Nov. 21, 2012
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COACH WEBER: Obviously, it's a good win. You have a chance to play in the championship game of the NIT, one of the most prestigious tournaments around, and especially pre season. For us it's a big step. We did not play pretty. I mean, that was pretty obvious. It had been so good for us at home and we had defended so well, made shots, and the games came easy. Now it didn't come quite as easy. We missed a lot of easy shots, made some mistakes defensively. Shane Southwell came in, made a couple big plays. Martavious Irving came in, made a big basket, Adrian Diaz came off the bench. I think our depth was the big key in the game. Obviously, Will's free throws were huge, then Angel's consistency. Hopefully you get through one of those games, and tomorrow we come back and play a little more relaxed, just play the game of basketball the way we believe we can play.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for the players, please.
Q. Will, talk about going to the line for those four free throws. Did you feel any pressure knowing one miss could have opened the door?
Will Spradling: I mean, I've been in that situation before plenty of times. You're a little nervous when you go out there, but it's something you go up there every day. I put up at least 50 free throws a day. It was something I'm used to and was confident about going into.
Q. Angel, did you know a change, was there a strategic change when 44 went out from Delaware? Did you feel like things opened up more in the middle?
Angel Rodriguez: No. Honestly I don't even know what you're talking about. When he cramped? If it affected them or not? I can't tell you. I just know we were ready to play. We were fortunate enough to make a run when he went out of the game.
Q. Will, can you talk about the importance of such a tough game and the opponent that you'll probably have coming up so early in the season. How much of a test is it for you in general and for you in particular?
Will Spradling: We haven't had a real close game yet. We haven't been in a situation where we had to know who that five was that can finish a game, be in there at a close game, can handle the pressure. This was a good thing for us. We're going to be playing a tough team on Friday whoever wins. Most likely it's going to be a tight game.
Q. Will, how valuable was it to have so many different guys play so many minutes the first four games?
Will Spradling: You could easily tell that their players were really getting worn down tonight. You could tell that by cramping. That's something you normally don't see. They had to play so many minutes, that was something that happened. We kind of took that to our advantage, too.
Q. Will, coming into this game, both teams got off to a little bit of a sloppy start. Could you tell there was a little bit of a nerve factor being under the bright lights at Madison Square Garden?
Will Spradling: Yeah, I mean, definitely. We didn't shoot the ball well at all to start the game. We were missing layups. That is something we normally will make. You could tell that we were nervous. Once we settled down, we started playing. We really kind of put it on our defense tonight and we did a pretty good job of that.
Q. Angel, what was it like for you and the team to get in there and know it was a close game after you haven't had many of those? Was the adrenaline pumping for you?
Angel Rodriguez: Yeah, definitely. Coach told us at the end of the game before we came here that we needed a close game. The games we had at home weren't that hard. This is what we came for. We came to compete and prove ourselves. We're fortunate enough to get this W and we're ready to play whoever is going to win out there right now.
Q. Angel, you're playing in what is Deron Williams' hometown. Can you talk about the call he made to you, what was that like in the off season?
Angel Rodriguez: What can I tell you? He's somebody I look up to. It meant a lot for him to call me. I just wish we were friends or something, more than just a call (laughter). No, it means a lot. Definitely we're privileged to be playing in Madison Square Garden. We came here to prove a point, me and my teammates and our coaching staff. Like I said, we're just ready to play on Friday.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for coach.
Q. Coach, could you expand on Will's play. Didn't look like he made a bad decision with the ball, almost like it was an extension of the coaching staff.
COACH WEBER: I think that's a great way of putting it. He is probably of all the guys to accept our system and understand it, he knows things, he understands things, feels comfortable. Seven assists, no turnovers. We let him play some point, let him play some two, let him play point from the two guard. We let him make the post seeds. We can use him a lot of ways. You want him at the free throw line at the end. There's no doubt about it. He has played well all along, all in practice. As I said, probably the best of anybody at understanding what we want. Slowly but surely other guys are doing that. A couple guys, they were a little nervous tonight. A couple shots didn't go down. Now you force, you short arm some things. Hopefully just got through this thing and we can play a little better. This does not discredit Delaware. I want to say that. They're a great ballclub. Monte talked about how tough they were, and they definitely are tough. Then Saddler, the plays he made down the stretch were big time. You have Rodney McGruder guarding you, as good a defender for anybody that size. Give credit to Delaware for pushing us, but at the same time our guys made enough plays, especially that run.
