Press Conference Quotes

March 15, 2007

Press Conference Quotes
March 15, 2007
No. 2 Georgetown vs. No. 15 Belmont

GEORGETOWN HEAD COACH JOHN THOMPSON III

Opening Statement That game, as we prepared for that, I said afterwards that I was terrified just because of how well coached they are. They are a team that can make shots. They're a team that has post players, I thought they would pose problems for us, so it's good to come away with a win.

As you look ahead, talk about Boston College's strengths and weaknesses.
I have not started to break down Boston College. Obviously in about an hour or so I'll start that. With Coach Skinner, they are very well coached. Jared Dudley is clearly one of the best players. Not just in the terms of talent and basketball ability but his ability to will his way on the game - he did it in high school and he's done it since he's been at Boston College. He just imposes his will on the game. I'll get a chance in a couple hours to get a better feel. But you know they're going to be a tough team and you know they are going to play together.

Did you have any feelings about the fact that Boston College, one of the original members of the BIG EAST was leaving?
I'll be honest. With that whole situation, I left that to our President and our administrators. That was my first year, their last year, and trust me, we had so many issues and so many things we were trying to get in place, still in the process getting in place at Georgetown, that the whole thought process of who's leaving and who's staying, I was just worried about Georgetown at the time. Things happen, things happen for a reason, they did what they felt was best for their institution. And now it's said and done, I feel like our league is pretty strong with who we have with us. I was too new, Coach Calhoun had been at Connecticut for years, so maybe it was more personal with him, but for me, we were trying to Georgetown's house in order the way I wanted it in order to worry about anyone else.

Talk about Jessie Sapp's evolution as a player.
He put the ball in the basket today and he hasn't been one of our primary scorers, as you indicated. But I have confidence in him and so do his teammates and its one of those situations where opportunities presented themselves for him today. The same is true of Jessie, as with any number of people on our team, on any given day, guys are ready, willing and able and their teammates have enough confidence in them that if they get going, they give them the ball. We are, in many ways, a versatile team. We can adjust and tweak to where we think the hot hand and/or the mismatch is. And we were just fortunate, particularly early, when we were settling into the game and getting it going, he made some shots until we were able to get into our groove.

Talk about Roy Hibbert and his impact on both ends of the courts, beyond just the stats he puts up.
Roy is an integral part of what we do, that's stating the obvious. Roy is someone, that most of the people in this room that have seen him play over the last couple of years, has progressed, has gotten better. His work ethic is terrific. So we do have the luxury of having a big fellow in there that we can throw it in to who is extremely unselfish. And so he has impact in that regard at both ends of the floor.

What did you see as the impact of them only having six threes in the game and only three when the game was competitive?
I heard you when you asked the kids that questions, and I tell you, particularly early, I felt like they had a lot more than six. That was a goal of ours, to try to limit their threes, to stay at home on the perimeter and let them throw it down. They are such a balanced team - we do that, we stay at home on the perimeter, now all of a sudden their post players get to scoring points. But that's something we wanted to take away their threes. They are one of the best shooting teams I've seen this year - man for man, top to bottom. A lot of teams have one, two or even three players that are very good shooters, but this team, they have a lot more than that, so we wanted to limit their threes. But then they do a good job of once you start to close out, of driving and kicking it, dumping it down to the big guys. I think at the end of the day, particularly the latter part of the game, we were fortunate, I don't know if it was good defense or not, but they got looks, they just didn't go in. The stars were just aligned for us in that sense.

Did you feel the players were anxious in the first five minutes of the game?
There is no doubt. But I think our kids answered it well. We've been there before. We've been down, we've been up. Were we anxious to get involved in the tournament, to get started? Yes. This group, as the years progressed; we don't get a sense of panic. I think this group has a lot of confidence in what we do and how we do it. And we know that we can get down and we can get back in it. Were we anxious? Yes. But you get down; you are playing against a very good team. But we've been here before, and as we have done all year methodically keep playing, methodically keep plugging along. And I think even at that early stage, those first couple of timeouts, we felt pretty good about what we were doing. And we knew that when we gave them a couple of those open threes right at the start, leave those guys open and they are going to make them. So we took those away and made them earn some points and we had some success. We were fine, we were comfortable.

