March 19, 2009
Postgame Quotes following Washington's first round NCAA Tournament victory over Mississippi State:
COACH Lorenzo Romar: We knew going in the media made a lot of mention of them being a 13 seed, was it fair, was it not. Our concern wasn't if it was fair or not, because when you get into the NCAA tournament you're competing against 65 of the best teams in the country.
However, that is a very, very good 13 seed team. Very good 13 seed. And I give our guys a lot of credit today for being a team. If we were not a team today that game would have been a lot more difficult. What I mean by "a team", defensively today I felt like it was maybe one of our better performances in that there were potential mismatches around the floor, but it never got that way, because it was as if everyone was tied to a rope together. And everyone was helping everyone. Everyone on this team today sold out and gave themselves for the cause of the team.
Offensively no one cared who got the shots. We just played basketball. If you can get in a position where you're a team like that you have a hard time not reaching your potential, whatever that potential is. Today I thought we played to our potential, because we were a team in every sense of the word. And it required that effort to do what we did against a very good Mississippi State team.
Q. Venoy, could you talk about the perimeter defense against Mississippi State. They had a tough time getting off a lot of three pointers.
Venoy Overton: We had No. 3 had a very good push and I didn't want them guys to set up and get comfortable at all. My job is just to pressure up, come off the bench and bring energy?
Q. Quincy, seems like the big stage game that you were going to have throughout your career. What do you attribute to the fact that you just seemed to have really found your rhythm the second half of the season?
Quincy Pondexter: I just think my offseason workouts's really paying off right now. I have really developed a really good work ethic and it's just paying off. And just staying persistent and staying with the team concept, it's helping me pursue good games.
Q. Quincy, was this a game that you felt going in was one they would allow you to get a lot of opportunities to score, were you feeling coming in that you had to do that?
Quincy Pondexter: The makeup of the team with good their good post player in Varnado, and their good perimeter three point shooters, it kind of helped me have more of a confidence coming into the game because I knew they weren't the same physically as me. My teammates did a great job of finding me in a lot of spaces and helping me create.
Q. Jon, like the coach said, there's so many great teams in the tournament. How good does it feel to get the first one out of the way and play so well as a team?
Jon Brockman: It feels great just knowing we came in and we were focused more than anything. We were ready for the game today and came out and most everyone contributed in a positive way. The first one is always kind of a monkey off your back. And it's good to get that done and over with and you can start really concentrating and getting ready to get a little deeper in the tournament.
Q. Jon, could you talk a little bit about the say the last ten minutes of the first half when you were kind of watching from the bench? A, how frustrating it is to be watching in that circumstances? B, how do you feel, seeing the team do as well as they did in your absence?
Jon Brockman: You know, it was frustrating at first and as I was sitting there like, "man, I've got a pretty sweet seat to watch our team go to work." They came in and our bench was able to come in and not just maintain what we had started but they were able to increase it and get on a run. So I was just really proud of our guys the way they came out and we got in a little foul trouble and that didn't factor in at all. It didn't faze us. We were able to just keep pushing. And that's the adversity you've got to be able to handle when you're playing in a tournament like this.
Q. Quincy, you really scored a lot of points in that stretch. Did you notice, Jon's out and your guards maybe weren't having their best offensive day at that moment. Did you feel like you had to kind of step forward there?
Quincy Pondexter: I didn't really notice. I was just playing basketball. I knew Jon was out. I knew he's one of our great scorers on our team. And I just wanted to pick it up for our team in a time of need.
Q. Venoy, in your preparation for this game, they have a lot of tall, lean, quick guys. How did their size, particularly around the perimeter, factor into your preparation?
Venoy Overton: You know, I feel like playing against a taller player, the advantage goes to the smaller guy, that you can get up in them. And there's not too many guys that's a good size that can handle the ball that well. I felt like with the defense I played I could really cause some havoc out there.
Q. Quincy, about that first half stretch there when Jon was out of the game, how noticeable was it that Varnado was not in the back when you were going down the line?
