Head Coach Trent Johnson
"We got tentative. We had some open shots that didn't go down. They shot it well. [Winsome] Frazier shot the ball; [Shane] Power shot the ball. They played well. There was a period there when we couldn't stop them."
"We were tentative because their defense gave us problems. Like in most situations when you are playing a team of that caliber, and you're in the Tournament, and they go on a run - for us, at least for our basketball team, all year long it has been hard for us to play from behind. They went up by 10, and it was a mountain for us to climb after that. They were flat better tonight."
"I told them to keep their poise. You have to stay aggressive. Someway, somehow we have to get back. When we get in our zone, we have to get to their shooters. When we are in man, we have to limit their penetrations. Basic defense. There was a timeout there late, when they were up 18 or so. I said, 'Look. We are going to play the game the way it is supposed to be played. Don't worry about the score.' I thought the guys got down."
"They had a 14-0 run because they are a good basketball team with good players. I thought for the first 15 minutes, I thought we played as good as we have played all year long. We go into the half and we have more assists than turnovers. We're shooting over 50%. What we talked about at the half was being able to someway, somehow defend them. Give credit where credit is due.
"I just feel for this team. I told them I don't want to let this be a damper on what this group has been through all year. Nick Robinson and Rob Little - their impact is going to be a lot bigger than some game. You talk about two stand-up individuals - two stand-up guys. We're down 20, and I don't know what it meant to you guys, but here are Nick Robinson and Rob Little running off the floor still encouraging guys who are going back into the game. For me personally, I told them I would like to be selfish for one moment, when I was talking to them. I wish I could have been around those guys for four years, like Coach [Eric] Reveno and Coach [Tony] Fuller have. You coach for the opportunity to be around guys of that nature - those kinds of morals, those kinds of values. All this group has been through in terms of adversity, injuries, expectations - things of that nature. That speaks volumes to those two as seniors and leaders. This coaching stuff is really, really overrated. I've been getting way too much credit for what has happened with this basketball team this year. These guys have not been given enough credit for their play, their resiliency and things of that nature."
[On the technical foul]
"Basically I told him that we'd like to be aggressive under the basket. I had made a comment to him earlier, and I apologize for not knowing his name. He called our Georgia Tech-Nevada game last year, and there was a lane violation with the score tied, 67-67. He made a crucial call that turned the tide with a minute to go. I think he was a little sensitive to the fact that I still remembered that. But the officiating and the technical had nothing to do with the outcome of this game. Mississippi State was flat better. Flat better in all aspects."
"Evidently, we didn't play very well, so that starts with me."
"April 6 we have the Awards Banquet. April 6 we will meet. I told them to get away from each other. These guys need to get healed up. This is my sixth year being a head coach, and I always evaluate myself first and foremost. I don't believe in evaluating players until you evaluate yourself. You've got to look at yourself in the mirror. There will be a lot of things I look at and wish I had done a little differently, but that's hard to say right now. Reflection is not something that can happen in a day or two."
"How many of you guys thought we would be here? How many of you thought we would be playing in the NCAA Tournament? I know those guys in the locker room never once had a doubt - never stopped believing. For the guys who are coming back, we have a lot of work to do."
"I'm just thankful to have a job and thankful to have an opportunity to coach kids. Each year, regardless of what I go through, it's always rewarding. I've been in a situation where I've been fired, so I'm just thankful to have an opportunity to coach."
[On Mississippi State's defense]
"They got us out of rhythm with their zone. I thought they did a really good job with Chris [Hernandez]. And then there were opportunities we didn't finish, which were really magnified, in terms of them going the other way in transition. It wasn't our offense so much as our inability to stop them. They scored 90-some points against us."
"There was a period there where we lost our poise. What you have to understand is that with this group, there is a heavy burden on Chris Hernandez. There is a heavy burden on Matt Haryasz, when we have open shots and they don't go down. We're limited in terms of our lack of depth."
Junior Matt Haryasz
"We never know how a year is going to be. One year you win 30 games; the next year, people are getting hurt. There is a lot of adversity, and you have to go through it. It really makes you cherish each year - a year like this, too. This is a really special year for us. I know I'm going to use this for motivation. Everybody's going to say that, though."
[On shouldering an offensive burden]
"I haven't even thought about that burden that much. It's just tough to lose. I can't put my finger on one individual thing that happened. It just started happening - everything falling apart. Tonight, shots weren't going down. I didn't shoot very well. As a team, we didn't shoot that great from the field either. That's just something that happens. It's tough to win, and the Tournament is about performing. Credit Mississippi State; they did a great job tonight."
[On the offense's struggle against the zone]
"We had trouble hitting shots from the outside and the inside. It's tough. It's a little frustrating. I thought at the start of the second half, we did a good job getting the ball there and then finding Fred [Washington] cutting or Rob cutting. We did a good job there. Then as the game started to wear on, we started settling for shots. When the shots are falling - great. But when they're not, it makes it rough. They weren't falling in the second half for us tonight."
