Louisville-Siena Postgame Quotes
March 22, 2009
THE MODERATOR: Joining us are student-athletes Kenny Hasbrouck, Ronald Moore and Edwin Ubiles. Coach, an opening statement, please. COACH McCAFFERY: I just want to begin by congratulating Louisville on making the Sweet 16. I've been very impressed with Coach Pitino and how he's brought this team along and gotten them to this point. It is very difficult. Maybe the most impressive team that I've watched on film in a long time. So as we prepare for this game, they presented a great deal of concerns for us. And I think when you go through the game and you're trying to manage the game, I couldn't be more proud of how we, number one, handled their pressure. I thought that was a key to us being in the game throughout. I knew we were going to have some problems on the glass with their size. But I felt we attacked their defense well. We got great shot opportunities. Even the stretches of time where we struggled to score, we were getting good shots. We weren't turning the ball over. We were in an attack mode. A lot of people probably felt we were going to play the games in the 50s. But that's just not how we play. We're always going to be in attack mode. We're going to attack pressure. We're going to attack zones. We're going to attack man-to-man and we're going to press you. And that's our style. I couldn't be more proud of these three guys sitting next to me. THE MODERATOR: Questions for the student-athletes.
Q. Kenny, when you got here four years ago it was a floundering program, as you leave today you took the No. 1 team in the country down to the wire. Could you reflect on your four years and how far your years of playing and the program have come? KENNY HASBROUCK: When I first got here everybody knew we were one of the worst teams, probably, in America. Coach McCaffery came in, he promised us he was going to turn it around, we were going to turn it around together. We did it the past few years, we got better each year. The record. Everybody on the team got better. Recruiting got better. Now I'm proud to say we made it to the second round and we took Louisville, the No. 1 team in the country, down to the wire. And we got to show off how good our players are, how good we are as a team, and we showed that it doesn't matter who is scoring, that we worked together no matter what happens.
Q. Could you just describe your state of mind when you're up 4 with seven minutes to go, how excited you were? EDWIN UBILES: We were real excited. Fortunately our press was bothering them a little bit. We took the lead. We were trying to keep it, but got a little sideways for a couple of minutes. And it just gave us a lot of energy to see that we had a team like Louisville and the struggle for a couple of minutes and that we actually had the lead. And I think we built off that. And I thought we fought hard the whole night. And I'm proud of our team and I'm proud of what we accomplished this year. RONALD MOORE: We were happy to be up 4. We knew that we could be in the game with these guys. We definitely didn't want to play not to lose at that point. We definitely wanted to keep attacking, keep attacking. Definitely think they did a good job of really starting to handle our pressure and really starting to get the ball inside. Unfortunately, a couple of balls didn't go our way. The outcome is the way it is now.
Q. Just getting back to that when you were up 4, was there a sense -- Louisville I think called two or three timeouts during that stretch, was there any sense among the players, you know what, I think we might have them here? KENNY HASBROUCK: Yeah, we thought we had them. We were running them up and down. We kept up with them every time. But just unfortunately I guess a team that good there's a reason they're No. 1. And our nine turnovers seemed like 20 against them. So one mistake can be two baskets for them. And they built on the mistakes and that's what they did in that segment. We had good shots. It's just unfortunately they didn't fall. Every time a shot didn't fall they had it right back in their room either getting fouled or layup or turning it into 3. There's not too much you can do about situations like that.
Q. Ronald, can you just talk about the experience of playing against this press, supposedly the best pressure defense in the country and how you were able to handle it so effectively? RONALD MOORE: I definitely think we did a great job of handling it. I really wanted to attack it. That was our game plan going into it. And I definitely think we did a better job of pressuring them. We caused them to have 17 turnovers and we only had 9. And one thing we're definitely proud of, how we handled the pressure, is key turnovers at the end of the game hurt. And they capitalized on it. THE MODERATOR: Thanks, guys. Questions for Coach.
Q. Could you talk a little bit about Kenny Hasbrouck and also the senior class you'll have next year and how you could possibly build on the past two seasons? COACH McCAFFERY: Well, when you have a player like Kenny, it's interesting. We were just talking in the room next door here. I've never coached a game at Siena that he didn't start in. So it will be new foreign territory for me. But what I told the players after the game was he set the standard for how you work and how you prepare. And I think when you look at the junior class mark that you mentioned, the reason that they play with the intensity level and the determination that you just witnessed is because of the great senior leadership that we got from Kenny and from Josh Duell. So the standard has been set, and our intention, of course, is to keep the program moving forward. That said, we know it's not easy. It's not easy to win a regular season championship, a tournament championship, and to get back here. But we know what it's like. We know what a phenomenal experience it is, and that gives you the incentive that you need to continue to prepare to get better and to reach your potential. We have a great recruiting class coming in, and I have great expectation for our team next year.
