Cal-Maryland Postgame Quotes
March 19, 2009
KEVIN KLINTWORTH: University of Maryland head Coach Gary Williams, student athletes, Greivis Vasquez, Adrian Bowie, Dave Neal.
COACH GARY WILLIAMS: I'm just proud of these guys and the rest of team. They're tremendous workers all through the year, just preparing for this game that we've had to play, especially the last month, whatever game we've played has been a pressure game.
So that continued today. I thought California came out and did a really good job defensively on us. Took us out of a lot of things and we were struggling. We managed to maintain the lead, thanks to our defense.
We played pretty good defense against a very good shooting team and we finally got moving a little better the second half and I think that resulted in taking out the score and, of course, we went zone there and that was a big gamble but sometimes you have to do some things that might work and it worked out well for us and the players did a great job of executing down the stretch.
KEVIN KLINTWORTH: Questions for student athletes only at this time.
Q. Gary, did you feel like the offense was running a lot more smoothly in the second half and that was the catalyst behind that?
COACH GARY WILLIAMS: I thought it was our defense that allowed us to get some easy baskets and from there, we gained confidence in our basic set that we tried to run and once we saw we could score out of that, I think we were okay.
KEVIN KLINTWORTH: These questions are for student athletes only at this time.
Q. Greivis, I think there's about seven minutes left in the second half and you shot that air ball and after that you were able to recover and get a transition bucket. Did you sense a change in the team's energy level after that?
GREIVIS VASQUEZ: Well, I was -- that was a horrible shot. The coach was mad at me. I was kind of upset with myself and I was trying to make a play and right after that shot, I made a good play and I got a foul and made the basket and I mean I don't know if it changed the pace of the game but we definitely started to play hard after that.
Q. Adrian, it looked like midway through the second half Gary started to run some plays for you to get isolation. Could you talk a little bit about what you saw and what you were able to do?
ADRIAN BOWIE: We were running the 2 play. We were coming on the rollback. Once I was the rollback, I see I could attack my man and that's what I did.
KEVIN KLINTWORTH: Next question for student athletes.
Q. The press early on in the game seemed to throw them off. Did you expect that and is that why you stayed with it? Just talk a little bit about the effect that it had, Dave.
DAVE NEAL: Thanks to our coaches they watched a ton of tape on California of their season and some team press throughout the season and they struggled a little bit.
Being a shorter guard, when you trap them and you give him a good trap he's got a tough time looking over it. We came to this game with we know we were going to go to our game. We knew they were going to have a tough time with it.
I think that was one of the great calls by our coaches to do. That's one of the reasons why we won this game. Our pressure has been great for us all year and that's what Coach Williams has been known to do, have a great pressure and great 55 and great 35. It worked well for us and worked well tonight for us.
Q. Greivis, how much of your toughness and the team's toughness do you think is attributed to playing in the ACC this season?
GREIVIS VASQUEZ: To me it's the best league in the whole nation. Playing in the ACC is hard night in and night out. You got to be ready and tough. We had that toughness from playing in our league. So every game from now we're going to come out hard and we're -- we're really going to be tough.
Q. Dave, talk a little bit about what Dino gave you guys, lot of hustle plays off the bench, really big with Landon getting into foul trouble.
DAVE NEAL: Dino has been a great guy coming off the bench. He plays probably just as hard as anybody on the team when he's in the game and he's done a great job of playing within his role.
He had some huge plays for us tonight. That one put-back I knew was huge and showed his athleticism. That ball was down low and brought it up good and slammed it.
Dino is a smart player off the bench. When we're down, Coach Williams knows we need something because Dino will make a great play for us. He hustles. He had one play where he looked like Dennis Rodman going out of bounce.
That's why our team is so great. We've got guys coming off the bench, give it their all no matter what. Dino has been a great guy coming off the bench.
Eric contributes, too, and anybody comes off the bench knows their role. They've done a great job of staying within their role and helping our team to win.
