March 19, 2009
PORTLAND STATE QUOTES
THE MODERATOR: We'll take questions now for the Portland State student athletes.
Q. Now that you've had a chance to really look at Xavier, what are your biggest concerns about them heading into tomorrow's game?
JEREMIAH DOMINGUEZ: We watched film on them earlier. They're big. A lot of their points come from rebounding the offensive glass, so we know we're undersized and we're going to have to keep them off the glass, so that's big concern for us.
Q. For Dominic, Dominic, can you talk about what Jeremiah brings to the table for your team?
DOMINIC WATERS: He's our general out there. He controls the ball, controls the tempo of the game. Distributes to everybody. He controls everybody's shots. And pretty much the whole game.
Really, he's the deciding factor usually whether we win or lose, whether or not he's on and off or what he decides to do during the game. Really, he's our leader, so we follow him. As he goes, we go.
Q. Since you were here last year do you find that it's an advantage that you come in and know what to expect this time around?
ANDRE MURRAY: Yeah, especially us being here last year, at this time around we'll be a little bit more motivated. Last year we were just happy with the 16 seed and for the school to get the 16 seed. But now we're coming here hungry. We're looking to get a win, hopefully a win or two. So it's a big drive and I feel like it's a better advantage for us knowing that we have been here before.
Q. Earlier the Xavier players were up here and they talked about how some of the games they lost were against teams that play your style. What does that do for your confidence entering tomorrow's game?
JEREMIAH DOMINGUEZ: Our style is, we're up and down. And we get out and push the ball. If we hit our threes then we're dangerous. They know that we're dangerous if we come out, so it gives us a lot of confidence coming into the game.
Q. I haven't seen a team that's attempted or made as many 3 pointers as you guys. Jeremiah, in your practices is that something you guys set aside time for? How do you guys approach 3 point shooting as like a philosophy with your team?
JEREMIAH DOMINGUEZ: We play four guys on the court, one through four can shoot on our team. So that's what our coach wants. We have a motion offense that sets sets us up to have 3 point opportunities for the defense we're playing.
Q. Andre, how does your interior game respond when you guys stall on the perimeter?
ANDRE MURRAY: It responds pretty well as far as the interior as far as when we're out there on the perimeter. We do stall a lot, but the interior brings it whether or not we do good or not. So I think we should be all right in that department.
Q. You guys were pretty happy when you found out that you got a 13 seed and you found out your draw. Do you still feel pretty confident about your chances? Are you happy with the draw? How do you feel about it?
DOMINIC WATERS: We're very excited about our opportunity to be here. Excited about our seed. But we're just ready to go. We're ready to compete, we're ready to play. Regardless of who we were going to play we were going to come in here and prepare like any other game. Not put too much pressure on ourselves, just come out and be ready to win. We're not backing down from anyone.
We're a competitive group. We got competitive coaches and obviously we're going to be ready. We are here for a reason. We're not here just to be here, we are here to compete to win. So we're excited.
Q. You guys obviously beat Gonzaga earlier this year, they're a number four seed. Does that give you guys confidence going against a team like Xavier? A win over Gonzaga earlier this year.
DOMINIC WATERS: It definitely gives us a boost. That win was huge for us. That's probably the reason why we're a 13 seed is because of that win, going into their house and beating them and now that we're on a neutral floor it gives us a big boost.
There's no home court advantage. We have more of a home court advantage than they do being as we're just a state away from Portland, so we're excited about this opportunity. It's just I'm happy to be here, after sitting out last year and seeing them do this last year, I mean, we're ready to go. We're excited.
Q. For any of the guys, just talk about relishing the role of the underdog. As a 13 seed you're not expected to win, is that something that you guys feed on and try to work to your advantage?
ANDRE MURRAY: Personally I like the underdog role. Sometimes you got to those are ones you should be most worried about and those are the ones that are the most dangerous. For us not having any pressure on our back, that's a pretty relieving thing. So I accept the role a hundred percent of being the underdog.