Q. Kenny just said that when you guys were up 4 he said, "We thought we had him." I'm sure as a coach, with them calling time out timeout with more than seven minutes to go, you didn't think you had them. What was your mindset with the team and what happened afterwards when Louisville went on their run? COACH McCAFFERY: When you're in that situation you're not thinking do we have them, do we not have them, you're thinking what do we need to do defensively? We changed defenses on them, and that was the reason why we were ahead. We went to the man-to-man. We started trapping. We started pressing full court man-to-man, we got out of the zone. And that was problematic for them. In time, a Rick Pitino coached team is going to adjust. So you're thinking do we stay in this or do we change back to the zone? Do we change into something completely different, like a 1-3-1, something totally different than anything they've seen so far. And then you're thinking what are we going to do on offense. If you're a 4 and you get it to 7 it's a lot different. Now it's a three-possession game. So we were trying to get it to 7. So we spread the floor. We were running Clarence Jackson on the baseline behind the zone and trying to find him. He was hot. He had come off the bench when Kenny got hurt and made some plays. So we were looking at him. Because he was hot the defense was stretched. So we wanted to penetrate and look down to the baseline. And we got a couple of looks, but we couldn't ring the bell there. So any time that you miss or turn it over, Louisville is the best team in the country at capitalizing on those misses and those mistakes. Kenny said it best: Your turnovers are 3-point baskets and that's what we told our team. Most teams when they steal the ball from you or you turn it over they go down and attack the rim, they run to the line and shoot the 3 and make it a 3-point problem for you. So they've got at least pros, three first-round picks, and Williams at that particular time, who was one of them, I thought made some key plays. When the team was sputtering, he made some plays, and I thought -- and the reason we weren't in man the whole game is they went inside when we went to the man. We got some turnovers and we had the guards sideways, but the big fellow was posted up in there. And they got it in there a few times.
Q. Coach Pitino said with the press today they're not concerned so much with turnovers as much as perhaps grinding you down, and your minutes were high for your starters and I wondered if you think did that play any role in those final four minutes or so, a little fatigue? COACH McCAFFERY: I'll be honest with you, I thought we had better energy at the end of the game than they did. Their length and their ability to stay after you pressuring the ball, up in the passing lanes, it's going to get you. We had a stretch there where we were scoring pretty easily, then we had a stretch where we weren't. And that's going to be the case when you're playing against those kinds of athletes playing that kind of intense defense. So I don't think it was energy level as much as it was continued pressure by long-armed great athletes.
Q. A lot has been made of them coming back from being down by 4. But earlier in the half they had an 11-point lead then an 8-point lead they could have run it out. What did you tell your team to keep them in the game and actually take a lead after that? COACH McCAFFERY: Well, you're right. That's a great point. We were down in the first half a couple times. We were down double digits in the second half. And that's usually when they go on their run. They take a 12-point lead and you blink and it's 19 and it's over. So what we tried to do was manage the game. Our plan was to manage each media timeout to the next media timeout. What are we going to do in these next four minutes, because the run's coming. There's going to be a run, how do we handle the run. Are we going to change the defense? Are we going to change the offense? What are we going to come out with a timeout offensively, would it be defensively? At that particular time that you're referring to, we were getting pounded on the glass. They were missing shots but getting it and putting it back in. Now we have to fight the press, instead of being able to take their miss and run their fastbreak back at them. So what I convinced our players to do was do a better job on the glass than we were doing. We were scoring. We weren't turning it over and we were stopping them. But they were making baskets on second-shot opportunities. So in that stretch, when we took the lead, we were stripping them or giving them 1, and we were going. Now they're back on their heels. They didn't pick up Clarence Jackson and transition in one time, and as you saw, that team was going in the wrong direction. Rick had to call a bunch of timeouts to get them straightened out. That's really what I was trying to accomplish at that particular time. THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach.
