March 20, 2009

 

COACH HERB SENDEK,
JEFF PENDERGRAPH,
DEREK GLASSER &
JAMES HARDEN

LARRY WAHL:  We'll open it up with comments from Coach Sendek.  Coach?

COACH HERB SENDEK:  I'm obviously very proud of our guys, a good team effort by our squad today.  We have such great respect for Temple's program and the job that Coach Dunphy and his staff does, and we knew coming in today we would have to play a very good game to be competitive.


Different guys stepped up for us at different times, but most certainly Derek and Jeff had outstanding games for us and allowed us to come away with the win today.  And then I thought James down the home stretch really made several big plays to get us over the hump.
 
Thank you.

 
Q.  Derek, you hit four or five three pointers in the first half, and were you just looking for your shot more or were you just getting easy looks?
 
DEREK GLASSER:  Our offense just created open looks for me, and it just happened through the offense and I was open, so I took them.

 
Q.  Jeff, I mean, how does it feel, man?  You finally got it.
 
JEFF PENDERGRAPH:  It feels pretty good to come here.  We didn't play the best game.  It wasn't pretty.  But sometimes these feel the best at the end of the day, guys just toughed it out and guys came to play on a big day, big stage.  So it feels really good for the guys to have performed like that.

 
Q.  Derek, what happened to you at the end of the first half?  And then you got banged up again in the second half.  What was the problem there?
 
DEREK GLASSER:  I just took a little hit to the face, but I was fine.  Then in the second half, just a knee on my tailbone, but it was fine.  It hurt in the moment, but it's fine now.

 
Q.  Jeff, against a seven footer Olmos did you feel you had the advantage being more physical than him because it looked like you were banging down low and more times than often you would get your way down there?
 
JEFF PENDERGRAPH:  That's one of the things I tried to go at.  He's seven foot but I know on rare occasions I outweigh one of the big men.  So I tried to use my physical nature and size and weight against him.  Sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn't, but regardless of how much he weighs he's still seven feet tall.  But that was definitely one of the things trying to attack him.

 
Q.  How much was it a struggle for you to get in the game offensively?
 
JAMES HARDEN:  It was one of those games where my shot wasn't falling.  My teammates picked it up, definitely.  Derek throughout the entire game, Jeff throughout the game, Ty made some great plays.  Obviously my teammates stepped up today.

 
Q.  James, you often hear people when they're talking about your team say ASU is Harden and a supporting cast.  What do you think about that?
 
JAMES HARDEN:  They showed you today that that's not the case.  Throughout the season they've been stepping up, and as the year went on guys are stepping up.  He's definitely stepping up.  Jeff is playing like an All American.  Like I said, late in the season guys are stepping up and making plays.  So it's not only just James, it's the entire team, and like I said, they showed that today.

 
Q.  The last three games you guys have given up double digit leads in the first half.  I know sometimes basketball just goes back and forth like that, but has there been a common denominator in those three games?
 
COACH HERB SENDEK:  I think each of the three games was played very differently, and I think you're right in recognizing when you're playing against really good teams like we have been, short of us being able to just dominate and blow one of them out, there's going to be runs, and it's going to    two teams that are relatively even are going to converge rather than diverge most of the time.  I think in two of those three games, as the other team came back, our guys did a great job of keeping their composure and found ways to still win.
 
You know, I wouldn't turn it around and say that we don't want to get out to a lead for fear that we may lose one.  That would kind of be some backward thinking.

 
Q.  Derek, it looked like you had a conversation with Dionte Christmas when you shook his hand.  It looked like a conversation borne out of maybe respect.  Can you tell us what you said to him?
 
DEREK GLASSER:  I just said, "Great game."  Because as a team we have a lot of respect for him and Temple as a program, and I was just letting him know that he played a phenomenal game today.

 
Q.  Those last five minutes when you were going to the basket, were you thinking of creating contact and getting to the line, protecting the lead and kind of the whistle started to blow more often late?
 
JAMES HARDEN:  Yeah, last couple minutes I started to be a little more aggressive and just create it for my team.  Throughout the game I didn't play my best, but the last couple minutes I wanted to give my all and go out with a fight.

 
Q.  Derek touched on this before, but can you talk about being on the same floor with Christmas and some of the shots that he made today?
 
