"I thought our guys played very well tonight on both ends of the floor. I thought, through the first three games, guys did a really good job of playing together. Tonight, I thought we really set the tone early on the defensive end of the floor, but throughout the game, had good balance. Overall, it was just a really good team effort throughout the tournament.
"Going into the game, I told our guys we would really have to be ready to battle tonight. I was extremely impressed with East Carolina's energy and intensity during the first two rounds. I thought they showed a lot of grit, and so we were just really determined to play every possession tonight to the best of our ability, and I think our guys responded well."
(You had seven or eight different guys score in double-figures in this tournament. What does that say about your depth?)
"It's important to have good balance for us, and I think that we got a number of different guys involved because guys were playing unselfishly. Guys were looking for each other."
(Can you talk about the way Tony Bethel has fit in?)
"He had a year with us last season, and we talked about that all during the preseason. He had all of last year to learn the system, to get stronger, and I think that really paid some dividends for him as we open this season. But he was a good player his first two years, and last year, learning our system really put him in a good position to get off to a great start. But like I've said so many times, he helped us win games last year. It's hard to quantify – you can't point to him in a boxscore or remember a shot that he hit, obviously – but just his leadership and his competitive presence in practice every day last year really helped us."
(Can you compare playing ECU three years ago?)
"It's really difficult and really not fair to compare like that. I really hesitate to do that, as far as we are concerned. I think East Carolina has a really nice team, and I think they're a young team. Just talking to Coach there, they're playing with three upperclassmen, so you've really got to be excited about the direction that Coach has their program going. But it's impossible to compare during the same season sometimes, when you play a team in let's say January in the conference, then you turn around and play them at the end of February, let alone over the course of three years, you know? It's hard." (What do you attribute your fast starts to?)
"We have a group that has pretty good leadership right now. And I think our guys have done a good job of getting themselves in the right mindset, and hopefully we'll be able to continue along those lines. We're not always going to be able to jump out to a lead like we had here early in the tournament. We know that, but as long as we're ready to play and we put ourselves in the right frame of mind, that's a step in the right direction."
(Tony Bethel said you challenged him before this game. How do you feel he responded?)
"I kind of see that as one of my roles, to keep guys challenged – sometimes much to their dismay and chagrin. But he played terrific tonight on both ends of the floor, and I'm just very proud of him and really commend him for his excellence tonight and throughout the tournament."
(Can you talk about the dimension of shot-blocking that Andrew Brackman and Cedric Simmons provide?)
"They certainly give us additional size along our front line. As you mentioned, especially last year, we didn't have as much of that. Right now, both guys are relying primarily on their heart and their athletic ability, and we're anxious to get their knowledge base, their know-how, caught up to their instincts and their talent base. Both those guys right now, as well as Gavin [Grant], are just really trying to learn as much as possible."
(You had all three freshmen on the floor at the same time late in the game)
"We want to get those guys some experience. We've played a deep bench here in each of the three nights, and I think the game circumstances allowed us to do that, fortunately. But all those guys are going to be important to us."
(Are you further along at this point than you anticipated?)
"I don't know that. We played well tonight, and I don't' know what you can extrapolate from that. We played well tonight, we really did. It was great; we had a good tournament. Even last night, in watching the film last night after the game, we were pretty good. We were pretty good. We were hard on ourselves, but our defensive intensity last night was pretty good. But it's over, and now we've got to go back to work and get ready to keep getting better. We're nowhere near as good as we need to be, I can assure you that."
(What were your impressions of Moussa Badiane?)
"He's really a terrific player. I think his numbers speak for themselves; he is in select company with over 200 career blocks in college. Last year he was sixth in the nation in blocked shots, and certainly his presence changes a lot of shots that he doesn't necessarily get his hands on."