March 20, 2009

 


MODERATOR:  Joining us on the dais is Charles Little, Marcus Johnson and Chris Wright and head coach, Brian Gregory.  We begin with an opening statement from Coach Gregory followed by questions for the student athletes.

COACH GREGORY:  Obviously have unbelievable, as I said yesterday, unbelievable amount of respect for Coach Huggins and the team.  We just knew how hard we were going to have to play.  Do three things extremely well:  A great job on the glass, a great job of taking care of the ball, and we had to do a really good job of finishing plays around the basket.
 
And we did all three.  And we did them for 40 minutes.  Because if we didn't, we weren't going to win that game.  They are long, they are athletic, they are aggressive.  And, you know, it just challenged our guys a little bit, that we need to be every bit as aggressive as they were.
 
It is a big win for our team obviously to advance.  The reward is to play Kansas, which is fine, you know.  But unbelievable for our program.  And these guys helped build a new culture in this program and take it another step and they've done it all year long.  It is really pleasing to see them rewarded that way with a win today.

 
Q.  Guys, I just wanted to know how much motivation you guys drew from hearing all week about how superior the Big East conference is.
 
CHARLES LITTLE:  I really didn't draw much from it.  I think we were like 4 1 the last couple of games we played the Big East.  We are not really caught up in that conference affiliation stuff.  We knew when it comes down to us versus them, it is not Big East versus A 10; it is West Virginia versus Dayton.  And we will take our chances with that.
 
MARCUS JOHNSON:  Correction, 5 1.

 
Q.  Chris, did you feel as if if they couldn't tie it, that was a big, you know    if they could tie it or get ahead, then the momentum would fully shift.  But they can never hit that bucket to get a tying bucket.
 
CHRIS WRIGHT:  They made a run in the second half and we did a good job of staying poised and sticking to our principals on defense and not doing anything we don't do usually.  They made a run, you know.  We stood strong.  And we knew if this wasn't going to get ahead, we just continue to pressure them on defense and continue to execute on offense, that we would do a good job of staying ahead.  And it wasn't going to be no momentum change.

 
Q.  Charles, you know, in the late minutes of the game there, they had been getting a lost offensive rebounds and putting them back in for a lot of their baskets.  You talk about the last couple of minutes and the big offensive rebounds or big defensive rebounds, to keep them off the glass and get the big boards and seal the game.
 
CHARLES LITTLE:  We knew going in that they were a really good offensive rebounding team, so that was the key for the whole game was to box them out.  They got their    that's where they got a the lot of the points from.
 
Late in the game is when, you know, we got to get down and hunker down and get defensive rebounds and that's what we were able to do and they couldn't score.

 
Q.  Chris, could you just talk a little bit about what this win means to you and the team?
 
CHRIS WRIGHT:  It means we are in the second round playing against Kansas.  It is the NCAA tournament.  We are happy to get the win, but we got to turn around and play Kansas on Sunday.  So we got to do a good job of preparing.  And that's all it is.  That's the only thing.

 
Q.  Chris, I'm kind of wondering, you had a big game.  Did you feel anything going into it?  Did you feel like today was your day or what was your mindset going in?
 
CHRIS WRIGHT:  My mindset going into the game, Coach was getting on me all the time about rushing and being poised and patient.  And today coming into the game I felt that I had a tremendous amount of confidence that I was just going to execute well on offense, and, you know, play our defense, play the best on defense and try to really pressure the ball.
 
And that's what we do well.  Just stick to what we do and it worked out tonight.  Or this afternoon.

 
Q.  This is for all you guys.  Coach said this is huge for the program.  And I'm wondering, it's been like 19 years since Dayton won an NCAA tournament game.  Does that mean anything for you guys?  Or no, you're living in the moment?
 
CHARLES LITTLE:  I mean, we knew coming into it that we hadn't won a tournament game in however many years, we talked about it, but we had to put it on the back burner and just focus on West Virginia.

 
Q.  For Marcus and Charles, what kind of lift does the team get when you see Chris fly through the air and throw one down like he did today so many times and throughout the season so many times?
 