Q. Dave, you were able to get some things done on the baseline against the team that's got some size advantage. What were you able to do and what was the strategy down there?
DAVE NEAL: I mean they were a big team. They were a little taller than us. I've gone against guys three inches taller than me the whole entire season. I just -- with me I just kind of use my fundamentals to the best of my ability.
I'm not going to jump over anybody, not going to do something spectacular. I got a good back to the basket game and jump hook. We're a tough team no matter what. I credit that to playing in the ACC and playing against taller guys who are much more athletic.
Without playing in the ACC I don't think we would be as good as we are down low even though we're undersized.
Q. Dave, as a senior, what did this win and advancing in the tournament mean to you?
DAVE NEAL: It's huge. This senior season is like a picture perfect senior season for somebody. The fact that we made it back to the NCAA Tournament and we won our first game I think is huge.
I give a lot of credit to Coach Williams. He worked extremely hard. We've lost some tough games and won some huge games. Coming in here with a coach like Coach Williams who has a ton of experience winning the NCAA Tournament, winning the championship. We had all the faith in the world that we could win the first game.
By winning tonight shows we're a great team and we can hang with anybody else in the country. I just -- I'm happy for this team. We haven't quit. Worked extremely hard. That's what Maryland is all about, playing hard for 40 minutes and having a big heart that's never going to quit.
Q. Dave, what's happened to this team the last week going from being on the bubble to beating Wake, now being in the second round?
DAVE NEAL: I mean going into the ACC Tournament after we lost to UVA, Coach Williams was extremely honest with us. He knew what we had to do to make it in the tournament, win two games. Obviously when you win -- we went down there and won two games. I believe we're playing the best basketball that we played all season. That's a huge credit to Coach Williams.
He knows when you're post-season, you're supposed to be playing your best basketball. We've proven tonight that we're playing extremely well basketball.
I know we shot the ball extremely well from the field tonight and I'm anxious also for this team because we've worked extremely hard in the preseason and throughout the season. We've never quit and that's just Maryland basketball for you.
It's been like that for over the years, never quit and playing hard until you lose a game and hopefully that won't be for awhile.
KEVIN KLINTWORTH: Last two questions.
Q. Greivis, you guys had the two 3-pointers back to back then to kind of extend things out, around 59-51, something like that. Did you guys feel taking over game at that point?
GREIVIS VASQUEZ: Definitely. Those 3-point shots we made at that time of the game were huge, completely changed everything, you know, during the game and then after that we went through -- went to plays zone and we got things going from the team and I mean we just -- we're pretty tough.
I think our preparation coming into the game was good enough to get us a win. So we got to be ready for the next one.
KEVIN KLINTWORTH: Last question.
Q. Adrian, seems like the past couple games we talked about it before that you were really picking up your aggressiveness and you're going back to the basket again. Is that something the coaches are pushing you to do, per se?
ADRIAN BOWIE: Yes, of course. That's what Coach talks to me about all the time, being aggressive, trying to attack the basket and do what I do best.
KEVIN KLINTWORTH: Thank you guys. Questions for Coach Williams.
Q. Gary, what has happened to this team in the last week being on the bubble to the second round?
COACH GARY WILLIAMS: Well, I think with every time I've ever coached I've tried to coach through the season. In other words, try to improve the team. Whenever your last practice is, you hope that's a good practice and you get a little better.
Some teams buy into that better than others. These guys have bought into the idea that you can get better during the season. I think a lot of maybe fans and people think that you work hard in the off-season, you get to a point and start practicing and that's your team.
I've never felt that way. I just think it's a continuing process from October until now and hopefully we'll be a better team on Saturday when we play Memphis.
Q. Gary, you mentioned that again going to the zone in the second half. Obviously it paid off. What went into the decision to go to it at that point?