"We were playing pretty good that first 15 minutes. We were getting great cuts. We were playing good defense. We were rebounding. We were playing pretty well, and then it just started to fall apart on us. You see it happening, and it's like sand slipping through your fingers. You try to grab it, and you can't really get a hold of it. Nobody gave up, obviously. Everybody fought until the end. It was just one of those things where they played better than us tonight."
"At halftime, we were still optimistic. We tied the game on our first possession with Fred's free throw, so we were still optimistic. We were in the game until about midway in the second half when it just started really getting bad."
"I think we have a lot to be proud of this year. There is not a team in the country who had to face as many obstacles and overcome as much as we did. People were talking about us not even making any tournament, and making the NCAAs was a joke. We always believed, and we fought here. Of course we wanted to win, but we didn't. I don't think that takes away from how hard these guys fought. Everybody worked hard. It sucks that at the end of the loss to say, 'Everybody worked hard. Good job.' That is easy to say, but I think it's really true here. We went through a lot.
Redshirt Junior Chris Hernandez
"I think I missed three shots when they went on that run. We just didn't make plays to counter or stabilize against their runs. We tried to penetrate and #50 got a couple blocks. He blocked my shot. That made us adjust."
[On Mississippi State playing so much zone defense]
"In a lot of games where people tried to zone us, either we hit a couple shots real quick or we got it inside and scored. Then they wouldn't stay with it. Obviously they went to that zone and we didn't hit anything. If you switch D's and the other team is not doing well against it, then you stick with it. I think if we would have hit three out of four shots early in the zone, they might have gone away from it. I think they went to it early and then got out of it. Then they went back to it and got that zone. Yeah, teams have tried to do it, but during the year we did a better job of executing and making plays that got them out of it. Tonight we didn't."
"I got good looks from the zone. I know other people got good looks from the zone. I think their height inside, as far as blocking shots, might have bothered us a little bit. Usually we score inside against the zone. You just have to give credit to them. They did a good job."
[On the difficulty of seeing the season beyond this loss]
"Yeah. Whenever you end the year on a loss, you reflect back on what you could have done or where we went wrong. It's always a good indicator that there is room to improve. I will definitely remember this game. It's sad."
"A couple of my friends are taking off. We competed, but we didn't cut into their lead. I wish we could cut into their lead more and made it more of a game because after a while it was out of control."
"Nobody wants to get beat this bad. Especially when I know we're capable of playing better. Definitely, I think I would have a problem with anybody who said they didn't have a problem getting beaten this bad."
[On the angst of starting the season with the ankle injury]
"When you look back, I could have helped this team a lot more. Going into this season, I've never been in as good of shape and never been this comfortable with the ball. I had never shot the ball as well as I was shooting it. There is a 'what if' there. But also what if Dan [Grunfeld] didn't get hurt? What if Tim [Morris] didn't have to sit out? The season did not go the way I planned and the other guys planned, but I'm very proud. A lot of people gave up on us. A lot of people didn't think we could get third in the league after dropping early. A lot of people didn't think we could beat the teams we beat. A lot of people didn't think we could make the Tournament. I'm proud of all my teammates for not listening to that and not giving in to that pressure - for fighting and competing."
Senior Rob Little
"Getting that second foul with 15:42 to go - I'll be thinking about that for a long while. That's something at some point I'll just have it go. Hopefully I have a lot more basketball to play. I can't let this last game affect me mentally and how I play. I am just really thankful to Coach Johnson for sticking with me, even though I had a late-season slump. I knew that coming into these last few games with this team, at the Pac-10 Tournament and in the NCAA Tournament. I knew I was going to have play better and earn these guys' respect again. Not saying I necessarily lost it, but internally I lost a little respect for myself, having played so poorly over the last stretch of the Pac-10. I'm grateful we got to the NCAA Tournament, but it's a sucky way to go out. Honestly, I thought we were better than this team. The way we played for the first 15 minutes, we were. Then they just took control."
[On the first 15 minutes]
"It was great. I was cheering for these guys. We were getting back and getting after it on defense. We were rebounding. We looked good. We looked like we were going to put the game away, or at least go into halftime with a comfortable lead. Then Frazier hit some tough shots, and we had some tough breaks. We didn't hit shots."
Fifth-year Senior Nick Robinson
"I thought they did a good job making sure we only had one shot. We didn't have as many offensive rebounds, and that limited the number of shots we could get. That hurt us. Other than that, I thought we did a good job getting the ball inside and working the ball around. Some of our shots - we had good looks - but they didn't go down for us."
"This team has been in this situation before. I've been to the NCAA Tournament five times, and exited on the first weekend - except for my first year when I was redshirting. At some point in time you have to look back and look over the entire season. You have to be grateful for the opportunity to play and be in the Tournament - because only 65 teams make it. Unfortunately, each time we've been here, we haven't been able to do the job we needed to do."
"We've been through a lot this year. To say it's miraculous - that's a good word to describe what happened over the course of the season. Losing Mark [Bradford] and Evan [Moore]. Losing Tim and Dan. We still were able to battle and push through. It has been miraculous."
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