MARCUS JOHNSON:  I mean, it's a big energy boost.  You know, I think our team gets excited.  And even the crowd is into it.  So that was a big energy boost for us.  I mean, it's nothing new.  Chris has been doing that stuff all year.

CHARLES LITTLE:  Piggyback on what Marcus said, it is an energy boost.  He was talking about how they kept making the runs and getting closer and closer.  And we fight them off and they get closer.  And those plays are heartbreaking to them, they think they are getting close, they are climbing back up and Chris drops the hammer.  And that's deflating.

 
Q.  Chris, while you're shooting free throws after a couple of your dunks, I heard someone holler, Put them in the hole, Superman.  Is that your mom by any chance?
 
CHRIS WRIGHT:  That was actually Mickey Perry's mom.  He always say she be yelling, but I never hear it.  I guess the place is to big I heard all types of echo.  I heard, Put it in, Superman, put it in, Superman.  And I knew it was her.  I was kind of laughing in my mind, but I knew I had to focus and make the free throw.

 
Q.  Directed to Charles.  Three straight possessions, Charles, under 3 1/2 minutes you came up with buckets.  What was your mindset during those place and taking the big shots for the team?
 
CHARLES LITTLE:  Overall just trying to be aggressive.  Coach is telling me there are caps on the defensive drive.  And towards the end, we spread them out a little bit and I got those drives and I was able to put them in.

 
Q.  For Marcus and Charles, how were you guys able to take Ruoff out of the game like you did?
 
MARCUS JOHNSON:  Just pressuring him.  He is a good shooter, a good driver driving left.  I just wanted to be on his toes on the catch and pressure the ball.  And not letting him run everywhere.
 
CHARLES LITTLE:  I didn't guard him.
 
MODERATOR:  All right, if we don't have any other questions, we will go ahead and excuse them back to the locker room.

 
Q.  Coach, can you talk about the job you guys did in terms of perimeter defense, other than Bryant who was 4 6 from 3, I think they were 1 14 from 3?
 
COACH GREGORY:  We did a great job defensively on the perimeter.  Bryant is a going to be a heck of a player for them.  He's a tough kid and not afraid to take the big shots.  We didn't guard him as well as I would have liked, but Marcus said we worked all week, you know, five days to prepare, four days to prepare, just on when to chase guys and when to go underneath some of those screens.  They run a lot of movement and a lot of motion.
 
And the one thing is, Ruoff and Butler are very good, because it's interesting, they have the toughness that Coach Huggins brings.  But they still have a little bit of the beeline motion where they can move real well without the ball and cut and so forth.
 
We just did a good job of staying underneath those guys when we had to stay underneath and chase them when we had to chase.
 
Our team defense is really good.  I think one thing that happens when you pressure the ball you can make some mistakes behind.  And because of the pressure maybe they can't see it.
 
I thought we made some mistakes behind but our ball pressure was good enough to kind of, you know, to help us out in that.  It's like getting a great rush in football.  If you're getting pressure on the quarterback, the safeties can make some mistakes and that's kind of how we play defense and it worked today.

 
Q.  Brian, could you expound a little bit on you say this is huge for the program, just what it means?
 
COACH GREGORY:  Right.  Well, I mean, it's hard to even put in words at this time, to be honest with you.  These guys, you know, the first group I think of is Andres Sandoval, Brian Roberts and Jimmy Binnie.  Three seniors that helped built the culture of this program and went through some tough times and went through some adversity and never got to enjoy something like this.  And they deserved to, to be honest with you.  But if it wasn't for those guys and what they sacrificed, we wouldn't be in this position right now.
 
We have been able to, you know, kind of take the process and the steps necessary to get to this point.  We haven't short cut anything.  And I feel proud that we've done it the right way with great kids that really believe in each other and care about each other.
 
Sometimes when you ask so much of guys, like I do as a head coach, you just want them to be rewarded and want them to enjoy the fruits of their labor a little bit.  And when you don't get it, man, it's hard.
 