Q. Jeremiah, talk about the mood or morale of the team at this point before a game versus last year. Is there more confidence this year heading into the game or is there nerves still?
JEREMIAH DOMINGUEZ: Our team's very confident right now. I know it's going to take a lot, it's going to be a 40 minute game, a hard game, but we're confident of what our matchup is with Xavier, I think if we stop a lot of stop them on the boards and get out and go, I think we have a good chance.
THE MODERATOR: All right, thanks guys. We'll take questions for Coach Bone.
Q. If you could talk about Jeremiah, what getting him for Portland, that whole process and when did you start recruiting him initially?
COACH BONE: Never really recruited him. He was at University of Portland, five miles away from our campus and things did not work out real well there for him. So they came to a mutual agreement. He left Portland, called us up, asked if he could meet with myself and my Associate Head Coach Tyler Geving. Sat down, met, and he was enrolling a few days later.
Q. Talked to you right after the tournament show. And you had only seen 20 minutes of Xavier at that point and you said that you thought that their interior game was going to be a problem for you. Now that you've been able to see them a little bit more, do you still have the same assessment?
COACH BONE: My assessment now is their interior game and their exterior game is going to be a problem, on both ends of the court. They're pretty darn good. I'm really impressed with the way they play. They're a, to me, they're just a really good solid basketball team. I don't see any All Americans on their team, but I see five or six extremely good basketball players. They're solid defensively, they make it very difficult for you to get shots, and then when you do get shots they do a great job of contesting shots. And then they finish it with rebounds. They're one of the leading rebounding teams in the country, and that has not been one of our strong suits this year. So I'm concerned with being able to battle them on the glass.
Then I think offensively, again, almost like defense, they're just solid. They execute well, they share the ball, they come up with good shots, and then unfortunately if they miss, they go get it and put it in. So we have our work cut out for us. They're pretty good.
Q. Coach, Xavier is obviously one of the bigger teams you've played all year in size. How concerned are you between the size differential between your team and theirs?
COACH BONE: Well, we have had to deal with the size issue a few times as of late, not the last game we played against Montana State, but prior to that Idaho State in our conference, they're pretty big too. And they start similar, as far as their height, they start similar size wise as Xavier.
So we have had a little bit of experience against teams like that. Compared to Idaho State, they're a little quicker, and a little more athletic. But the size, it can bother you if you're trying to get shots off. So we're going to need to be able to execute some things offensively to make sure we get some good shots, good looks at the basket.
Q. Going back to Jeremiah, did you know what you were getting? A guy who was going to be this successful and did his size at all make you worry?
COACH BONE: Well, prior to coming to Portland State I was at University of Washington for three years and had a chance to coach Nate Robinson. And Nate was obviously a spectacular player, spectacular athlete. But he was about the same height as Jeremiah Dominguez. Now the difference was like I've just mentioned, physically Nate Robinson is just a specimen and kind of a freak athlete. Jeremiah is not that.
But Nate was also competing at the national level in the Pac 10, and Jeremiah's spent most of his time in the Big Sky the last two years. So the similarities are they're both small and they both have a huge heart and they just bring it. Not every game not only every game, but it's like they're always trying to prove themselves every possession. That's where Jeremiah is really good and that's why I'm sitting here today is how he turned the championship game at the Big Sky Conference tournament into a Jeremiah Dominguez show for about 10 minutes, which made the difference in the game on both ends of the court.
Q. Can you talk about just the benefit of playing in Boise, the quick trip over here and the morale of your team right now?
COACH BONE: I haven't seen the team a whole lot because we have been so busy, but I think the morale is good. I can't imagine it being anything different. I'm sure they're excited because, for a Big Sky school, there's only one that's coming to this tournament and they understand, I believe, that we are that one team and we need to just cherish the moment and try to live it as long as we can.
It's nice to be here in Boise. We travel quite a bit within our conference and we're in and out of airports a lot and we get out of the airport and we're hopping on buses and going elsewhere. So it was nice to just have a one hour flight to Boise and we're hoping that a number of our fans and supporters can show up, which I believe they will.
