THE MODERATOR: We are now joined by Arizona.
COACH MILLER: Well, obviously we beat the defending national champions, and to me the great program of this tournament; and anytime you do this, it takes extraordinary effort collectively, and that's what we experienced here today. I really felt like it was two different games. The first half, Derrick's individual play allowed us to have a chance. I mean he scored 25 points in one half. Made five 3s in one half. We were down 6. We could have had a huge deficit at halftime, but he gave us a chance.
We talked at halftime about taking care of the ball and moving on offense, driving with intelligence when we go, and most important they had 11 points on second shots in the first half, and Duke is hard enough to deal with on the first shot, when you give 'em second shots you almost don't have a chance.
The one huge turnaround in the second half and that was like a second game, we were a total team. We were rev'd up. We had a lot of guys playing at a very high level, and we rebounded. At the end of the day, 40 rebounds for Arizona, 27 for Duke and a lot of that happened in the second half.
It was such an overwhelming advantage for us to me that was the difference in the game, but really unique in that the first half was much different than the second.
As a coach you're very proud of your team in this tournament, period. But today, these guys right here, they played at the highest level that they possibly could have, and that's what we needed to beat the great program and team that Duke is.
Q. Derrick, the last 3 before halftime you hit it and walked off the court, can you talk about what you were feeling that moment?
Derrick Williams: I actually just shot it and it happened to go in. I wasn't expecting it to go in, that's probably how my reaction was. I knew we were still down 6 points, so I'm not going to celebrate after a shot like that. That's not me. Even if we were winning and I hit that shot I'm not going to celebrate like that, and it wasn't the end of the game so I'm definitely not going to celebrate. That's it.
Q. Momo, you're going up against your best friend tomorrow night. Can you talk about the feelings? Is it love, disappointment? What goes through your mind?
Lamont Jones: It's always going to be love. That's like my brother. That's off the court. When you on the court you're enemies. I got to go with my teammates. He got to go with his teammates. That's basically the bottom line. We're going to come out and play two great games and try to lead our teams to the win, to the Final Four.
You know, off the court is off the court. On the court, I run with my teammates all the time.
Q. Derrick, with where this program has been over the last couple of years, to be on the brink of the Final Four and to be part of that and a major cog, how does that make you feel?
DERRICK WILLIAMS: Makes me feel great that if we win this game on Saturday we're going to be known as one of the best Arizona teams to play, and, you know, just to have our name up there, this is the fourth Arizona team to have 30 wins and that's a great accomplishment right there.
The Elite Eight is great, but we're not looking to stop right there. We're trying to win a national championship one step at a time, and one more game we're in the Final Four. That's what we want to do. That's one of our team goals this season was not only to get in the tournament, but to make a run in the tournament and so far we're doing that.
Q. Momo and Derrick, you guys basically turned a 4- or 5-point deficit into an 11-point lead in about four minutes. What's it like to do that to Duke?
LAMONT JONES: I mean, when you are out there playing you're just out there playing. It's not about the name on the Jersey, it's about how hard you play. It could have been anybody tonight who was up by 4 and we came out and played the way we did in the second half and we were up 11.
We just came out and played hard. We played Arizona basketball, and we did what coach asked of us. Whatever coach asks of us is right and it showed again tonight. He asked us to play defense, rebound and play hard-nosed and we came out in the second half and did it and won by 16 points.
Q. Momo and Derrick --
COACH MILLER: You've got to give Solomon some love.
Q. I'm on an east coast deadline. You told us when you first met Derrick he was introverted and you called him a skinny bum because you wanted him to bring his best. The question for you is, did you think a night like this -- is that what you had in mind; and Derrick, how did you feel about being called a skinny bum?
LAMONT JONES: I knew he was going to come out and play great. He's going to get his 20 points and 10-plus rebounds. That's just what Derrick does. I think the day I called him a skinny bum, after that I don't think I said anything like that to him again. He's been phenomenal and he's stayed humble and he's been a team player. He's one of our brothers. He keeps just playin' harder and harder every night.
