March 31, 2009
BAYLOR 76 (24-14), SAN DIEGO STATE 62 (26-10)
MADISON SQUARE GARDEN - NEW YORK, N.Y.
MARCH 31, 2009 - ATTENDANCE: 11,352
Scott Drew: I thought San Diego State showed why they are one of the final eight teams playing. They played with a lot of heart and passion early and competed. I thought the second half we made just a couple more shots than they did and I thought our leadership, our senior leadership was outstanding down the stretch and very proud of the guys and how they fought and how they really did a good job trying to limit second chance opportunities for a very good rebounding team.
Q. Could you talk about how you got it going there in the second half?
LaceDarius Dunn: Credit to my guards, the great guards we have. First half we were trying to get them and make them make plays.
Second half, I just give credit to my guard for finding me and me taking responsibility more knocking down the shots. I just give them credit?
Q. Talk about how CJ got you guys off to a good start in the first half?
Scott Drew: It was great for him being a senior. He just gave us that lift the first half and I thought he was going to have a great game, which he did and I just give credit to him.
Q. You guys didn't seem intimidated at all by Madison Square Garden; pretty calm going in or how you did you feel?
Scott Drew: It's a court with two goals. It's a great atmosphere. We just know we have to come in and take advantage and play hard. San Diego is a great team. We came in and it paid off for us.
Q. You had 15 assists tonight; talk about how you shared the ball.
LaceDarius Dunn: The guards we have, that's the No. 1 thing. Us being a team guard and being so close we penetrated and shot the ball real well, and the guards we have, we penetrated and just made plays.
Q. Would you talk about what this means to the campus?
LaceDarius Dunn: We started the season and we ain't made it to where we really wanted to be but we take it as it's coming and I think it's a great moment for us to be here and playing the championship game, it's a great game for us. Give credit to the seniors, I hope we go out and win it and go out with a bang for them.
Q. CJ, can you talk about the second half that you guys had, you kept the team in in the first half, and seemed like everybody else picked it up in the second?
Curtis Jerrells: My teammates did a good job of giving me the ball and I did a good job knocking down the shots but as we all know, basketball is a team sport. We all know when we are playing Baylor basketball, we have five guys, and that's when we are at our best. We addressed it in the locker room and we started sharing the sugar and guys started making shots. Just helped out the defense more.
Q. Were they focusing more on you in the second half or did they change anything?
Curtis Jerrells: Definitely. They switched the way they were playing, screening and trapped me and Coach decided to take ball out of my hands a little more and used me as a decoy and before you know it, this guy started making shots and started getting hot and that opened up the driving lane for Tweety (Carter). It was Coach's strategy and we just went out and did a good job executing.
Q. What does it mean for you, your last college game is going to be in this building?
Curtis Jerrells: I just keep telling guys, every time I do an interview that I just enjoy the opportunity to play. Our goal was to make the NCAA Tournament and we didn't do that. We were able to muster enough to get everybody to the NIT, and as long as you're playing, man, you've got to go out there and take care of business. At the end of the day, it's a basketball game regardless of where it's at.
I'm just proud of my teammates and just proud of the coaches that we held our heads, even though we are in the NCAA Tournament and now we are in the championship game of the NIT.
Q. San Diego State's guard play was off tonight; what were you doing that was so effective?
Curtis Jerrells: Watching film we didn't have much shooters, even though we play the zone. That's pretty much what it is, if you can't penetrate the zone, and if those guys are not exceptional shooters, with the exception of Spain, it makes it tougher for guys to get something going.
Q. Were you sensing them getting frustrated?
Curtis Jerrells: I could. Once everybody started making shots and we started to build on the lead, that's when we started getting frustrated and I think every team, once things stop going your way you start looking at each other. We did a good job keeping our foot on the pedal.
Q. Blade said it's just two goals, just a court. Y'all didn't seem intimidated by the whole surroundings, Madison Square Garden; y'all seemed comfortable out there.
Curtis Jerrells: I told you my feelings might change when I got on the floor, but like Blade said, it's just another goal. No disrespect to the place, but like I said, as a player, you have to adjust and play anywhere.
We are honored to be here most definitely and I'm glad we were able to come out and get the job done.
Scott Drew: If the Knicks did want to draft him, he did say he would play here more often. (Laughter).
Q. I think you guys lost ten out of your last 12 games
Scott Drew: Thanks for bringing that up.
Q. Did you see something like this coming, this kind of a postseason run? Were you that optimistic?
Scott Drew: I think the thing I'm most proud about this team is I think we really grew spiritually. We really grew with adversity and persevering and I think during that stretch for the rest of our lives, including the coaching staff and everyone a part of the team, learned how to persevere and not quit, because a lot of people could have thrown in the towel, just ended the season.
Again as coaches, we are all supposed to be role models and help young individuals growing in life, and they have taught me as much as I have thought them this year.
Q. What does it mean playing for the Championship, considering where the program was when you took over?
Scott Drew: I think, again, when we brought in this group of seniors now, we knew that they had the character and they had the potential and the ability to be playing in Final Fours and having a chance to do these kind of things.
