First Round Quotes: Texas A&amp;M vs. Penn
First Round Quotes: Texas A&M vs. Penn Post-GameMarch 15, 2007
Penn Head Coach Glen Miller I was a little disappointed in the first half. Outside of these two guys (Mark Zoller and Ibrahim Jaaber), I thought we played a little intimidated. Playing against such a good team in Texas A&M when you have those open opportunities you have to knock down a reasonable amount of shots. We dug ourselves a hole. Considering that, I thought in the second half we collected ourselves and came out of the locker room and showed some spunk to come back and take the lead. They hunkered down on defense when they needed to and came up with some big shots. I think they hit three or four shots with five or less seconds left on the shot clock which really hurt us. They had good penetration where we had to help, (which led to) offensive rebounds and follow-ups. We were down five points and there was a possession where we played a 1-3-1 zone and they hit a little baseline runner there. They made the plays when they needed to. I was proud of the way that we came back in the second half and competed. I thought we had a chance to win the game we just didnt make enough plays. These two guys here have had a great career, and Im fortunate to have had the opportunity to coach them. It was a good year for us.
On what concerns he had about Texas A&M& When you know you are playing against a defensive team like Texas A&M and you know that they are as good as they are defensively and you have some open looks and layups, you better convert on those. I thought we were intimidated and we werent believers early and that cost us. I thought we did a good job at coming back after halftime; we played with more aggression and more belief. Theres no real margin for error when you play against a team like Texas A&M. You have to convert. I dont know how many layups we missed. They were moving the ball well on the top of the key which really takes away your back side help. I thought there were some points in the game where we went away from that, and they got some good looks down low. We also went away from offensive execution. In the second half we had a draught there for awhile, and again there is little margin for error. You really have to play a complete game for 40 minutes. I felt that at the end of the game, Mark (Zoller) played tough defense and it took his legs. As well as he played in this game, he had some open looks coming out of timeouts and we ran a few plays for him and he just didnt have the legs to shoot the ball because he used so much energy on the defensive end.
On Texas A&Ms Acie Law IVs impact on the game& I thought he made some big plays, you guys probably know that. I thought his impact on the game in the second half probably, four or five times they scored with five or less seconds on the shot clock. His penetration hurt.
#2 Ibrahim Jaaber, G
On his thoughts at the end of the game& I cant really tell you what was going through my mind. Another wasted opportunity. The third time is the charm, thats what they say. But it just didnt work out that way.
I think for me, getting taken out of the game (with a minute left), just knowing that theres not a tomorrow, it kind of hit me there a little bit. Hopefully, Ill have some sort of professional career ahead of me and I can continue to develop my love for the game.
On his most memorable game from his career at Penn& The Princeton game when we were down 17 points with seven minutes to go in the game. And we came back, took the game into overtime and went on to win. Thats probably the most memorable game in my career at Penn.
#41 Justin Reilly, F
On the slow start& I think we came out and our offense wasnt working very well. We were getting the shots we wanted but they just were not going in. We came out in the second half and our shots were falling. Against a team like Texas A&M you have to play perfect and I dont think we did that. You really want to win it for your seniors.
On being tight in the game& I think everybody battles nerves in the beginning. Even Texas A&Ms shots were not going in the beginning. A lot of big teams come out and want to hit their shots and get on a roll early but most teams struggle early in the first round in the NCAA. You want to get all the jitters out and get your shots to start falling in the second half.
On playing in the game& I just wanted to come in and give a spark; I just came in and did what I could to give our team a spark.
#21 Brian Grandieri, G
On how the game went& We played a terrible first half but we came out the second half and showed a lot of perseverance and we actually ended up being up two then they got two big dunks and a lot of momentum went back to their side. We took a few good shots and had a few good looks and after all of that the game changed.
On missing shots in the first half& For whatever reason we make a lot of those shots normally but then again we dont usually see guys who are 68 or 69 who are challenging your shots. We dont have a lot of guys who we can practice against who are that tall. You think you are open then they stretch out their arms. It is not something that were used to that much, but in this tournament against a team like Texas A&M you have to make those plays if you want to win. We made some of those plays but we didnt make enough.
#3 Steve Danley, F
On how everyone played today& We know we are a good basketball team and we can do some good things. We did some good things out there and a lot of the younger guys really stepped up. You look at a guy like Justin [Reilly] who had a great game and Adam [Franklin] who got us on the board and hit some shots early and we just want to leave our marks as ball players. I am really proud of all the guys.
On his college basketball career& One way to look at a career is how you perform in the tournament and that clearly didnt work out too well. The real test of longevity is to win the league and we did that three years in a row. We have left a legacy for the young guys to live up to.
#24 Mark Zoller, F
On the overall game& I think we definitely showed a lot of character coming back in the second half. A lot of teams would have just packed it in there, but I think we showed a lot of character and came together and actually took the lead. I guess they just made a lot of plays. They locked down on defense and we had a scoring drought after we took the lead, I cant remember, for a couple of minutes. I definitely think we played very well and showed a lot of character coming back.
