Mike Krzyzewski Talks Duke Basketball at Final Four Press Conference

Duke returns to Indianapolis, the place where coach Mike Krzyzewski and the Blue Devils won the title in 2010. They are returning to the Final Four for the first time since that victory. Duke, one of three top seeds in the Final Four along with Kentucky and Wisconsin, will face East Regional champion Michigan State in the national semifinals on Saturday. Coach K had this to say at his press conference yesterday.

DAVE WORLOCK: Good morning, everyone. We look forward to having everyone in Indianapolis later in the week. We’re going to start today’s call with coach Mike Krzyzewski.
Coach, congratulations on making another Final Four. We look forward to having you in Indianapolis, as well.

COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Thank you very much.
DAVE WORLOCK: At this time we’d like to go ahead and start with questions.

Q. Mike, it occurred to me this is the Mount Rushmore of current basketball active coaches. If you weren’t a coach, have you ever considered what you’d be doing? I thought it would be fun to consider what you’d be doing otherwise.
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Yeah, I’d be a teacher. That’s what I’ve wanted to be my whole life.

Q. What kind of teacher?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: I hope a good one (laughter). I’d work at it, let’s put it that way.

Q. I wanted to ask you about the three turnovers in yesterday’s game. Can you put into perspective the ability to play with that kind of composure, take care of the ball on such a big stage.
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Well, that’s a good question. Really wanted to keep points in the game because we had a hard time scoring. Our threes saved us, the fact that we didn’t give them a lot of run?outs.
Two of the turnovers, one of them was a charge, and another one was right at the end of the game when we didn’t take a shot, the shot clock violation.
I don’t think we’ve had a better game this year as far as valuing the basketball. That helped keep them out of transition. Certainly with some of our offensive rebounding, especially by Amile, it got us a few extra possessions. Gonzaga played very good defensively.

Q. What qualities does a player who is good in the clutch have to have, someone like Christian Laettner, for instance?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Well, there aren’t very many people like Christian Laettner because he was a fabulous talent in addition to being clutch. He wanted to be in those moments.
But a clutch player does not have to be as talented. It doesn’t have to be a star player. A clutch player can be somebody who can make a defensive stop, somebody who watched the ball and a lot of times is not one of your top two or three scorers, but all of a sudden can make a play, whether it be with a score or a rebound.
Usually a clutch player is really smart in pressure situations, and as a result is immersed in the moment that is going on. I would say, like a player for us in the past, Battier was that type of player.
On our team, Winslow has come up clutch. Our two guards have really been great in handling the ball, shooting free throws in pressure situations.

Q. Is that something a coach tries to develop in a particular player or just tries to use once it sort of emerges?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: A little bit of both. But mostly it’s in the kid himself, then you should recognize it, try to make sure that kid is out on the court during those times and in a position where he can make a play.
If it’s a scorer, obviously you’re going to do some things to get him the ball. If you’re being full court pressed, trying to make sure he’s the one that receives it and gets fouled.
Tell the player you have confidence in him in that situation. Most of it is on the player and then the coach to make sure that he’s trying to use it, he’s trying to use that talent. It’s really a talent.

Q. Amile said back in October that the dynamic of your team, even with so many freshmen, was unlike any other. How much managing have you had to do this year compared to other seasons?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: You still manage the same, but you’re not managing egos and attitudes, you’re managing X’s and O’s, how to use guys and develop them, how they complement one another.
This group has really been like brothers from the beginning in July. They have not posed any problems for me. Over the last couple months, they’ve gotten maturity through play, the freshmen have developed where they have a comfort level in playing with the rapidity we have to play big?time games. That’s a learned experience. They’ve learned that.
But they’ve become closer and closer. It’s really been an amazing group of kids to work with.

Q. Coach, you often try to downplay all of your accomplishments when talking about your team, saying it’s the first time for them no matter how many times you’ve experienced something. You seem to have really enjoyed that and lived it, this year especially. Maybe it’s some of just what you were talking about how easy it is to be around these guys. Do you have to do something before the season or during the season to reset yourself with each team and try to live it for the first time?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Well, I think you have to get on their page, in their moment. With this group, that’s been easy.
But I usually don’t have a hard time doing it. Sometimes it’s hard to find the page because they’re a little bit complex, some teams, to work with.
But this group has been easy. It’s a lot more fun living in the present than trying to build some kind of record or live in the past.
These kids, to be in their moment, is so much more fun. So I’ve really loved the year. I was worried going into the year because of when USA Basketball ended. That was pressure because Madrid, winning the World Championship, middle of September. I was worried, I hope I have the gas, the energy.
It hasn’t been a stretch at all. In fact, I think I’m as energized now as I’ve ever been at the end of the year.

Q. Mike, you’re obviously familiar with Izzo and Michigan State. I’m curious your thoughts about the Spartans this season. I’m curious to get inside your head as to what you think about this year’s team.
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Well, first of all, I would really start out with Tom. I mean, Tom is as good as there is. Not just a coach, but he’s a great guy. He’s a terrific friend. I think we have an amazing relationship.
Nothing surprises me that he and his program would do. They don’t have a team; they have a program. As he develops each team, I don’t know what the timeframe of it is until that group understands what the program is about, whether it be offense, defense or just character?wise, but they’re going to keep improving because it’s a program. It’s a program of excellence.
They’re really good. That doesn’t surprise me at all. They’re going to show up every game with a great game plan, with a toughness and an unselfishness to play that they’re not going to beat themselves.
That’s who Tom is. That will be him for as long as he coaches because that’s what he does. That’s why he’s so good.

Q. In regards to Jahlil, how important is it for you to run through him, especially given Michigan State not having a dominant big man?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Well, Jah has been very important for us through the entire year. No matter how many points he scores, he’s the focus of attention. He’s the top person on every scouting report. People are going to double?team him or triple?team him or figure out how to defend him. As a result, it opens things up. Whether he’s scoring or not, it opens things up for the other guys.
His stats, they’re really good, outstanding stats, don’t really tell the story of how important he is for us because he creates better stats for everybody else on the team.

Q. Obviously John Calipari is going to figure out whether he got in the Hall of Fame this week. Seeing what he’s done over the last several years and his career as a guy who has been there, does he belong?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Well, that’s why he’s up for it. People aren’t up for it unless people believe that he belongs. I think whether it happens this year, it will happen. Just like with Bo Ryan, they belong. Tom.
Look, they’re all really the best of the best. It’s really an honor for me to be in a Final Four with those three programs and those three coaches because they’re all really good guys and they’ve all understood the commitment to excellence that a program needs to make.