End of FastScripts
THE MODERATOR: Joining us are student-athletes Terrence Williams and Earl Clark. Coach, an opening statement, please. COACH PITINO: Well, first I want to congratulate Siena. What I told our guys before the game is that Siena could compete in the Big East, be in the top half of the league, and I really meant it in watching them. I said they're up 12. I said, guys, they're not going to go away. I said they've played Tennessee, Oklahoma State, Kansas on the road. They're not going away. And they didn't, obviously. And they made some big defensive plays by slapping down and coming up with steals. And we could say it was our carelessness with the ball, but it was more their great plays. And you gotta give them all the credit in the world. I really wasn't sure about this basketball team. A lot of people said you press and this and that. And we knew our press was not going to create a lot of turnovers tonight. We wanted to wear them out so they didn't shoot the ball well. But I wasn't sure about our team. When people asked me how good they were, I couldn't answer it honestly when we were down 4 and we had to make big plays offensively and we had to make big rebounds defensively. Not until that point did I ever believe that this team had it. They try hard. And I always give them the confidence that I believe in, but I never felt it, because at that point a No. 1 ranked team in the country, No. 1 was getting ready to go down. The calls weren't going, they think, in their favor. I thought they were good calls. And they had to really make big plays and they did. And Earl, I told him that great pressing team I had in '96, I said Walter McCarty was like Earl, he was on the ball. He was pressing doing all the things, but Walt played 24 minutes a game. Both these guys keep playing 38, 39 in a very difficult style, and they both do a fabulous job, and I'm proud of them and my respect level for Siena was extremely high before the game, and it hasn't changed. They're a great basketball team. THE MODERATOR: Questions for the student-athletes.
Q. Terrance, can you just talk about how far you guys have come as a team from earlier in the year when you had kind of curious losses to where you are now and how well you're playing now? TERRENCE WILLIAMS: In the beginning of the year we would have lost that game, no question. We was in the same type of situation at Notre Dame, and instead of reversing it and taking the lead, we went down from 10 to 20, to 30. And everybody hung their heads. This team tonight, including myself, we started to hang our head, but he told us not to. We just came together as a collective group to play defense. In the beginning of the year we wasn't really playing defense. It was more of a selfish team as far as shooting shots on our own and not really running offense. And tonight we just dug in, and that just shows you the chemistry and growth of this team to now from the early losses, because like I said at the beginning of the year we would have lost that game.
Q. Terrence, can you just talk about when you guys were down 4, it seemed almost like you personally took it upon yourself to get everything going with the offense and a couple of deflections on defense? TERRENCE WILLIAMS: My mindset was just to play basketball. I'm not saying we're down 4 so I need to shoot the ball or do something like that. We ran the play and I was open so I shot it and I just made sure -- and Coach Pete told me to go to the glass on the offense end and I happened to get a rebound and put it back in. But it's all according to my team. We're hustling and we're getting stops together as a team to bring the score closer and take the lead. He told us we're down 4 with seven minutes to go for a lifetime left. If we were down four with ten seconds it's a different story, but we dug in the last four minutes and it worked out in our favor.
Q. Earl, can you talk about T-Will's play down the stretch? He certainly came up huge. EARL CLARK: He definitely stepped up. I expect that from him. He's our leader and he's a great player, one of the best forwards in the country. You all seen it out there today with his shooting ability and rebounding. When we needed big shots, he delivered.
Q. Terrence, Coach talked a little bit ago about telling you guys how much he thought of Siena and where they would be if they played in the Big East, but do you think in your heart of hearts you guys believed that? When you went up 14 early, did you think that it might be easy at any point? TERRENCE WILLIAMS: No, we watched them the other day when they played Ohio State. And for them to hit big-time shots at the end to come back, go to overtime, overtime to win the game, it shows you the heart in the team. Always tell this team the teams we're playing here are not here for no reason. We know they're a great basketball team. Their point guard had 10 assists and two turnovers tonight. Shows you what kind of player he is. Their wings are athletic, they get up and run. We underestimate no team. That's why it's called March Madness, you can lose any given night. And coming from the Big East we know we could lose any night playing 18 games. We didn't underestimate them at all.
Q. Terrence, you've been behind in games before, is it any different in a game like this, NCAA Tournament, March Madness, CBS, Cinderella, I don't know if you all think about that, but people in the stands do. Is it different being in that situation, more pressure? TERRENCE WILLIAMS: It's pressure if you guys are thinking about it. If it's us, it's not really pressure, we're just playing basketball. Everybody to us is a No. 1 seed when it comes tournament time because everybody can play. Like I said, they're not here for no reason. The seeds go out the window when the ball goes up. So it's pressure as far as the crowd and being here close to Louisville, that's pressure-wise. But this team prevailed. It shows you the heart in this team and the dedication to wanting to win and the will to win.
