March 21, 2009
Q. E'Twaun, two part question for you. First of all, defensively you came out and just smothered them the first half and were able to get the big lead. Talk about that. And then at the end you missed a couple of shots but you were the man that had to shoot the free throws. Could you talk about each of those elements?
E'TWAUN MOORE: Our team did a great job today coming out to play today from the jump. We knew they were a great team. We knew we had to come out with a lot of energy. And we came out with the victory. At the end of the game I missed a couple of shots, but luckily JaJuan got some good buckets and Keaton got some rebounds. They just held us together and kept up the game by hitting free throws.
Q. JaJuan, can you talk about holding off these guys? You had a big lead and then they kept creeping back, but you guys never really caved in. Can you talk about that?
JAJUAN JOHNSON: Definitely. We knew they were a good team, so obviously they're going to make some runs. I think our team did a good job of staying together when they started making their run, just staying together as a team and just being positive and we came out with the win.
Q. How does it feel? You're going to the Sweet 16.
KEATON GRANT: It feels great. Finally getting over that hump. I've been in the same position two years in a row, and finally going to the Sweet 16 is a great feeling.
E'TWAUN MOORE: It's just a great feeling. All that hard work finally starting to pay off. We won the Big Ten tournament championship, going to Sweet 16. We just worked so hard during the early year, doing conditioning and practice, and things like that. We definitely want to go as far as we can so all the hard work can pay off.
Q. They had the ball and they were down two, had a chance to tie, about a minute to go, something like that. I think you got two blocked shots in a row, one on Thomas, and then they got the rebound I think you got a piece of Pondexter's shot. Can you talk about that sequence?
JAJUAN JOHNSON: After Thomas -- I blocked the first shot from Thomas, the shot clock was getting low, I just shot and made the play on the ball and I just won.
Q. Keaton, you guys have been at your best when the opponent scores less than 65 points. You've gotten a little higher scoring game today, but still it goes back to that defense. Could you sense your defensive pressure in the first half kind of caught them off guard a little bit?
KEATON GRANT: Oh, yeah, definitely. I think that's one thing they hadn't seen too much of all year. That's what most teams do with us, we come up and jam each and every play, trying to stop people from transition, and we're so physical on the cuts and stuff like that, I think it just really startled them. And I think they got used to it in the second half and that's what made them have a little run in the second half.
Q. JaJuan, can you talk about playing a team that kind of likes to play it like you do. It looked like they were pretty serious about defense, and there's a lot of talk about west coast teams not digging in like that. But just seemed like it was a Big Ten kind of a style. Do you guys like that?
JAJUAN JOHNSON: Definitely. They're not really the typical west coast team. They're a real physical, tough team. They pride themselves on rebounding and defending, especially their guards. Really try to pressure our guards and things like that. So it did kind of remind me a little bit of a Big Ten game.
Q. Keaton, talk about what this means going into the Sweet 16 in terms of all the struggles, the injuries, maybe some early season expectations, and I think you lost three out of four at the end of the regular season, what does this mean in light of that?
KEATON GRANT: It just means that we have tough character, that we're able to bounce back, we're not going to hang our heads because we lost, just fighting and keep coming. But we can't be satisfied. We have to get focused, get ready for the next game.
Q. Keaton and E'Twaun, comment on JaJuan's game. He's a lot lankier than Jon Brockman, a little taller, interesting battle. I wondered on your comments on that battle.
E'TWAUN MOORE: JaJuan did a great job for us in the paint today, blocking shots, rebounding, playing good defense on Jon Brockman. And man, he's just a great guy. Glad to have him as a teammate because he made the game a lot easier for us. If we can beat it off the dribble he's beating us back out. We get in trouble, we dish it to him for the dunk. We hope he keeps playing well, and if he do, I think he'll go a long way.
KEATON GRANT: I think he took his game to another level, especially since the Big Ten play started. And for now just being a defensive presence I think is the most -- just blocking shots, anytime, just helping defense. I don't think he did that so much last year. But he knew we could do it, because he showed it in practice. It's starting now and it's coming out on the floor where we need it most, and that's where it's the most important.
Q. You guys talked about transition and rebounding. They got a couple of baskets in transition, but I think you guys out rebounded them. Keaton, I think you had double digits, talk about the focus and being able to follow through.
