UNC-UW: Postgame Quotes
“Well, you have to congratulate Wisconsin. I'm tired of congratulating people. I feel like I've done that more this year than I felt good about myself. But they're really, really tough kids. The last couple of days I watched the Michigan State tape where they were beaten and they won, where Michigan State had led a huge portion of the game and they won. I think the toughness that they showed today was really something. It's strange; the difference between winning and losing is so small. We had J.P. on the breakaway, not a breakaway, but open court, and we didn't convert on that one. Then they came back and scored nine in a row. We got back in the game again and had it to one. Got them to miss a shot and they chased down the rebound and threw it back out and Gasser made a big-time three. I'm not sure if I'm pronouncing his name properly. Is it Gasser? He's a tough, tough competitor. He fought and chased Marcus all day today. The play he made at the end of the Michigan State game in the Big Ten tournament was one of the biggest plays I've ever seen, even though he did step out of bounds. But the instinctive play to chase the ball down was a big-time, big-time play.
“And they made their free throws. We needed the help at the end for them to miss a couple of free throws. Marcus made a couple of big shots for us that had us right there, but they're tough enough to make the shots. I liked the way my team fought today. I liked the way my team guarded. We had some breakdowns at crucial points, but you're going to have that in a game. But congratulate Wisconsin. They're a No. 1 seed for a reason. They've won 34 games for a reason. But just congratulate them. But you know what? I'd still coach my kids because they've been something else for me this year. It's been a hard year, but, man, they've been some great kids.”
Marcus, what was Gasser doing defensively against you that was limiting any offensive opportunities that you had?
“Well, like Coach said, he was just competing. Every possession he understood how important it was for him to take that challenge today to guard me. He chased me around every screen. Every time I caught the ball he was right there. And I faced that a bunch of times this year, but he was tough. If I made a shot, the next possession he just let it go and he was right back there again. So he did a great job competing. I shook loose from him a couple times at the end of the game and joked with him that I finally got away from him. But you've got to give him credit for sticking to the game plan and taking that challenge.”
Marcus, what was the difference for Wisconsin in terms of what they were able to do offensively in the second half? It seemed like you guys gave them some trouble in the first?
“Yeah, I think we gave them trouble both halves. Our defensive pressure is something we talked about coming into this game. We wanted to pressure them and not allow them to be comfortable, and we did that for the most part. The problem was we couldn't finish our defense on key possessions. You know, they got a tip-out or offensive rebound and that's how they made us pay today. They would kick it out and make a three, or run another 35 seconds off the clock. So our initial defense was pretty good despite a couple lapses. It was pretty strong, pretty intense the entire game. We just couldn't get enough finishes in terms of getting rebounds.”
Marcus, just a few minutes ago Jackson Simmons said that given everything that happened off the court this season this was probably the tightest knit group he's had in his four years. Do you get that sense as well in your three years here?
“Yeah, yeah, it was a tough year for us as a program and for Coach especially with everything that happened. But we have a great group of kids that enjoy being around each other more so than my freshman year, more so than last year. And we're going to have a lot of the same kids next year. It hurts for the seniors because they don't get another opportunity at this, and in college it goes so fast in those four years. You only get four cracks at it. Obviously it hurts right now because we're such a close group of guys. But for the guys that do get to come back next year, we're going to try to come together even more as a team and try to execute better and make something special out of it.”
Justin, you guys did a good job on Kaminsky in the first half and limited him pretty well. But Dekker got off quite a lot, and then he ended up with a career high in points. Did it surprise you at all that he was capable of exploding a little bit like that?
“No, not at all. Obviously he's a great player. We had some lapses in there, but good players are going to get theirs. You know, he did hurt us a little bit in the first half, but second half I felt like we did pretty well, and honestly, I feel like overall defensively it was one of the best games we've had. We had some lapses, but I can't complain about the way we played defense.”
Williams: “If you think about the game a little bit here before these guys go is they really do present a tough match-up problem for you because our big guys, Joel and Kennedy has got to go out and guard Frank, and Frank is so effective away from the basket. At the same time when we went small, that's when they got a bunch of the offensive rebounds and it wasn't that our smaller guys didn't want the ball, it's just you've got to congratulate Wisconsin. But Justin and Marcus and those other guys, they made some big plays, we just didn't make enough of them. When it's a one-point game, you don't go to sleep at night. You think about that missed rebound opportunity. But, again, congratulate the other team because they really are a tough team. They're a No. 1 seed, as I said, for a reason, and that toughness gives them a chance against everybody. And the guy on the bench, he's been around a little while. He knows what he's doing putting a team together too.”
I know probably in your long career you've had different emotions when seasons end, maybe some seasons you were glad they were over and all of that. But I'm guessing with a little rest and a little golf and all of that you can't wait for next year to start based on how this one ended? I mean, the last stretch, you know what I mean?
“You know, if you think about it, you take away six minutes in a Notre Dame game and we would have had a great run here in the end, but you can't take away the six minutes. You take away the 9-0 stretch, and we had a great run today. Yeah, right now I love golf. I love it. And right now I could care less because it was a good group of kids, and you're right. I mean, I want them to use this as fuel. The little lapses that Justin mentioned and that I mentioned to a failed box out here or missed free throw there were important. And if we can take care of those little lapses, then we've got a chance to be one of those teams that has a chance to talk about winning the whole thing. And man, oh, man, are they the kind of kids I like to be around. It has been a lot of stuff going on this year, but they helped me. I wish I had helped them more myself.”
Ways that they helped you, how so?
“You know, the bond that you have. Coach [Barry] Alvarez knows this too, the bond that you have with your players is the strongest, stronger than anything there is, I think. Even when they're knuckleheads, you still have that bond. Losing Coach Smith was tough. Losing Ted Seagroves, my best friend… The things that went on, those kids, they cared about me. And when you coach kids, you give them everything you can give them. Today it wasn't enough. But I wouldn't trade my kids for anybody. And Bo's got a great group, and Bo's team won the game, but I wouldn't trade my kids for anybody's.”
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