Q. You mentioned last year that the team was pretty wide eyed and dazzled by being in the tournament for the first time. Do you see anything different this year in their approach as compared to last year?
COACH BONE: I do think the last week our kids have handled the situation better than last year. Last year just seemed like they were a little bit giddy at times. This time around I think our guys have come to practice, worked hard, and been about as focused as we have been all year. So that's exciting to go me as a coach to know that I think this tournament has their attention and they know what's ahead in that we're playing a very, very good team and they need to be focused and locked in and ready to go.
Q. Xavier has had some problems against teams that play your style, spreading the floor, does that give you more confidence entering tomorrow's game?
COACH BONE: What else do they have problems with? Do you know? (Laughter.)
Well, they're not perfect. There's been times they have been beat just like the rest of us. So we watched enough video to recognize that there's a few things that they do and they do them well, but we have got a decent team too and we got a couple guys that can play and hopefully we can exploit those weaknesses or at least weaknesses as far as it's all relative, weaknesses compared to some other things that they do extremely well.
Q. What kind of tempo would you like to see in tomorrow's game? Would you like to see something more slowed down or up and down running?
COACH BONE: To start the game out I would like to see us get up and down the floor a little bit and try to push it. Because I think that if you have tried to play that style for, and teach it since mid September, basically for six months, you're sending a pretty strong message if you tell the guys, hey, we got to slow this game down now because we're inferior to them.
So I would like to us initiate the game, try to get out, try to push it, see if we can't get a good look at the basket in transition, and then obviously get back quick on defense and hold them down from being able to get the same thing on their end.
But as the game proceeds, I think that we need to try to control the tempo a little bit, yet at the same time look for shots if we get them in transition.
THE MODERATOR: All right. Thank you, coach.
THE MODERATOR: We'll go ahead and get started. We'll take questions for the student athletes of Xavier.
Q. B.J., last time we talked to you you didn't know much about Portland State. Can you talk about what you've learned about them since and what concerns you most heading into tomorrow's game.
B.J. RAYMOND: Well, they're a good team. We know that they were here last year and they like to win the game by making a lot of 3s. And they're quick, and they know how to play as a team. They won their tournament In four games, and they are a really good team. They're not to be taken for granted.
Q. You guys have played with Drew Lavander, so you understand that the size doesn't always matter. Can you talk a little bit about five foot six Jeremiah Dominguez and what he brings to the table for Portland State.
B.J. RAYMOND: He's the engine to their team. He was the Player of the Year last year in their conference. He made First Team this year and he makes their team go. He's a great guard for them. He sets up other players, while also getting himself off. And that's the same thing that Drew did for us last year and he is a big part of the team and we need to make sure that we kind of contain him a little bit if we want to be successful.
Q. Derrick, it seems that an advantage you guys would have would be rebounding. I think they're averaging plus 0.9, yours is 8.4. Talk about how important rebounding is going to be in this game.
DERRICK BROWN: Rebound is going to be very important. It's important actually every game for us. It's one of the strengths of our team. We just want to do good in that area, especially like offensive rebounds and things like that because we are on paper bigger, taller team than them. But it's going to be an interesting game and that's rebounding is a place that we have to do a better job.
Q. The two seniors, talk about how you're approaching this game as opposed to the tournament last year knowing that the next game could be the last game.
C.J. ANDERSON: That's just basically how I'm taking it, that when you're in the NCAA tournament as a senior, if you don't come to play or you're not prepared, then your season and your career is over. So I'm just coming out like it could be my last game, so I'm just looking forward to coming out and giving as much effort as possible.
B.J. RAYMOND: I learned a lesson when I was a kid that you never know when you're going to be. So you always need to play your best at every point in time. Last year we didn't know if we were coming back to the NCAA tournament last year. We just hoped we are here this year, you know. So just like last year, it doesn't matter how hard you played sometimes, it's just your continuous effort no matter how strong you are or how tall you are, it's just all about continuous effort. And just one thing that I'm going to bring to the table to make sure that as a leader of my team to make sure that my effort is always there.