Quincy Pondexter: It was very noticeable, I didn't have to alter many shots. But I think their big guys were still doing a good job of contesting, just not the defensive prowess of Varnado. He's a great defender and he does alter a lot of shots?
Q. Jon, the crowd today was pretty clear very early on that they were behind you guys. There was some talk coming in about whether you guys would be the most favored or most hated coming in here. What did you think of the crowd today?
Jon Brockman: I think it showed. We have a couple Pac 10 fans in Oregon. And just a lot of supporters that made the trip down. I was shocked. I was very surprised by the number of purple shirts that I saw in the arena. I expected there to be quite a bit. But that was just tremendous. We were joking around on the bench that it really did feel like a home atmosphere. The crowd was behind us. And it was just they made it a lot more enjoyable being there supporting our team.
Q. Venoy, you took an NFL caliber block there, then came back a few minutes later and it seemed like you were talking a little bit and then you had a nice score. Can you just describe the sequence? Venoy Overton: Actually, no, I actually wasn't even talking before that. But after that hit, you know, I think he woke me up a little bit (laughter.) I just felt I didn't want to let that get in the way. I wanted to show how much a warrior I was and bounce back up, just kind of like Jon did. So this is a warrior team.
Q. Jon, can you describe what happened on that, the TV showed your mom really worried for about two seconds.
Jon Brockman: First of all, she's worried the entire game. She can't really watch it. It was actually the same as that play that happened in practice in preseason. It was kind of a high rebound, out in the middle, and I just went up, got undercut a little bit and went down right on my arm. I think I was surprised at first I was thinking to myself, all right, something has to be hurt from that, I bounced off the floor. Then once I realized I was all right I got back up and ran down the court.
Q. Jon, you went at Varnado really physically, really early, two straight possessions. Did you want to test him? You knocked him back two feet on one play, and ushered him out of bounds the next time. Were you testing the limits today?
Jon Brockman: Just our deal today was we wanted to go right at him. He's an unbelievable shot blocker. If you give him any room, like we did a couple of times, he's going to throw it all the way back to half court. So just try to close in that gap and for the most part that's what I try and do every day.
Q. Talk about kind of on a night when a day when the guards, your starting back court goes 4 for 20, seems like whether it was the bigs or guards, you got contributions to make up for that?
COACH ROMAR: Kind of what's been happening with our team the second half of the year. There was a stretch early in the year where our guards were really shooting the ball very well. And they were really carrying us at that time. Since then they haven't been as consistent, but Jon Brockman and Quincy Pondexter and others have really stepped up and helped us out. It was no different today. I thought Elston Turner came off the bench in the first half and did a tremendous job in helping us sustain what we had early on.
Q. Quincy Pondexter: What is the difference in him now and before? Was it just a matter of he needed to mature?
COACH ROMAR: I think sometimes we, in this age of one and done, two and out, lotto, we expect everyone to prove how good they really are, based on what they get done as a freshman. And there are outstanding freshmen around the country. There are those that play one year and go to the NBA. But everyone is not like that. And unfortunately I think we write the young men off too early because they're not this one and done guy early.
What Quincy Pondexter, to me, has done is simply matured. And there was a time when that was the normal progression. You play as a freshman, you help your team, you get better as a sophomore, and then when you become an upper classman you really do some damage, if you're that type of talent and you have that type of ability.
I think Quincy put in a lot of hard work. This thing just didn't happen. He worked his tail off. He's been consistently working. He's a junior now, he's older, he's matured a lot. He's found his way. Today was not an aberration, Quincy has been playing like this for a month now, he's been playing really good basketball. And today they didn't have great size and strength guarding him and I thought he took advantage of the situation. But the difference in Quincy Pondexter is just like a normal maturation progress, that if you have ability and talent it can happen for you.
Q. There's positives you can take, obviously, out of winning, when your starting guards don't have good nights. As you go further on is that concerning that there's been a few games where Justin and Isaiah aren't hitting a lot of shots?
COACH ROMAR: There's going to come a time, it may be Saturday, when we need to be clicking on all cylinders. Because of our ability to defend here in the last stretch we've been able to overcome poor shooting nights by some of our players. And tonight was no different. Today was no different. If we don't guard then maybe it gives us more problems, but because we're able to do a decent job defending, we're able to get by, and other guys have been able to step up.