COACH GARY WILLIAMS: I thought they were hurting us by taking the ball to the basket which, you know, basketball is a great game because lot of times you have to make adjustments in the game.
Everybody saw their 3-point statistics, the best 3-point shooting team in the country percentagewise going into the game and so we did a lot of work to take away the 3s and all of a sudden, you know, Randle and the other guys started driving pretty well and hurting us, taking the ball to the basket.
I just thought we gambled. It was a gamble. The score was close and they made some 3s down the stretch but not enough to really hurt us because we started to score well once we went to zone and that changed the game but it was a gamble but I didn't feel good about the way we were playing man-to-man defense at the time.
Q. Gary, how much of a chance did you get to see Memphis' game or were you just focused on the Cal game?
COACH GARY WILLIAMS: My assistant saw it. I didn't watch it at all. That's what I do. I just -- that's their job. And when I get back to the hotel I'm going to start on Memphis but my job is to get ready for this game today. California is too good to worry about anything else. So I've always done it that way.
Q. Gary, how would you describe this season overall getting through the early firestorm to get to this point? Some ways it
has to be gratifying.
COACH GARY WILLIAMS: Well, I really haven't thought a whole lot. I've learned to do what you can do as a coach. My job is to show up and practice everyday, no matter what happened during the day, no matter what happened or was in the newspaper or paper and give them what I have.
I was a JV high school coach. That's what I did with 14 year old guys who really wanted to learn fundamentals and things like that. I've stayed with that as a coach.
I might be a little different or a little old school with that but I really believe that's my job, you know, is to give whatever I can to the players and, you know, it's not -- like these guys have matured as a basketball team obviously this year but they've matured as people. That's part of the deal.
Coaches don't get a lot of credit for it sometimes. Coaches do a great job with helping kids get through some tough years. 18 to 22 is a tough time to get through in college and our guys have really matured.
Q. Gary, Dave Neal has kind of come out of nowhere to have a really good year this year. Did you kind of picture that he could go through this?
COACH GARY WILLIAMS: When I saw him play in high school, he was All-Met there in the Washington, D.C. area. I thought he could really help us as a role player, you know, somebody who can really as a big man step out, shoot 3s and make the right pass and know what's going on.
I just thought he was a pretty complete player with some limitations but his first three years he had the shoulder operation every year. So this is the first year he's been healthy where he had an actual summer to get ready for the season.
Dave has just been a phenomenal player. It's funny, not many teams would recruit him at the time but now I think a lot of teams would recruit him as a basketball player. And, you know, people say well, he's a role player. No, he's a very good player for us. He really helps us with the offense. The guards get a lot of credit with the offense but when you have an inside player that knows how to run the offense, that helps, also.
Q. Gary, you played so many games against the same teams every year in the ACC. Do you relish the opportunity to like take a whole new team on that you haven't seen like Cal?
COACH GARY WILLIAMS: That's always interesting. You have to beat those teams you play a lot if you want to get here but when do you get the chance, I think it is like a breath of fresh air to me and I'm sure to the players, too, and that's just not our program.
Anytime you get out of your league when it's been a very tough league, I think it feels good to go play and we look forward to playing Cal, a team that had a great year.
You know, Mike comes in here in one year and gets this done. That's a fantastic year for Cal so we knew they would come in with some momentum going for them and you know, we had to take it away from them. I thought we beat a pretty good team today.
Q. Along the lines of the challenge, Memphis has a different kind of system, the dribble/drive. You only got two days to prepare for that. How tough is that when you haven't seen much of it?
COACH GARY WILLIAMS: It's hard but, at the same time, it's something that, you know, you learn to do. You have this time to get ready. The ACC, you play back to back games.
So this feels like we have some time to do this, this week, and my assistants, as I said, have been working on Memphis and hopefully, you know, we can make that change over by the time we get to practice tomorrow. We can at least walk-thru some things that we have to do.
