COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Valparaiso head coach Bryce Drew and Crusaders Alex Peters and Vashil Fernandez addressed the media March 19 ahead of the Valpo-Maryland game March 20 at 4:40 p.m.
Here's what they had to say:
Q. Do you see an advantage inside against
Maryland the way you rebound the ball?
Alec Peters: We try to use our size to the best of
our ability every game we play and outrebounding our
opponent is definitely a focal point of everything we try
to do throughout the game. We do have great size and
great length, and we've got to continue to use that to
our advantage especially in this game.
VASHIL FERNANDEZ: Just like Alec said, we try to
use the advantage we have. And one of the things that
we are challenged every game to do is try to
outrebound our opponents and we try to go out there,
do it every day.
Q. Alec, Jake Layman talked yesterday about
possible matchup with you. Do you have thoughts
on him and what he does well and possibly
matching up with him tomorrow?
ALEC PETERS: He's a good player. He's very athletic,
very good shooting basketball, he can take it to the
hole. He can do a little bit of everything. He'll be tough
for anybody who guards him on our team. As far as it
being a little bit of a matchup, he is a great player, like I
said, and if it comes down to it and I have to guard him,
I'll do my best to stop him and hopefully he misses
Q. Vashil, what's different this time around for you
here at this tournament?
VASHIL FERNANDEZ: I would say I have a lot more
experience being a senior now, I've been through a lot
of different, with a lot of different teams and been
playing a lot, just getting better each year.
Q. A lot of times in the matchups like this, you have
a power-conference team against a team from a
mid-major, there's a size advantage for the powerconference
team. With you guys, that's not really
the case, you're a really good rebounding team. Do
you think you can be as good of a rebounding team
against Maryland as you were during the regular
ALEC PETERS: Yeah, I do. I think that our length and
our size and our strength that we have on our team is
really beneficial. It doesn't matter who we play. It's
going to come out and we're going to showcase that to
the best of our ability.
Q. Vashil, can you talk about the pressure their
guards are going to put on your team and when
they get past your guards, how much pressure
does that put on you?
VASHIL FERNANDEZ: I don't think it will be that much
of a pressure because our coaching staff has been
working with us all week, helping us learn how to guard
their plays and stuff like that. I think that's helped us to
be a better all-around team.
Q. What do you see from their guards, the way they
penetrate, both Dez and Melo?
VASHIL FERNANDEZ: I think that they try to go hard to
the hole and try to get fouls and stuff like that. And I
think what we've done so far has helped us to be able
to combat that as a team overall.
Q. Alec, this is obviously a big stage. What do you
guys need to do to minimize the distractions and
everything that comes with this stage?
ALEC PETERS: We have to have our daily routine,
stay the same, whether it's just a normal road game or
being at home. We'll eat pregame meal the same time
before game that we usually do and wake up usually
the same time, and go through our meetings, and do
everything like that. And just try to keep everything as
routine as possible.
Q. A lot of mid-major teams use Coach Drew's shot
as motivation when they're coming into a
tournament like this. How many times have you
guys seen that shot, and can he use that?
Because you know Coach Drew so well, Valpo
history, can he use that, hey, this is what's possible
if you do what needs to be done?
ALEC PETERS: Everybody on our team has seen it
multiple times. It's hard to count how many times
we've seen it. It's on pictures throughout our campus.
And it's very memorable when you think of our school.
And I don't think he has to preach on what kind of
moment he had in that situation and how we can
achieve the same thing. I think the biggest thing that
we have to go through thinking is that we want to
create our own moment. We want to have something
like that that we can remember just like he did with that
VASHIL FERNANDEZ: It's pretty much like Alec said.
We want to create our own moment just like Coach
Q. In terms of what you've been able to practice,
how hard is it to replicate a Dez Wells and Melo
Trimble with your scout team?