Q. Mike, this group of freshmen in some respects, especially to an outside observer, it almost seems like instant oatmeal with them. You could just roll the ball out on the floor and they’d play. What were some of the growing pains that you encountered with them throughout the course of the season?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: I know you didn’t mean it that way, but it sounds like a question I usually get for USA Basketball. You just roll it out, and the Gasols and Ginobilis of the world will just let you win.
Obviously you don’t just roll the ball out. There’s certainly a level of learning that every freshman has to go through. These guys have talent, but they also have a willingness to learn. They’ve really learned.
You know, for about a two?and?a?half week stretch, Justise was averaging three and a half points a game, Tyus has had poor games, Jah has pretty much been consistent.
But the environment in which they’re in, they have an unselfish, terrific environment for them to grow. It’s led by Quinn Cook. He and the upperclassmen have created an environment where the freshmen feel like they’re not freshmen, that they’re just a basketball player.
So all four of these guys have gotten better, and they’ve worked hard at it. They’ve worked really hard at it. They’re going to work hard at it this week because we can still get better.
It’s still a group that’s played 37 games. They haven’t played 100, they haven’t played 110 or whatever. They’ve played 37 games. They’ve done a magnificent job thus far.

Q. Say, for example, Jahlil, if there’s a game where maybe he had a double?double, but you looked at the film, instead of 18?12, he could have had 25?20, how much would you challenge him on that level, to reach his potential, not necessarily what is satisfactory to a lot of other people?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: I don’t know if the word ‘challenge’ is the right word. I think you try to teach, motivate, show them how to get more, if there is more to get.
Again, they’re learning. Sometimes players put limits on themselves based on their previous limits. In other words, this is how much I used to score, and once you get there, I’ve done a good job. A lot of it’s psychological, these limits that people put on themselves.
What you try to do, it’s not so much challenging so much as showing them that you can do more. You don’t just do that after a game, you try to do that during a game.
It’s not just the freshmen, it’s any player. I mean, that’s part of teaching and that. I hate to use the word ‘challenge’ because it seems like then you’re fighting somebody or you’re doing this incredible face?to?face encounter to get him to do something, to get a player to do something. Most of it is not that. Most of it is learning to change limits and how you do that.

Q. Mike, Karl?Anthony Towns seems to be captivating a lot of imaginations. Some suggest he’s the best freshman big man in your sport. I’m not asking you to compare him and Okafor.
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Thank you.

Q. You’ve seen enough to be pretty sure it’s your guy.
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Well, you are asking me that then (laughter)? What you just said you asked, though.

Q. You’re right.
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: What I would tell you is, I don’t watch Kentucky very much because we haven’t played them. You all watch these other teams more than we do, or more than I do. I try to watch the teams that we’re going to play against.
I know our league. I really try to know the teams we just played, Utah and Gonzaga. But I’m not watching Kentucky like I would if we were going to play them.
I know Towns. We recruited him. He played for the Dominican team. He’s a great player, great young man, beautiful family. He’s going to be a terrific pro.
Where he stands in comparison to anybody, who knows. The people who do that are the people who are called professionals who are going to draft. But he’s going to be a terrific player. Based on what I’ve seen of him as a youngster, what I know of his character, then the little bit that I’ve watched Kentucky play, he’s terrific.

Q. A lot of people have compared your on?the?court success with John Wooden. Basketball has evolved since the ’60s and ’70s, but is there anything directly or indirectly that you’ve learned from Coach Wooden that you have incorporated into your basketball philosophy?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: I think all coaches learn from previous outstanding coaches. I mean, I’m sure people in every walk of life do that, in business, in teaching, in government hopefully, they learn from the people who preceded them.
Coach Wooden will go down as the greatest winner, greatest coach of all time. No one will ever match the amount of titles he has. So you learn from that.
One of the main things is how to handle any level of success you had. I always thought he handled it with great dignity. I always thought that his players loved playing for him. They played like a cohesive unit.
I also saw in his teams the ability to adapt. Everyone would talk about Alcindor and Walton. Half of his championships he didn’t have those two guys. His first championship, the 2?2?1 press was with a guy named Erickson back there who was a pretty good athlete, Goodridge, was one of the more beautiful things to watch in basketball.
So you learned from that, just like I’ve learned from Coach Knight, Coach Iba, Coach Newell, some of the great, great coaches in the history of our game.
DAVE WORLOCK: Coach Krzyzewski, thank you so much.
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Thank you for having me on.

The Final Four: Bo Ryan, Wisconsin’s Head Coach, Press Conference Transcript

Wisconsin has returned to the Final Four. Bo Ryan, long-time head coach for the Badgers, talked a little bit about his background, fellow conference member Michigan St., and upcoming opponent Kentucky Wildcats at his press conference yesterday.

Q. Bo, was there a point after you got one at Wilkes, before you start the coaching and teaching at junior high, where you could have ended up doing something else rather than coaching? What might that have been?
COACH RYAN: Well, the fact that you’re from Harrisburg, you have to let me recover here a little bit because Steelton?Highspire gave us our only loss at Chester. So I’m still recovering from that. We lost in overtime at the Palestra.
In order to get right to your question, I took a job with Arco coming out of college. I was an economic, marketing, business major. Then being drafted in the Army kind of changed everything.
Yes, I was going to be a CEO, looking to run a corporation or a business. That was what my training at Wilkes was in.
I ended up changing professions when I was in the Army. I decided I wanted to teach and coach.

Q. You’re talking about Arco the oil company?
COACH RYAN: Yes, in Philly.

Q. Bo, there’s been this idea that scoring and tempo have slowed across college basketball generally in recent years. I’m curious if you feel like that’s extended to the post?season. The data is a little bit mixed on that.
COACH RYAN: Well, that’s a mixed bag.
You know, the rules are always fine ’cause people coach to and teach to the rules, whether it’s shot clock or extended arc or anything else. It’s just a matter of what’s going to be called fouls, what is a foul, what isn’t a foul, how a game’s going to be called. I think that affects tempo quite a bit.
But, you know, still in my mind I think it’s all by people throwing this out there is a way to talk about college basketball. It gets talk shows going. It gets sales in advertising. To me, there’s a plan behind all this, a master plan by people who try to want to stir things up.
Our ratings have been the highest for the tournament. There’s so much good about college basketball. People kind of refuse to talk about or get into it.
I like to spin it the other way. I think the game’s in great shape. The fact that it is our college game, you get the pro guys doing all the announcing on these post?season games, and they want to act like it’s supposed to be an NBA game, not an NCAA college game.
To me it’s all about who’s spinning it.

Q. What qualities do you think a guy who is good in the clutch, can make clutch jumpers or the clutch play, what qualities those guys have generally?
COACH RYAN: Short memory. A belief. I don’t know how much guys today play. For example, in the ’60s growing up, you’re on the playground, you probably play 10 to 15 games in a couple?hour period where you play to a number. First team to 10, first team to 20, got to win by 2.
Now, with all the organized basketball games and practices and things that are going on, there’s not as many pickup games played.
I can remember being on the playground, because you had to win by 2, having some games where there were 10 clutch jumpers that were made, or 10 buckets that extended the game or gave you the win. So I think that’s where guys, when they used to play a lot on the playgrounds, there was a lot of that clutch.
Now I think guys aren’t in as many clutch situations, but there are some who will say, Hey, I want the ball, and they’ll get the ball. They want the shot, they’ll take the shot.
Sometimes with teams you got to make sure, okay, there’s clutch guys, there’s a lot of people who want that shot, but it’s your job as a coach to make sure it’s in the hands of a person who can make a play. If they don’t make the shot, they can find a player.
When you say ‘clutch player’ I don’t know if you’re referring to the guy that makes the jumper, the layup or the three, or if it’s the guy who makes the play, which could also include making the pass to the teammate for the bucket.