DERRICK WILLIAMS: I credit Momo for saying that. Just whenever somebody starts talking to me like that I get into a mode, and a different type of zone and it makes me play that much harder. I just had that zone tonight. Not sayin' anybody was talking trash on the other team, but for us to go to the Elite Eight -- that's really it. If somebody starts talkin' to me I'll talk a little bit back and that makes me play that much better. So, if they wanted to start that, that's to their disadvantage.
Q. Solomon or Derrick, Coach K. called you guys a "tough-minded team." Do you feel that tough-mindedness has been elevated after this victory?
Solomon Hill: Yeah, I do. When you have a group of guys that can all go out there and get it done, everybody can get on the same page. They have two guys that they expect to be able to play at the same level for 32 minutes. I don't know anybody that can do that, but when you have a group of guys that can come in and play with the same capabilities and open things up for the five man, which was Derrick, you want to execute, and every possession can be your last and even our senior Jamelle played, and I don't think his first half was the way he wanted to play and the second half he came out and played his butt off, and we got the "W."
Q. You tied the game up on a jump shot, hit a couple of free-throws, I think in the next possession. Did you feel the game change then?
LAMONT JONES: Yes, I think with Derrick doing, you know, what he was doing from the beginning, from tip-off to the time that I hit those shots, I think it just gave my team a great deal of confidence to see -- like people said before, Duke is a great team and they have a great coach and they have great players.
A lot of people counted us out and I think for our teammates to see on the scoreboard that we were up and it was possible for us to beat them, I think it gave my teammates and me a lot of motivation and I think we just came out after that and never stopped.
We just kept beatin' on the door and beatin' on the door until we were in.
Q. Was it important that it wasn't him scoring those baskets, like all of the sudden --
COACH MILLER: I mean, night in and night out, everybody does it. Like I said before, Derrick is a great player, but we all contribute to everything, you know? Derrick is just a phenomenal player, but we have other good players on this team that come in and work hard night in and night out and give great effort.
Solomon Hill has been playing, I think, some of the greatest basketball that he's ever played in his two years at Arizona. Jesse Perry came out and maybe didn't have a great offensive night, but rebounded the ball, so did Kevin. And any given night any given player on our team can come out and give it to you in different ways.
Tonight I think that Derrick played great. Solomon Hill played great. I played great, and as a team, as a whole, we came together and willed ourselves to win. It was a whole team effort that got us here.
Q. Solomon, Derrick put the team on his back in the first half and he had 7 in the second, but he opened things up for you and the rest of your teammates in other ways. Can you talk about how he helped spread the floor, getting double-teamed down low and how he affected the game in other ways?
SOLOMON HILL: The first half they were trying to choke off the wings, so it was one-on-one for him; and expecting a guy to guard a 6-11 player, I don't know too many guys that can do that. He fired at will and he can shoot the 3 and I don't think he got to the free-throw line like he wanted to.
But it was a mismatch. We set up plays and got him open and he did. In the second half, they tried to change up a little bit and once they changed up they didn't pressure the wing. So we were able to make plays, and we didn't have to rely on him in the second half because they kind of abandoned their defense that they ran in the first half and the backdoor started opening up and the rebounding started opening up and guys started knocking down shots; and with that we started our run.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you gentlemen. Now we open it up for questions for Coach Miller.
Q. Coach, your team seems to be a team that has a super star but all the players actually revel in the moment, they're so loose out there. Can you talk about Solomon Hill and Brendon Lavender?
COACH MILLER: No question about it. As we deal with more people that aren't as familiar with us as a team, you know, if you look at the statistics, it's clearly pointed out that we have one difference-maker on our team. Tonight, Derrick was hands down the best player on the court. You always have a chance when you have a player who does what he does.