COACH DREW: It's definitely difficult. We've had a lot
of injuries this year. To be honest, we haven't done a
lot of practicing and practiced live stuff. This team has
been very good at watching film and going through
walk-throughs and taking over to the court. So
obviously we try to be those guys in practice, we're not
going to do it. We've watched a lot of film and tried to
get a game plan from that the best we can.
Q. Bobby Hurley was in here saying he had to
practice with his team. Did you have to get on the
COACH DREW: Bobby is probably in a little better
shape than me, a little faster. So he could help them
get better. I think I'd bring our level down so I stay
away from that stuff.
Q. You talk about, first of all, for those who haven't
really followed your team very closely, you talk
about how you had several injuries this year. If
maybe you can give us a little detail on that. And
then you're pretty big up front. That's not always
the case when you have a mid-major against one of
the power conferences. How did that sort of even
up the playing field, so to speak?
COACH DREW: With the injuries, I think Dayton and
us, I can't think of any other programs that have had
the adversity that we've had in this season. We lost
our returning starting point guard in August to an ACL.
And then 13-2 going into league. And second league
game, our point guard who was our leading scorer in
league up to that point, was out for over a month with a
So we ended up playing a 6'8" point guard
who had double hip surgery in the offseason, the Alex Rodriguez hip surgery, major hip surgery. Didn't know
if he would play this year. And he stepped in and
played point guard. And conference tournament came,
our starting 2 guard was injured, couldn't play in the
championship game. It's been a great blessing, all
what God's done with our team fighting adversity and
different guys stepping up at key times.
As far as the
height, at certain points we'll have four guys 6'7" or
bigger on the floor, so we have a lot of interchangeable
parts. So there's not really one or two guys that's
dominant, but collectively we try to rebound with our
height as a team and try to use our length the best we
Q. Coach Hurley was in here, obviously went to a
couple of Final Fours, won some national
championships. You've played in the NCAA
Tournament. Do you think coaches that have been
through this, what do you guys share with your
players about your March Madness experience and
does it help at all?
COACH DREW: I think every team is different. Some
teams might need more prep or need to hear things.
Other teams are very focused and ready to go. As far
as this team, you know, we're the least experienced
team in our conference this year, but yet they've played
with a lot of maturity especially in big games. And so I
just kind of get out of the way and let them do their
thing because they played so well in big games this
year so far.
Q. With the amount of turnovers with injuries and
everything, dealing with that, what is it about your
defensive scheme that has made you guys able to
get the consistent results throughout the season?
COACH DREW: I think everybody is bought in. We
have five guys on the floor that all work together. We
don't have just one dominant guy. But collectively we
all work together within our schemes.
And I think the
guys really take game plans and they execute. They're
the ones on the court that are getting it done. The
anchor of our defense is Vashil Fernandez. He's our
single season block shot leader and he does a great
job at altering shots when we do get beat on the
Q. I'll break out the traditional story line with you,
but do you guys still practice that play that you ran
for the shot?
COACH DREW: You know, I will say it's not in our
recruiting presentation. It's not in our playbook. But it's
definitely something we could draw up if we needed to
in the last seconds.
Q. Have you ever seen just through the years your
teams just trying to mimic it, see if they could pull
it off. They sat in here, said they couldn't avoid it if
they tried. It's all over campus. Have you seen
them try to do that on the court?
COACH DREW: I have not. But I'm sure when the
coach isn't looking, a lot of things go on behind your
back, in a funny way. So they may have done it but
nothing really in front of me.
Q. A lot of amateur coaches have run that in the
last -- does dad ever take credit for that, say it's the
greatest play ever?
COACH DREW: No, because we got it from the
Indiana Pacers. I think every good play you see is
borrowed from someone else. That's where we got it.
The play was actually called Pacer because that's
where we got it. But I will get an e-mail or a phone call
or something every year or so a couple times saying
this high school team ran it or this person ran it and
they won the game. So it's neat to have people share
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