Q. Who is that guy for you and how much of that can be developed in a player by the coach?
COACH RYAN: Well, you can stir that within the player. With what we do in practice, I’m sure other people do it, we don’t have a patent on it, but you put 10 seconds on the clock, 5 seconds on the clock, 15 seconds, and we go through situations. You find out through those situations at least who the players are trusting to be in that position, and you let them do it simply by playing out the last X number of seconds that I mentioned. Then you strongly encourage, Okay, this is what happened eight times, three times this happened, and you play percentages. That’s what I do.
We have certain things in practice where we know what to go to. Obviously we’re not going to tell the public. If they shut off one guy, then this is what we could possibly go to, or this, or this, or this. Like the quarterback looking at four or five receivers, checking off who isn’t open, finding who is.

Q. Obviously it’s a rematch between last year’s Kentucky team and Wisconsin, a game which was obviously very close, came down to the final shot. Tell me what you see different in this team other than they’re undefeated. They have veteran players. What makes them different, that much better, going up against them the second time?
COACH RYAN: Well, I think they’ve been through so many pressure situations when you’re undefeated. Not to promote my University of Wisconsin Platteville team necessarily. I had a chance to coach two college teams that went undefeated in a season, and I know what it’s like to be 10?0, 15?0, 25?0, what that does to a team.
It actually made our practices better. Our practices were very competitive, knowing that all eyes are on you. Needless to say in Division I there’s more eyes, all on Kentucky’s team.
But going through that, I just thought it made us better while we were undefeated because of how you learned to deal with the outside pressures. Then it builds inside. Okay, in practices you got enough good players going against each other, so you’re actually developing the skills of your players while the season’s going on because you have that depth.
So I think Kentucky is in a pretty good position from that standpoint of being able, even though they don’t have the same players as last year, what they’ve developed in the last four and a half months is some pretty competitive drills, some pretty competitive practices and work, to where not only were they good in November, but they’re even better now.

Q. Cal always says that they may be undefeated but they’re not perfect. I don’t know how much film you had to look at since two days ago, but is there really any weakness, big or small, that you tried to show the team so far?
COACH RYAN: I thought you were talking about John said he wasn’t perfect, because I was agreeing with that (laughter).

Q. I’m sure he says that, too.
COACH RYAN: We had a nice talk this morning, by the way.
Even if there’s a guy that shoots a bad percentage or has a rough day, look how many other guys can pick them up. There are some teams who have two, three, maybe four scorers. If they all have a bad day the same day, they’re definitely losing.
Kentucky can have guys have bad days but still have enough guys to make up for that.
So, no, I don’t think as far as comparing the last year or anything else… Again, we played Oregon again, then Arizona, now Kentucky. That’s three of our five games playing against the same people we played against the year before. The only thing we’re hoping is that it’s not the same outcome.
But, no, they’re strong from point to post. You don’t go undefeated in college now without something pretty special.

Q. Bo, I was wondering what your relationship now is like with Tom Izzo and how it’s maybe changed since you arrived in the Big Ten.
COACH RYAN: It’s the same as it’s always been: two coaches trying to get their programs to be successful year in, year out.
I knew when I came into the league, every place I ever became a head coach, there were certain programs that you say, Okay, if you want to be good, this is who you got to get. There’s some standards that are set. The state conference, there were three schools that were totally dominating, Eau Claire, Stevens Point, White Water. At UWM it was Butler. Then coming into the Big Ten, at the time obviously it was Michigan State.
We were on the board of directors together. I’m still on it. Tom is past president. So at the Big Ten meetings you talk. It’s a profession. It’s professionals trying to do their jobs.
I had a talk with Tom this morning, too. It’s kind of interesting.

Q. Can you share anything from that conversation?
COACH RYAN: No. Just two guys wishing each other well, representing the Big Ten. Good enough. Hey, we’re in it. We got a chance.

Q. What’s been your most important message that you’ve told your guys this month? Has it changed at all game to game?
COACH RYAN: No, because of all the guys that we’ve had back from last year, you can definitely see the difference after getting to the Sweet 16, now getting to the Final Four, of the guys in the locker room. They are very, very excited, but they’re not awestruck.
They were sitting in the locker room waiting for me after the Arizona game. Okay, coach, are we going back tonight? Is the plane ready? What’s our next move? More so than last year, where everybody was looking around like, Okay, what do we do next?
But, believe me, they don’t take anything for granted. They’re very happy to have been able to get this far. We know what we’re up against. Our guys are pretty smart guys. They know what it’s going to take, a pretty perfect game or close to it, to get these guys. We’ll see what we have in us.

Q. Are there any guys on the team that are sort of taking over and saying, This is what we need to do in terms of stuff going on in the locker room?
COACH RYAN: I’ve let all my teams do that. The seniors. I’ve always encouraged that because that’s the way my coach allowed me to be that I played for.
There’s a lot of talk in our practices, in between possessions, guys going over things. I strongly encourage that. There’s always going to be voices in the locker room. We’ve been pretty fortunate to have some really good voices.
I can only say that not because we’ve secretly taped them, but because of the way they’ve handled everything. It’s obvious to me that the right voices are being heard in the locker room when they’re away from the coaches.

Q. I’ve heard plenty of coaches talk about gut?wrenching Final Four losses, how hard they are to overcome. How did you handle last year? How hard was that to forget about once you went into summer, the fall, et cetera?
COACH RYAN: You know, you get up the next day and you just start saying, Okay, we got this coming up, camp, recruiting, practice, workouts with the players a couple hours a week. It was just ‘next’. That’s all I ever lived by.
We’ve also been the ones that have given people gut?wrenching defeats and stuff like that. You expect people to handle that because they’re going to have to handle things like that in life a lot more than just after a basketball game, where things are a lot more important than a basketball game.
The example we try to set is, Okay, next, here we go. Let’s get the guys that are back, wish the seniors good luck, try to help them out with where they’re going. I’ve been doing it so many years, it’s not all the same, but you can’t change what just happened, that score was that score.
Like I said, we’ve done it to other people where they’ve got to deal with the score, then get ready for the next season.
So, no, there wasn’t anything different.

Q. What do you think is relevant about the game last year given that clearly their team is different, as is yours. What do you think is relevant about that game last year?
COACH RYAN: Simply that was a great game for fans and for the experience of the players involved in it. But so much has happened since then. It’s like our game with Arizona last year. I guess the only way to answer it is we’ve already had two reoccurrences of games last year with Oregon and Arizona. Like I said, the difference is in the Kentucky game we were on the short end.
It’s not like if you’re on the positive end you’re going to practice or do anything different going into the next season, so… For our guys, hey, we get another 40 minutes. That’s all they know.