Q. Portland State's a team that spreads you out, all five guys can shoot the 3. Have you guys faced anyone who has played that same style and what do you have to do differently than maybe against a traditional opponent?
B.J. RAYMOND: Yes, we played against Butler, who we lost to and Duquesne who we lost to. They did the same thing. They spread us out and we took kind of a tongue lashing a little bit for both of those games. I feel that we have learned from that. One thing that we learned is that we have to keep our defense tight and make sure that we close out the shooters. And make sure that we make the game hard. In both games both teams got out to a quick and early start. We got hit in the mouth in both games. And we just want to make sure that we're ready to play and not playing catchup for the rest of the for the whole game.
Q. In their nine losses I believe they missed 168 3 pointers, talk about how important it is going to be to play perimeter defense on a team like this.
B.J. RAYMOND: It's very important. Also it's very important to block out and make sure that you don't collapse too much. Because they're a team that they live and die by the 3. And they're a great 3 point shooting team, they shoot it really well from four positions and their five man is usually a great passer from inside the post. So it's a difficult game, but within ourselves we have been down this road before and we have to try our best to contain and stick to the game plan.
Q. Talk about the depth on your team. You got nine guys playing 15 to 30 minutes and no one's really logging that many more. How much of an advantage is that to each one of you guys individually?
DERRICK BROWN: That's a big part of our success this year. Coach it's not just sticking with five or six players, we're a very deep team. That's why I feel like on any given night different players can step up. It's not always one player averaging 25 points or anything like that because on this team, I guess I said it best, it is a team. We got young players and different players in different roles and I think that's why our program continues to be successful because the experience that people get in all different situations.
Q. How does the experience gained last year going to help you guys? You have had a lot of nice runs in the tournament and how does the experience help you and is there anything you guys want to do differently this year that you thought you might do that would help you?
DERRICK BROWN: Being here last year, it's not like a, for us, a couple players on the team like me and B.J., it's not like we're looking around in amazement. Maybe for the younger guys it's an experience that they haven't been there, but I guess that's, it's more of just we know what to do, we know what to expect, we know that we're expecting to advance. It's not like, Thank you, we are here, and let's see what happens. It's like it's our job or our goal to advance this year.
THE MODERATOR: Okay. We'll dismiss the student athletes and bring Coach Miller up shortly. We'll take questions for Coach Miller now.
Q. Can you talk about the depth on your team and how much a factor that is for you guys?
COACH MILLER: It's a big factor for us. We have played nine players consistently really from Game 1 through game 32. To me that's how we do it. We try to have different players able to step up on different nights and hopefully the bench, the younger players in particular, can develop as the season goes on, so that when and if we are here in this tournament that we're not relying on a short bench or one or two players, but we really are a team in every essence of the word and have a lot of different parts that can beat you.
Q. Can you talk about your interior game and how important that will be against a team that isn't rebounding as much as you guys are?
COACH MILLER: Our inside play is one of the keys to our success. When we have had inside scoring, especially from our center position in Jason Love and Ken Frease, when you look at when those two guys have scored well, and had good games together, it makes us much more difficult to beat.
Recently some of our tough losses and not playing as well as we did coming into the tournament, it is a reflection of just the up and down, so to speak, of our scoring inside. I'm really hopeful we have had a couple really good days of practice. I think we talked a lot about establishing that, that those two guys can really pick up where they left off a few weeks back and also be complemented with our forwards rebounding the ball and scoring close to the basket too. But we're a bigger stronger team than we are a quicker and skill team and we have to be able to take advantage of that.
Q. Your players came up here and they talked about some losses that you had against teams with Portland State's style, being able to spread out the floor. How do you correct those things in time for tomorrow's game?
COACH MILLER: They weren't supposed to mention that. I'm going to have to talk to them. (Laughter.)
I think that more than anything Portland State is here for a reason. Any time a team can be in last year's tournament and then come back to this year's tournament and it says that they not only have a good team but they have an excellent program that people in their program know how to win.