Q. Earl, what was going through your mind when you got behind 4? And as Coach Pitino pointed out, nothing was going right and they looked like they had all the momentum. EARL CLARK: We tried not to hang our heads. Coach called a timeout. He told us to stay within ourselves, come together, and it's all about defense. As long as we get stops, we can beat anybody.
Q. Earl, they were really on a roll offensively, what did you do defensively, what did you need to do to make that stop? EARL CLARK: We were just trying to contain the ball and not try to let them get in the paint and stop the 3-point shot. They got a lot of great 3-point shot players. And the point guard, he likes to get inside and mix things up. We tried to stop him from doing that.
Q. Earl, do you feel like you guys proved anything to yourself coming back and being in that situation? EARL CLARK: I think we proved to ourselves that we're a tough team, and when things go wrong we're just not going to hang our head and give up. And it's the best time to do it. I mean, tournament time there's not a lot of thinking, you just gotta do it because tomorrow's not promised. THE MODERATOR: Thank you, guys. Questions for Coach.
Q. I think you called three timeouts during that five-minute stretch where they went on their run. Could you take us through the sequence of what you were saying at each juncture? COACH PITINO: Well, T-Will is such -- what I said basically in the timeouts, I said, "Look, the first" -- second time I called the timeout I said, "You're the No. 1 team in the country. If you think it's a cake walk in this tournament, you're wrong. If you're the No. 1 ranked team in the country, you gotta turn it around now and you can't let this -- you gotta will this game and you'll do it with your defense." And at that one spurt T-Will is on the perimeter, and he's an amazing athlete. On the shot I yelled, "T-Will, go to the glass," and he immediately went to the glass, followed it up and put it in. It was a gigantic play for us. And only he has that type of ability to hear a voice, perform it, get it, and do it. When we were down 4, I just told the guys, "Look, this is -- you gotta prove to yourselves now you're a great basketball team," because you gotta give them credit, they played brilliantly down the stretch, stripped us, made big steals, got big plays, and I think if we weren't ready for like Villanova and Marquette's who play exactly like that, it would have been difficult. But what makes Siena so tough is they're so good off the bounce, they're so good off the bounce. And what our defense does, it doesn't allow many good looks at the 3-point line, and that's where we were successful. We tried to go inside on them, but they took it away from us. We handled their zone, then they went and played very good man-to-man by slapping down and making big plays. We got good defense and offense rebounds. I think it showed me for the first time with that basketball team what we were made of when we went down 4. I wasn't sure. I had to see it for my own eyes at that point, and I saw it for my own eyes and I was real proud of my guys.
Q. Rick, just from the progression of that run, when they hit you with that punch and you were calling timeouts, did you sense them shaking at all? And how did you see them progress emotionally and respond over that time, you're talking about how they responded? COACH PITINO: I just kept telling the guys, "Look, you're panicking right now, and you gotta just gotta dig in defensively, move the ball offensively, take your time and relax out there." I said, "This is not pushover city, this is the NCAA Tournament, and we played in the Big East for a reason, to prepare us for these moments. So now just play our basketball, relax. You're getting down, when the referee is calling." Samardo was down because he didn't get the charge call. I said relax, play our basketball, come back and show your mettle and they went out and made big plays.
Q. Why is it that you weren't sure about your team? You are the No. 1 team in the country. You've played a lot of games, why do you still have that doubt? COACH PITINO: I thought we're a very good basketball team, don't get me wrong. We never really had to come back hard with everything going against us and make that run that we made there at the end of the game. We haven't been in that situation but a couple times. And we were a very good road team. But in most situations like that, regardless of No. 1 versus No. 50, it doesn't matter. In most situations, that team that has great momentum, it's very tough making the big plays coming up, regardless of how good you are. Obviously, we're very good. But I never had the answer to that question of how good. Are we the No. 1 ranked team? Well, we did it in the toughest league in basketball. We won the regular season and Big East, but I still had seeds of doubt. I thought we were doing it with tremendous hustle, tremendous heart, but I wanted to see what they went through tonight where they're down 4, it's late in the game, make the big plays, and they did.