The problem is you can't duplicate the athletic ability that's going to be there Saturday and things like that. That's always the problem when you get ready for a game like this against Memphis.
KEVIN KLINTWORTH: Anyone have a last question? Thank you, Coach.
KEVIN KLINTWORTH: Now in the interview room, the University of Cal.
COACH MIKE MONTGOMERY: Well, we didn't play as well as we're capable of. This is a stage in which you have to come out and do what you're capable of doing, maybe you have to do some things better than you've done. I didn't think we really did that.
Maryland is fairly comparable to ourselves, I think. I felt like that going in. They're not real, real big but they're a little bit quicker to the glass than we are.
Vasquez was a great player and ended up with pretty good numbers and, you know, hurt us repeatedly getting back to his own missed shots. Didn't think we rebounded the ball. We had an opportunity to get some stops, we didn't rebound the ball like we needed to.
You know, I can sit here and tell you all the things we didn't do and so forth, but, you know, for us it's a first step getting here and having the experience now of seeing what this is, maybe heighten the juices a little bit to work hard and get better collectively.
We've got virtually everybody back, you know, other than Jordan Wilkes and we just got some things that we can do better and I'm hoping that this spurs us to want to work hard to do those things, and, you know, on one side of the coin I'm extremely proud of these kids for what they've accomplished to get here and on the other side I'm a little disappointed.
The last couple weeks of the season we kind of got a little bit, I don't know, whatever. We're letting people kind of have their way with us a little bit. That's, again, part of the learning process I think and hopefully we can take from this and get better.
KEVIN KLINTWORTH: Questions for the student athletes.
Q. Jerome, talk a little bit about the press that you guys have dealt with early on. They hit you guys with it from the start. Talk about the impact of that throughout the game.
JEROME RANDLE: We didn't handle it too great. Feel like I should have been a leader out there and got everybody in the right positions but, I mean it wasn't really a tough press. We just didn't, you know, handle it well so I just feel like we should have just been smarter and just got the ball in the right spots when we needed to and I mean it definitely hurt us, you know, because we got a five count and got a couple turnovers so changed the game a little bit.
Q. Jerome, Mike, or Coach Montgomery mentioned Vasquez being a good player. What did you know about him, what did you know about their guards in general and did they take you out of doing anything that you wanted to do?
JEROME RANDLE: Not at all. They was good players. Vasquez is a great player and great players -- you know, but we just needed to be smart, you know. We should have played a little better as a team. They just wanted it more. That's basically it.
Q. Theo, was it as difficult for you guys to get the open looks you were used to as it looked from the side? Were they making it tougher for you to get clear looks at the basket?
THEO ROBINSON: It's a little bit of a combination of what Maryland did. I would say moreso on the part of ourselves. We didn't really have five guys out there on the same page. It seemed like, you know, we weren't functioning as a cohesive unit. Something to learn from this experience. We just got to really be tuned in to things we're supposed to be doing and making sure we're on the same page out there.
KEVIN KLINTWORTH: Do we have more questions for the Cal student athletes? Guys, you're excused to head back at the locker room.
Questions for Coach Montgomery.
Q. Coach, this is the fifth time this season you shot under 30 percent from the 3-pointer range. Just talk about that.
COACH MIKE MONTGOMERY: Well, we don't shoot the ball we're not as good as we need to be. I think that's been kind of apparent all year long, that we have won a lot of big games, important games, games on the road, Washington, Arizona when we shot the ball well.
I mean I don't know truthfully that Maryland did anything appreciably different than others did. They got us out of our rhythm a little bit. Maybe that's a consequence of their press.
But we just never seemed to really get much of a rhythm. So it's very difficult for us to compete against a good team and Maryland is a good team without shooting the ball well.
We do not have the ability to dominate on the boards. We do not have the ability to physically beat people up. We're an okay defensive team. We're not a great defensive team.