JEFF PENDERGRAPH:  The guy is a great player.  Throughout the game it kind of looked like we were playing man, we were running around making sure he didn't catch the ball.  As soon as he stepped on the court, the guy could shoot from right there.  That was one of the focuses, always know where he's at and try and make him put on the floor and don't let him get his shots.  He's one of those guys, next thing you know he has 50 and you're down by 20 and you're wondering why, because he's that good of a scorer and he can get his points just that fast.

 
Q.  James, I just wonder in a game like this, you'd be one of the bigger names, the pressure you feel to get going early.  Was that a factor at all?
 
JAMES HARDEN:  No, definitely not.  It was one of those games where the shots wasn't falling.  It was hard to get into the groove of the game.  Credit to my teammates, they picked it up.  That's why we're still playing on Sunday.

 
Q.  Can you give us your thoughts on playing Syracuse and your impressions on them, if you saw any of the Big East Tournament, what your thoughts are about playing the Orange on Sunday?
 
JAMES HARDEN:  Well, Jonny Flynn is one of my good friends.  We talk all the time.  I know they have a great team.  They have a lot of depth, they're big.  They have great guards, and they're a great team.  We have to be prepared and ready to be in a heavyweight fight on Sunday.

 
Q.  Jeff, can you just talk about like the size that Syracuse has down low and what kind of a challenge that's going to present on Sunday?
 
JEFF PENDERGRAPH:  It's going to present challenges for not just me but everybody.  Guys are that big, you've got to be ready for weak side rebounding, and that's going to put a big challenge on 'Rek and Jerren, blocking them out and making sure they don't get offensive rebounds because they're just so big.  On offense, too, you've got to watch out for it because guys are that big, they're not just going to let you score on them and they're not easily moved.  It's going to be a dogfight.
 
LARRY WAHL:  Now we'll have questions for Coach Sendek.

 
Q.  Most of the time even when James has an off night defensively, you're praising the other parts of his game, but there were a couple of times when he seemed to be late defensively getting on Christmas and you sat him down.  Do you think struggles offensively were affecting his struggles on the other end of the court?
 
COACH HERB SENDEK:  Yeah, I don't know how to slice it and dice it, but he didn't have one of his best games.  The best part about James is, as you could tell with the way he just talked with us, is he's all about the team.  Because it wasn't his day, because he wasn't the centerpiece, so to speak, this afternoon, he didn't disengage from his team.  He recognizes the contributions other guys make.  He rejoices in the moment with the team, and it's not about him.  That's a wonderful quality that he possesses.

 
Q.  Speaking of James, how nice is it, I guess, or what kind of luxury is it to have a guy who even if he's not playing well, you can put the ball in his hands to run the offense and create things for himself and for others in crunch time like that?
 
COACH HERB SENDEK:  I mean, it's a tremendous asset and gift because at the end of the game, as much as it may not have been his afternoon, he made a number of plays that allowed us to win.  He made the big three behind the ball screen, he got to the foul line several times.  He had the great dish to Jeff on the curl.
 
So when the game was on the line and down the home stretch, he still was able to have the presence of mind to reset himself and play like the last home stretch exceptionally well.  You know, that's not easy to do.  That's not easy to do when you're not having your day, to reset yourself mid stream and then step up to make a number of plays that your team needs you to make.
 
The other thing is in defense of James, his presence on our offensive side of the floor creates opportunities for his teammates.  It's not just when he passes or just when he shoots, but he garners so much attention that other guys are the benefactors.

Q.  Question for you about Syracuse and your thoughts about playing against Coach Boeheim and that zone.

COACH HERB SENDEK:  Obviously they have one of the nation's premier teams, and they're playing arguably their best basketball of the season right now.  I think anybody who watched that Big East Tournament had to kind of come away shaking their head at how well they were playing.  I think they're one of the very elite teams in the country, and it's going to require an amazing effort on our part to be competitive on Sunday.

 
Q.  These guys have talked about wanting to become a basketball school, coming from the ACC you know what it's going to take.  Is this next game going to be the next big step for Arizona State to get up to that level to be nationally recognized?
 
COACH HERB SENDEK:  You know, I think we're much better served just staying in the moment and enjoying this experience, trying to do the best we can in preparing for Sunday's game, and I don't think that Arizona State wants to be a basketball school.  We want to be a school that serves its student athletes and its regular students well.  We want to have a well rounded program.  If you look at the championship caliber of sports we have across the board, we're not moving in the direction of a one sport show.  We're part of an athletics department that has achieved some amazing feats, and we want to do our part to add to that.

 
Q.  Have you sort of looked ahead to this game beforehand and the match ups that you might have expected.  Did you think or figure that Derek would have figured in so much shooting wise?
 