But our guys kept plugging away.  There was the disappointment last year with the injuries and it never got them down.
 
You have to remember three weeks ago or a month ago we lost our third leading scorer.  And they could have said here we go again, and they didn't.  They kept plugging away, you know.  It's been 19 years since we've won an NCAA tournament game and we've won 27 games.  I think this team needs to go down as one of the better teams that have ever played here.
 
And they deserve it, because of the effort that they have brought to the court every day.  The way that they represented this unbelievable university.  And the thing that's really important to me is we have a great tradition.  And this team fits those great teams and this tradition.
 
You know, Coach Donaher was at practice the last couple of days before we left, and that meant the world to me.  And he kept talking about we'll see you at practice next week.  So he still is the smartest coach in Dayton.

 
Q.  Yeah, Brian, two part question.  The first 20 minutes, if you scored that many lay ups all year, it seemed like you guys got to the bucket and got to the bucket.  The second part, Ebanks had 12 rebounds but very few offensive rebounds.  They were mainly clear out defensive rebounds.  What did you do with him on his offensive glass?
 
COACH GREGORY:  We did want to attack the glass or, you know, off the dribble.  And we put in, I will be honest with you, three or four special things to try to attack their pressure because I was very concerned.  I'll be honest, I saw the first couple of games.  I watch the Villanova game and the Ohio State game.  I was like oh, boy, these guys, you know.  And we did some    a couple of things and we needed to execute.  We needed to finish better.
 
There was a game a couple of weeks ago against Xavier we did not finish well around the basket and we really have been working on that.  And I think we did a good job of that today and that was a big key for us.
 
Ebanks is a special player.  He has a unique ability to offensive rebound.  And we followed whoever was guarding him.  He didn't have any rebound responsibilities.  He had one responsibility.  He had to lay a body on him.  Their first possession he got an offensive rebound and they scored on it.  So I wasn't very happy at that particular point.  But we did a good job the rest of the way.
 
Some guys just have a knack, and he does.  Again, he's a great rebounder, 12 rebounds.  I know he had 18 in one game in the Big East tournament.  So, it was really, really important, you know.  We gave up 15 offensive rebounds, which is a lot, but we battled.  And that was, to me, it was more important how hard we battled on the glass than maybe the results.

 
Q.  Chris' line, 27 points 10 rebounds is just huge.  And also, London Warren, nine assists and one turnover.
 
COACH GREGORY:  You talk about total team effort.  You go down the list, Mickey Perry, we don't win that game without Mickey.  And again, Stephen Thomas gives us good minutes in there, even a couple to settle us down.  Chris Johnson.
 
And Chris played very, very well today.  He was aggressive.  I think he had three turnovers in the first 10 minutes of the game and he didn't have a turnover the rest of the way.  He really calmed down and played with the poise that we need him to play with.  So it was good to see.  You know, him just taking what the defense gave him, being aggressive when it was needed to be aggressive.
 
And then what can you say about London?  Last year at this time he had 30 more turnovers than assists at the end of the season when the year was out and now he is a 2 to 1 ratio.  Today in the biggest game of his life he goes 9 1.  You know, he played like, you know, an NCAA caliber point guard today.  And one that could help his team advance.  And we needed that.

 
Q.  Brian, going back to what this game means, what does it mean to you personally, especially considering time Tom Izzo is here and Jud Heathcote in the crowd with your family at the game?
 
COACH GREGORY:  A lot.  It really does.  Coach hasn't been able to see us play.  He watches us on TV.  He calls me and let's me know what we're doing wrong.  But, you know, to have Coach Heathcote at the game, it means a lot.  Those guys obviously were    Jud gave me the break to get into college coaching and Izzo gave me the biggest break to come back as his associate head coach, and learned so much from those guys and so supportive and have taught me what this profession is about.  Not just what coaching and winning games is all about.
 