Credit them for putting in the hard work, getting better, improving, but it's really a tight team and you need that to be successful. And down the stretch, every coach know, you always want to finish strong, and again, it's been a blessing that they have been able to go out the way they have.
Q. Talk about how effective the two, three zone was tonight?
Scott Drew: I think the first half it was not very effective. Their guards are very quick and one of the reasons we didn't play man is we tried to keep them out of the paint. Zone we figured would be better doing that. They were knocking down a lot of 3s, 7 for 12 in the first half. We tried to contest more shots in the second half, and again, they missed some that they made the first half and that helped us get the lead.
Q. Did you extend the zone at all?
Scott Drew: We did try to extend it and we did try to contest more shots.
Q. Talk about that adjustment that y'all made offensively knowing there was maybe going to be a little more pressure on CJ and what they were going to do defensively.
Scott Drew: That's again a credit to our team. We are our best when we have multiple people in double figures and we are passing the ball. We have different weapons and we took advantage of some match ups in the second half that in the first half we didn't need to because CJ, he was just in the zone for a minute there.
Q. How big was that basket that Tweety made to cut the lead?
Scott Drew: It was a big basket in a game like, this every basket is a big basket because you know every team does not have any quit on it.
Q. How were you able to minimize (Lorrenzo) Wade and Richie (Williams)?
Scott Drew: Again that's where that zone came in because very tough to defend great players one on one.
Q. Coach Fisher?
Scott Drew: Coach Fisher is an outstanding individual everybody in the profession looks up to, and as good of a coach as he is, he's an even better person. I hate to see him lose to be honest, but against us, that's okay.
SAN DIEGO STATE QUOTES
STEVE FISHER: I think on behalf of our team, I'll offer congratulations to Baylor, who played better than we did tonight. (Curtis) Jerrells in the first half, (LaceDarius) Dunn in the second half, were hot. They have done that before. And we just weren't quite good enough tonight.
We had too many turnovers that led to baskets and when you turn it over, you can't get a shot. So we are disappointed about that, but we are very proud of the season we had, and how we represented ourselves, our league, our university and our city, to get to Madison Square Garden, a great tournament. And we lost to a really good team who is playing terrific right now.
I think both of us have won nine out of our last ten coming in here. So as disappointing as it is, and it is, for all of us, we lose five seniors, and the pride we have in what they have done to grow this program, is immeasurable. As we get on the bus tonight, we reflect on that as opposed to the loss tonight. We got beat by a very good team.
Q. What was going right in the first half and what was going wrong in the second half?
LORRENZO WADE: In the first half I think we got a few more easy baskets than we did in the second half, we were letting them go out in transition in the second half, easy transitions, layups. And again, they were knocking down shots. I believe they shot over 50 percent from the field overall, as well as 50 percent from the 3. It's tough to beat a team when they are shooting basketball like that.
Q. Lorrenzo, I remember there was a play when you shot a 3 ball and had a hand in his face and it still went down. Was there a point in the game where you threw up your hands, and were like, "Are you ever going to miss?"
LORRENZO WADE: Sometimes players have nights like that. Unfortunately there were two guys that had nights like that; when you have two guys knocking down baskets like that, yeah, you do kind of throw your hands up in the air at times and just wonder if they are going to miss.
Q. Can you talk about the offense tonight; it seemed like you had trouble getting into a rhythm there.
KYLE SPAIN: In the first half for the most part, I thought we all did a pretty good job on the offensive end.
I don't think we did as bad of a job in the second half. I don't think we defended as well as we should have in the second half. I think they got a lot of easy baskets, and they pulled away, and that's why they got a victory, because of that.
Q. Is it frustrating when that's happening?
KYLE SPAIN: We should have done a better job of getting the ball inside. We had to work inside out and that's how you have to work the zone, and apparently we didn't do a good job doing that.
Q. We talked so much before you came into Madison Square Garden; how much of an influence was that on what happened?
LORRENZO WADE: Like I said before, a gym is a gym. I know Madison Square Garden is a very historic place but once the ball goes up in the air, you lose your pregame jitters and you just go about your business.
We are very happy to play in Madison Square Garden. We wish we would have won the basketball game and NIT has been very good to us and more than anything, I'm appreciative to my teammates for helping us get to this point in the season. I look for better things to come from San Diego State university.
Q. Can you look back on the impact that this senior bunch has had?
LORRENZO WADE: Richie Williams is the all time, I believe, assists, as well as steals leader in the Mountain West conference. To have a guy like Kyle that's a lights out shooter, Matt Thomas has been vital, on and off the court, with his leadership.
I mean, you know, I'm going to miss playing with this group of guys. This is I believe the best team that well well, one of the best teams I've ever been on and this is definitely the closest team that I've ever been on.
Q. How can this have an impact moving forward, what you guys have been able to do the last year or so?
LORRENZO WADE: I think now everyone expects San Diego State to do big things. With guys like Billy White, Tim Shelton, D.J. Gay returning, guys that have been in the trenches, they know what it's like and they are also going to expect big things out of themselves. I'm sure Coach is going to bring the best things out of these guys in years to come.