COACH HERB SENDEK:  Well, Derek has been playing his career best basketball here the last couple weeks.  I think he picked up today right where he left off in the PAC 10 Tournament.  He has been really good lately.  You know, he's gained a lot of experience because he came in the door and we kind of handed him the ball, and he took his bumps and bruises with the rest of us, and every step along the way he's learned and improved.  And right now all of that hard work and investment is starting to pay dividends for him.
 
And like he said, it wasn't some grand plan on our part that it would happen the way it did today; he just did a really good job of reading situations in the first half, taking what the defense gave, and made good decisions, and fortunately for us he was making his shots.  He's a significantly better shooter.  He's really worked hard on that part of his game, and it's helped our team tremendously.
 
LARRY WAHL:  Thank you, Coach.
 
FastScripts by ASAP Sports

 

COACH FRAN DUNPHY,
DIONTE CHRISTMAS &
RYAN BROOKS

COACH FRAN DUNPHY:  Certainly want to congratulate Arizona State.  I thought that they played very well.  They have a good plan, and I thought that Glasser was just terrific in that first half.  I would rather have not seen that first jumper go that hit the back of the rim and just kind of curled in the basket, but he made some really tough shots.  He made great decisions.  I thought he was the key in the first half.  Pendergraph had a very solid game as you have come to appreciate about him.
 
I thought for us we had our moments.  We had our looks.  We did not take advantage of it, as we need to in a game of this magnitude and in this stage, on this stage.  But again, congratulate Arizona State, and for us, we need to gather again.  We'll gather next week and kind of critique the season and appreciate Dionte Christmas and Semaj and Sergio Olmos, and thank them for their great careers, and then the rest of us will move on to try to get back here again, which is not an easy task.

 
Q.  Dionte, I think your last shot you took was around the five minute mark.  It was a three pointer which could have tied the score.  You didn't get another shot attempt from that point on.  Were they doing something differently at that point to prevent you from getting a shot off?
 
DIONTE CHRISTMAS:  Yeah, I thought those guys paid a little bit more attention than they were in the beginning of the game, especially since we were only down three and the game was a little bit close, so I thought those guys were switching off more aggressively on me and just paying a little bit more attention.  But I thought as a result of that, my teammates got a lot of open shots, and that's when Lavoy started to get it going and Ryan Brooks.  So that kind of opened things up a little bit more for us.

 
Q.  Ryan, can you talk about going against Harden and what you guys did against him?  Were you surprised you had so much success?  Were you surprised you didn't see more from him?
 
RYAN BROOKS:  I don't think necessarily we were surprised.  I think down the stretch there we've built a lot of confidence in our defensive play, and we're just ready to step up to the challenge.  But watching a lot of film and watching him these past couple days, he's a great player and just lets the game come to him, doesn't force anything, rarely forces the issue.

We just wanted to stay solid on him, know where he was out on the court, and if situations presented themselves, just step up and help and just recover it as good as we could.  I thought we did a pretty good job on him.

 
Q.  Dionte, when you played this out in your head before the game, if you had known that Ryan would do such a good job on Brooks and if you would have known you were going to put up the numbers you did, you would have thought you would have won probably, right?
 
DIONTE CHRISTMAS:  Yeah, that sounds about right.  But like Coach says, Pendergraph is a great player.  Glasser is a great player.  That's what makes them a good team, because they're more than just James Harden.  I thought James Harden down the stretch did a great job of creating for himself and creating the plays, but on the other hand I thought Ryan Brooks did a tremendous job on him throughout the game.  He shot 1 for 8.  If you would have told us that James Harden would have ended up with nine points and I would have had 20 points and we lost the game, I would have thought you were crazy.
 
But I thought it was a hard fought game and I thought both teams played to the best of their abilities.

 
Q.  Ryan was talking about the defensive effort you had today and you did a lot good defensively.  I don't think they had an offensive rebound in the first half.  It always seemed like they were able to find a shot when they needed to sort of stem a run by you guys.  It's just one of those things that they had the rolls and you didn't today?
 
DIONTE CHRISTMAS:  Well, Pendergraph leads the country in field goal percentage, and he makes a lot of tough shots.  I thought he did a great job today, especially when the time was right and they did a great job of getting him the ball, and I thought good position on Lavoy and Serge.  I thought Lavoy and Serge did a great job, as well, but I thought he did a great job at making some shots.  He's definitely a great leader for that program, and he did a great job today I thought.  But when the shot clock went down, I thought they did a great job just getting Pendergraph the ball and making tough shots.  I thought we did a great job of contesting and just getting a hand in those guys' face but they did a great job of just making a lot of tough shots today.