Q. Can you just talk about how your team has kind of evolved from some of those early-season losses to Western Kentucky to UNLV to the run you made to becoming No. 1 in the country? How did that evolve? COACH PITINO: Well, you know what happens. I think as I look back on my pro experience, people always ask me what you got out of it. I got so much out of the Boston Celtics' experience. It didn't go well for me, but I learned so much from it. I learned so much about failure, adversity, patience, discipline, and so many things from the people I met. And with that, you know, there were some nights we just got blown out. You hang your head, you do this. And we just never did that. All we tried to do was, I said, "Guys, Western Kentucky beat us, they deserve the credit. Don't be hanging your heads. They beat us." And now as we look back on it, Western Kentucky, Minnesota, Las Vegas, they're pretty good basketball teams. We didn't lose to any bad basketball teams. Everybody said early on we schedule really tough and that prepared us for the Big East. So as I'm watching Western Kentucky play against -- last night against Gonzaga, I didn't feel bad at all. But we didn't feel bad back then. Everybody's saying, "how did you lose to Western Kentucky?" I think the Louisville guys right now feel kind of silly questioning how we lost to them. They're damn good basketball team. I think what it taught me, all that adversity, is just don't panic. Relax. Stand up and say the other team was better. So many times we just make excuses and go off and say we didn't do this, we didn't do that. There's a reason we didn't do this and we didn't do that. They made us that way. Western Kentucky made us that way. So we just never panicked. We never bought into any failure at all. We just stayed patient, stayed with our game plan. Now, it did surprise me because I thought it would be -- last year it took three losses to win the Big East. This year I thought it would be four to five. So two was an amazing year. We became a very good road team. And obviously you look at the free throws there. We've got to get better at that. We've got to start shooting our free throws better down the stretch. But I think sometimes we're working so hard we need to just get off the adrenalin and become a different person when we go to foul. Just relax, take a deep breath and get in a different mode altogether. We've done a good job. I'm real proud of the guys, because this Big East was tough this year. But it prepared us, as I look back on it, it prepared us for everything. Tonight Villanova and Marquette prepared us for Siena, all that slap, down, all those things they do, the quick breaks prepared us. And I'm sure the next game when we play -- who are we playing?
Q. Arizona. COACH PITINO: I'm sure, like the Pittsburghs and teams like that, will get us ready for that. They've got two lottery picks in Hill and Budinger. Every game that's what makes the Big East so great, is you get ready for so many styles.
Q. The old adage is pressing teams don't like to be pressed. Was that part of the equation, you think, when they scrambled back in it today? COACH PITINO: To tell you the truth, I thought we handled their pressure well except for a couple times late. I think where they made the steals in our half court offense, when we went into the post they stripped us. But I thought we attacked it fairly well. I thought they got three or four turnovers out of it, but by and large I thought we did a really good job. I think when we got inside and got stripped, that's what hurt us a little bit. And they have a very good three-quarter court trap, but again, Villanova is the same way, that same type of trap. But they're very good at it and -- they're a very good basketball team. Fun to watch on film. Scary to play against. But they've got it going. They have a really good program.
Q. You mentioned a lot of those guys made big plays, but Terrence made probably more than anybody. Can you talk about the way he responded again? COACH PITINO: Silly guys, because of the western thing, is that what you mean? I thought probably the same way you did, Eric, at the same time deep down. But when you look back you lose for a reason. We failed to give that credit. They're tremendous. But T-Will made the 3. Got the offensive rebound. Without question it had to be a great performance down the stretch by one or two players to win the game. And he took the game over and made the big plays. And he's improved his shooting so much. He gets every rebound. He's a terrific passer. And he does it -- I think the thing that impresses the most about him is he played 38 minutes of doing all that. Four assists, 24 points, 15 rebounds, 4 for 6 from the 3. That's gigantic. Big-time performance. I'm real proud of him. He's a special young man, and I got on him a little bit after the last game, because for the first time since I coached him he wasn't his gregarious self a little bit and I got on him a bit. He came back in a big way tonight, which I knew he would. We're all very thankful that it wasn't that way because we knew it would be that way tonight. We're in the Sweet 16, very proud of it, I'm glad, but my respect level for Siena is off the charts. I'd love to take that whole team out to dinner and just treat them when I come up to Saratoga this year. I don't know if that's legal, but I'd love to do it. THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach.
End of FastScripts