KYLE SPAIN: Not only are people going to expect San Diego State to do well, but it's going to bring more athletes to San Diego State to participate in this program.
Q. Was there a point maybe after the game where you realized it's the last time you're wearing the uniform and last time you'll play with these guys?
LORRENZO WADE: I sat in the locker room while we were waiting to come in here and soaked it up, looked at my teammates. I'm sure it will be last time I see all of these guys wearing San Diego State uniforms and sitting in the locker room. I'll probably reflect on it a little bit more over the next couple of days.
But, you know, it's life. I have many great memories here at San Diego State and I won't forget about anything.
Q. Hard to let it go in some ways?
LORRENZO WADE: Very hard to let it go. For some reason I feel like tomorrow we are going to wake up and have practice, I wish we were going to Wake up tomorrow and have practice. Unfortunately we won't, but it's been a great ride.
Q. Is that as good of a zone as you've seen played in a while?
STEVE FISHER: They are a good team. They are a very good team. I believe we were 7 for 12 in the first half from the 3 point range, and we had good looks in the second half.
What we did is we turned the ball over too many times. It's hard to win when you have 19 turnovers. And so many of them from our perspective were unforced or we are thinking they should have been completed. But as I said earlier, Baylor is a terrific team, and they have got size, they have got athleticism, they have got experience. And they were playing as well as most people in the country at the end of the season.
We were, too. They are a very good perimeter shooting team, very good. They made some open shots, but they made some hard shots.
But you know, I think the zone, you know, what the zone did is that it made it harder for us to get quality looks. Our man to man offense creates a little more attack off the bounce and we tried to create a high post and I thought we did a very good job of it.
We just were not able to get enough out of it when it got there. I'll come back to the turnovers; way too many turnovers.
Q. Was Baylor better than you expected going into this game, seeing them play?
STEVE FISHER: I don't think so. I knew how good they were. I watched every game from the Nebraska game before they played Nebraska in the tournament right on down.
I was immensely impressed with the coaching, the talent and the execution.
Q. Despite the loss, how important is this run for your program to New York this year?
STEVE FISHER: What we did, when we got into the NIT, we were like a lot of people, that we were hoping that we were going to be in the NCAA. We cried and felt sorry for ourselves for 24 hours, and then we said, "Let's win the NIT."
And our seniors made that commitment. So for us to do what we did we are a little bit like Baylor in terms of history, not having a long legacy of winning. We had never won over one postseason game in tournament play, and we won back to back to back, and got the opportunity to come to Madison Square Garden and play, and that's huge for us.
We were the story in town for two weeks, and that does immeasurable good for all of us. And Kyle made the reference for everything, from recruiting to perception to expectations to all of the things that you look for as a coach and a player. We have got a good program. We have won 20 or more games for four straight years, but this is the first time we have made a dent and a mark in postseason play, and we like it and we want to do it again.
Q. You mentioned the turnover, and some of them being the unforced variety. Why; how does that happen? A bit uncharacteristic for your bunch.
STEVE FISHER: Well, it's basketball. It's basketball and sometimes stress does that to you. When you've got length and quickness and you've got people flying around out there, what looks to be an open area turns out to be covered if you're not careful when you're playing good people, and we were playing good people.
I'm going to say Baylor had a lot to do with it. It wasn't all our casualness and unforced turnovers. Some of it was, but Baylor had a lot to do with those 19 turnovers and they had everything to do with what they did with it; they scored a lot off our turnovers.
Q. What can it do for a program to be in a tournament like this?
STEVE FISHER: For us it grows expectations, internally, first, and then with our fan base. I mean, we have had some phenomenal crowds back in our arena, and all that does is it adds to what we are trying to do: Create an environment where it's fun for kids to come and watch, and one where we expect to win and we put pressure on ourselves to win.
So I think it helps; the residual, we'll see what that means from a recruiting standpoint. But it raises expectations for those that are returning and those that are coming in. We have a large number for recruits coming in, so we will raise the expectations when they set foot on the campus in fall.
Q. How do you feel about losing all of the seniors and what they have meant to you with the connection they have formed?
STEVE FISHER: I owe them a huge debt of gratitude. When you win, everybody benefits. Myself included. What they have done is what we expected them to do. We came and we knew we had good players, and they won and then they won a little bit more, and then they have done it in a fashion that I feel proud of. They competed hard.
We had a really tough minded, competitive basketball team this year, and a lot of us have talked about how well we guarded. You know, we were not quite as good tonight, but again, Baylor had something to do with it. We were a team that guarded people hard and we were very proud of that part of our game.
Q. Did you get a sense that Richie was shaken up at all; that first shot went way off. Did that affect anything that happened later on?
STEVE FISHER: No. Richie has played for four years. He's shot an air ball before and come back and made steals, baskets. No, I don't think so. I think that's just a part of what we do. It's an imperfect game. You try for perfection.
You have to move on and you have to play in the moment and you have to deal with the play you're in and not think of the last one or think too far ahead, and we have done a good job of that this year. I'm very proud of how we have done that, especially with our seniors.