KEATON GRANT: We knew they were one of the best teams in the nation in rebounding. That's what we wanted to do is make sure we tried to beat them at rebounding, because we knew JaJuan could box out Pondexter, but we needed our guards to do more rebounding this game more than ever, and I think that's one thing that coach emphasized during the pregame, is our guards needed to get rebounds and help our big guys out so they wouldn't get so many loose balls.
Q. Keaton, there was an earlier question about west coast teams being up and down the court and being a little different. The stereotype of Big Ten teams is that they're plodding teams, slow. Do you guys think you're different? You seem to be more up and down the court than most Big Ten teams.
KEATON GRANT: Somewhat. I think we are different, because we get up and down the floor more than other Big Ten teams, besides probably Michigan State, they do the fast break more than us. We can grind it out. We can run in transition. I think like last year with Baylor, I think we proved that, that we can go back and forth, back and forth with teams. We're very versatile the way our personnel is.
Q. JaJuan of all your baskets, they made a run, I think they cut it to two. Then you shipped inside and got that dunk with just under six minutes to go, and you stretched it back out again. Could you talk about that play and in retrospect how big was that dunk just for the mental state as much as anything.
JAJUAN JOHNSON: E'Twaun did a good job following me down low to get that dunk. But it was a pretty big play because of the timing and the situation. We needed a basket.
Q. Can you talk about how important it was to build a large first half lead and take the crowd out of the game, it's a sizable Washington crowd here.
E'TWAUN MOORE: We definitely knew coming into the game it was going to feel like away game, because their school being so close to here. We knew the first five minutes was definitely going to be very important to get control of the tempo of the game. Our guys did a great job with that coming out ready to play. It was just -- just did a great job. I think that was a very important key.
Q. Coach, your defensive pressure to start the game in retrospect -- there were many key elements, but may have been the most important, because it allowed you to create some separation. How much did you like the way you played defense, especially the first half, but maybe the first, especially 15 minutes?
COACH PAINTER: Well, one thing we were concerned with, especially after watching them play Mississippi State, they have very quick guards. And very tough to keep them in front of us. When they ran their offense they were getting a balance of the dribble penetration, and Isaiah Thomas creates for himself and his teammates. And then when you over-help, they kill you on the boards. I think you saw that at the end of the game.
They simply dribbled the ball off the court and took us and broke us down off the dribble. We did a good job of keeping the ball in front of us, not allowing any direct feeds in the post from the top. You can't allow them to step right in on you and just tried to make it difficult for them.
Obviously they solved that equation at the end of the game, the last ten minutes of the game they flat took us and they just did a great job of penetrating and pitching and driving us and drawing fouls and making shots. But I was proud of our guys because I knew they were anxious to play the game, but we knew we had a very difficult task playing here in Portland against Washington.
But, like somebody just said, we were able to get that lead and they played from behind. And I think that was key for us to take the crowd out of it. And obviously I ran out of time outs. I would have kept calling time outs, I tried my best to keep the crowd out of it by calling time outs.
Q. The possession I asked JaJuan about, they were really feeling it. And especially Isaiah and Pondexter seemed like they were making everything. And then how important was it to get that big defensive possession from JaJuan and two blocked shots?
COACH PAINTER: That was probably the play of the game, those two blocks, and then securing the basketball after the ball came up short on that second blocked shot. But JaJuan was in a very tough position in that stretch. Every time it seemed he committed to the ball handler, they passed. When he stayed with Brockman they scored the ball or he fouled them.
It was a huge play by JaJuan and Rob to get that loose ball. That's what you have to have at the end of the game. A lot of people talk about offensive possessions and making shots, it almost always comes down to getting stops and we were able to get a shop stop and that was the key play.
Q. Given what you went through with Robbie's injury in the middle of the season and the last two regular season disappointments, just talk about what it means to get through to the Sweet 16?
COACH PAINTER: Well, we were looking forward to the Big Ten tournament, looking forward to the NCAA tournament just because we felt we were practicing with our whole team. As we continued to have more practices with our whole team, we felt we were making improvements and finishing the regular season. We lost some games there.