Q. The Big Ten championship game you played against Michigan State. Did you sense then they might be capable of a run like this, even though they weren’t one of the favorites?
COACH RYAN: Oh, yeah.

Q. What did you sort of see about them then?
COACH RYAN: The same we saw when we played them at our place or during the year. The Big Ten is a good conference. We got two representatives left. I think that speaks for itself.

Q. Did you see any difference between the first time you played them and the second time maybe?
COACH RYAN: Not really. Seems like the games with us are usually the same anyhow. Usually a tight game for the most part. Some have been a little different. It just seemed like a regular Wisconsin?Michigan State game. It doesn’t surprise me at all that they’re where they are.
DAVE WORLOCK: Coach Ryan, thank you so much for your time today. Safe travels to Indianapolis. We’ll see you in a few days.
COACH RYAN: Thank you.

“Desperation”: Kentucky Pulls Out Win Over Notre Dame; Press Conference Transcript

Karl Anthony Towns said it was desperation at the end that led to Kentucky making three consecutive stops against the best offensive team in the country. Coach John Calipari said the game showed that Kentucky might have an undefeated record but they aren’t perfect. In the end, the Wildcats won 68-66 over Notre Dame and set up a date in the Final Four with Wisconsin. Here is a transcript of the post-game press conference with Calipari, Towns, Devon Booker, and Andrew and Aaron Harrison:

COACH CALIPARI: I’m really proud of the guys. All we did, we were just scratching to stay in the game. I don’t know if our breakdowns, until I watch the tape, were us or Notre Dame being that good offensively. And I’ll tell you the thing on the side pick and roll and the empty side pick and roll, that’s on me as a coach. We never figured it out, we tried doing some different things and they just kept scoring on that, and Mike did what he should have, just kept going back at it. It was nice to see Aaron do what Aaron does, just a huge 3. It was great to see Andrew play an okay game, but make the plays down the stretch. It was great to see in the second half, us able to throw at Karl Towns, and they either were scoring or you got to leave somebody. And then Tyler makes that 3 in the corner. But we were just fighting to stay in the game, to be honest with you, and it was nice to see how it finished for these kids.

Q. Karl, could you just talk a little bit about what changed in the second half? You were 2 for 5 in the field the first half, I don’t think you missed a shot the second half. What changed offensively there?
KARL-ANTHONY TOWNS: I just did a better job of getting better position. Also I jumped a lot more, used my legs. I was liking that in the first half. And in the second half, I just trusted what the coaching staff told me, and I guess the results speak for themselves.

Q. For Andrew and Aaron, how does this win compare to last year’s win?
ANDREW HARRISON: It’s pretty similar. Michigan last year had a great offense as well. Two great teams, came out a winner. We didn’t play our best game but Notre Dame is a great team.

AARON HARRISON: Yeah, I think we played a lot better last year actually. We didn’t play that well, but we just figured out ways to win last year and this year, and that’s what we’ve been doing all year.

Q. Andrew, if you could just talk about the last play offensively and also the defense on the last play on their shot, too? Just kind of walk us through both of those things.
ANDREW HARRISON: I mean, I think, Coach told me to go at 9 and I think I went a little bit before that. It was so wide open that I just tried to take it, and I got fouled and got to make two free throws. Second, that was all Willie, I was yelling his name, you know how great Willie is on defense, he was running right with him.

Q. For any of the players, in the second half you didn’t have three consecutive stops the whole half until the end when you needed to have those three consecutive stops. What was the difference in those three possessions?
ANDREW HARRISON: I don’t know. Desperation, probably. We had no choice or we were going to lose.

AARON HARRISON: Exactly what he said. Just I mean, I think we just focused, when our back’s against the wall, do what we have to do to win the game.

DEVIN BOOKER: Basically just what they said. We’ve been in that position a few times this year. Each time we try to start with stops, and we know that will lead to offense and that’s what we’ve been doing.

KARL-ANTHONY TOWNS: Desperation.

Q. Aaron, is it almost good to have a game like this, that you guys know that you can dig deep and come back and pull it out like this?
AARON HARRISON: I don’t know about that. I mean, I would rather play well and win by a lot than play a close game like that. But yeah, I mean, we know our will to win. And it just showed us we never give up, and we fight to the end just like any other team.

Q. Karl, did it get to the point in the second half you just felt like if you got the ball you were going to score, they just couldn’t stop you? Did you have that feeling?
KARL-ANTHONY TOWNS: It did. I mean, I felt very confident in myself and just made confident moves. Like I said, I listened to the coaching staff and I was just making shots.

Q. For Aaron and Andrew, just a quick thought, you’re going back to the Final Four. What does that mean to you to get back there again? I know that’s one of the reasons you said you came back.
ANDREW HARRISON: It means it’s a blessing. Go down there and try to focus and try to win two games.

AARON HARRISON: Exactly what he said. We’re definitely not finished. We still can get better with two more games left in the season. We have places to improve, and we will improve this weekend and go down there a different team.

Q. Could you talk about that last sequence with Andrew, because it didn’t seem like one of his better games and he made the two free throws for you. He was running down there with Willie, too, on that defense. Is that kind of what you expect from him?
COACH CALIPARI: They didn’t have a timeout, and I wasn’t going to call one. You guys know how I am. I wasn’t to call one and let Mike design something crazy, so we weren’t going to call a timeout. What we did on the last play was, with eight to nine seconds to go, he was to take it and we had some stuff working on the back side. I said, if you don’t have it, you’ve got stuff behind. We had something for Willie over the top. But he drove in and he got it, he got fouled. And it was a foul, I looked at it, he moved. It was close, but he moved. Andrew tried to avoid him, which made him move instead of just jumping, which is something we do work on a lot but he’s been great at.

Q. Obviously they’re a really good offensive team, but what was it about them defensively that gave you problems early on?
COACH CALIPARI: Well, we knew we were going to throw to the post every chance we could, and we just missed — they were physical enough to cause us to miss 10 one footers in the first half. You know, that was an issue for us because now they didn’t have to leave off the wings. They had to leave Tyler Ulis and give him that three to guard Karl. That’s how you’re trying to play but if you can’t make the one footer, they don’t have to do anything. The other thing is they’re physical. Shots went up, they fought. We out-rebounded them by one, but that was lucky, we only get 10 offensive rebounds. So they’re a better defensive team than you give them credit for and they’re also a tougher team, physically a tougher team. Their guards bothered us, especially early in the game, they got up in us.

