March Madness: The best NCAA tournament quotes heading into Friday
What they were saying Thursday at the NCAA Tournament . . .
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“They only took 15 3’s. Seem liked they took 30 and made 25 of them. Seemed like every opportunity we had to get a stop, especially like at the end of the first half, it's a 3-point game, they throw it out to Kris Jenkins and he buries a 35-footer like it's a layup.”
Villanova’s Mikal Bridges on teammate Kris Jenkins’ struggle to lose weight early in his career, to where he is now, scoring 21 points against Miami.
“After practice, you have to go in the treadmill and run. That's a heartbreak if you have to go and run. So I know it was hard. And I'm just -- he worked his butt off for that. Where he's at now, just call him Slim Jim now. He's slim. Proud of all the hard work he did. It's paid off for him.”
Villanova coach Jay Wright on a game where Villanova shot 62.7 percent and Miami 53.2:
“Both of us are man-to-man teams. Both of us went zone because we couldn't guard each other.”
Texas A&M’s Jalen Jones, after the 77-63 thumping by Oklahoma:
“It hurts. We know we're a way better team than the way we played tonight. We can't sit up here and sulk in our performance. We have to give a lot of credit to Oklahoma . . . I mean, it's a tough way to go out. It's a sad moment, and somehow me and the rest of the team got to get over it.”
Texas A&M coach Billy Kennedy on the Sooners:
“They're the best team we've played. It's not a question in my mind.”
Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger, on the 28-year span between his first Elite Eight with Kansas State in 1988 and now.
“I hadn't thought about it.”
Duke’s Mike Kryzewski on Oregon’s Dana Altman getting his chance in the Elite Eight after beating the Blue Devils:
“You cross a certain bridge when you go to the Final Four. And some of the great coaches in the history of our game have never gotten to the Final Four. So you're one step away. I think every coach knows, especially him, he's been coaching for three decades. I mean, he's a really good coach. He understands that. He's coaching against another really good guy. You talk about two of the really good guys in the profession, he and Lon (Kruger) are pros. But that's one step away from utopia. I don't know, national championships, the penthouse, wherever utopia is. Thank goodness we've been there a few times.
Kansas’ coach Bill Self on senior Perry Ellis, who had 27 points against Maryland:
“He has a chance to leave Kansas with a legacy that will allow him to be a hero there for a lifetime.”
Iowa State’s Georges Niang, on having a photo from last year’s first round upset loss to UAB as his phone’s screen saver:
“That's the first thing that I pick up when I wake up, is check my phone. It really helps me realize the pain that I went through really when we lost to UAB. The picture is of me with my hands over my head and just a depressed look on my face, and if I wake up a little bit tired, maybe I'm going to hit the snooze button, but when I see that screen saver, it makes me realize that I've got to get up and go get after it, because nothing in this world is going to be handed to you.”
Gonzaga’s Mark Few on Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim:
“He's not the surly curmudgeon you all think he is. He's funny, he's witty, he's a great card player, average fisherman -- but there's some hope there, some promise there if we ever get him off the golf course.”
Boeheim, on meeting Few during a coaches’ Nike tour:
“He jumped into our card game and got his butt kicked, and he took it well. He handled it well. He took his beating like a man. We've been really good friends ever since.”
Few, on if his players liked Gonzaga being the subject of an HBO reality show:
“I picked up on, boy, 'Eric (McClellan) and Josh (Perkins), why are your shirts always off when the HBO cameras are in here, and now we're in here at a film session and you have your shirts on? I'm baffled by this.' So I think they liked their little time to flex and do their thing.”
Boeheim, on his reputation of pushing players:
“I never curse at a player. I never have. I mean, I threw something at a player once, but I wasn't aiming at him. And that was a long time ago. That was 30 years ago. Probably couldn't do that anymore. But pushing players, we all do it. Trust me. Some guys don't hide it and stuff. I'm just not afraid to tell you. But our job is to push players.
