NCAA Post-Game Quotes: Trent Johnson

After a devastating and disappointing performance on the biggest stage of the year, players had a hard time finding the words after Thursday's loss in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Much more was said by head coach Trent Johnson, who spoke frankly about Louisville's press, Stanford's tightness, his disappointment, the effects of the loss, Brook Lopez and more.

Opening statement:

"Obviously that was probably our worst first half of the year, but I want to give a lot of credit to Louisville.  We knew going into the game that their pressure could be a concern of ours and could be a problem to us.  One of the things we haven't been very consistent in all year long is taking care of the basketball.  That put us behind the eight ball, so to speak.  It was nice to see us come out in the second half, where we had a little fight.  We did a better job of taking care of the ball, and some guys who hadn't been playing a lot got into the game and made some plays for us.  They're a very good basketball team, that beat us this afternoon.  I tip my hat to them."

Is there a team in the Pac-10 that comes close to what Louisville does?

"Well, no, quite frankly.  Now that I've seen it up close and personal, you have to say 'no' just from the standpoint of how they pressure you out of the zone.  I said going into the game that my concerns of how we were going to take care of the ball.  With their full court pressure, they get you into a situation where they make you become tentative as opposed to being aggressive.  Then once they get you in the half court, you take a deep breath and relax, and they come out in a zone and really attack you with active hands.  I wish I was wrong, but going in I had my concerns about Palacios, Padgett and Caracter.  I made the comparison of them being aggressive and taking things at you in the post much like Spencer Hawes and Jon Brockman.  That's exactly what they did."

"We talked all week, once we got the announcement that we were in, and I knew it was going to be a concern trying to settle them down.  It was really obviously that they were tight and they weren't relaxed to start with.  That's quite frankly my responsibility - to try to find a way to get them to relax, even though this is their first time in this experience."

The Lopez twins picked up fouls right off the bat.  How much did foul trouble take you out of your rotation and what you wanted to do, particularly on offense?

"Quite frankly, Robin [Lopez] or Brook [Lopez] or in cases even Taj [Finger] have been in situations before where one or two guys get in foul trouble early, trying to be aggressive in the post.  I just think that the foul trouble took away from our aggressiveness.  The kids got really tentative and had a hard time getting a feel for what they could do and what they couldn't do.  Again, for us and for me personally, I always try to talk to them about being able to adjust to what is going on around them.  We have been in that situation before, so that didn't take us out of what we were trying to do.  What took us out of what we were trying to do was their ability to get hands on passes, disrupt us and keep us out of a rhythm once we crossed the half court.  Then we had some ill-advised turnovers, which you have seen with this team all year long.  We have had a tendency to do that against good teams, and this certainly was a good team this afternoon."

You called timeout about 81 seconds into the game.  Were you just trying to settle the guys down?

"Without a question, I was trying to settle them down.  Louisville came out and had a transition basket, which is uncharacteristic of us.  We just flat didn't get back.  As coaches, my staff included, we have seen these guys a lot.  Once the horn tipped off, we could see that they were a little tentative - a little tight - so we were trying to relax them.  My concern was that if I didn't take it, they were very capable of having spurts, as we did see.  We just could never get them settled down.  Then once we had a missed shot here, we had a bad turnover there.  It snowballed.  We picked the wrong time of the year to play bad and play our worst half of basketball, but again I want to tip my hat to Coach Pitino and their group because they're pretty good.  They were really good today."

Any worries that a loss like today's loss could hurt a program, not longterm but for a year or so?

"No.  None whatsoever.  We'll be back.  Trust me; we'll be back.  The bottom line with this group is that they're a pretty resilient group.  I think as a whole, we understand our deficiencies - as individuals and as a basketball team.  I feel very comfortable and I feel very confident that in the spring and in the summer, these guys are going to work extremely hard to get themselves in an opportunity again where they get to be in this situation again.  All of that said, our conference is young and very talented - and probably will be better next year.  You look at what has happened across the country in college basketball, and there is probably anywhere to 100 teams who are capable of getting to the NCAA Tournament, and there are probably about 10 or 15 teams capable of winning the whole thing.  We fully expect to do our job and get ourselves in a position where we can be back here again."

