UNC-Vermont: Tom Brennan

CHAPEL HILL, NC--Vermont Catamount head coach Tom Brennan was gracious in defeat following the Tar Heels' 80-54 victory in the Dean Smith Center on Thursday night.

Opening Remarks:

Matt Doherty probably learned a lot of things from Coach Smith. One of the very apparent things that he learned from him was grace. We were dead. That could have been 100. He subbed those five guys and let us get our legs a little bit. I even said to Bobby [MacKinnon] at half-time that was just a very gracious move.

Here's a guy under a world of pressure--everybody wants to know this and wants to know that. He could have buried us any way he wanted to. He was just very kind. I don't mean to be demeaning to the people he put it. The other guys were just going so well, they were rolling, the place was nuts. I just can't thank him enough. In 30 years in this business, that's as graceful a thing as I've ever had happen to me. And thank God, because it could have been bad.

Then we got to the point where we did some things well and that was that. Not to make excuses, but we had the Player of the Year out, the Rookie of the Year out. I talked to Eddie Fogler before the game and he said in 15 years of coaching, he never had two starters out, nevermind the league MVP and the Player of the Year. I think our kids got a little shaken. It's apparent when you come to a place like this. They've got the music, the Sports Illustrated covers, [and on, and on]. I wanted to put my hands over my guy's eyes so they couldn't see any of that stuff.

This is a class organization, a classy, classy coach, and a great team--you have a Carolina team again. I just want to thank them. It really helped our kids because they became a little more confident. We struggled against Harvard without Coppenrath and [Sorrentine]. Coming down here, we were dead. We were scared, shaken, and when the assault was over and we got a little closer in terms of level, our kids were able to do a few things. But I'm not deceived that this couldn't have been any way [Doherty] wanted it to be, if he had chosen to do that. It was a very classy thing he did.

Have you ever approached an assistant at halftime of a game like that?

Oh, yes. I'm kind of a chatter--I talk to everybody all the time. I just said that to [MacKinnon], but I don't think he knew what I was talking about. You saw it. We were shook, the place was rocking, and it didn't matter how good they were. He just took out the guys who were killing us. To us that was a very big thing. Then we got our legs a little bit and went from there. He's a classy guy, as far as I'm concerned. I don't know him, even a little bit, but reports of his demise are like Mark Twain. They are greatly exaggerated. I think he has a nice club.

What did you think of Manuel's defense?

You know what I like about this team--and they've been doing it forever--right from when I was a kid watching Coach Smith. They play like they are all twelfth men, like they have to show what they can do to make the team. They have to show how hard they can play. As a matter of fact, Bobby was telling us when they sprint off at the 10-minute mark, when they go in to say their prayers or whatever they do, if they don't run off, they run sprints after that. And that's the way Carolina has always played. They have always been a model for me as a coach and a player.

They always do it right--they throw the extra pass, dive for the loose ball. And now you have great athletes, pros in some cases, who play that hard and with that much passion, and that is a tribute to, not only this group, but to the people who won't accept anything less. This is where you are, this is the big time. They never let us do anything easy, so when we collected ourselves a little bit, I thought we handled some things well. I really was pleased. They just play so hard and so passionate.

I'd love to come back for a Duke game. Anybody got any tickets for that?

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