And that's, you know, what it means to be the head coach of a program and how to build it.  And, you know, the sacrifices that you have to make and that the players always come first.  And just so many lessons.  And to have coaches, those things he has to take care of, but I know he was back in the hotel checking the score all the time.  And to have Coach Heathcote in the stands was unbelievable, you know.  And it can't get any better than that, it really can't.  It just can't.
 
And, you know, my family, the time that they've    the sacrifices that they have made and so forth, and just for our whole university what a great day it is for everybody.  I really believe in what this    the mission statement of our university and what we do as a program fits with that.  And I think you saw that for 40 minutes today.

 
Q.  You spoke yesterday a little bit about the edge that you saw in this team, with these players.  Is that kind of what came through in the second half there when West Virginia was pushing and pushing and pushing, but yet your guys never backed down and never really seemed intimidated or anything like that?
 
COACH GREGORY:  Yeah, you know, we don't back down.  That doesn't always mean we play there.  There is a difference.  There are times we don't play well, but we never back down.
 
And, you know, we talk about sometimes when have you a huge challenge in front of you, you need to look at success in the past to so that you can get it done.  And we've had that.  We've had some tangible evidence.  Obviously never at this level.  But when we beat Marquette they made a little bit of a run in the second half.  The two times we beat Louisville both times, those teams came back on us.
 
And the one thing we kept talking about in timeouts, just be who we are.  You know, we don't have to be anybody different.  We need to defend, we need to rebound and we need to run when we get the opportunity.  And we didn't need a Superman effort from anybody.  It was nice to get a couple of them, you know, but we just needed to do what we do.
 
And that's been the key to our success all year.  We've done it every day.  We've gotten a little bit better every single day.  And to be honest, I'm really pleased because we got better today and it was a huge challenge in front of us and our guys met that challenge.  And that growth, we've struggled at times in these type of games where it is so emotional.  We've wanted it too badly and got ahead of ourselves and got away from what we do.  And we didn't do that today.  So that shows the mature it that this team has developed over the year.
 
MODERATOR:  Thank you, Coach.
 
COACH GREGORY:  Thanks, guys.
 
FastScripts by ASAP Sports

MODERATOR:  We are joined on the dais by West Virginia student athletes Darryl Bryant to my far left and Da'Sean Butler and Head Coach Bob Huggins.  We will start by taking questions from the student athletes.

Q.  Da'Sean, you guys seemed to get closer and closer in the second half and pull within a bucket or two a few times.  What happened that you just weren't quite able to get over that hump?
 
DA'SEAN BUTLER:  Pretty much the last five minutes, whatever the case may be, outworked us.  They got a lot of loose balls.  They dove on a lot of loose balls and got a lot of offensive rebounds.  And it just bit us towards the end of the game.  You can't give up that many offensive rebounds and not get on the ball and let them get second chances at scoring, which they do very well.

 
Q.  When Alex had the two foul shots that would have tied the game if he made them and he missed them, do you think that was an emotional blow to the team?
 
DA'SEAN BUTLER:  That was one of them.  We had a lot of chances to take the lead in the game.  Me myself, I had a bunch of opportunities to help the team go over the hump and be up by one or two, you know, but we just didn't do it and we lost.

 
Q.  Darryl, you come in averaging a little over 10 and were able to get 21.  What was working for you?  Did you just kind of want to pick up the slack when a couple of the other guys were not quite as successful?
 
DARRYL BRYANT:  I knew they wasn't scoring too much so you just tried to play a little bit better and I just made open shots tonight.  It wasn't that I did anything different, I just made open shots and attacked when I felt I had a good chance to attack.

 
Q.  Da'Sean, throughout that second half, did you ever    did you always have confidence that you were going to get over that?  Did you think that sooner or later here things would start clicking?  What is kind of going through your mind?
 
DA'SEAN BUTLER:  Definitely.  Granted we had a little bit of problems scoring, you know, but we did pretty well for a couple of plays when we were running on defense, we had a couple of stops and then we scored a couple of times in the same possession.  So I definitely thought we were going to come back.
 