Q. Coach, Aaron or Andrew said that they’re going to get better this week, because of this close game. And Willie in the dressing room said he’s glad that you have the week to prepare for Wisconsin. Because of this close win, assuming that you always have their attention, do you think you’ll have their attention even a little bit more?
COACH CALIPARI: Yeah. Trey didn’t play particularly well. I thought Dakari did some good stuff. I didn’t give Marcus enough time, but the game didn’t dictate that I should because of how it played. I’m glad that Devin Booker’s making shots, but we’ve got to get a little bit better in this pick and roll defense. I think, again, I don’t remember a whole lot about Wisconsin. I mean, I’ll watch this game tape tonight and then probably start on Wisconsin tomorrow at some point in the day. I know Bo Ryan, and he’s a great friend, and how good he coaches. And I’ve said all along I thought the three best teams were us, Wisconsin and Arizona — and Duke. And other teams are right there, but those four seem to be a little bit better than the others. And those two, I feel bad for Arizona because they had to play in that regional final because they are a Final Four team but that’s how this stuff goes sometimes.

Q. You won a lot of close games last year in the tournament but you were a No. 8 seed last year. This year you’re an undefeated favorite and you were behind most of the second half, behind by six, six minutes to go. Pressure’s all on you. Did you feel that then, do you think your team felt that or do you think your team just played the way it would play if this were January in Rupp Arena?
COACH CALIPARI: My mind is never on we may lose. My whole mindset all the time is how are we going to win, how do we win this game. That’s all I keep saying to myself, how do we win the game. I want them to know we’re not playing not to lose; we play to win. That means be aggressive offensively. And so I’m telling you, I was trying every combination I could just to keep us in the game. And then we had to have the 3 by Aaron. We had to have the 3 by Tyler. We had to have and-1 by Karl, think about this, to stay in the game. So they had to make the plays, but we were breaking down defensively. I couldn’t keep Trey in the game. Tyler jumped on the guy’s side. It was an and-1. We were breaking down defensively ourselves. And again, that side pick and roll stuff is not my team, that’s on me. But they did enough, and they wanted to win, they do have a will to win, and I know that. I know that, I’ve coached them, I know they’ll make plays. It’s just a matter of you have to keep the game close enough so they can.

Q. You guys, I think, made your last nine baskets and you got three stops at the end of the game. A lot has been made about how young your team is, and maybe they wouldn’t be able to execute like that down the stretch. What does that tell you about your guys?
COACH CALIPARI: Well, when you have Willie, Aaron and Andrew in there most of that time, but I had Tyler in there a lot of the time, and Karl. And then we had to switch Karl in and out because of the foul trouble, I wanted him off the floor. Not only foul trouble, he was defensively hurting us. But I’ve just seen these kids make plays. I trust them. I trust to put them in, instead of running a play, put them in a position to make a play, which is what I try to do.

Q. Because of the number of wins that you’ve had and some of the easier games or not close games in the tournament, do you think your guys get enough credit for their determination and will?
COACH CALIPARI: I don’t know. They do from me. I think that’s all they care about right now. I mean, again, we’re — we know we’re not perfect. We’re undefeated, but we’re not perfect. I mean, we showed that tonight. We’re really young and showed it tonight a ton. We had some turnovers that were like, “What did you just do? You just threw them the ball.” We did some things that we work on every day not to drive baseline. We drove baseline, stepped out of bounds. There were things that we did that showed our youth. But that being said, you still have a will to win. I’ll tell you, if people don’t realize it, Andrew and Aaron still drive this team. Willie does his thing, Karl was tremendous today, but those other two kids drive this team. Tyler comes in, Devin comes in. Those other two, they drove us last year to the final game, and they’re doing the same thing this year.

Q. Coach, they said the word desperation a couple times. Is that a word that floats around the program? Has it floated around this year, and how do you handle it. You reacted a bit when they said it?
COACH CALIPARI: I don’t think we ever talk about it. They must have felt like it’s time. Now, they were in every huddle saying, “let’s go, it’s time.” They were saying it to each other in every huddle. My thing is in these games, we can’t help the other team. We can’t. We helped Notre Dame a lot today. But until I watch the tape, I think they’re a great offensive team and they did some stuff and got us in some different positions and situations that were not good. But again, I don’t ever use it. My thing is just keep playing, man, keep playing. We’ll figure it out.

Q. How good did you think Karl was the second half?
COACH CALIPARI: He was unbelievable, and my staff was telling me, take him out, he’s not guarding him. I was like he’s the only guy scoring, I’ve got to leave him in. So I was trying to leave him — then he started taking himself out on defense, he was like, “take me out.” But, again, offensively, by the time this season winds down, I want people to look and say, wow, a big man, can make free throws, can score around the basket, can play pick and roll defense, not today but he can. Blocked shots, makes his free throws. That’s what you want, and I’ll tell you, he’s the greatest kid, he’s a great kid, really is.

Q. John, Willie at times it seemed like he struggled a little bit defensively or whatever but he made the plays at the end, he got his finger on Grant’s 3 and then chased Grant on that final play?
COACH CALIPARI: Let me just say at halftime, I’m walking in and they’re looking, we’re not playing loose enough, we’re not playing loose enough. I said you’re playing too cool. It’s hard to be loose when the other team is playing harder than you. And I felt their guards were playing more aggressive on our guards on both offense and defense. I thought our bigs were standing straight up and down, and acting like, wow, we can get these guys. I said, you can’t play loose unless you’re competing at a high level, then you can let it go offensively. Be loose and aggressive. We weren’t because it’s hard to be loose when a guy’s up in you and you’re just trying to make a pass. And I think Willie and Andrew, they all fell into that in the first half. And give Notre Dame credit, they came right after us, they were not afraid, they were confident. We made some plays down the stretch. We don’t make them, they’re going to Indy, and we’re going home.

Q. One of your former players will be playing tomorrow, in Wilshire. What have you thought of what he’s accomplished this year?
COACH CALIPARI: I’m so proud of Kyle, I can’t begin to tell you. My wife and I watch his games and I text him, we text back and forth. What he’s done, I knew he could do. You know, when kids make decisions to stay or leave, I don’t always agree. And I’m talking NBA or choose to go to another program, but at the end of the day, I am for Kyle Wilshire, that’s who I’m for. Unless we’re playing him, then I hope he misses every shot. Other than that, I can’t begin to tell you — and Mark is such a great coach, getting him to defend, elevating his game, not letting him settle for just being an offensive player, but being a guy that can score next to the basket, can pass, can shoot. Mark is making him a well-rounded player, something obviously I didn’t do as good a job of. But I’m proud of him and really happy for him.

The Ugly Known as Pregame.com

It is never a pretty sight when one ventures into the Pregame.com world of handicapping. The RJ Bell collection of “professional” handicappers specialize in outdated methodology, irrelevant trends, and overall sports betting ineptitude. But they sound good doing it, and that’s what typically counts in the tout world.

The results at Pregame.com bear this out. We looked at the results of each handicapper on the handicapper’s Pregame.com page. It is ugly, even considering the amount of stale lines and bet fudging that typically occur with Pregame handicappers. Of the 22 handicappers monitored, only six showed a profit.

The results:

Spartan, down $1,800 despite hitting 50% of his plays. Sadly for Sparty, he kept giving out free play winners while his ‘best’ picks were losers. Spartan was 14-4 when giving out free plays. He was 36-46 on his 100-300 range picks.