Q. Considering how fluid the four spot has been for you guys, how happy were you with Thomas Gipson and D.J. Johnson's production?
COACH WEBER: All our big guys, we have a lot of depth there. When we talked about the guy cramping, we can go a lot of different ways. Each guy gives you something different. Gipson is the wide body. We started going inside to him. He gave us some easy baskets. Jordan did not play well. He's going to play well. He's done it in the past. Probably a little nervous. Thinking too much. Adrian gives you that long, athletic guy that can move. He got some tip ins, some big baskets for us. And then you can play small ball when Nino was in. It's a different look. D.J. for a freshman, there's no doubt he played a little nervous tonight. But he's been so good for us. He's just such a physical presence, and athlete. I hope they give us a lot of different looks and it's tough for people to deal with.
Q. Friday's game will be your first one against a BCS caliber opponent. What do you think you can prove there?
COACH WEBER: I think it's great for our guys. When we got to K State, we kind of had to scramble with the schedule. We knew Florida was on there, at George Washington. One of our big goals obviously was to get here so we'd get some quality opponents, then we put Gonzaga into the mix. The kids talked about it. If you want to be good, you have to play good teams and learn. You're going to play good teams in the Big 12, there's no doubt about it. I'm not sure for me, or just for the program, our kids, to play against top competition, it's a valuable tool. Hopefully we'll play a little more relaxed, keep playing hard, do the things we've done all year, and we'll see what happens.
Q. You missed some easy opportunities in the paint tonight. Would you attribute that to your team as defense?
COACH WEBER: Hagins obviously had a pretty big night. Double double. He had a double double at halftime. He's big, he walls up. When we get it to our big, the other big would come over. We call it wall. They get big and make you make shots over it. I think our guys rushed some things. Combination of a little bit of nerves. Thomas Gipson, the second half, really took his time. He let the defense kind of dictate where he went, instead of just kind of getting it and throwing it up there and hoping it goes in. So, again, credit to them. But I think a little bit of us being a little jittery, just not calm, letting things happen as we have at home. That's why you go on the road. You need these games to get a feel of this.
Q. Bruce, this is a new team to you, but you used a lot of combinations the first four games. I'm wondering how much confidence that gave you to do it again in this game?
COACH WEBER: Well, we made the run when our seniors weren't in the game. That's a positive thing for us. But at the same time, we need the seniors to play well. Rod wants to do so well, I think he almost thinks too much, worries too much. Just relax, come off the screen, shoot the open shot, let the game come to you. I know that's going to happen. I asked him at halftime, You're a good player, be a good player. He will. There's no doubt about it. We talked about defense being part of our brand. We've talked about playing harder than anybody else as another part of it. We've talked about rebounding. We're a pretty good rebounding team. We almost get 20 offensive rebounds. I know they're not huge, but they had some size and are a pretty good ballclub. The thing I told them, I want depth to be part of our brand. If we can do that, that's going to really add to an opponent trying to figure out who's in there. Even though Omari Lawrence didn't get a lot of minutes tonight, I think he can be a key for us and do a great job defensively.
Q. Where do you think your guys are, especially the upperclassmen, from what they were asked to do the past few years under Frank to what you want them to do in your program?
COACH WEBER: I think defensively they're right on target. We've been pretty good defensively. Had a couple slip ups tonight maybe. We knew it was going to be one on one basketball. We took them out of their sets. They made some tough shots. Obviously Saddler really did. Offensively they're trying to figure out. I think if we get through Friday night, we only have two games in a three week period. Now we'll get back to practice and hopefully get a little more fluid offensively. We put a lot of time, we told our guys, We can win early if we defend, play hard and rebound. So far it's been a pretty good combination.
COACH ROSS: I would say, first off, congratulations to Kansas State. Thought they played a good ballgame. I thought they executed some things out there that allowed them to get a little cushion, hold us off when we were making a run. I was very proud of our guys. I told them at halftime that we just didn't play. That was the first half all year where we just didn't play. We just weren't ourselves for whatever reason, whether it be the stage, the event, the Mecca of college basketball, whatever the case was, we just didn't play. I was happy that in the second half we played our game. We were more Delaware basketball in the second half, so I was really proud we were able to bounce back from that regard. It's always tough to swallow because we ask these guys to put everything they have into every game we play, and they did and they do. When you don't get the desired result, it hurts. So we're down right now, but we'll pick ourselves up.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for the players.