On if he was worried when they trailed early in the game& No, I don think so. We were getting open looks and shots, but we werent making them. I guess Texas A&M was getting a couple of good looks and we had a few miscues on defense, but I dont think the game got away from us at any point.
On the what ifs after the game was over& Thats a pretty tough question. I guess what if we made a couple of those early shots and took the lead in the first half. It could have been a completely different ball game. I think we missed a couple of easy opportunities, myself included. I missed an easy lay-up and a wide open three that I think could have changed the complexion of the game.
On having the lead in the second half... A lot of thoughts were going through my head. We were trying to make believers out of everyone in the stadium. Everyone I felt like was on our side at that point. I guess we felt like we were on top of the world.
Texas A&M Head Coach Billy Gillispie
Opening statement& This was a great win for us. Anytime you get a chance to advance in the NCAA Tournament, you are really fortunate. We are happy to get a win. Penn is a very good team and I thought we did a good job defensively at the start. We struggled to finish some plays and didnt hit enough free throws, which allowed them to get ahead of us. I was really pleased with the way our team responded when they fell behind. They really played well from that point on.
On first-year Penn head coach Glen Miller& Hes already leaving his imprint on the program. He benefited from having three great seniors and some other experienced players that have been to the tournament. Hes done a fantastic job. The amount of improvement that they have made since the start of the season to today is amazing. He has really maximized his personnel.
On falling behind against Penn in the second half& Our team always plays hard. You have periods in a game where things dont go very well and you know Penn isnt going to keep missing as many shots as they did. They have too good of an offensive plan and too many good players to keep struggling. We knew theyd make some shots and we werent hitting our free throws when they did. Its a 48-minute game and youre going to have good and bad periods against a team that has gotten this far. We just needed to hit some three throws, finish some plays and play a little faster.
On being able to be versatile defensively& It means everything (to us). I thought Marlon (Pompey) did a great job on No. 2 (Ibrahim Jaaber). Dominque (Kirk) has been able to guard everyone from centers to point guards all year. We have a lot of flexibility. All our guys really helped defend pretty well today. I dont recall one back door (that Penn scored on) all game. I though the best defender of the game was Jo Jones. He had his best game helping on defense this season, which wasnt easy against a team that runs a lot of back door offense.
Texas A&M Players
#1 Acie Law IV
On the defensive play of Penn when Texas A&M fell behind& We missed like four layups from about four feet out and they did a great job of converting those plays and we did a bad job of finishing them. Once we fell behind, we knew we had to play together and dig down and get stops. The big fellow (Joseph Jones) put a run together and Dominique (Kirk) made some big shots and we were able to get back in the game and eventually get ahead and get a victory.
On Texas A&M turning up the heat defensively in the second half& We didnt want to lose. Weve worked too hard this season to put ourselves in this situation and we didnt want to let that go. We deserve to be in this tournament. At the same time, we knew in our minds that we had to make plays, we had to get back in it and it all starts with defense.
On how they are playing right now& We can play better, I think. We have to finish our plays and we have to do a better job of converting our free throws. But like coach said I think we did a good job defensively.
On facing Louisville& The played well today and its going to be a battle.
#30 Joseph Jones
On his back-to-back dunks in the second half& I was trying to be aggressive and attack the offensive glass. Those two dunks put a spark into us - (helped) get us on a run.
On picking up the defensive intensity in the second half& We pride ourselves on defense.
#22 Dominique Kirk
On his big three-pointer in the second half & Coach always tells me to shoot the ball, dont worry about it. So I let it rock.
#42 Marlon Pompey
On the game& Penn is a great team. They knew what we were going to do. They did a great job scouting us. They knew that we would pound it inside. They did a great job covering up on [Joseph] Jones and Antanas [Kavaliauskas]. They did a good job executing. We had them up at the halftime. They missed some shots that allowed us to get up at the half. In the second half they came out ready to go. They knew they werent the same. They came out and hit their shots and took the lead for a second. Coach made some changes and we ended out coming out ahead.
On Penns game plan& Penn did a good job the whole game. They came out in the second half and warmed up. They started executing well and making their shots. They had a perfect plan and it worked. We had to step it up. We had to step up our defense. They do a lot of back-door cuts similar to Texas Tech.
On the next game against Louisville& Our coach was out there scouting them. Our coach is great scout. We just need to execute our plans. We saw them a little bit. We saw their press. I think they have a great press and they have athletic guys. I have seen them on TV before. They are a great team with a great coach.
#23 Josh Carter
On adjustments made in the second half& Penn came out and was really aggressive on defense. We just had to pick up our pace on offense. We had to penetrate and get it inside, and thats what we did. We were able to take the lead back.
On Louisville& They play hard and they are a good defensive team. They come out with good pressure. We just have to try to go out and break the pressure and score on the other side.