COACH TURGEON: Well, obviously, we're very excited to be one of the 16 teams still playing. I thought -- give Hawaii credit, what a great year they have had. Good players, good guard play, good big guys. I thought they got a little bit tired at the end. We just were able to get out and run.
But we weren't very good at the start, we were nervous, missed shots. If you make shots, you look good. We were getting open looks, that's what was important.
And I told the guys before the tournament started, I said, we're going to have a game where we can't make a shot, and we got to defend. And we did that tonight. We defended, and we finally rebounded a little bit better during that stretch when we took the lead.
And then what we did this weekend, is we spread the floor, and we were able to get to the foul line, and we made free throws. We shot a really high percentage, like 90 percent for the weekend. So great win for our team, and we're excited to move on.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for the student-athletes?
Q. For both, can you kind of take us inside right before that run happened. It had been a defensive battle all the way up to that point and it seemed like you guys finally got out in transition and a 17-2 run followed. What was inside the huddle the mood and what did you think game-wise changed for that to happen?
RASHEED SULAIMON: We just told each other we just had to relax. We had to stick to our defensive principles.
Coach Turgeon and the coaching staff did a great job of scouting Hawaii, and I thought we were pretty good defensively. But we weren't finishing with rebounds and, at the same time, we weren't getting out in transition.
I think towards that second half, we started to get steals and that kind of opened things up. We started getting easy layups and easy shots, and Melo finally hit a three for us. Once that shot went down, I think that just kind of got everyone lose and gave everyone confidence that if we just continue to play defense, make our free throws, and not turn the ball over, we could win the game.
MELO TRIMBLE: Just like he said. What was said in the huddle, what I got from it was get stops and have fun on offense and just to play loose. And that's what we did going down the stretch.
After that 12 minute media timeout, we just were like a happy team. I mean I was even celebrating, and I don't really celebrate that much. As much as I got from that was we were just having fun.
COACH TURGEON: I told them a stupid joke. I told them not to repeat what I said.
Q. How frustrating was the three-point performance and what was kind of going through your mind when you finally were able to hit one?
MELO TRIMBLE: It was frustrating. I air balled one. I'm always due for one. I'm a confident player and my teammates believe in me, they want me to keep shooting. I'm pretty sure Coach Turgeon wants me to keep shooting too, but shoot good shots. When I made that three, I felt great. That was just me staying confident and staying in the game and next play mentality.
Q. For both of you guys, how are you going to celebrate tonight?
COACH TURGEON: I'll take their phones.
RASHEED SULAIMON: Coach is probably going to take our phones and probably start focusing on Kansas. So we're definitely going to celebrate, probably play video games. I'll probably beat Melo in FIFA and talk trash.
But it's a good feeling, and it's definitely going to be an enjoyable night. But at the same time, we still have business to take care of, and we got a tough team coming up. So we're not going to get too crazy.
MELO TRIMBLE: Like he said, I don't know about the FIFA part, but everything else he said was pretty on point. And we're going to enjoy this win tonight and can't really do too much. We got a flight tomorrow morning. We're going to refocus and get ready for Kansas.
Q. You said you don't really celebrate a lot. I know when Carter got that and one you were doing like a high step celebration. Did you feel like at that point, okay, we got it?
MELO TRIMBLE: Yeah. I mean, yeah. I felt that we had the game. I just felt that we were getting so many stops in a row. I didn't think they were going to make any more shots. So once Rob got that and one I felt like we had the game and everyone else on the bench was excited, so I just said, why not, why not just show my true character and have fun.
RASHEED SULAIMON: I might have to give him some pointers on how to dance, too. That was atrocious to watch.
THE MODERATOR: All right. Thank you. We'll take questions for coach.
Q. Obviously the team as a whole defensively was terrific tonight but Rob in particular on Jankovic, he seemed to completely take him out of the game and their offense is so important going through him. How did Rob do it? It seemed like at every point you tried to make shooter that he was on him.
COACH TURGEON: Yeah, I think there's a lot of factors that come into play. One is ball screen defense. Which is really hard to do. I thought our ball screen defense was great. Rob did a great job ball screen defense and was able to get back to a shooter and he stayed down. He played smart defensively. The last thing is transition. For the most part we were good in transition defense. We played well there. I thought once we started to rebound the ball -- and they still out rebounded us and it's been frustrating -- but once we hit a stretch where we started to rebound, we got control of the game and but I was really proud of Rob, he's worked hard. We got on him about three weeks ago, four weeks ago, with some things that we need to start doing, more important than shooting a bunch of jump shots, we need to work on his foot speed and trying to get his body right. And it paid off tonight.