We have to shoot the ball. The ball, for whatever reason, in the shot selection, rhythm, distribution, we're not shooting the ball. We struggle and that is the case clearly tonight.
Q. Coach, could you just talk about Jorge coming off bench and guarding Vasquez? Was there any concern about that at all because Vasquez I think has about a three inch height advantage?
COACH MIKE MONTGOMERY: We ruled out Jerome early at five-eight, so we don't have a lot of choice. Patrick is maybe an inch or so taller than Jorge. It's not like we have a lot of choices. You know, Jorge is our best defender.
We were willing to take our chances there. I think part of the thing with Patrick defending him early, probably tired him out a little bit because we did make an emphasis of trying to defend him and maybe Patrick's legs were a little bit shot. We talked about starting Jorge.
Our best lineup has been with Jorge in there, maybe small but then we're awfully small and we kind of want to keep that in reserve.
Now the size was something we weren't going to do anything about. Theo would have been a possibility but then we would have had six-two, six-three guy on a six-seven guy.
The thing that Vasquez does well is he reads his missed shots and gets them. You've got two, three where we did a decent job defending and didn't get back to the glass.
Q. Kind of a two part question. Randle is five for eight in the first half and he kind of disappeared. Only took three shots in the second half. Also Robertson kind of emerged in the second half. Can you talk about both players' roles in each of the half?
COACH MIKE MONTGOMERY: People make adjustments. If I'm scouting us I'm going to say look, I would get up into Jerome and not give him any opportunities to get a clean look.
At five-eight he needs a little space even though he has great range. He needs space because a bigger player can maybe change shots. One of the problems we have, we don't have a lot of ball handlers and, unfortunately, Jerome has to do a lot of things.
In many ways you like to have Jerome off the ball, have him coming off screens because he's probably our best shooter. We don't have very many people that can create for him by putting it on the floor. Maybe Jorge at times can be able to do that so, you know, he's got a lot of hats he has to wear out there. He has to handle the ball versus pressure, get back on shots.
There's just a lot of pressure on Jerome to be good and it's tough on him. I feel for him sometimes because those guys rely on him and how come you're not getting me the ball? He's trying to do that. He's gotten better at it but, you know, Theo, we moved him to 4 some, is probably his best position. It causes some matchup problems.
We're able to get some shots for him playing against a bigger player spacing the floor because the emphasis has been on Patrick and Jerome. He took advantage of that.
It also makes us weaker on the boards. Maybe we're not as physical and so there's a little trade-off there.
Q. Gary seemed to think that when he went to zone at 51-50 after the second TV timeout that that seemed to not change the game but make it tougher for you guys to function. Was that your sense as well?
COACH MIKE MONTGOMERY: Well, it was a stretch there where we had a little momentum shift. We actually went to a Triangle 2 for a couple possessions and they missed the first two, three and, you know, think, well, maybe this is going to get them out of rhythm because the wrong people took shots for them.
I think we didn't rebound the ball in the two, three occasions necessarily but then we got a little bit out of sorts in terms of finding people and -- I think it was a combination of that where we -- we don't -- we need to have alternate ways to change things, you know.
Our best defense is man and we're just okay because we're not physical, we're not big, we don't have shot blockers. So we need another way to change tempo, to try to get something different and we just don't have something that we can go to that we're very good at, very comfortable with.
So that hurts us, and -- the zone seemed to hurt us more than we should have. We couldn't get movement. We probably talked about lack of ability to get it to the low post. What you're supposed to be able to do against a zone is rebound the ball.
We were a small lineup. We weren't able to do that very much because they have quicker jumpers than we do. It probably was something that changed the rhythm and tempo a little bit and in other occasions people have played zone, we've played very well against.
Q. It seemed like after Maryland was up that the offense had a few possessions and they were on the verge of getting back. Maryland was able to score quite quickly. Was there anything defensively that particularly frustrated you with what Cal was doing on the floor?