We talked to our team on the first day about how important defense is. And as great as Michael Jordan was when he played with the Bulls, there was times when he was getting double teamed and triple teamed and the manager was guarding him, and he didn't score in certain stretches, nor did the Bulls. But because they were so good defensively they would get deflections and steals, Michael would get a dunk and the next thing you know they're back on again.
But the defense would sustain them in down times. And I think that's happened with our team. But as I said, there's going to come a day when we're going to need production from everyone.
Q. Since you mentioned Saturday, could you tell us a little bit about what challenges you know of now that rest in getting ready for Purdue on such short notice?
COACH ROMAR: They will not hand us the game, that's for sure. They're the type of team that you're going to have to take, put your arms around it and take it. It's going to be a tug and you've got to take it from them. They will not beat themselves. They're as fundamentally sound as any team we've played all year. They're very physical. They're strong. They're tough. They don't take bad shots. They just pass the fundamental test in all aspects. That's what that's the type of opponent we're about to face on Saturday.
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COACH STANSBURY: Well, No. 1, it's never a good feeling everybody is going to have this feeling other than the team that cuts the nets down. The first game, the next game or whatever it is. I'm awful proud of our guys, what they've been able to accomplish this season. I didn't think we played our best today. Take nothing away from Washington, I thought they were very, very good. But we never got a consistent rhythm. I thought offensively or defensively.
Again, they had a lot to do with that, they pressured us. Then we got in foul trouble with our big guy. And we were just trying to survive to halftime. We were down 11. It was tough to dig ourselves out of a hole against a good team like Washington. Give them a lot of credit. They've got a nice basketball team.
Q. Barry, Rick said you had a hard time getting in rhythm, why do you think that was the case tonight?
BARRY STEWART: They pressured our point guard. They got into him a lot. And he had to work to get the ball to the floor every time. That might have something to do with it.
Q. Phil, have you given a thought what this team is going to look like next year, with everybody essentially coming back?
PHIL TURNER: Of course it will be an older team, more experienced team. This was a great experience for some of the younger guys to understand what it takes to be an elite team in this league. And so I feel like we're going to be a pretty good team just from this experience.
Q. Barry, with the four games in four days last week and the trip across country, was the energy there today for the Bulldogs?
BARRY STEWART: I think so. I think we had energy. We just didn't get into our rhythm. We played more their pace and I think their pressure got to the guards a little bit, in foul trouble with the big men tonight. I think that had something to do with it.
Q. Jarvis, how frustrating was it to get into early foul trouble? Tell us what happened on that play where both you and Brockman went out of bounds and you got called for the foul.
JARVIS VARNADO: I just kept playing through it. They played a good game. We weren't at our best today, so they played good.
Q. Why do you think you didn't get in rhythm tonight?
COACH STANSBURY: Give Washington a lot of credit. I think they had a lot to do with us not getting in the rhythm. I think they really got into us. They were the more quicker team out there today. It's very obvious they were more physical than we were.
Then when we had to play for the long stretches we did without Jarvis being a factor in this game, even the six minutes he played in the first half was a lot of factor. And we played the last 14 minutes the first half. We were just trying to get to the locker room at halftime, trying to survive. And basically 8 point game, 30 seconds to go to halftime, we give up a three point play before half, is a bad play.
But I don't have the total answers why we weren't at our best. We're not going to make any excuses. As I said before the game we're happy to be coming out here. We're happy to be playing in it. Unfortunately we played Sunday and Thursday, but I'm not going to let that be a reason we're not at our best. Playing without Jarvis definitely affected our rhythm.
Q. Considering you guys were shooting pretty poorly and had a lot of turnovers in the first half, did you feel pretty good about only being down 11.
COACH STANSBURY: Well, you know, that was a bad play right before the half, three point continuation before three point lines, is a horrible play going into halftime. We felt absolutely we didn't play very well the first half. We'd been down before. And we felt like we'd get Jarvis back and get back in rhythm, absolutely we had a chance. We came out of the locker room, the first half, they went from 11 to 15, 16 point game. And again, that game changed right there on us. And you dig yourself a hole like that, it's pretty tough to come back against a team like Washington.
