JayVaughn, NC State's got a lot of talented athletes in the front court. What have you seen from those guys and what are the challenges they present?
JAYVAUGHN PINKSTON: They're really athletic. They crash the boards a lot. So me and Daniel, Kris, Josh, we're going to have to stay focused on rebounding and trying to keep the ball out of the post.
For both players, you guys come from a strong league Big East Conference and the ACC seems to get a lot more publicity than you guys get. Is there any kind of pride factor going into the game tomorrow for you guys as representatives of the Big East?
RYAN ARCIDIACONO: I want think so. I think we're just trying to take it as the next game, no matter the opponent. We could have played an SEC team. We'll definitely try to represent the Big East as best we can. That's playing tough. That's what we try to do, try to play hard and tougher than the other team.
JAYVAUGHN PINKSTON: Like Ryan said, we're just going to try to represent for the Big East and go out there and just play hard.
You guys, the NCAA, the highlights, the March Madness highlights, have you seen like those videos? Obviously, Villanova is in it and NC State. Are you aware of those things, like the shot NC State made to win it and also the end of the Villanova game? Can you talk about that?
RYAN ARCIDIACONO: Yeah, we've definitely seen both of the clips where the NC State guy air balled it and then the other guy put it in. But then the one video that always sticks out is Villanova where he's on the ground. I forget who he is, but the last two seconds, he's holding the ball. It's pretty bizarre how the game ended like that. But we've definitely seen it before.
JAYVAUGHN PINKSTON: I haven't seen them. I just saw the air ball and the guy put it back in. I haven't seen ours yet.
You guys just --
RYAN ARCIDIACONO: There's a constant video outside of where we practice that you can replay the whole National Championship video and it literally, it's playing all day.
JAYVAUGHN PINKSTON: I never saw it. Be honest. To be honest, I never saw it.
RYAN ARCIDIACONO: All right.
JAYVAUGHN PINKSTON: I never really paid any attention.
They were strong underneath, but they're also very good on the perimeter, obviously. You guys are just coming off preparing for another team that was a pretty good perimeter shooting team. Does that help your preparation that you guys are able to think about playing out on those three good 3-point shooters that they've got out there?
RYAN ARCIDIACONO: Definitely. We knew how of good of a three point shooting team Lafayette was. NC State is the same way. They have three really good guards, and their big men know their role on the team is to just let the guards go play defense and set good screens and get offensive rebounds. We know we'll have to defend those three as a team and not just individually.
For both of you, do you feel no matter what this season will be a success, or do you feel you have to get to Indianapolis to truly call this season a success?
JAYVAUGHN PINKSTON: In my opinion, I feel like if we don't get there, I feel like I failed my team because I put it at -- being a leader, set the standard to try to get to the Final Four. So if we don't get there, it will be a failure for me. But overall, I think it was a great success for this year.
RYAN ARCIDIACONO: No, I think no matter what happens, if we play the basketball we know how to play, good things will happen. But if we were to lose tomorrow, I think we could still say it was a successful season, being that we won back-to-back regular season championships and a Big East tournament championship for the first time in 20 years. So, I mean, crazy stuff happens in the NCAA tournament so we're just going to have to go out there and play hard.
MODERATOR: Other questions for the student-athletes? Gentlemen, thank you. Coach Wright from Villanova. We'll start with an opening statement. Coach?
COACH WRIGHT: Okay. We've got a really, really tough game here. I think NC State is one of those teams that when they're at their best are as good as anybody in the country and we saw that when they played Duke. They were at their best when they beat Duke and I think we saw that in the second half last night. When I say they were at their best, I mean, they weren't making threes, but they were battling on the boards. Their inside people have really stepped up and they've had great guards all year. I think they're playing their best basketball coming off that second half, and we're playing our best basketball too. So this should be a great game.
Jay, a couple of your players here seemed to struggle with their 1985 history just now.
COACH WRIGHT: What parts of that? Did they know we won?
I think they saw it on a YouTube video or something. Seems like you'd want to talk to them about '85 or do you not bring that up, or do you wish they had more of an appreciation for what happened 30 years ago?
COACH WRIGHT: We celebrated all this year. We had a great first game of the season, we brought Northwood back, played an exhibition game. We had the guys there for two days. They know all the guys, because the guys are around all the time. But, I mean, I stopped referring to that game about -- it was about ten years ago when I went on a rant to our team one time because we weren't playing hard and I yelled.
You know, we were all in the training room, in the video room and I screamed at one of the guys, where were you in 1985? And where were you? And they all looked at me like, I wasn't even born. Then I realized, you know what? I have to stop referring to that game and how we played, because they don't see it. They don't know. They know these guys now as almost 50-year-old guys that are around all the time and revered on our campus, but they really don't know a lot about the game.
I'm disappointed in them. I've told them more about the history of that time and what Georgetown was then and what a big upset it was and how the Big East was then, how they played twice before. But I don't use it as a reference to how we play. Still disappointed in them.
Jay, I hadn't seen NC State much before last night. Seems like their three perimeter guys do all the ball handling. The big guys just do the dirty work. Sometimes your big guys do set screens and go for offensive rebounds. Do they do this any differently than any other team? What's the best way to defend them?
COACH WRIGHT: Joe, one of the things that we saw last night that, you know, we had coaches watching film before this and I had seen them play. One of the things that was -- that happened for them last night was Abu had ten points. Washington hit huge shots and then Anya makes the basket to win the game. Whereas any other big wins you've seen them have, it's because the guards make the plays.
And I think they've developed a great balance that makes them -- I'm sure that's what they've been going for all year. That second half, their guards weren't making shots, and they were doing work on the offensive glass and their forwards were making plays. So it's not -- what we have to be concerned about is it's not what they've done all year, it's what they did in that second half and how much that's going to be a factor in this game. I think we've got to play them more like a balanced team than we do play them just those three guards.