COACH MIKE MONTGOMERY: Yeah, whole bunch of stuff. When we struggle offensively we sometimes lose our focus defensively. It's kind of a deal that we struggle with all year long. We've tried to establish and get better on defense and we've gotten better but -- a lot of that -- it's funny how it works.
A guy jumps up and shoots a shot. He goes down and becomes really good on defense. We were missing a lot of shots and our focus was somewhat suspect defensively.
One of things that we've had a hard time with is what we call a V back where you come over and help. Somebody has got to help. You got to V back and help the helper on that. It's a concept we're working on.
There were second shots and dunks and rebounds where we didn't have anybody coming back to helper. We've got a long ways to go defensively in terms of our whole team concept of what we have to do.
Combinations of people that were getting tired a little bit. There was some nervous energy expended because they were a little bit excited about the game. We get worn down physically. There's no question we get worn down physically.
At one point we had five people with three fouls. Some of them were just silly reach fouls, pretty good shape and rather than make them make a shot, we reached out. That's a little bit of discipline issue that we've got that's going to come back on me.
I've got to get them to where they understand what good defense and what sound basketball is and what a good defensive possession is. It's all part of the building process.
KEVIN KLINTWORTH: Last couple of questions.
Q. Mike, talk a little bit about what the team was able to accomplish over the course of the year and maybe the second half of the season your record indicates maybe some teams caught up to you a little bit and maybe saw your limitations. Talk about the progress of the year itself.
COACH MIKE MONTGOMERY: I think that's a very valid question and point. It's hard to balance at this point, you know, the pride that you feel in the kids for getting to where they got. You know, you feel good about a kid like Jordan Wilkes who is a senior, started most of the year, if not all the year, has that to look back on now, but, you know, it just seemed like you're right, people figured out what we had to do and they were willing to take chances and take those people out as best they could and make other people have to make plays and we weren't always able to step up.
You know, we got hurt with athletic teams.
We got hurt with physical teams. Alright. So essentially I guess what I'm saying, if somebody just let us play, we're pretty good but people figured out that isn't the answer. It's get up and force them, bang them and hold them, push them, so forth and we just weren't able -- then there wasn't anybody I could put in. We've got to change this.
So we have to get better at what we do and we've got to get a whole lot better at what we don't do. That's the challenge for the off-season. Now you see, now you feel. We're in the tournament. Where do we go from here?
I'll be real curious to see how much guys are willing to work in the weight room, to improve on the areas that we're not very good at because working on our strengths is easy. The hard part is working on the areas that you maybe aren't quite so good at and that's where we got to head.
KEVIN KLINTWORTH: Last question.
Q. How easy will that be to do, to get better at the things you don't do and how much of it is simple physical limitation?
COACH MIKE MONTGOMERY: I knew you were smart, Ray. You know, there's just some truth to that. You can't -- you know, we've got to -- it's going to be a good question that we're going to have to figure out.
We've got to bring people in, we've got to continue to bring people to augment what we have. I mean I guess the easiest example is Jerome is not going to get bigger. We have to figure a way to make him more efficient.
We've got to get tougher-minded and some of that comes in the weight room. It was really hard for us with our bigs. You know, Jordan has been wobbly, Harper has been, gosh, I don't know if you give a percentage what he's been all year long, thought he wasn't going to play and Taylor never got back. It was like where do we go?
Lot of them are freshmen. I want to see Max develop. D.J. is a freshman. Our guys are going to get better but you're right, how much does it change, how much -- the hard part is working on something that you don't do well perhaps because you don't understand it, perhaps just it's a limitation that's not going to change, you know.
But that's our job. We can't give into it. We're just going to have to do everything we can to change it and maybe we won't be 50 percent better but improve 15 percent. Get to the same place with a better opportunity to win a game like this.
So I don't expect it will change overnight but we'll be better. We will be better next year.
KEVIN KLINTWORTH: Thank you, Coach.
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