one of the best teams in the country coming in here on Wednesday, and so to me that’s an opportunity. You know, I think pressure is a privilege. And there’s nobody I’d rather play on Wednesday than one of the best teams in college basketball. So it’s an opportunity for us to respond quickly.

Question: What was the confidence like for this team in the first two months? And where is it now?

Coach Beard: “Well that’s a question for the players. You know I don’t want to speak for those guys. But I think our confidence early was at a high level for a first-year team. We put a lot of work into the summer, put a lot of work into practice. I think you earn the right to be confident, hours and hours in the gym and so here late, it’s a fair question. 

“There’s some teams this time of year that are trying to hold on. There’s other teams that are playing their best basketball, and that’s our challenge –the coaching staff, team, best players, leaders, no time to feel sorry for yourself. 

“This the SEC. It’s college basketball. I wish we could practice tonight. I can’t wait to get back on the floor with our guys and clean some things up. I have a lot of confidence in our players. That’s exactly what I told them after the game. I think that the story for this team is is yet to be written. There’s a lot of basketball left, four games, a conference tournament, national tournament. So, we’ll see. But there’s no question we need to be the best version of ourselves. Confidence is a part of that. And I think that’s a team thing.”

Question: You talked about Matt with the foul trouble, only playing 20 minutes. As a coach, how difficult was it kind of navigating that on the fly with with him in terms of rotations and making adjustments?

Coach Beard: “It’s a team sport. You know I think in tonight’s game, one of their best players also got in some foul trouble in the first half and they’re able to still play good basketball in the second half. That player got going. So this is how it works, (it’s a) team sport. But I would say it’s no secret Matt’s a big part of what we do. We were plus six with him tonight on the floor, so it was a lot of adversity there. We’ve just got to do a better job of setting our team up, next man up mentality, when those kind of things happen.”

Question: How do you encourage your team and kind of instill that confidence that you have in them going ahead of Wednesday?

Coach Beard: “Back to work. Right back to the process. Training room tonight. Hydration and a good meal. Get some good sleep. And, we’ll have guys in the Tuohy Center as early as eight in the morning. This is how this team rolls. So we’ve just got to get back to work. Can’t let your mood be dictated by what the scoreboard says. 

“And really, it’s the same message when we have some success, and we’ve had some winning streaks around here. And the message is the same. We’ve got a 12-hour rule around here. Coach Saban had it at 24. And, we used some simple math there. We play a couple of games a week. They play one. So we just tell our guys, you’ve got 12 hours, you’ve got 12 hours to celebrate it, or you’ve got 12 hours to beat yourself up a little bit. Nothing wrong with that. Then we’ve got to get right back to work. So, for us, we’ll look at this. We’ll try to learn from it, we’ll try to improve from it. And all eyes are on Alabama Wednesday night.”

Question: Chris, are you getting the scoring contributions from your bench that you thought you would when you built this roster?

Coach Beard: No, not on the stat sheet. And that’s something we got to do a better job of, trying to manufacture some offense from different lineups, different individual players. Again, I still have a lot of confidence in those players that we’re putting in the game. We’ve just got to do a better job as coaches helping them. And then certainly, you know, these players have got to play their best when it matters most, which is March, right around the corner. But to answer your question, no, this team was set up for the bench to be a weapon and we’ve just got to keep working towards that. It’s not just on the players. It’s on everybody, myself included.

Next Up

Up next for the Rebels is arguably their biggest home game of the season when they host No. 13 Alabama, who sits atop the SEC standings, on Wednesday, February 28 at 8 p.m. on ESPN2.

Evelyn Van Pelt

Evelyn Van Pelt

Evelyn has covered sports for over two decades, beginning her journalism career as a sports writer for a newspaper in Austin, Texas. She attended Texas A&M and majored in English. Evelyn’s love for Ole Miss began when her daughter Katie attended the university on a volleyball scholarship. Evelyn created the Rebel Walk in 2013 and has served as publisher and managing editor since its inception.

About The Author

Evelyn Van Pelt

Evelyn has covered sports for over two decades, beginning her journalism career as a sports writer for a newspaper in Austin, Texas. She attended Texas A&M and majored in English. Evelyn's love for Ole Miss began when her daughter Katie attended the university on a volleyball scholarship. Evelyn created the Rebel Walk in 2013 and has served as publisher and managing editor since its inception.

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