Q. Can you talk about your team's development, where it was after the 15-1 start and where it is now.
COACH TURGEON: Yeah, it's such a long season. I think we got to 22-3 and we hit a lull where we weren't very good. We lost a couple games we probably shouldn't have lost. And then our schedule got tough. It was hard to get our confidence back. But I thought we gained momentum in the Big Ten tournament. Played pretty well there. We played well here defensively. At times we were really, really good offensively, sharing the ball. So we feel good about ourselves. We really do. Are we playing our best basketball? We're getting closer to that. But the key is that we're very confident and we know how we have to play now to be successful and the guys have bought into that and especially in tournament play to be successful.
So, I got really great kids and if you get to this point you usually do. You have great kids that are good players. And we never stop believing that we could be a good basketball team and we practiced hard every day and we have had fun. We try to have fun. So, I'm really happy for these guys, because this is a big step. I know it's not the Final Four yet or National Championship, but to be a part of the Sweet 16 is a big step for us. For what we have went through late in the season, it's, I'm happy for the players.
Q. How much has Diamond grown over this season? He's still a rookie and then how big was he in the first half when you guys could get the ball inside to him. He pretty much had his way.
COACH TURGEON: Yeah, Diamond's grown a lot, especially on the defensive end. I think he was mad at me because I didn't put him on 33 -- and I don't want to say his name -- Jankovic -- and put him on 25. And Diamond likes challenges, but he's playing better, he's playing smarter, not turning the ball over as much. But, yeah, there was appeared there in the first half where he got us back in the game it was 13-6 and all of a sudden it was 15-14 our lead and that was all Diamond. He had a good weekend. He had a good weekend defensively, and he was much better today offensively. So it's good to see, he's growing and he's come long way on and off the court. So it's been fun to watch his development in both areas.
Q. There's been so many top-ranked teams that have lost in the tournament so far and I was just thinking about you guys kind went through that late season adversity and now you survived unlike so many other teams. Do you feel those struggles late in the year were maybe a blessing in disguise looking back now?
COACH TURGEON: Yeah, and I said that. Media is like, oh is this going to hurt you, they asked the question, at this time of year. I thought it was -- I don't ever want to go through it you don't ever want to go through it. I was hoping this team wouldn't go through it and we would continue to win and be a higher seed than we are. But I knew, by what we were going through, because of the competitors that I have on my team, that we would get better. And that they would buy in to whatever I was selling. I had to change the way we were playing a little bit, we had to buy into defense. Still not there rebounding-wise, but we're better. And the way we need to play offensively. So, they bought into it and this doesn't surprise me what we have done and we're looking forward to moving on.
Q. Diamond told me that in the process of being recruited at one point he texted Melo to see if Melo was going to come back. Did you talk with Melo about not just being a great player for your program, but being a great recruiter for your program?
COACH TURGEON: Well, I think Melo, because he's a great player, he's able to do that. And most importantly, he stayed home. And that's the reason I took the Maryland job is to keep the best players home. So that should help us moving forward with that. Which is really important. But, no, they, those top guys have relationships and Diamond wanted to be a part of this game and he wants to be a part of the next week end's game and he knew he had a better chance of that with Melo being on the team.
Q. Hawaii's point guard Rod Bobbitt was a key part obviously of their offense. He picked up two quick fouls in the first three and a half minutes, sat the next 12 minutes. Even though they were able to maintain the lead, do you think that helped you not let him get untracked? He had back to back 30 point games against Oklahoma and Auburn, so with him sitting out and that do you think that helped?
COACH TURGEON: Yeah, it was a blessing for us, obviously. I was getting frustrated, because we couldn't score, and he's over there sitting down, and they're still beating us 13-6. And then we go ahead 15-14, they subbed him back in, which I thought was smart on their part. He had one of the best on ball defenders, Rasheed was guarding him most of the night and I just said, Rasheed, if we're going to have a chance, you got to slow this kid down. He lost his rhythm. He's a heck of a player. I watched those games over Christmas and was really impressed with him. He just never really got it going tonight. Combination of foul troubles and Rasheed just doing a nice job. We did a nice job on ball screen defense, too.
THE MODERATOR: All right. Thank you.
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COACH TURGEON: Thank you.