Not that you've become an expert on NC State in the course of a day, but when you look -- you suggested that when they're good, they're good, when they're not, they're not as good. Is that what you see as the difference for them now, that they've developed a secondary way not just live and die on the perimeter?
COACH WRIGHT: Again, please, I don't want this -- I'm not an expert. I'm just saying what I've watched on films and the way they won that game last night with all those forwards making all those plays and those guards missing shots and shooting poorly from three, I haven't seen them win a game like that.
I haven't seen every game, but I'm just saying that is -- when you see teams get hot in the tournament, it's because I think Mark has done a great job with those young -- those forwards are young. They're all young. Those guards are older. He's done a great job developing those guys and he trusted them in a big game last night. Even Washington. Washington hadn't been playing a lot and he hit a huge three, hit a tap dunk and a baseline jumper that were huge in that game.
Then Anya makes the -- you know, I can't remember what guard had it, but couldn't get a shot off, gives it to Anya. He scores for the game. I'm sure that's what Mark's been working with those guys on all year and then they came through in the biggest situation.
Jay, I was going to ask you about the forwards, so I'm going to try to phrase it a little differently. You talked about their balance. Not just that they're producing, but they've got four or five of them. When they've got the big guys they can bring off the bench, one thing you guys don't have a ton of is size off the bench. How does that sort the affect things, the way you would maybe need to guard them?
COACH WRIGHT: Rebounding against them is going to be difficult for us because of, you said, it's what happens with their depth. Lennard Freeman starts. You got Washington playing really well now. Anya, obviously, off the bench. They're bringing fresh bodies in.
And the way they play, those fresh bodies are athletic and they're going at the glass. So it's going to be really important for us to rebound as a team. Our guards are going to have to rebound. That can affect our fast break. We're going to have to stay tight and rebound the ball.
Jay, how do you kind of -- is there any time at all for you to kind of like chill during this week, and what do you do? Do you get on your Twitter account maybe and start answering all those tweets or anything like that?
COACH WRIGHT: Once you start -- between Monday and Thursday, there was a little bit of time. That's what I do, I usually answer emails and answer phone calls, call our guys, talk to Coach Massimino, talk to Tom Pecora, one of our guys just lost his job at Fordham, just talk to our guys in our basketball family. But once you play last night and now you're in this, you don't have any time. And that's fine because it's fun. You're watching film, you're talking basketball. There's nothing else going on in the world. It's kind of what I love about this time of year. No one expects anything else of you, and they just let you go coach basketball and be with your team. It's fun.
Coach, can you just talk about the three guards, Lacey, Barber and Turner, what you've seen from them and your impressions.
COACH WRIGHT: They remind us, and I hope this is a compliment to them, of our '06 team when we had Randy Foye, Kyle Lowry and Allan Ray. Just three guys that can go get a shot any time, any way, that can make tough shots. I think Turner, a little bit more of a just pure shooter. Barber and Lacey, a little bit more creative. Allan Ray was that way for us, a little bit more of a pure shooter.
They still all can do everything. Just dangerous, man. Really, really dangerous. We know what that's like because we had a lot of success with that. You got to stay -- you got to stay confident against them, because you can play good defense and they can hit tough shots. You just got to keep -- you got to stick to your game plan and not get panicked when they hit tough shots.
Coach, you mentioned your '85 team. NC State had a pretty good team in '83. Really doesn't feel like we were here today with all this, you know, big nonsense that we've got going on. Without those two teams and moments, I'm sure you guys have your opinion of which one was better, which one was more important, do you think, to becoming the spectacle we are now.
COACH WRIGHT: Great question. I think Jimmy Valvano was my all-time favorite. I still work with Dick Vitale at his Jimmy V event because the first year he asked me to do it. Jimmy V and Coach Massimino were great friends and he was one of my idols and was very good to me as a young coach. So that was the first one I saw like that.
Like that one, I think they're both the underdog story, but they're different in, like, Jimmy V's was like shocking good. Like Coach Massimino's was methodical. It's just like the two of them. Jimmy was all over the place and Coach Mass, when it came to basketball, was detail, detail. I think the games were the same way.
His win was a shocking win. Coach Mass's was like a methodical game of perfection. I think both of them are two of the greatest Final Fours -- I mean championship games ever.
Jay, how important to Dylan's development was him not going off with a national team last summer and staying around? How much did that factor in, or did it?
COACH WRIGHT: That's interesting, Mike. It's probably a big decision for him. The year before, we thought -- the year before, we thought it would be a good idea because he sat out. We thought it would be a good idea for him to go with the national team and get some game experience because he didn't play for a year.
And it actually turned out to be -- and I supported it. And it turned out to actually hurt him a little bit, because he wasn't with us when we were working out and he was kind of behind when he came back. Then this year, we decided for him to stay and he had a tremendous summer and then had a great fall and earned a starting position when we thought probably Josh Hart would start. Josh Hart played really well. I'd have to say it was a pretty significant decision to stay.
Jay, NC State has been shooting the three pretty well, but was 5 for 24 last night. Anything you saw in the LSU defense and does that concern you ready for a breakout game tomorrow?
COACH WRIGHT: That's exactly what concerns me. They're good shooters. You can see by the percentages. They're good shooters. You're not going to have two games in a row like that. I think LSU was able to put more length on them than we will be able to. So we defend differently than LSU, even though we both play a lot of man, but it's different.
Like they're long, and I think their length prevented those guys from getting to the rim as much, so they kind of took predictable threes and they were able to contest them. We don't have that length. We've got Daniel, but we don't have that overall length. So it's going to have to be -- we're going to have to guard them as a team, not as much one on one as LSU did.