NCAA Portland: Shaka Smart, VCU Players

The VCU head coach, Shaka Smart, and two players, Doug Brooks and JeQuan Lewis, talk about the Rams 75-72 overtime loss in the second round of the NCAA Tournament in Portland...

THE MODERATOR: We're joined by VCU head coach and student-athletes. Coach, your opening statement, please.

COACH SMART: It was a tough loss. Really, really tough loss for us. Our guys fought, really battled, which our guys have done all year long. They've done a terrific job of. Our response to adversity all year long has been really a good one. I thought today at times we lost some poise. That ended up hurting us in the long run. Ohio State made some big shots, some big plays. Got to give credit to them. We had a shot at the buzzer regulation to finish it off. Our best player. It's a shot he's made before. We'll take that again all day. He just didn't make it. Ohio State was able to capitalize in overtime.

THE MODERATOR: We'll go ahead and open the floor to questions for the student-athletes.

Q. Doug, on the play they called you for a flagrant foul. Was that intentional, the elbow?
DOUG BROOKS: No, sir. No, sir.

Q. Doug, a rough start with two quick fouls. You got hot in the second half. Go over what went through your head in the second half.
DOUG BROOKS: Just trying to help my team get a win, you know, responding.

Q. JeQuan, I think Russell had two points with five minutes left in the first half. Did you sense anything different in him from that point forward?
JeQUAN LEWIS: You know, he's a good player. He just stayed aggressive, took his team to victory.

Q. JeQuan, you seemed to be able to penetrate. Did you find that your quickness was as equal to what Ohio State had and that you could get inside and find other teammates?
JeQUAN LEWIS: No, not really. Coach just kept emphasizing to get in the gaps and penetrating more because the corners would be wide open. We was just listening to him.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much, gentlemen. The floor is open now for questions for Coach Smart.

Q. As you were leaving the floor there, I know it's a tough moment with Briante, what did you tell him? How tough is that moment to console him and your players?
COACH SMART: It's hard for him. The last several weeks since he's been out, he's been in a tough spot because he wants to help his team. He's used to being in the middle of it all as a leader and as a player. He obviously can't be right now with his injury. You know, my emphasis to him coming into this game and exiting this game is I think he has a bright future in the game of basketball. You know, he just needs to control what he can control right now, stay positive about what's coming up in his future.

Q. Coach, you guys made a big run in the first half. How much of that was just making your buckets and being able to set up your full-court defense?
COACH SMART: Well, I thought we played with good aggressiveness for the first 12 or so minutes of the first half, then Ohio State was really able to gain the aggressiveness advantage in the latter part of the half. That was the difference really as they were able to come back and cut the lead down. Then the second half, it was back and forth. You know, we made enough outside shots, but we didn't have the soundness we need to have in other areas of the game to win the game. That being said, we had a great shot by our best player to win the game at the end. It just didn't go.

Q. Shaka, you had to deal with a lot of foul trouble getting guys in. You were very young at times on the court, very small. Your guys battled pretty hard, though. What were you trying to get accomplished to keep Doug and Mo so you'd have them when you needed them?
COACH SMART: Yeah, it was a challenging game from a foul trouble and foul period standpoint. You know, we knew Doug was going to be by far the best defender we had on Russell. But he wasn't able to guard Russell for the first half because he wasn't in the game. In the second half, I thought he did a good job for the most part. We let him get free. He's a good player. I mean, he's going to make some shots. It was tough managing the foul trouble there. Mo was never able to get into a flow in the second half. That was disappointing. He's a huge component of what we do. Our attack is just much, much different without him on the floor.

Q. Did you have an issue with the flagrant call on Doug? Also, just how many different things were you trying to do with Russell throughout the game?
COACH SMART: I'll answer the second one first. The main thing we were trying to do was when he came off a hand-off, pick'n roll situation, put two guys on him. Guys executed pretty well. Ohio State made a couple timely shots out of that trap. So you got to give them credit for that. I thought over the course of the game, you know, when we did get him in traps, it was good for us. Now, I'm not going to get myself in trouble by commenting on officiating. You know, it is what it is. I mean, unfortunately when it's tight like that, you know, a key call or a no call one way or the other makes a big difference. You know, that's the case in a lot of games, not just NCAA tournament games, not just this game. But I think our focus as a team should be on the things we should control. Certainly there's some things that we could have done better. It's tough when your margin for error is a little bit smaller to begin with, then a couple of those plays don't go your way.

Q. You mentioned the shot at the end of regulation. How about in overtime? Was that the first option on that play?
COACH SMART: It wasn't the first option, but it was the option we thought we were going to get coming out of the timeout. Guys did a pretty good job executing the play. He got a wide-open shot. He just didn't knock it down. You know, unfortunately that rim hasn't been particularly kind to us at the end of games here in Portland. But, you know, again, our focus shouldn't necessarily be just on one shot, it should be on some of the things that we have full control over that we could have done better.

Q. You mentioned in your opening statement that you thought your team lost some poise. Are you talking about maybe some passes near the end of the game?
COACH SMART: Yeah, we had some turnovers that were certainly out of character. One that really, really hurt us was throwing the ball away on the side out of bounds. We had a couple more on the baseline. Our guys have done a good job of taking care of the ball all year long. You know, in these type of situations, you have to really maintain your poise. The reality is right now with our team, you know, we're out there with a lot of younger guys who haven't been in that situation a lot in the past. That's no excuse. You know, if you're in the game at this time, it means you got to step up and make the right play. We need to do a better job of that.

THE MODERATOR: Coach, thank you very much.

COACH SMART: Thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports


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