But it's really not fair to say that we don't have a second best player or, you know, you look and we don't necessarily have that double-figure scorer. We have as many as seven different -- eight at times, players that shoot the ball from the 3 and if you look at us through the course of our long season, whether it was Kyle Fogg when we won the Pac-10 tournament at home against Oregon having 20 points, Kevin having 25 points at Cal, big win for us, and even in this tournament, Solomon has emerged to play better.
But Jamelle's play in the second half was a big reason why we had the lead in the second half, but we have lots of players that contribute in big ways. We've played 37 games and we've played 10 players in 37 games. I'm going to say we've played 11 players in a handful as well. So it's that constant getting guys in and out of the game throughout a long season that has really benefited us right now.
Q. Sean, considering that this program hadn't been a national powerhouse in a while, and everything with Lute and all that stuff, how important and how special is this for you guys?
COACH MILLER: It's special, but, you know, the credit of our program -- and I heard Coach K. talk about it being a "brand", Arizona being a "brand" the teams that Olson developed were the two decades worth of excellence, and Luke Walton was at our game here tonight, every time you turn the television on, in an NBA game, many times you have a player on both teams playing that's from Arizona. Our job as a new staff is to continue that.
In some cases maybe to restore it, to rebuild a little bit, to change things with a little bit of a different personality but when you go to McKale Center there is 14, 500 people and there is not a better home court in the country, and the love of the game in Tucson started a long time ago and we're taking advantage of that, and that's one of the reasons that young people like these three decided to come to Arizona when we became a new staff.
You look at these three guys, none of 'em were here April 7th, two years ago. All three of these guys who played this way tonight came after that and one of the reasons is the great history and tradition that we have, and we're going to try to continue it in the biggest way that we possibly can.
Q. Coach, I cover the Lakers, so I talked to Luke Walton a couple of nights ago and he said he was going to be here in his red with his Pom-Poms going crazy. What is it like for the alum to come and back you guys wherever you're at; and also, a preview thought to the next game?
COACH MILLER: Well, it's just what I said about our tradition. I'm a coach that none of the former players have played for, but the way they've embraced our staff, the text messages, guys showing up when we come to southern Cal, from Steve Kerr to Sean Elliott and some of the new guys, our team feels it, and we're a lot like Duke and North Carolina, some of the programs of this day and age where former players want to see us continue to do well and to have them as a part of us moving forward it makes you feel so good, in particular because we are a new staff. But that is firmly in place and that's an important part.
We have to do a great job honoring our tradition to be the best we can in the future and those guys make it easy. UCONN -- I don't know a lot about UCONN, I'm on the west coast so I focus on the teams that we're playing. But I do know Kemba Walker Gaucho program and knows him well, and I know they have a lot of other good players like us with Derrick Williams, I'm sure his supporting cast doesn't get nearly the credit they deserve.
Coach Calhoun is a coach I remember as a player. He was on the sidelines many years ago when I was a player at Pitt, and very similar to Coach Olson, Coach K., the great success that those guys have had over such a long period of time. Formidable opponent, rightfully so, we're playing for the Final Four, but hopefully we can have the same on Saturday with the way we play.
I think that's a big part of this tournament, not getting caught up in who you're playing, but can we be at our best and do the things that make us good, and that's the story line for us on Saturday.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach.
Postgame Arizona Press Conference Transcript
Wildcat Authority Top Stories
Authority Report: Two weeks until Signing DayThis week's Authority Report discusses how Arizona will close its class and more.
Wildcat AuthorityYesterday at 8:19 PM
Arizona visit impresses PandyLinebacker Anthony Pandy took a visit to Arizona this past weekend. Read on to see how it went and more.
Wildcat AuthorityTuesday at 12:56 PM
Video: Sean Miller on Byrne's departureSean Miller discusses Greg Byrne's departure to Alabama.
Wildcat AuthorityMonday at 5:51 PM
Video: Erika Barnes on being Interim ADErika Barnes discusses being named Arizona's interim Athletic Director.
Wildcat AuthorityMonday at 2:54 PM