I thought we would play well in the Big Ten tournament, and we did. And obviously coming into the NCAA tournament we won the first two games. I think it's important from a practice standpoint to make those improvements and then obviously you want to win in leading games and we've been able to do that.
Q. Don't want to repeat the same question, but just how important for your program, do you think, it was after going out the second round two years in a row, to take that next step. I think Keaton said getting over the hump, so to speak.
COACH PAINTER: This is the third year in a row we were in this position where we won the first game. That's what we talked about after the win with Northern Iowa, trying to make another step. And -- but we knew it was going to be tough, because Washington is such a good team, well coached team, tough, physical team, has quickness. But it's great, just like winning the Big Ten tournament for this young group and now being able to go to the Sweet 16, it's a big accomplishment and I'm proud of our guys.
Q. Is there anything special about this particular group that might have helped them hold off Washington as they kind of came roaring back here, anything you can put your finger on?
COACH PAINTER: I think in terms of the game, anytime you lead the whole game and you never give up that lead, I think that's important. If they can make a couple of plays down the stretch and get that lead. Now it just -- it seems like it takes the wind out of your sails. We made a couple of key stops and key buckets in the last minutes of the game. I thought that was important.
We have a resilient group. Our guys play well together. They move the basketball. Like I said earlier it's been a tough year for us, because of Rob's injury, and we've had some guys out because of being sick. And they've kept their head up, and they've kept battling, and hopefully we can continue to play good basketball.
Q. Yesterday in the Washington locker room Brockman talked a little bit about the fact he realized that you had played Blake Griffin and you had played Kyle Singler, and he offered up to me, he goes, well, you know, that may help them against him. Brockman got nuts near the end of the game and did some great things. Did playing Griffin and playing Singler help you at all as you prepared for him?
COACH PAINTER: I think it helps anytime you play great players. Just having the experience of playing great players and great teams. And that's why you schedule the way you do to help you in a game like this. Brockman gets 20 points and 18 rebounds for his 60th career double double. If it helps us, you wouldn't think someone would have numbers like that.
I think it's a real tribute to him and the career he's had, and the same with Blake Griffin, we held him to 21 and 19. I thought we did a good job on both of them, and they still get 20 and 18. At the end Brockman did a great job of carving out space and getting rebounds. But he's a great player, one of the best players in school history and deserves all the credit that he gets.
Q. How concerned were you early in the game with the way the game was being called, a lot of stuff in the Big Ten that doesn't get called got called. How concerned were you?
COACH PAINTER: We had to back up a little bit. We wanted to play smart, but also keep the ball in front of us. We didn't do a very good job at the end of the game. Isaiah Thomas was able to break us down off the dribble. Dentmon broke us down off the dribble a couple of times. We were in a tough position whether you help or don't help with someone the size of the Brockman at the rim.
But we were going back and forth. When each one had those three fouls and then they had the four fouls, the same with Lewis Jackson, when to put him back in the game was a tough call. But at some time you have to ride with your best players regardless of those fouls. We would like to be more aggressive, but when you get in foul trouble you have to think smart and try to keep the guy in front of you and not foul them and let them steal points.
Q. Can you talk a little bit about transition defense? I think there was seven minutes left in the first half before Washington got points in transition?
COACH PAINTER: We thought it was important for us, first of all, to take good shots. If you watch tape of Washington, anytime people take bad shots against them it leads to a basket. They are able to push the basketball and going the other direction. So we wanted to take good shots first of all. And then we wanted to get to their point guards, to get to Overton and Thomas and try to make them come back to their baseline to get the basketball. And just make them work for it.
That's what we do, we go up and jam the basketball, they go up and jam the basketball. So it was kind of a mirror image for an while. But we compared Washington to Michigan State. And we said if you allow them to get in transition and allow them to rebound you have no chance. That's how we feel with Michigan State. If we can hold even, which we were able to, and keep them out of transition, which we were able to do about three fourths of the game we thought we had a chance to win.
Q. Isaiah, toward the end of the game you were feeling it and you were breaking them down, and then the last couple of possessions JaJuan got a block on one of your drives and then the other drive you missed. Could you talk about those two drives to the basket, what you saw and what happened from your perspective?