Q. Devon, did you feel the energy of the game change once Jamal went out of the game?
DEVON SADDLER: Yes, I knew I had to step up as a leader. I had the freshmen Terrell and Kyle with me and make plays, try to keep everybody together, try not to get frustrated. They made their run, we knew we was going to make our run. I was trying to get stops on defense and take it one play at a time.
Q. Either player. Do you feel any sort of pride that you gave them everything they could take today?
DEVON SADDLER: I knew coming into the game we could play with them. I mean, it's Kansas State, a big conference. It wasn't no pride thing. We're not into moral victories.
Q. Jamelle, did you ever have problems with cramps before? Was that a sudden onset thing?
JAMELLE HAGINS: This was the first game for me, it was a new experience. I don't know, must have been something I ate or didn't eat.
Q. How difficult was that for you to kind of sit there and not be a part of what you wanted to be a part of down the stretch?
JAMELLE HAGINS: I mean, it was hard. But I feel like they played hard. We was in the game till the last couple of seconds. I mean, I think the guys stepped up. Devon made some big plays. Personally, I just felt like I was hurting the team more than I was helping them, and I couldn't move like I wanted to move.
Q. Jamelle, do you think the results of the game would have been different had you been able to go the full time?
JAMELLE HAGINS: I'd like to think so, but you never know. We gave it all we could give it.
Q. Clearly the game didn't end the way you wanted it to. The moment, the opportunity that this event gives you to be in the Garden on national television against a power conference school with an opportunity to win, do you have a moment where you look around, not a normal thing?
JAMELLE HAGINS: I think it just shows what we can do. It's early in the reason season. We haven't meshed together like we can. Once we get rolling, we're going to be pretty much unstoppable in the NCAA. We have so many weapons, play defense so hard. By the time everybody learns their roles and starts clicking, we're going to be a great team.
Q. Devon, I've seen you have some great games. That was a special game you had out there. Coach Weber complimented you on it. How does it make you feel? Do you have a bittersweet mixed emotion to walk away from a game like that to know that personally you excelled but couldn't get the win?
DEVON SADDLER: I was just trying to win. I'm not really into what I did in the game. I was just trying to win. I know Coach Ross put his all into it, he was out there giving his all. I was trying to give him my all. Jarvis and Jamelle wasn't out there for me. I was trying to give it all for my team. It wasn't about the points or nothing like that, it was about the win. Getting on the ground. I was cramping, too. I just had to do it as the team captain, stay out there and suck it up.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you. Questions for coach.
Q. How big is Terrell's addition been and how much more can his addition make you as the season progresses?
COACH ROSS: I think Jamelle put it best, that it's still early in the year for us. It's really early in the year for Terrell because he is a freshman. A lot of these experiences and situations that we're putting him in are very new to him. So it's going to take some time for him to adjust, take some time to become efficient in certain situations. He went crazy a little bit out there for a few minutes, but you have to allow that as a coach, because with 27 seconds to go, he makes a big bucket. He has a big heart. He has a big heart. We've always been a program that has played their best basketball at the end of the year, just the way that we practice. We really pride ourselves on playing our best ball at the end of the year. I'm really excited to see how this group responds to the way we're going to practice and be good at the end of the year. But I'm also excited about a player like Terrell Rogers and how much better he'll be a month from now, a month and a half from now.
Q. The opportunity to be on this stage is something that it's dwindling in college basketball. For someone who coaches at your level, is it frustrating that this is the only early season tournament where a smaller conference school is able to play its way to this type of stage?