I'm sure we have been in their seat before, you get to the tournament, when you get back you want to stay in it longer. They're led by a terrific point guard Jeremiah Dominguez and it doesn't just stop with him. They have several players in double figures, great balance and then I think much has been said for a good reason about their shooting. They're the most dangerous or one of the most dangerous 3 point shooting teams in the tournament. And it's our size and defense that's going to have to deal with that and make sure that, as best we can, that we make sure that we're there.
I think our players respect them a great deal. It's probably why they said what they said about certain other teams beating us with that style.
Q. Is it just their shooting that gives you guys cause for concern or is there something else that stands out?
COACH MILLER: No, they do a lot of things well. They're extremely well coached. Very, very organized in their approach. A lot of their 3 point shots stem from great pace and that they really get the ball up and down the court and pass the ball extremely well, making the extra pass, sharing the ball, playing together. And that's one of the reasons why they shoot such a good percentage from the 3 point line in that they also take very good 3s.
We played Missouri a long time ago and I think Missouri has that same characteristic. They can share the ball and create high percentage shots in a quick pace. They do that very, very well. You could tell that they're organized on both ends of the court, and play to their strengths.
Q. Talk about exactly what B.J. means to your program. What he brings to the table.
COACH MILLER: Yeah, that's a great topic for me to talk about. B.J. Raymond came to Xavier, played about eight minutes a game as a freshman, played a little more than that as a sophomore, about 11 or 12, but yet was a big part of both teams in that he was that bench you talked about in years gone by. A year ago he was our sixth man in last year's tournament. He made two or three of the biggest shots that we have ever had in our program's history.
This year in his senior year I expected him to be better because that's what he did. But when you look at his statistics, the senior season that he's had arguably is one of the best that we have had in recent times at Xavier. First Team All Conference player, just has a knack for making big plays, is a much better defender now than he ever was. When he was younger that aspect of things prevented him from playing more and when you watch him as an upperclassman it's arguably sometimes what he does the best. And just a real credit for him. He's going to get his degree in May, he's from our state, Toledo, Ohio and one of those great stories where he hung in there and at the end got what he deserved.
Q. It's been an up and down year for Terrell and Dante defensively. How much on the spot are they going to be tomorrow when their defense is really going to count?
COACH MILLER: Our point guard position, we replaced Drew Lavender, who was our version of Jeremiah Dominguez the last two years, and we knew going into this year that replacing him with inexperience or a freshman was not going to allow us to be the same team.
The thing that I would say about both Dante and Terrell, they have been good enough to win 25 games, they have been good enough for us to be a fourth seed, play some excellent basketball, and they just have to be who they are. And that is the steady force on offense, taking care of the ball, playing with great energy, defending in tomorrow's game perhaps the most important player on the other team and if they do that, they did their job. It's up to the other players, C.J., Derrick and B.J., those three players are more important scoring and doing some statistical things than we really count on from our point guard position.
But this is going to be great experience for them, there's no question about it. Guard play in the NCAA tournament is crucial. Our guard play, those guys don't have to score 20 points or get 10 assists, they just have to be as steady as they can be.
Q. A little bit off the subject, just talk about transfers in general. Portland State's got five, you've had some over the years that have helped you out. What is your thought on building a team around transfers?
COACH MILLER: If that person really fits who we are at Xavier, off the court as well as on, and to me is able to come to our program and be a real difference maker, that's something that has set us apart over the last several years. C.J. Anderson is a guy who transferred to us two years ago and he's made an immense difference in what we do the last two seasons. He's got a toughness about him. He's older. When he became ready, he wasn't a freshman when he started to play. To compliment that person with guys like B.J. Raymond and Derrick gives you great consistency in terms of, you lose older players, and there are those that are ready to replace them.
We have two players right now sitting out that when you watch us next year you'll see right away that we have a guy ready and a couple guys ready. And we like to kind of sprinkle that in.
And you could tell that it's one thing Portland State has, they have players that are a little bit older than maybe everyone else understands, having sat out that year and combined their different experiences.
THE MODERATOR: All right, thank you, coach.
COACH MILLER: Thank you.