ISAIAH THOMAS: Those two drives it was open. It's shots I usually made. I thought I got fouled but they didn't call it. And the second one it was too hard, the shots that usually go down and usually are successful.
Q. At the end of the game you seemed to have several things going in your favor. They were in foul trouble early, there were out of time outs, you were in the bonus early and you had them on their heels. Did you feel like you were one or two plays away from getting them to fold?
JON BROCKMAN: You know, I think it was because of the position we put ourselves in the first half. It was a constant effort to climb back into it. We were getting better looks in the second half, it just came down to the fact that they made plays and we couldn't get stops when we needed to get them.
Q. Jon, it looked like especially in the second half that you just took the mindset I'm not going to let this team lose, just flying everywhere, doing even more than usual it seemed, almost. What was going through your mind? Did you try to take that on yourself?
JON BROCKMAN: Our guys were driving and they were stepping up, both these guys had good dump-offs to me, and just trying to get active on the offensive end around the boards. It was just a little too much, a little too late.
Q. Jon, just got out of your locker room and there's guys that are just tearing up for you, Jon, the senior, Justin, just how much does it hurt, this loss, knowing this was your last game in the purple and the gold?
JON BROCKMAN: I'm sure it will keep hitting me when I start realizing more and more things that I won't ever do again. But the fact that these guys were able to help me get back to the tournament, I'd do anything for them. And I think it's the same way. The saddest thing about the whole entire -- when you look at everything it's the last time this group will play together. And that's probably what hurts more than anything.
Q. Jon, if you could comment on the atmosphere. I know it's hard amidst a loss like this. Coming to Portland and the fan reaction you got, if you had been in Miami, say you wouldn't have.
JON BROCKMAN: It was unbelievable the support we had. The fans came out full force, wearing their purple. It really felt like we were playing at home. For me that meant the world that people really wanted to come out and support us and wanted us to get it done. I just feel terrible the fact that we couldn't get it done for them.
Q. Isaiah, can you talk about your first experience coming down here and what you're going to take away?
ISAIAH THOMAS: It was a great experience, especially with these group of guys that I've known for a while and worked out with, worked hard, practiced, long practices with these guys. I'm never going to be with them again. The seniors, like Brock and J.D., this core group of guys that I won't be able to play with again. It means a lot. We've worked so hard and the experience was the experience of a lifetime. I sucked it in, but this isn't the last time I'll be here.
Q. Jon, both you and JaJuan Johnson had big numbers, huge impact on the game. Could you talk a little bit about his presence in the game, what your impressions were?
JON BROCKMAN: You know, he's a beast down low. That mid-range game he excels at. And I made some crucial errors giving him position and also on the offensive boards he crashed really hard, but he's a great player. He's going to be -- he's going to continue to get even better. He's going to be one of those fun players everyone in the nation is going to want to watch.
Q. Jon, you talked this year about wanting to return things to greatness, you talked about your legacy here. Obviously you would have wanted to go further than this. How proud are you of the year you had and this team did have?
JON BROCKMAN: I'm mostly proud just the way this team came together and was able to overcome the different bumps, overcome different adversity. And it's funny, there's only one real happy team at the end of an NCAA tournament. And the fact that all these guys were able to do their job, come together, and help me get back here my last year, I couldn't ask for anything more.
Q. Quincy, can you talk about the way the game was going, you guys were playing catch up the whole way, it gets to 2 a couple of different occasions, it seemed like you guys were getting right to the point and couldn't quite get over it.
QUINCY PONDEXTER: We came together defensively, that's what made the difference. We were getting stops and we were getting rebounds and taking better shots than we had earlier in the game. And it was just a little bit too little too late.
Q. Jon, did you think you guys were going to pull that out the way the momentum had swung so wildly?
JON BROCKMAN: I knew at halftime we were going to get back in the game. And I knew as soon as we started rolling I really believed we were going to get over that two point hump and take the lead. I really thought we were going to win it. That's one of the reasons why it's so hard to take. We were right there. But that's the tournament. It comes down to one possession.
Q. Coach, was there defensive pressure on the perimeter, was that something you hadn't quite seen all year? In the first half did you feel like you shot the ball too quickly?
COACH ROMAR: I would say affirmative on both. We talked before in watching them on film and watching them play in person the other night, we told our team that they would probably get after us defensively more than anything we faced this year.