You mentioned yesterday that once the season ended, you would find a time to sit down with Brook and Robin about their future.  When do you anticipate that happening?

"I'll give them a day or two.  I'm not going to put a date, whether it's tomorrow or a week from now.  We'll get an opportunity to meet with their mom and meet with both Brook and Robin.  It's probably more so Brook than it is Robin.  Hopefully that will be before the week is out."

Does a game like this help you give Brook Lopez some reasons why another year might be good for him?

"I don't concern myself much with ammunition.  I want to get as much information based off of what is best for the young man, so that he along with his family members can make an educated decision on his future.  You know, this NBA is interesting because Brook is 18 years old and if you ask him one-on-one the thing he most wants to do, it is to enjoy playing the game.  What's going on now puts a lot of young men in situations where they can't enjoy playing basketball because there are certain questions asked of them on a weekly basis which are probably not right.  On the other side of that, I want what is best for him.  If he is capable of being in a position where he can be one of the top 16 players drafted, them shame on anybody who would not want him to achieve that or who would not want that for him."

"A Stanford education in one year is probably like a lot of places in four years.  Trust me; I know.  I graduated from Boise State, so Brook and Robin Lopez are a helluva lot smarter than this coach right now."

You talked on Sunday about how truly dangerous this team could be and felt confident this team would put in a good performance.  With that in mind, how disappointing is this defeat?

"It kills me.  It kills me because I didn't see it coming.  I had concerns, like I've had all year long, about our ability to take care of the ball, but the thing that bothers me the most is that Louisville was flat-out the aggressor from the start.  From the start.  And that bothers me a lot.  As opposed to saying 'we,' that's me.  That starts with me.  That's my job and my responsibility, some way some how.  We can make a million excuses about how this is a young team, but we haven't let that be an excuse all year long.  These guys have done a good job when put in new situations - a la their first road, a la being down to UCLA by 17, and so on and so forth.  I didn't get the message across.  I thought we were prepared to play, and I thought we were in a situation where we were going to play well, quite frankly.  And we didn't."

How did this game from an atmosphere perspective square with what you expected?

"Road, neutral.  Whether you play at Arizona or Pauley Pavilion.  Or you go to Virginia.  We've been in situations like this before.  The 18 or 20 thousand people cheering against you don't decide the outcome of the game.  The game is decided by your effort, how well you defend, how well you rebound, how you take care of the ball and matchups, quite frankly.  This team was a bad matchup for us on the perimeter.  They were a bad matchup.  We have been in situations where we have had bad matchups similar to this.  Virginia was a bad matchup for us on the perimeter; UCLA was a bad matchup for us on the perimeter, but we had a favorable matchup inside.  This afternoon, it was a bad matchup all the way around."

You said that this team came out tentative today, and that was on your shoulders.  If you had to do it again, is there anything you would say or do differently?

"If I knew that answer, I would have had it beforehand.  We just have to evaluate our approach.  Of the things we have done all year, that wasn't good enough, evidently.  These guys have done a good job when put in situations where they have been able to play and respond.  It wasn't a matter of us not knowing what we were capable of doing or supposed to do.  We just didn't do it.  That's not just something I'm saying to say.  It eats at me.  One of the things we have done all year long is be aggressive regardless of who we have played.  We have been the aggressor.  Today, it was just very disturbing on this stage and in this setting."

You say today was disturbing, and you can't be happy with losses down the stretch, but is it fair to say that what Kenny Brown did off the bench today and some of the other recent games is a nice positive for him and for this team going into the off-season?

"Kenny has played well, but we lost.  I don't look at it as an individual thing.  Kenny is improved, and he is going to be able to help us for the remainder of his career at Stanford, but a loss is a loss.  It's hard for me to look at the positives.  The only positive thing for me coming out of this loss is that Carlton Weatherby, who has been in this program from five years and who has been one of the most unselfish team-oriented guys around and played through injuries - he had an opportunity to play.  He had an opportunity in his last year to get to the NCAA Tournament, and that's a positive.  But there are not many positives from 78-58 for the guys returning.  That's my take.  I think if you ask them, to a man, they feel the same way."

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