Fezzik, a tout with a 15 year record of losing, did a little better than Spartan. He only lost $935 with a 45-49 record.

Dave Cokin, host of an excellent sports radio show on Las Vegas radio, lost $510. Listen to his show if you want to be entertained. Just don’t put your hard-earned money down based on his opinion.

Bryan Leonard cost his backers $630. He no longer is associated with Pregame.com, upset that his losing sports advice was occasionally sold at a discount on Pregame.

The list goes on.
Dave Essler, down $1,060.
Joe Gavazzi, down $480
Tony George, down $990
JR O’Donnell, -$1,225
King Creole, down $1,700
Rocky Atkinson, down -$1,548
Greg Shaker, -$250
Dwayne Bryant, -$1,590
Ken Thomson, -$100
Scott Spreitzer, down $9

To remind you, people are actually sending money to Pregame.com to get gambling advice from these handicappers.

There are six pros that have shown a profit on there Pregame.com page. Yet in the long-term, most of these pros still belong in the loser category.

Andy Iskoe was 54-43 on his most recent plays, good for a profit of $1,235. Over his last 600+ plays, however, Iskoe has lost $9,700.

Stephen Nover, up $1,400 over his most recent 100 plays, is down $6,400 since our tracking started (nearly 800 plays).

Teddy Covers was up $250 over his last 100 plays, despite a 49-51 record. Unlike Spartan, Covers was fortunate that his free plays were losers. His free play record during that period of time was two wins and six losses. Long-term results aren’t kind to Teddy, however. He is down $4,000 overall, with nearly 450 plays being tracked.

SleepyJ was a free play machine, giving away 49 of his 96 plays listed on his Pregame.com page. The free plays were a disaster; Sleepy was 17-32 over those 49 plays. A $100 bettor would be down over $1,800 had he blindly followed Sleepy’s free plays. His paid plays were better, pushing him into the positive territory. That’s only the short-term, though. Overall, Sleepy is a net loser selling plays on the site.

Only two handicappers have shown both short-term and long-term profits for Pregame.com, not counting cost of service. Andre Gomes and Goodfella get the honors. Given Pregame.com’s blatant use of stale and non-existent lines and shady bookkeeping, however, it is hard to take Games and Goodfella seriously. The Pregame stink covers all, even those two.

Kentucky Wipes Out WVU: John Calipari Press Conference

Just three more games to history. The Kentucky Wildcats easily handled West Virginia, doubling up WVU 78-39 in a game not much closer than the score. The Wildcats, undefeated on the season, advance to the Great Eight to take on Notre Dame. Coach John Calipari discusssed the team after the game on Thursday.

COACH CALIPARI: I was really pleased with the energy of our team. I was pleased with how zoned in they were, with how we were going to attack the press, how we were going to finish and we were going to just, hey, if we could score a hundred, score a hundred, just play. I wanted them to play loose offensively and they did, but I was proud of the guys. It was a great defensive effort and that’s what it was. For Marcus Lee to Dakari, I thought they were excellent. Obviously you know that Andrew played a great basketball game and drove us, Trey played well. Devin made a couple shots, Tyler played well. Willie did what he does. The only guy, I said, was Karl was not as engaged with the team as he normally is, and I don’t know why he wasn’t but we’ll need him for the next one.

Q. John, you said especially of late you wanted these guys to be the best version of themselves. How close did they come to that tonight?
COACH CALIPARI: In that first half we did a lot of good stuff. Again, we did it without Karl. First play the game. He lowered his shoulder, and what are you doing? Because the guy bumped him. We know how good Karl is and he feels bad about how he played, but he’d feel great for his teammates but he needs to have a presence. Now, what Dakari did was like, wow, you could play without Karl. Well, Dakari was really good today. Marcus Lee was good. But again, I go back to Trey Lyles and I keep telling everybody he’s like an X factor for us because he is a four playing three but he’s skills and creating shots for his team now, making shots around the basket, making free throws, he was good.

Q. John, Bob said that he thought your 2010 team was more talented but they didn’t guard nearly as well as this team does. Do you agree with that?
COACH CALIPARI: Possibly. My 2010 team?

Q. The team that they beat with John Wall.
COACH CALIPARI: Well, there was a lot of teams that he beat.

Q. The team with John Wall.
COACH CALIPARI: That team, we were not an execution team, that team. That team was a team, we just — we got together in September and we tried to figure it out. I had a great run and great time with those kids but we weren’t an execution team, whether it be on defense or offense, we would breakdown. But we were so dominating in some other areas that we could get you but we weren’t a great shooting team. Very streaky shooting team. This team is probably more consistently skilled as players. But John Wall and DeMarcus, they were in the All-Star game. Patrick Patterson, he’s on the edge of the All-Star game. You talk about Eric Bledsoe, even Darius Miller, DeAndre Liggins, we had a house, but we weren’t an execution team. This team being we had more veterans, I’ve coached them a couple years, a little more execution.

Q. Back in the locker room, Tyler might be as kind of swaggy as I’ve heard him all year. Did he really take some of the things said yesterday kind of personal, because he said you wanted to win by 50 tonight if you could?
COACH CALIPARI: Well, that didn’t come from me because that’s not how I coach. What I keep coming back to my team, we’ve had teams talk about the game. I mean, what, someone’s going to come in and say we’re going to lose and they’re going to say they’re going to win but we say at some point you have to step in the ring, we’ll lift the rope, you’ve got to come in here. I don’t want my team playing angry, I don’t want them to be mean, nasty, hateful, I don’t want that. It’s not us against the world. It is play with joy and love of the game and love of each other. That wins every time. The other stuff turns to fear. When it’s not going good and you’re mad and you’re trying to elbow and all of a sudden you miss a shot, your physiology is real close to fear. They may have said we wanted to win by 50, but they won because they were focused on how we had to do it against this team because we beat a really good team pretty good but that’s not indicative of the year they had.

Q. Notre Dame played a second half of offense tonight that was as amazing as your defensive first half. Do you think your players will relish an opportunity to now face a team that people will say maybe the best offensive team in the country?
COACH CALIPARI: I don’t know, I didn’t get to see the game obviously. My staff came in and said, oh, my gosh. They went bonkers. And I said, like how? Like, every way you could go. Mike Brey and I are friends. I know how good a coach he is. As a matter of fact, we went to Notre Dame, what was it, two years ago, two years ago, Michigan, when we got beat by 30? It may have been a 30 point rout, they beat our brains in. I know how good a coach he is, I know how good their team is. As a matter of fact, I think their football team rushed the court, if I remember right. We ran out of there. We saw them coming, we ran the other way.

