"I know the guys were excited to play against someone other than themselves. You get into this this preseason rut, that every day in practice over the past two or three months, they're going against each other, they're beating each other up, and they're getting physical. Everybody knows what play is coming, so you have no idea if anything is working or not. It is always good to get the guys out in that first exhibition game, so they can take out that frustration on somebody else. Overall, I liked what I saw. What I really wanted to get out of this exhibition game was how hard we played and hard we compete. That's the kind of team that we have to be. That has to be our identity. I thought we did that in spurts. There were times where I thought we got tired, where we lost some of that intensity, and usually when that happens you stop playing and give up an easy basket. Overall, I thought we played hard, and I thought we competed and everyone who played helped us."
On Josh Wallace's performance...
"Josh played well. He's a player that I always talk about. He plays like he is 6'9". It's not how big you are, it's how big you play. When you get everybody playing with the type of fearlessness that Josh plays with, we will really advance as a team. From the point guard position, he has to do what he did tonight. He has to create tempo, he has to give the other guys opportunities, he's got to run our team, and defensively, he has to be a defensive pest. I thought that's what he was tonight."
On everybody played 25 to 30 minutes...
"Experience is invaluable. Obviously, we have a severe lack of experience. Anytime when we can get these guys on the court in an exhibition, and start to garner that experience is a huge difference maker. So Monday night, there will be another opportunity for us to get out and gain that experience. As much as you learn in practice, it's the learning curve that comes through actual game type atmosphere is where you gain confidence as a player. You doing it against somebody else, you're doing it with the lights on, you're doing it with officials and with people in the stands. Looking at this roster, Andre (Malone) played about ten minutes a game last year, EJ (Ross) played about seven minutes, and Josh (Wallace) played about six minutes, and that's about the only level of experience that we have. Any experience that these guys can garner in game situations is very important."
On Kenny Gabriel's performance...
"Kenny was huge. I was disappointed in our overall rebounding effort. We don't have dominate interior presence that can clog the paint, and just eat up all the rebounds. For this team, this year, we have to have a gang rebounding mentality where everybody rebounds. Kenny obviously did his job on the backboard getting 16 huge rebounds, three offensive ones he had. Offensively he did some good things, but I thought he got tired at times. He's lost some weight from the start of practice, so we have to get him back to where he is feeling strong. Because this is the type of performance that we need from him every night, but then he has to bring his friends along with him. We have to get some other guys to help him rebound in the paint."
On Josh Langford not playing tonight...
"He has a bruise on his chest that he got from practice last week. He could have played tonight if we wanted him out there. It is just a precautionary thing. He has been doing great in practice, and I expect him to be back in practice when we come back from out day off."
On what can be taken from a game like this that can't be taken from a practice
"Just going against people that don't know the plays you're going to run. Execution is a big thing. We're playing a team that doesn't have any film on us. Going back over it, execution is a huge thing for a game like this."
On impression of first exhibition
"Good things and bad things, we got a long way to go, but it's a learning process."
On how much fun it was to get out there and play a game
"It was a lot of fun. That's what you live for, that's what you practice for, going out there and playing and the student section did a good job, so it was exciting."
On dunk combination with Kenny Gabriel being a nice way to end the game
"Yes, great way."
On experience of playing in the Auburn Arena
"It was fun for me as well. It's a good arena, good atmosphere. Hopefully, we can put more people in the seats, but it's a great atmosphere."
On Auburn settling down in the second half
"At the beginning, we had a lot of butterflies, because we're a young team and we haven't had much experience at starting, coming off the bench and playing 20-25 minutes a game. We just had a lot of jitters and when we get those out we'll be ready for what's next."
On Gabriel's 15 point, 16 rebound night
"I was just going out there expecting to play hard. When I see a ball up there on the rim, I've just got to get it because that's what my team needs from me and what I do in practice every day. Getting rebound after rebound every day, offensive and defensive, and I can tip some of them out to Josh because he's pretty quick and can run by pretty much anybody that's covering him."
On how much fun it was to get out there and play a game
"It gives us a lot of energy, too, knowing that we don't have to go out there and bang up against each other. We're low on bodies because of injury and it's a good thing knowing that we get to go out there and bang up on other people."
On dunk combination with Josh Wallace being a great way to end the game
"I didn't think he was going to pass me the ball. He did and I had to finish it. As long as we put the ball in the basket, that's all coach cares about."
On what Coach Barbee had to say at halftime
"He told us to be careful with the ball because we had nine turnovers at halftime, so get on the boards and don't just look at the ball and go get it and compete."
On experience of playing in Auburn Arena
"I liked it a lot. It was real fun, even though it wasn't a packed house. We still got a feel for the new arena."
"It was loud, too. For an arena to not be that full, the student section was loud. I want to hear it when it's a sold out crowd. It's going to be a huge advantage for us, maybe a two, three point advantage for us."
West Alabama Locker Room
Coach Eddie McCarter
"I thought our kids played as well as they could play this time of the year, but I thought [Auburn's] defensive pressure was the difference down the stretch. They played with the same intensity all night long. I thought our intensity went up and down, but they're a little bit more talented than we are, but I was proud of our kids. We hit some timely shots, some tough shots, but, all in all, I thought we grew a lot from this game because their defensive pressure was tremendous."
On Coach McCarter's expectations facing young Auburn squad....
"I knew they would be young. They've got a lot of work to do, but also thought that they would concentrate a lot on defense. Any time you have a young team your emphasis is going to be on defense. I think their team is going to get better as the year goes on. Naturally, the injuries that they had early in the year, and the staff getting in a little late is tough on them, but they have some guys that are working really hard and playing hard, and that's the key. As long as you do that, they're going to have a chance to win some games."
On the balance of playing to win when the game is close and playing your bench...
"You always plan to win. If we were out playing pick-up, we'd be playing to win, but my mindset was to find out who can play. We've got nine new kids, only one starter, [Alquan] Mendenhall, from last year, so we're trying to find ourselves, trying to find out who can do what things. We were in the mindset of figuring out who should be out on the floor, because we've got a couple more exhibition games before our season begins. Naturally, we wanted to win the game, but we wanted to see some different kids. We found out a lot about what we can do, and what we can't do. Auburn really took us out of our offense. We have to give them credit, and we've got to go back to practice and keep working on that."
31 Marion Thompson, F, So.
On how the team played together...
"We played pretty well as a team. We had a couple bad mistakes, but we got right back in. We kept fighting and we didn't give up. I feel we did pretty well."
On what improvements need to be made...
"I need to work on my free throws for the rest of the season."
On having a double-double the first game of the season...
"I didn't expect to have a double-double, but I just went into this game and gave it my all."
23 Alquan Mendenhall, G, So.
On the team as a whole...
"We've got a lot of new players this year, and I think we did a pretty good job. We had new players who got into the game, and got to play. We're just getting in sync with each other. After we get a feel for that, I think we'll have a pretty good season."
On personal improvements...
"I want to work on my shot a little more, because I need to follow through with it. I just need to put in some more work at the gym."
On playing in the new arena...
"I expected it to be a little wilder than it was, because I know how the Auburn fans are. I heard my name being called out on air balls and stuff. I expected it to be very nice, and it was."