Georgetown Student-Athletes Roy Hibbert, Jonathan Wallace and Jessie Sapp

How were you able to hold down their three point attack?
Hibbert: Going into the game we were switching along the perimeter so they wouldn't be able to get a clean open look at the three point line. They had some open shots in the first half and coach wanted us to cut down on that in the second half. We started making them dribble towards the basket and we had help when they put up a shot. We tried to limit them to one shot.

What did it feel like during the first five minute when Belmont went up and the arena was cheering for them?
Hibbert: We have been in hostile environments before. We try to stay calm. We've been in situations like before that in the past where the whole arena is going against us. We just make sure we ran our offense. We didn't get flustered. We did a good job this year not getting flustered when teams get up on us. Wallace: We expected a hostile environment. We knew the game would be a long drawn out game but we withstood their run and stayed in the system so later down the stretch we could pull it out. Sapp: We've played in crazy environments before. We were just calm about it. We played better defense.

Did you feel at the beginning that you were having trouble settling and getting into your pace?
Wallace: No, not first off. We were trying to set a tempo that was beneficial to us. At times we rushed a few things. As the course of the game went on we settled down and got into what we do best. Sapp: I don't feel we rushed a lot in the beginning. We just missed a lot of open shot early. We found our touch and as the course of the game went on our shots started falling for us.

Is it unusual to for you to play without Roy Hibbert?
Wallace: It was an unusual look for us. Today guys were able to dictate the pace with a smaller lineup. We got more movement and circulated the ball around the perimeter to get good looks and defensively we were able to step out and defend the three point line.

How much easier is it to attack their zone when you have a target like Roy in the middle of it to get the ball to?
Wallace: It makes it a lot easier. Just put it up and let him go get it.

It seems like the last six games your shooting touch was off, how come it was there today?
Sapp: I was rushing a lot of shots the past six games but today I slowed it down. Coach and the other coaches told me to take my time on the shot.

How good did it feel today to have success in the tournament?
Sapp: It felt really good. My teammates have my back. Coming into this year my mindset was different. I was focused more on the tournament and I played well today.

BELMONT HEAD COACH RICK BYRD

Opening comments:
I was proud of how hard we played. I thought that our kids competed all 40 minutes. As it happens so often in athletic contests, when you play somebody that is outstanding, it makes it hard for you to do the things that you normally do. We were 6-for-26 from three and they had a lot to do with that. Even when they weren't there, it's because we knew we weren't going to get any of those wide-open looks, and we got a little anxious there. I am proud of our kids and I'm proud of our season. I offer Georgetown congratulations. They are a great basketball team, I don't think there's any question about that. Somebody will have to play awfully well to beat them, no matter who it is.

On the game plan that forced Jessie Sapp to make big shots:
Maybe that shows at least we had a game plan. It may not have been a good one, but we felt like that they're obviously a better team than we are. They're going to win the game more often than we are. I've been on both sides of that. One of the things that I felt like, is when we're playing a superior team, they make our suspect three point shooters make three pointers. That's the way we're going to have to win the game. (Sapp) totally gets all the credit. He sure didn't look like a 28 percent three-point shooter to me, the whole time. I always thought they were going in. You start talking about 25 points and that seems like they could've won without him doing that, and they probably could have, but we got down 13 at halftime. He's made three (three-pointers). Andrew Preston, who had a very good game for us, was on the free-throw line and not made six points that he could've made, two front-end one and ones. That right there alone was the margin. If you're going to get beat, you have to choose how you're going to get beat. You don't get beat by Jonathan Wallace shooting open threes and you don't get beat by [Jeff] Green doing can what he can do, and you've got to keep [Roy] Hibbert from getting his touches and not let him get close to the basket and I thought we did that all pretty well.

On Roy Hibbert's effect at both ends of the floor:
I heard Coach [John] Thompson's discussion about their game plan and when you have a 7-2 guy, it's the right thing to do against us - play behind our post player inside. We pay a four-out, one-in offense and you have to get out on our perimeter guys. They switched us and they were aggressive and they made it hard for us to complete passes. They just didn't give us enough time to get a `feet-set' kind of look. That's why we were six-for-26. Andy didn't have a good shooting day. He got good looks, but it was the quality of shot we were not getting. It goes to him (Hibbert) because he can guard our guys inside. I was impressed with Andrew Preston being able to score the ball several times, miraculously, I thought, against the guy with that kind of size and length and wingspan

Did you allow yourself to soak in Belmont's good start?
No, because we were up similarly last year to UCLA and I still remember the final score. I was very happy about the good start. It's important if a team is going to believe that they can win a game like this, to get off to that kind of start. In reverse, I tell our guys all the time, if we get down early, the game is 40 minutes for a reason. If it was a four-minute game, I would have been talking to you guys first and Coach Thompson would've been coming in here (second), but it's a 40-minute game and the better team wins more often. They didn't panic. They knew it was a long game and they proved to be the better team.

