It was an unbelievable effort by our guys against a very good ball club with some excellent players. I thought our guys did a good job of keeping their composure, especially in the second half. We had 16 turnovers in the first half and only six in the second.
Once we started attacking, we got some easy baskets and forced their defense to flatten out a little bit. We hit some big shots. We got some key rebounds. They hurt us a little bit on the offensive boards, but we got rebounds when we needed to, and we made some big plays. These guys never quit. They never stopped playing. Even when Villanova made their run, they just kept going. They wanted it and they wanted it bad. And I'm happy for them. It was a great championship against a very good ball club.
Coach, can you take us through that last play?
What play was that, Gavin? Oh, the back screen? Yeah, we had those guys come up and set a back screen, and have two guys go out long and then try to throw it long. Hopefully, Gavin would get it or J.J. would get it and turn and shoot it. Gavin actually did a good job of fighting to get it, because they were all over him. He fought and took it, and had the presence of mind to shoot it and he got fouled. That was a great play on his part.
Coach, the rotation you had in this game, is this the way it's going to be moving forward?
I don't know yet. I haven't decided. Right now, I'm trying to win ball games. That's what we're trying to do, and that's what our guys are trying to do. Tonight, we didn't really care who got it done. That was the feeling coming out of the locker room before the game – that everyone who comes in the game has to play their part – and that's what we did.
Right now, I'm not even thinking about it. I'm going to enjoy this championship with these young men, and I'll make some decisions from there. We're trying to get a nice rotation going. This was a great tournament for us. I think we grew a lot in this four-day period, just being together out here in this event. So, this is huge for us.
So now, we have to take this and take it with us out on the road against Michigan State, and then take it back home – and not get too comfortable at home. We need to keep this same approach and this same attitude. I think these guys know… they felt that loss against New Orleans. I said "I want you to feel this and understand how it feels to lose a game like this." And we came back the next day, had some very good practices and they remembered that.
Lowe's Comments On Fells Winning MVP Award:
I'd like to say something on that note. These guys chase around these players – really good players – and that award, like he said, it was his teammates getting involved. And I don't think it was just an offensive award. He had to defend the tough assignments, and he didn't shut them down, but he made it tough for them. And I think that also played a part. That's going unnoticed right now. This is the first team that shot over 40% against us – everyone else shot in the 30s, so they've been doing a great job of defending.
How pleasing is it to have four players score in double figures?
It's very pleasing. Again, it says that they don't care who gets the job done. They're just trying to find the open man. And they know that if we take good shots for the most part, we're going to shoot a pretty good percentage. After winning this, I think they can see that if we do that, could things can happen for us. I think that this guy (Gavin) was just as excited to see Courtney win MVP as Courtney was, and that's what it's all about for us.
Talk about how Villanova was able to force you into so many turnovers in the first half.
I think they do a great job. They're quick; their big guys are quick on the back line. I think early on, we were a little too passive and we were having trouble making passes to just get it across half court. But once we started to attack and hit the first open guy, it became more apparent that we could score. Once we figured out what they were doing and we went into attack mode, we handled it better. But they did a good job.
NC State Senior Guard Gavin Grant
Gavin, talk about that last play.
I went up for the shot and got fouled. Coach wanted me or J.J. to go long and I wanted to make sure I caught it this time. I caught it and just turned. I knew I was close to people and I knew that I was in range, so I was just trying to get it up. I knew I couldn't step away, so I tried to go low and rise up, but I got fouled.
How nervous were you after you missed that fist foul shot?
I've been shooting foul shots terribly this weekend, but I know I'm a good free throw shooter, so I wasn't really nervous. I just know that we had a tough end with New Orleans like that, so we didn't want to go through that again.
So, what went through your mind when that last one went in?
I was relieved because we didn't have to go through one of those practices again. After that New Orleans game, we had a tough practice, and I was glad we didn't have to go through that again.
Were you worried that the official would not make the call at the end?
I wasn't trying to draw the foul – I was just trying to make the shot. But it just so happened he made the call.
NC State Junior Guard Courtney Fells
Courtney, does this make up for New Orleans?
Honestly, we can't help what happened against New Orleans. We just worry about the games that we have, and we take it one game at a time and try to win some ballgames.
Can you comment about the growth of this team?
Basically, we don't care who's going to get the job done for us. We're just going to go down and play tough on defense. If we do that, I'm pretty sure we'll be a tough team to beat.
What does winning the MVP mean to you?
It means nothing. If it weren't for my teammates and Coach Lowe, this wouldn't have happened. I just want to thank them. I don't really care about the MVP – I'm just glad we won the championship.