“That's the way players get better, and at the end of the day, they want that. Derrick Coleman told me I was pushing him too much, and he'd never come back to see me again, and he's back more than my sons are.
“Never got on Lukey (Jackson) too much. He was good. I was afraid of his father, anyway. Luke Jackson came looking for me, I wouldn't be around.”
Virginia’s Anthony Gill, on how his spring wedding plans are going:
“I did three things. I picked out my groomsmen, I tasted the cake, and I picked the shoes that I was going to wear, and that's about it. And then I know I get married on April 8th, so then I'll be there."
Malcolm Brogdon, on is decision to return to Virginia and wait on the NBA:
“I'm a guy that's all about not trying to take the easy way out or get out of things too early. I want to finish out. I want to finish what I start, and that's what I wanted to do.”
Virginia coach Tony Bennett, when asked about a Vogue magazine article that called him the George Clooney of the NCAA Tournament:
“Someone sent me a text and was messing with me and said they're about to puke, that's what they said. It was our tennis coach actually Brian Poland, so he's always twisting the knife. But I didn't read it . . . and am not interested in reading it, really.”
North Carolina guard Marcus Paige, on what he knows about the Indiana-Tar Heels 1981 national championship game, played in Philadelphia, same as their Friday meeting:
“I know Indiana won. I don't know what else we need to hear about that. It's pretty obvious to look up in the Smith Center and you see an '82 banner and '93 banner. You don't see an '81 banner.”
North Carolina’s Williams, on how much the past history of the Tar Heels against Indiana impacts his players:
“Ten years ago my guys thought Michael Jordan invented the game. Now they don't even know who Michael Jordan is, if it weren't for the Hanes commercials.”
Williams, on being superstitious:
“There's a chance that I might wear the same suit that I wore against a team when we beat them. If they beat us, I put it out for the mailman to see if he can give it to somebody.”
Williams, on the NBA prospects on the floor Friday night when North Carolina plays Indiana.
“I can't speak for Tom's guys, but nobody's beating down the door for our guys to go to the NBA draft. If you want to go to the prom, somebody else has got to want to go with you.”
Wisconsin’s Greg Gard on the past year, when he lost his father, then was named interim and later permanent coach for the Badgers when Bo Ryan suddenly retired:
“It's been a whirlwind. Someday maybe it will be in my book. But it's been surreal. Everything has happened so fast and there have been so many events -- it's been the worst year of my life and it's been the best year of my life rolled into one . . . Maybe in May, I'll be able to sit back and really reflect on it. But fortunately these guys have kept me busy so I don't have to worry about looking in the rearview mirror right yet.”
Wisconsin’s Nigel Hayes, on being an old AAU teammate – and Friday night foe – of Notre Dame’s V.J. Beachem:
“I was just texting him actually a second ago. I'll probably go into Notre Dame's locker room and say what's up to him. If that causes any trouble, I've got my guys with me. We'll settle that quickly."
Wisconsin’s Bronson Koenig, on how long he has been practicing the corner step-back jumper he used to beat Xavier at the buzzer:
“I would say approximately three years or so, ever since me and Nigel started playing one-on-one games, I think it was freshman year sometime. The rule is that neither of us could go to the basket, so we have to shoot all jump shots basically. It's pretty tough getting it over his outstretched arms. So that's just one of the shots that I have to perfect, basically, if I want to beat him in the one-on-one games, which I do most of the time.”
Indiana coach Tom Crean on the Hoosiers regrouping after being mashed at Duke:
“I don't know if there's been any team that's been held more accountable to what they did from December 2 than this team. And we've had to live with a lot of that back home. But the good thing for these guys is they don't let it affect them. All they did was get better. And we weren't very good that night. And we're almost at three and a half months now, so it's just crazy that we continued to have to look back at that game. Because I'm not sure we learned a lot from that game.”