On the play of senior posts Andrew Preston and Boomer Herndon:
I thought Boomer was in a little bit of a hurry. I ran a play for him early and he got it in good shape, but I should've waited until Hibbert was out of the game to run that particular play because Hibbert just got his hands on it. I thought he (Herndon) was rushed. Andrew did two things well. I thought he scored it better than I expected he was going to. Andrew's a very good passer out of the post. He created some opportunities for us from outside that we didn't always make. In this particular game, Andrew was probably more effective for us. Boomer (shot) 2-for-8, he shoots 60 percent. I can't say much. I've never had to shoot against a 7-2 guy, it's pretty tough.

On the departure of the team's three seniors and its impact on next season:
It could change the offense, but we're not through recruiting this year. We'll have to wait and see what our best options are offensively. Certainly we could be a different team then we've been in a long time. We could have five three-point shooters on the floor and a lot of depth and maybe run up and down the floor more, press more. But we're still out there searching. We like the way we play. We've had excellent team field-goal percentages over the last several years. It's a good offense for us. We recruit to it.

BELMONT STUDENT-ATHLETES JUSTIN HARE AND ANDY WICKE

Did the way you started the game with an early lead give you confidence?
Hare: I think it gives you confidence to get off to a good start. I think it was 11-4 maybe, but we knew there was a lot of time left. We were just trying to keep it up, keep up the intensity and keep playing hard, give us a little confidence in our ability to compete with Georgetown.

Can you talk about the difficulty of trying to defend them when they were hot on the perimeter?
Wicke: Coming in, we knew that they didn't have very many great three-point shooters at the front of their perimeter players, so that was actually kind of our game plan - to make their other perimeters take shots. So defensively, we almost did exactly what we wanted to do. When you play the Big East Champions, they're going to have guys that step up and make plays, and [Jessie] Sapp did that tonight for them, and some other guys did too, so you've got to give them credit for stepping up and making shots. Hare: We executed our game plan well I thought. For them, it's so tough inside to stop them inside, and when they're hitting outside shots, that makes it even harder. I don't think most teams in the nation could beat them when their inside-out game is as hot as it was in the first half. That posed a lot of problems for us, and we just couldn't overcome it.

What were the problems from the three-point line?
Wicke: They did a good job of switching and being right there when we caught. It was hard for us to get good looks, but the looks we did get, there are no complaints. We should have knocked them down. It's unfortunate because you work so hard and you shoot so well certain games, and you come out and some games they just don't fall, and it just happens to be the first round of the NCAA Tournament for you. It's unfortunate, but that's the way it goes sometimes. Georgetown did a great job of carrying out their game plan and putting pressure on us to make shots out there.

How do you feel walking away from this game?
Hare: I think we're a little disappointed. Anytime you get beat by about 25 points, you're not excited about it afterwards. I think we're definitely very happy to be here and be a part of it. We wanted to compete better than we did today, but the game's over now, so we're just going to take this and try to learn from it and help this experience help us next year.

What do you have to do to improve on your NCAA Tournament experience next year?
Wicke: That's a long way away, but what we have to focus on is working hard in the off season and preparing ourselves all summer and in the fall to give ourselves the best shot coming in next year. Really it's just a question of, like Coach always says, trying to play well at the end of the year. We did a good job of that this year, and we did a good job of that last year too, so that's something we have to focus on too - peaking at the right time.

Justin, what are your goals for next year as the only senior?
Hare: I'd like to see us use our experience. I came in with a class where some of the guys redshirted and are going to be juniors next year, so I just hope we use some of the experiences we've had to go to the NCAA Tournament twice now and build on it. For me, personally, to become a better leader on the team and to take more of a leadership role on the team as the lone senior. Hopefully we can play well and get back here next year.

 

 

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