NCAA Seattle: Russell Turner, UCI Players

The UC Irvine head coach and players Will Davis and Alex Young talk about the Anteaters 57-55 loss to Louisville in the second round of the NCAA Tournament in Seattle...

THE MODERATOR: We'll go ahead and get started with an opening statement from Coach and then take questions for the student-athletes.

COACH TURNER: I'm incredibly proud of these guys up here and all the kids in my locker room and our staff and our fans for a good performance. And I congratulate University Of Louisville on a solid victory in a hard-fought game.

THE MODERATOR: Open it up to questions, please.

Q. What did you see as the difference where you just couldn't pull away? You made some nice runs, but then they seemed to answer every time.
COACH TURNER: I mean, they're a good basketball team we were up against. I thought in many ways in this game we were their equal. Hard to say we were better than they were because of the way the game ended up, but we were a play away from winning that game. So it's not easy to identify a difference. I thought that we made a bunch of key plays, but there were equally many that they made. And they came out, what, two points ahead.

Q. Obviously from your demeanor and you can see with your players, was that the toughest postgame locker room you've ever walked into and ever had to speak in?
COACH TURNER: No. It's tough to lose, but there's an incredible positive feeling in that locker room because of the growth in our program and each of these young men. So, yeah, it's hard to lose, but it's hard to face guys who have given everything they have got and come up short. But aside from winning that game, that's about as good an outcome as you could have. To lay it all on the line and be a basket short, that's basketball. We got a lot of guys who are going to play more in our program, and that's how you continue to get better, to go through games and moments like this. While I'm sorry for a guy like Will who is a senior that we didn't win this game, it's hard not to look around that locker room and feel incredible pride. I've been in a lot of locker rooms at the end of the year when you don't feel that same positive feeling about the entire group that's assembled. So, no, that wasn't the toughest one, but it's tough as I've ever faced in some ways because I care about these kids and they care about every other member of our program. And that's solid.

Q. For the players, on that last play, you knew they were probably going to try and foul. What was your thought going into that one?
ALEX YOUNG: Well, try and get the best shot that we possibly could. We had a quick play lined up and unfortunately I lost the ball, we couldn't get a timeout, and it just happens. It's basketball.

COACH TURNER: It was a tough moment there. They had a foul to give that they clearly tried to give, and the foul wasn't called. I didn't want to use our last timeout, and I'm not sure if Alex even knew they were trying to foul right there. I think he did. But that's an unusual situation to be in with nine seconds and a team with two fouls remaining to give. And I thought they gave that foul.

Q. Coach, what did you think of Mamadou's play and what -- just what did you say to the guys afterwards?
COACH TURNER: I thought Mamadou was terrific, like he usually is. I thought the game plan that Louisville had was smart. They challenged everyone of his catches and were willing to foul and utilize all three of their biggest guys to make it hard for him to get the catches that a lot of teams have to allow because they don't have the size and depth to play him that way. What we tried to do was get him the ball as close to the rim as possible, and a couple of the plays at the end we were able to do that. The fact that they were able to play that entire second half with that strategy and still have fouls to give at the end is a little surprising. But Mamadou was good, as he always is. They made some incredible plays over him. Blackshear's three-point play in the stretch, I mean, that's a kid who played in a National Championship game. He's a national champion. He made a national champion play right there, and that's probably the difference in the game. And what was the other part of your question?

Q. What did you say to the guys afterward?
COACH TURNER: Some of the same things I just said here. I mean, you know, I thanked these seniors for the impact they made on our program. It's hard to exaggerate what that is. I told them that they're the greatest class in our program's history because of what they accomplished through winning. And I don't think that can even be denied at all. I told them, I think what I said before, that just as we experienced this pain, this emotional struggle with losing in a big game that we feel like we could have won, we had that happen to us in the Big West Championship in a game that would have qualified us for this tournament a couple of years ago. And I felt like that helped us this year to overcome that barrier. I hope that our ability to perform and play and compete in this game today will allow us as a program to move on to greater success, be an experience we can draw on to win this game or a game like it.

Q. Coach, you've been able to keep turnovers fairly low in recent weeks. Did you anticipate that might be an issue tonight, or did that kind of catch you by surprise?
COACH TURNER: Playing against Louisville? Yeah, they're pretty good turnover-creating team. They're a multiple defense team. They're a team with length, size, and athleticism at every position. You can prepare for Louisville. I feel like we were well prepared. But as they continue to change and continue to throw different looks at you, it's hard. It's hard to handle the ball well against them. Most of the game we did. I haven't looked at the stat sheet to see how many turnovers we had. I thought that that was the difference in the game, the fact that there were so many possessions where we did not get a shot. Because I've gotten used to with this team us getting good shots, and that's a big part of the reason why we have been successful coming down the stretch.

Q. For Alex, did you believe you were clearly fouled on the last possession? Also, how difficult is it do you think to walk away from this without being able to get -- a game that was pretty spirited, give and take at the end, not being able to get one last shot up?
ALEX YOUNG: I'm not going to comment on the foul or if it was a foul or not. That's not my judgment; it's the referee's judgment. But not to even get a shot up, that's on me. Being a point guard and leader on this team, I got to make sure we're all in the right spot so we can get a shot up in that last possession of the game especially. So I take responsibility on that aspect. But if it was a foul or not, that's not for me to judge. But it hurts not to even get a shot up. That's my job, and I got to make sure that I can create something or for myself or especially for my teammates to try to get a shot at that point in time, especially that late in the game.

Q. For the players, did you guys notice during the game the crowd kind of rallying behind you and did you feed off that energy?
WILL DAVIS II: Yes, during points of the game when we were going back and forth with Louisville, whenever we got a basket or a good defensive play, we could hear the crowd just erupt. It's always good just to have the crowd behind us, especially in our first NCAA Tournament game. And we have had a great fan base all year, and it was great to have them here tonight.

Q. Coach, have you been in a situation where you may have perhaps lost a game with a foul 90 feet from the basket with nine seconds to go in the game?
COACH TURNER: I've been in a lot of games, I'm fortunate to have experienced the number of games I have, so probably, but not a game like this, obviously. As you can probably imagine, to have the game be as competitive, well played and just as good as it was, overall, to have it come down to a foul call and a non-foul call, that's a tough one. But that's basketball, that's life. And when those things don't go your way, you got to be able to accept that and move forward and be men.

THE MODERATOR: Okay, thank you very much.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports


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