Q. Could you just update a little bit on Aaron. He said back there he’s fine, he’ll definitely play Saturday, that he popped his finger back in himself. It looked pretty gross.
COACH CALIPARI: It was awful, and then I kept looking like, is that his right hand or is that his left hand, I couldn’t figure it out, and he said left, I said you’re good, tape that thing up. And I put him back in, I just wanted him to take a shot or two like to make sure he would feel okay, but then I told him don’t you drive the ball, don’t go near the basket and then I just took him out because we have a day and a half to get ready. But he’s fine. He seems to be fine. It will be hurting tomorrow, I imagine.

Q. There was so much talk about their press and how aggressive they were, the traps. It never really was a factor. What was the key to that?
COACH CALIPARI: Well, again, when you have to prepare to play the teams we play, that press and trap and play physical, you have a little head start. At the beginning of the year, it’s one of the things that we’ll say let’s make sure we’re good against a press, that we have great spacing, that we understand what you’re trying to do and playing off one another, but an old friend of mine says you press a pressing team, you press a pressing team. And that’s why we put in the diamond press and that’s why we did some of the stuff we did, just to press them to go like you’re not going to be the aggressor; we’re going to be the aggressor, too.

Q. John, how good was it to see some offense from Dakari and Devin both again tonight?
COACH CALIPARI: It’s terrific. I’m happy for them. Devin worked so hard. It’s been tough, he’s 18 years old, he’s probably one of the youngest freshmen in the country, he got on a run, and all of a sudden he’s making shots, and if you remember the comment, it’s like I’m shooting it in the ocean. And then his ocean got really small. Now you’re watching him, and I kept telling him, this whole team wants you to shoot the ball. He had to tighten it up, he got a little loose with his shot, and when you do that and you start missing, it goes the other way on you fast, but I thought today he was terrific. He makes us, he spreads you out. Now all of a sudden you’ve got he and Aaron and Andrew’s making shots and Trey’s making his pull-ups, all of a sudden you’re a pretty balanced team.

Q. Can you kind of describe what you think Aaron’s kind of competitive edge is that he stayed in after he got hurt and was battling against those guys?
COACH CALIPARI: I think both he and his brother, they’ve been there. They dragged us last year to the championship game, there’s no question it was those two, what they did. And it’s not just Aaron making the shots. It’s all the other things they did on the court defensively, run-thru’s. Those two dragged us. Now you’re watching us and I hate to tell you those two or dragging us again. I thought Andrew was ridiculously good today. He was so good. His spirit is so good. He is defensive playmaking away from the ball, he’s playing the ball, he’s attacking, he’s playing with speed, he’s getting by people. I mean, I just am so proud of him and what he’s doing. If there are better guards in the country, you’ve got to show me who they are. I think they’re both playing well. And then you have — when they back up a little bit, you’ve got Tyler and Devin. And I can put Tyler in there with them, which really relieves a lot of pressure from having to handle the ball.

Wichita St. Knocked Out by Notre Dame: Gregg Marshall Press Conference

Wichita St. kept it close early, but the hot-shooting Notre Dame Fighting Irish overwhelmed the Shockers in the second half to secure a 81-70 win and advance to the Great 8 in the NCAA tournament. Coach Gregg Marshall, and players Ron Baker and Fred VanVleet talked about the game and the season in the post-game press conference.

COACH MARSHALL: First of all, I would like to congratulate Notre Dame. Tremendous, tremendous team. The best offensive team we’ve seen all year, hands down, and they played a heck of a game and I’m happy for them as they get the chance to move on, especially Coach Brey with what he’s been through this week, tremendous guy. And then we’ll get into it, but I appreciate the warrior spirit that these guys, after we took the one point lead they came out with a barrage of 3s, it’s very quick the way they built that lead, but these guys never quit, they fought to the bitter end, and it was a great year for us, so really proud of them.

Q. Fred, when you got that lead, did you feel like you guys had gotten over a hump given how big a deficit you overcame, and what did you think about Notre Dame just taking off from there?
FRED VanVLEET: Yeah, we felt good, obviously battling back. We started off the first half terrible with being down 18 to 5 or whatever it was. So battling all the way back, we wanted to open up the second half in a good way and we did that. So we opened up the right way, and then like Coach said, they made some 3s, but I think we gave them too many easy looks inside and we can live with the 3s but they just shot layup after layup, it seemed like, and we just for whatever reason couldn’t stop them. So we just wanted to battle, try to keep battling throughout the game, just keep running them off but they were pretty hot, knocking down shots, so give them all the credit.

Q. For Ron and Fred, what makes them so difficult to guard, is it the fact that they can shoot 3s and also pound it inside?
RON BAKER: Any time you can stretch the floor with four basically guards that can shoot it like they can, it’s tough to defend the screen and roll. Their five man was doing a good job of screening and rolling quickly to the rim, and we were doing our best to pinch the floor and they were doing a good job of either passing to the roller or skipping across court and knocking down shots. They just shot the ball, shot the cover off of it in reality. Never seen a team shoot it like they have today.

FRED VanVLEET: Yeah, I mean, they stretched the floor with guys that could shoot it, I mean in a similar way that we did, we made the shots against Kansas. Tonight we didn’t. They did. Any time you’ve got four guys out there that are knocking down 3s with a five man that’s going to roll and work hard and get points in the paint, it puts pressure on the defense. We got a lot of open looks ourselves and we just didn’t knock them down. So, like I say, I give them credit for making theirs.

Q. Fred, after you were down 18-5, then you kind of shut them down a little bit and recovered, what were you doing right at that point in the first half?
FRED VanVLEET: We just got off our heels. We got some deflections, got a steal or two, or were able to just get a stop, you know, I think we came out on our heels a little bit, just eager to try to anticipate what they were going to do. But after that, after they made their first run and we started getting back to the way we usually play defense, they missed some open looks as well, so that helps, and we were able to get out in transition and get some buckets.

Q. Fred, after you took that lead in the second half Demetrius Jackson really got going. I think you scored one layup after Wichita State made a shot. How do you describe how he kind of turned the game around?
FRED VanVLEET: Well, he shot the ball really well and our game plan going in was trying to — he’s so quick off the dribble, just pick him up at the 3-point line and if he makes four or five of them, that was our game plan going into the game. I mean, he made, what did he make, he made four of them. So that was — I think that was a guy that we would let take that shot and he knocked them in, similar to the way they played Evan last week, he knocked them in. So give him all the credit.

Q. Does Pat Connaughton surprise you for being a 6’4 guy who rebounds so well and I know he’s known for his 3-pointers but tonight he drove the ball?
RON BAKER: I’m sorry, who? Pat? Oh, 24, right, right. Yeah, he’s one of those kids that’s kind of in between a 3-4 but he handles it like a 3, but he can bruise with you down low. Obviously he can shoot really well, like I said earlier, he was doing a good job of spacing the floor on the weak side and he was giving Jackson and Grant the opportunity to come off the ball screen and either hit the roller or pass it to him for the shot. So deadly weapon obviously, that can stay in the corner or even post up occasionally.

FRED VanVLEET: To answer your question, no, he doesn’t surprise us. We watched film and we re-respect him as a player. He’s a heck of an athlete and probably their best shooter and he just competes, so he had a pretty good game.