Q. Can you just kind of assess what you have coming back next year, does it make something like this easier to stomach?
COACH STANSBURY: You know, I guess the other side of this, I'm glad we have the opportunity here to stomach this. It could be a worse feeling not being here. This feeling right now it hurts, but when we back up and reflect on this season, if you told us we had two guys returning from last year's championship team, this team would win SEC championship again, I think we all would have taken it, particularly knowing how young we were and how new we were.
When you look on paper compared to last year, what we had coming back, is absolutely a lot of unknowns coming back this last year. This next season there's not a lot of unknowns. Like you say, we basically have the whole team back. We understand where some guys are. I think the biggest thing for us is that weight room will make a huge difference for a lot of of these guys. And I think Washington out toughed us in those areas. And we like where we're at. We'll get better from it. We'll learn from it.
Like I told our guys, take this feeling right now, carry it from March to October. That's when games are won March to October. And having this feeling, not being successful, and making sure we work as hard so next year we get back to this point, we understand a little bit more.
Q. Did you think the energy was there?
COACH STANSBURY: No, it wasn't, no. Again, I'm not going to make excuses. But you guys have seen us. You all know us. I didn't think it was there from the tip off. Not one time except maybe in that second half defensively about two or three trips we really got into somebody guarding them, but it didn't last long. We weren't the quick we weren't as quick as we normally are. As energetic as we normally are, I didn't see it in some areas.
Again, I'm not making excuses, but we know where we came from, what we had Sunday and traveling out here and playing this first game on Thursday. You all can write about it if you think it's a factor. I'm not going to make no excuses for our guys. I didn't make it before the game, I'm not going to make it now. It's obvious we weren't at our best energy wise and rhythm wise. And you can attribute that to a couple of different things.
Q. A lot of talk before the game about how Oregon fans might be cheering for you guys against the Huskies. Were you surprised at all how vocal the crowd was pro Husky?
COACH STANSBURY: First off, absolutely, Washington found a way to buy a lot of tickets. I don't know if we gave Oregon fans a lot to cheer about. We didn't make too many runs to make them too happy. But again Washington had a lot of folks out there so Oregon people has got their work cut out, if they think they're going to outnumber Washington people the rest of these games.
Give Washington the credit, they've got a good basketball team. I thought they played extremely well today. They were the best team out there today. I think Pondexter was the difference in this game. The one guy that was the difference, Pondexter.
Q. I was going to ask you if that was a big concern coming in, because he's really you don't have a guy that matches up with him?
COACH STANSBURY: Well, he was a concern. We've played some bigger fours and threes this year, and he played probably half the game as a three and half at four. At halftime he had 15 or 17, finishing at 23. But wherever he was at, and I think he probably played as much four as he did three today. He was just a huge match up. Very athletic. He's bigger and stronger than he looks. On paper they list him 6'6", 215. Boy, he looks bigger than that to me. He was very good for them. Very good. He's kind of their wild card. Everybody talks about Brockman and Isaiah, he's kind of the wild card on the team.
Q. I wanted to know if after it's all said and done do you feel like the 13 seed was fair for you?
COACH STANSBURY: Oh, we're not going to cry about it now. Like I said, we were happy to be here, considering the late Sunday afternoon game. I've always said the SEC champion on the Sunday afternoon, whoever that team is that wins it, never gets the respect or really the advantage of winning that tournament, because they just plug you in, they plug you in somewhere. And that's the second time that's happened to us.
But, again, we're not going to make any excuses for that being a reason. As you well know we won a championship in the SEC. And you go up against the 4 seed, it was going to be a tough game for us. And Washington, the game was very good. Probably if you get by your first game, which has been different for us in the past. We've had an easier a lower seed the first round then you get fed into one or two the second round.
This game wasn't going to happen that way, even for Washington. They're getting fed because they're a higher seed, they're getting fed into a lower seed. So we're not making excuses from it at all. They were very good today.
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