Kansas, I thought, did a tremendous job playing stingy defense and pressuring the ball, and we felt Purdue would be right there. And they were. I didn't think we handled it well in the first half. I thought in the second half we handled it much better.
Q. You had to go all the way from playing from behind, talk about playing catch up against a good defensive team like Purdue?
COACH ROMAR: You know, it's hard, because they're not giving you baskets, that's for sure. They're hard to come by when you play against a stingy defense like that. Like Quincy stated earlier, when we begin to apply our own defensive pressure, get our hands-on the ball and get out on the open floor, that loosened up the game and kind of energized us. And also Quincy got going in the second half and was able to score big baskets for us. And that also loosened us up offensively.
Q. Coach, can you just real quickly talk about Jon's effort tonight and maybe is that reflective of his entire career?
COACH ROMAR: We would be very fortunate if we got another player as good as him. And that is a possibility that we could get another player as talented as Jon Brockman. I'm going to go out on a limb and say we'll never get a player like Jon Brockman. Maybe as talented, but not like him. He is unlike anyone I've ever seen or played with.
I was able to play professionally for five years and play with some of the best talent in the world and be around basketball my whole life. I've never been around anyone like Jon Brockman, with that type of heart, desire, servant attitude, humility, talent, just seems like too often the more talented someone is the less humble they are and the more they are takers.
He's the complete opposite. He's a giver. He's constantly -- gave to us, his teammates, to our program for the four years that he has been here, not to mention he left as the all time leading rebounder, second leading scorer in the history of this program. So he's pretty special. I've said it before, he is like the old time, old school heroes that you used to read about that just play for the love of the game. They didn't play for the accolades, the money, the fan fair, and they were the same ones that would go out in the community and give themselves to everyone. That kind of sums up Jon Brockman.
Q. Jon reflected on it, but could you reflect on the atmosphere in Portland, in the second half, as you inched your way back the crowd was with you the whole way.
COACH ROMAR: Phenomenal. I'm positive that helped fuel our comeback, to have the people come out like they did and be behind us and be that vocal and spirited and enthusiastic was something that was really special. And I echo what Jon said, it's just a shame that we couldn't win that game and reward them for their spirit and support.
Q. Could you talk a little bit about Quincy's game and how he sort of evolved over the last couple of weeks and really came through for you here at the NCAA tournament?
COACH ROMAR: Quincy, I am so proud of him. He just -- he became a man before our eyes this year. He comes out, gets a double double in the second round of the NCAA tournament, 20 and 10. Gets 23 points and 7 rebounds in the opener, just had a heck of a second half of the season. He finished this year becoming one of the better players in this country, I think.
Q. Coach, how did you feel about the end of the game, the last five minutes, particularly with some easy shots, easy opportunities that were missed? And then also some of the fouling 40 feet from the basket, some of the calls that went against Venoy Overton?
COACH ROMAR: Well, I'll answer your questions in reverse. I think Venoy did his normal Venoy impersonation. He guarded the ball. He pressured the ball. And this particular crew, I guess, decided to call it a little closer. And he was whistled for a couple of fouls that way.
And you go out, everyone's going in there to try to make shots. And we got shots in the paint, you couldn't ask for better shots and they just didn't go down. And it's no one's fault. Guys were trying, trying to make plays, they just didn't go down. And unfortunately sometimes that happens. But our guys were very aggressive getting that ball to the rim.
Q. Coach, you talked about Jon and the talent that will be leaving the program, about that heart and that determines. How do you fill that void and how will your team be different next year minus John and Justin, considering the young men you have coming in?
COACH ROMAR: Well, I think with what we have coming in and what we have coming back we will -- I don't think we'll take a drop off as a team in talent. What's going to be hard to duplicate and we're going to have to -- someone's going to have to step up, is that leadership, phenomenal leadership, great leadership.
Jon and the guys, Justin, became an extension of the coaching staff in terms of preparing our guys, policing the others and Quincy is the -- him and Joe Wolfinger are the only seniors on the roster, the rest of them are underclassmen, freshmen, sophomores. I think three juniors is what we'll have. Someone, several, are going to have to emerge as big time leaders. That is going to be very crucial in how well we do next year at this point.