For both of you, I know it’s fresh but could you just describe how you’re feeling now, this run, just there’s been a lot of emotion, there’s been a lot of — just how this has been for you and how you’re feeling?
RON BAKER: Deep down, I’m pretty upset. I feel for our seniors Tekele and Darius, two guys who obviously deserve to move on and play Saturday. I wish individually I could have done more to help my team win and just one of those games. You’ve got to get through and we were unable no execute on the offensive end and defensive end in the second half.

FRED VanVLEET: It’s been a heck of a ride, man. It’s been a great year for us, lot of ups and downs, lot of fighting, got a bunch of new guys just bringing them along but it’s been fun, it’s been a great ride for us. Obviously right now disappointed, hurt, tired, you know, exhausted. Like Ron said, just feel sorry for those seniors, you never want to end on a loss but it happens. They had great careers and I’m just happy to be able to play with those guys and make some of these experiences so — just overall disappointed, it hurt but at the same time just recognizing that we had a great year and just want to celebrate with these seniors.

Q. For Ron and Fred, describe this season in one word?
RON BAKER: I’m not an English major, that’s pretty tough for me, but I don’t know, any word that describes new people, a lot of new people come together and finishing the season like we have today. No one expected us to be where we are right now. When you’ve got eight, nine new faces coming into your program, a lot of people probably didn’t expect us to make it this far.

FRED VanVLEET: I would just say, I mean, Shockers, that just defines us, who we are as men and people. We fight, we haven’t been perfect all year, we don’t shoot the ball well all the time, but we fight, we compete, just kept fighting, rallying back, having fun throughout the process and it’s just been a lot of fun to play with these guys.

Q. They were so good at the outset of the game and then for a long stretch of time your defense kicked in, held them down and then suddenly another flash fire. What was it like trying to prepare for these guys, and then in the course of the game, what did you see happen in those sudden changes?
COACH MARSHALL: Bob, just from studying the film of them you could tell what a dynamic offensive team they were. There’s nobody you can cheat off of. Each one of those five guys, and they play a lot of minutes, are dangerous. Demetrius Jackson is so good off the bounce, and we were able to keep him out of the paint and away from the rim for the most part, but then he knocks down four 3s. At the beginning of the game, it started with him, he made two of the first three 3s to begin the game. We were on our heels a little bit 18-5, wasn’t happy in that first media timeout. And we just charted to play, and started to chip away and chip away, and got it to 3 at the half and took the lead. And then the same thing, the same guy really, he makes two 3s, he gets to the rim, as Paul mentioned. And there were other guys, I’m not just saying those, but Demetrius Jackson, I think, was the catalyst today in knocking down those shots. He did it at the beginning and then he did it after we took the 1 point lead. So I’ve never seen a 1 point lead get out of hand so quickly, and it did tonight because of their fire power.

Q. Along those same lines, when you climb back from that kind of deficit and you get ahead, does that usually go one of two ways? Does a team sometimes buckle when you do that, and were you surprised they were able to kind of do that right away back at you guys?
COACH MARSHALL: Really, it can go one of two ways or it can be a see-saw affair. you’ve seen enough college basketball. We could have pushed it out to 10, and maybe it’s a different game like we were able to do against Kansas, or they can do what they did, which is go on an incredible run. Or it could then be a see-saw affair where the lead changes multiple times. That’s just college basketball. Tonight it was their night and they shot it much better than we did. We had some good looks now, we had some good looks. Ron and Fred and Tekele had some really good looks, we just didn’t make them. They made theirs and they shot it great, especially in the second half and the beginning of the first half.

Q. You had a real emotional weekend, emotional game Sunday and a quick turnaround. Did that take anything out of this team, the circumstances?
COACH MARSHALL: I don’t know, Paul. I don’t particularly like the fact that we had a less days to prepare than Notre Dame. That’s not an excuse, I just don’t like the pod system or whatever they call it where you play Sunday night, you get back late and then you’re back on the road on Tuesday when the other team has an extra day, plus less travel. Then on top of that, our plane was late to pick us up on Tuesday, so we’re sitting around, sitting around. We finally practiced about 8:30 for an hour and fed the guys about 10:00. I don’t like that, it’s not good, but that has nothing to do with the game. The better team won tonight. As I mentioned, Mike Brey’s one of the great guys in the business, and if you’ve got to lose in the NCAA Tournament, it might as well be to a guy like him.

Q. Gregg, can you kind of just put an overall feeling on this season? These guys kind of acted as if maybe they overachieved just a little bit, but I don’t know how you feel?
COACH MARSHALL: Well, think, Kevin, when you can go through a season like we did with five veterans, that’s it, five guys that have played Division I basketball, the rest of the eight scholarship guys are new. You can be ranked all year long, you can win your regular season title 17-1, you can beat Kansas to go to the Sweet 16. I mean, it’s one of the top teams in the country. So there’s no way you can be disappointed in this year. We lost to a better team tonight that was playing really well. I just watched five or six games of them, and the last game I watched today was Duke in I think the semi-finals of the ACC tournament, and they were up 15, 20 points against Duke and Duke cut it down and had a chance to make a game of it, but it ended up being 10 or 12 or whatever. Steve’s playing really well. When you win the ACC tournament in Greensboro and beat Duke in North Carolina back to back, you’re playing well. And they’re hot and got a great system. Again, I tip my hat to them and — but I’m going to go back with my head held high, too. I love these kids, wonderful human beings, great students, great people, and they represent our fine university in a first-class way.

Q. Gregg, earlier you had indicated Ron has a decision to make about what he’s going to do, if he’s going to come back next year. How’s that process work and what’s your role in helping him with that?
COACH MARSHALL: Well, we have to gather information for him. There’s an NBA — and Fred has the same decision to make. Anybody with the credentials that those kids have can put their name in the hat and then you ask the NBA folks to give you an advisory sample of where certain teams may see you and then they come back to you and then you have to just make a decision. Ron did that last year. So I anticipate them both doing that. I don’t know when that happens but it can start now, I think, but I don’t know how quickly that you turn that around. I like what Ron said up here when I heard him say that he felt bad for the seniors. He didn’t act like it was his last game, he felt bad for the seniors. That was at least a little positive that I took from that, I don’t know if you guys caught that, but I did. So we just — we help them, we advise them. If either one of them are lottery picks, you probably have to consider it very strongly. If you’re midway through the second round, chances are about 50/50 you never play a second in the NBA. So there’s only X amount of slots. You’re a big NBA guy, you know that. They have to make some really tough choices. Ron will have his degree because he’s red shirted, he’s already finished. Fred will have some more schooling to do but they’re both great players, and regardless and here’s the point I’m going to make to them, regardless if they go to the NBA or Europe, today, tomorrow, next year, they’re going to be successful. And they don’t really understand that right now because they’re thinking, man, I can be a lottery pick, I can make millions of dollars, and that’s probably at the forefront, but it doesn’t matter whether either one of them plays a second in the NBA, they’re going to be successful.