COACH ROSS: Well, frustrating is probably the wrong word because you have to deal in reality. It is what it is. To beat your head against the drum would probably not do a lot of good. But I will say this to the pre season NIT committee, we are just thrilled and thankful that we were invited because, like you said, this is an earn your way tournament. It's not one of those that predetermines who is going to go there, that sort of thing. That's what makes this tournament so special. For us, it was such a big deal to be able to earn our way here and then have an opportunity to play a Kansas State. I can't say enough to or about the committee, for the NIT for, one, inviting us, and two, having it set up the way it is so that a school like us, would have been anticlimactic to beat Virginia and not get a chance to go to the Garden. Then the other thing is, the atmosphere tonight for the NIT, I thought one of the things was me being an East Coast guy, being from Philadelphia, I thought this tournament was really special anyway. But then I read some of the comments of John Beilein and some of the other coaches, and it magnified to how special they think it is also. I hope it never changes, I really do. It's fantastic to have an opportunity for a school like Delaware to have an opportunity to be here. Like you said, it's dwindling. But it is what it is. We just have to hopefully keep getting invited to the pre season NIT. Hint, hint.
Q. I guess outside of being able to play on this big of a stage, what positives can you take from that game going forward?
COACH ROSS: Well, it's early. It's really early in the season for us. For us to have an opportunity to challenge ourselves is good. It will help us down the line. I think, in my opinion, as a coach, what you want to do is you want to find out what are your weaknesses, what are your strengths, what is it that you need to go to the drawing board and work on. We have played the type of schedule this year that will allow us to really figure out how can we become the best possible team that we can become. Playing Virginia, playing Kansas State, playing Pitt or Michigan tomorrow will allow us to do that. I'm very excited about that. Like you said, we didn't get the desired result, so it's kind of a bummer, but we will take a lot of things out of this and go back and work on it and try to become the best team we can become down the line.
Q. You never held back your praise on Devon. Did he maybe even go above and beyond your expectations tonight or is that what you always knew he could kind of do?
COACH ROSS: It's crazy because I don't know if this was appropriate as a coach, but what flashed through my mind was Kemba Walker for UConn. It was strange because Kemba Walker did the same thing for UConn in the Big East tournament two years ago, and he just willed his team to victory. I asked him at one of the time outs, after we use our last timeout, I said, We have no more time outs left, how do you want the shot next time down? He told me how he wanted it. I said, Okay, that's what we'll do. He is a young man that is not fazed by anything. I knew for sure that he was not going to be awestruck by playing in the Garden or awestruck by playing Kansas State. He wants to win. When you start with that base of wanting to win and not worrying about how many points you score, how many shots you take, that sort of thing, when your basis, I want to win, I think you build off of that. He's a special kid for me to coach. Wrote an article, said he was a senior. I almost called you up. I tell you what, if he is a senior, I'm leaving with him. We need that guy around because he's special. You get a chance to see him a lot. He's a special young man. Again, with this 'me first' type of society that's coming about, he's all about winning. That's all he cares about. Another quick thing is we had a bad practice two practices ago. We started off sluggish. He called everybody out at that practice, took off from there. You need your leaders to be able to do that and be willing to do that as a leader, to lead. That's why he's special to us.
Q. What did Jamelle eat and how concerned are you?
COACH ROSS: I'm very concerned.
Q. Didn't Jarvis have a cramp thing?
COACH ROSS: Yes, he had a cramp as well. To be honest with you, I'm very concerned about it. I watch a lot of basketball. We're the only team in the country that's cramping. We need to go back to find out what we're doing, what we're eating, what we're not eating. If it's stealing secrets from somebody else, we need to steal some secrets. I'm not afraid to say we would have come into this Game 3 0 if Jarvis hadn't cramped in the LaSalle game. That would have been a win. Who knows how this game would have turned out, because as soon as Jamelle went out, that's when they started pounding us inside. So kudos to them, not taking anything away from them. We have to find out exactly what the problem is here.
Q. How tangible of a difference was it with Jamelle not playing in the second half and what kind of difference did it make?
COACH ROSS: I mean, don't look any further. 15 rebounds in 27 minutes. He's our rock. He's our guy in there. He was six for seven from the field. He are the guy out there that when we need a bucket, we throw it to him. When we need a rebound, he gets it. When we need a key block, he blocks it. When you take away one of your hearts and souls, we're not built to just, Okay, you go ahead and replace Jamelle. He's our guy. So it was a big deal for us. We missed him. Again, we'll go back to the drawing board here and find out exactly what the problem is that our kids are suffering these cramps and remedy it, because we don't want to have situations like this and have a situation like we had at LaSalle.