It's, you know    you can't give up baskets and score and then give up more baskets and score.  It just kept going back and forth a lot and we didn't have as many stops as we needed to to pull the game out.

 
Q.  Darryl, from what you have seen from Wright on film, I mean, was he everything that you thought he would be?  And what did kind of those dunks    some of them change the momentum of the game?
 
DARRYL BRYANT:  Well, I knew Chris Wright way before this game.  We were on the same team in camp one year so I definitely knew what his abilities were.  And he just had a good night tonight.  And honestly, some of the dunks did change the game, one of the and one dunks changed the game.  But we still in it and we just didn't capitalize down the stretch.
 
MODERATOR:  Okay, we'll go ahead and excuse the student athletes back to the locker room.

 
Q.  Bob, why were they able to get so many lay ups in the first half?
 
COACH HUGGINS:  We didn't do a very good job guarding them.  They got a spread.  We just didn't do as good a job as probably what we normally do, and they played really well.
 
I don't know that    I don't know that our guys watching film knew they were as explosive as what they are.

 
Q.  With that said, are they as quick defense to offense as you've seen this year?
 
COACH HUGGINS:  You know, I don't think they hurt us as bad in transition as what I was afraid they were going to.  They hurt us in half court.  I mean, they just spread us out.  We didn't    we didn't have an answer for penetration from Wright or Little.  And Little made some really hard shots at the end of the game.  He made hard shots over the top of people.

Q.  Bob, the defensive job that they were able to do on Da'Sean and Alex on the perimeter, was it more the defense?  Or did those two have an off night shooting the ball?

COACH HUGGINS:  I thought Da had great looks.  I thought they probably did a better job on Alex than they did on Da honestly.  We run a set to start the game and Da had a wide open look and hit the rim and one open in the corner and it is short.  And we're down one and he had a great look.  There wasn't anybody around him.  And those are shots that, you know, he has been making, he just didn't make them.

Q.  Coach, seemed like the first half today was like the first half against Syracuse.  Not a whole lot of zip or energy.  Any explanation for that?
 
COACH HUGGINS:  No.  No, we didn't have great practices early in the week, but I thought we were better.  I thought we were better yesterday.  I thought we had a lot more bounce in our step yesterday.
 
They were really physical with us, I think, and they took us out of really running offense.  I thought we did a better job of running offense in the second half.  We got more things at the rim.  But they kind of checked our cuts and we just didn't find it very much in the first half, quite honestly.

 
Q.  Coach, Chris Wright had 27 points and 10 rebounds and wondering your impressions of how he played.
 
COACH HUGGINS:  He played great.  But we knew he was capable of doing it.  I watched Chris play for a lot of years.  He's a very, very talented guy.  And he made shots.  He doesn't always make shots and he made perimeter shots today which makes him even harder to guard.
 
And Little made shots, hard shots as well.  He made some shots over the top of us.  And at the end of the game when they needed baskets to kind of stop the bleeding for them, and, you know, that's what you want your upperclassmen to do, to step up and make shots like that.

 
Q.  Bob, did you feel as if you could tie it once, that the whole thing would swing?  You can never get over that hump.
 
COACH HUGGINS:  Well, you know, you got an 80 some percent free throw shooter shooting two free throws and he misses both of them.  And Da'Sean is maybe our best 3 point shooter and he has a wide open look down by one.  And you know, that one had a chance.
 
The other ones didn't have much of a chance.  But that one had a chance and it bounces, and bounces up in the air and hits the front of the rim and bounces off.  We just didn't    we just didn't make the plays that we needed to make and they made plays that they needed to make.
 
I told our guys at halftime we have lost 12 games and we haven't scored 70 points.  And we have to score some points.  So, you know, I think our defense is okay.  They had 11 field goals in the second half, and, you know, two of them came because we didn't switch when we worked on switching for four days.  I mean, and they made hard shots.
 
Chris made hard shots and Little made hard shots.
 
MODERATOR:  Okay, if there are no further questions, Coach, we appreciate the time.
 
COACH HUGGINS:  Thank you.