 
Q.  Coach, what was your assessment of the way things went offensively down the stretch for you?
 
COACH FRAN DUNPHY:  I thought we had a couple of really great looks, the ball just did not go in the basket.  Semaj took it to the basket one time and Lavoy got a great offensive rebound.  I thought he was gonna make that stick back.  I thought we had some very good looks at the basket, it just didn't happen for us.  Some of that is us and some of that is Arizona State.

 
Q.  Ryan, you looked like you got a little frustrated toward the end of the game when Harden started getting some calls.  Did you feel like your defense changed at all at that point or do you feel like maybe he was doing a better job of getting calls?
 
RYAN BROOKS:  I don't want to place the game in the refs' hands and go to the refs for calls, but I think that one stretch you're talking about is down the stretch, I thought I did a good job and possibly got a five second call, trying to work hard to get position, and I thought I was there.  But the ref thought otherwise and made the call that he thought was the right call.
 
You know, it's over now, we've just got to move on.  But I thought it still was an all around good team effort and just didn't come out with the win.

 
Q.  Dionte, kind of a similar question:  Did you get any explanation what they saw on that travel, on the call?
 
DIONTE CHRISTMAS:  No, like he said, we're trying not to put the game in the ref's hands.  If that's what the ref saw, that's what he saw.  You can't go back and change the call.  If the ref saw a walk, then obviously it was a walk.  But sometimes it comes down to that.

 
Q.  Dionte, your last game now, three years at Temple.  Could you sum it up for us?
 
DIONTE CHRISTMAS:  Great, man.  It was great, a lot of good memories, especially under Coach Dunphy.  Coach Dunphy has taught me a lot about just life in general, not just about basketball.  It's just been a fun time while I was here.  I got two Atlantic 10 championships, two NCAA appearances.  There are not too many people that can say that.  It went by so fast.
 
And I was just telling the young guys, you've got to cherish every moment at Temple because it goes by so fast.  These games, I mean, it felt like I was just at orientation last week.  These last three years, man, has been great, man, the best three years of my life.
 
LARRY WAHL:  We'll have questions for Coach Dunphy.  Thank you, guys.

 
Q.  With the way Semaj was shooting, did you feel like maybe you could get Juan more minutes, or were you afraid of giving up something on the defensive end with Juan in there?
 
COACH FRAN DUNPHY:  Semaj tried to make some difficult shots, didn't come up with them, but he is a solid performer defensively.  I thought his pressure on Glasser was something that got us back to where we needed to be in the second half.  So that was certainly a concern.

 
Q.  You went to zone.  I think they got up to nine and you called a time out and you came out in zone, and it looked like the game started to come your way a lot, right?  Would you agree with that?
 
COACH FRAN DUNPHY:  I agree.  I think zone helped us in the first half of the game.  But that got us back to where we needed to be.  I think they had    they were up 13 at one point in the first half, and we got it back to    might have gotten it back to three, and then Glasser made two huge jump shots at the end of the first half.
 
But I would agree, zone helped us.

 
Q.  The way they played defense and the way you guys can play defense yourself, did you anticipate a low possession game like this?  And what did that mean in terms of your shot selection that you were going to need to have?
 
COACH FRAN DUNPHY:  Well, again, I'll be anxious to watch the film and see how many    I thought early in the second half we had a number of really good looks that didn't happen for us.  I did think it would be a low scoring game just because they make you work on    when we're on offense and they are not a team that runs it up and down the floor when they're on offense.

 
Q.  Dionte's career is over, and he lost obviously the game, but he had quite a performance.  I'm sure there were a lot of pro scouts in this arena that got a pretty good look at a guy who can probably play at the next level.  Would you agree?
 
COACH FRAN DUNPHY:  Well, he certainly had a fabulous career.  And as far as the pro scouts are concerned, they watch so many of our games, they watch so much film, that while he had a terrific game today, I don't think it was a situation where they're all of a sudden going to say, well, Dionte Christmas has moved himself into this position.  As far as they are concerned, I think he's already established himself as a player that they are looking at very carefully and closely, and I was proud of him today, but I've been proud of him for the last three years.  It's a remarkable career that he has had, no question about it.
 
LARRY WAHL:  Thank you, Coach.
 
FastScripts by ASAP Sports