Head coach Trent Johnson
"Well, obviously if they're going to play this way, I think I need to stay away from the games all the time. That's all I have to say. I think I want to turn it over to Coach Oliver, who has been coaching this team all year long anyway."
Can you just walk us through what happened on the play where you got ejected, just sort of play-by-play a bit?
"Basically, I was out of line. Bottom line was I was trying to fight for my kids, and there was no profanity or anything like that used. But I had been warned prior to that, and I put our team in a bad situation, and it's unacceptable."
What were you warned?
"He had warned the bench when he told me to sit down and told me to calm down a little bit; although, I thought I was pretty calm. There's a fine line for me with my intensity on the sidelines in terms of fighting for my guys, especially in the magnitude of the game and knowing how aggressive we need to be.
"But the bottom line is I put the kids in a bad situation, and I'm very thankful and very fortunate to have guys like Doug, who actually was an assistant coach when I was a player, and Nick Robinson."
What were you doing after the ejection? Were you watching it on TV? Were you in the hallways? Wow did you spend the time?
"I was basically in the locker room watching it on TV."
Were you calm?
"There was nothing I could do. Actually, it's interesting, and that's what I think gets me in trouble a little bit. My facial reactions and demeanor gives you the impression, or most people, that I am angry and out of control, where it's just the sideline intensity. I was very calm in the locker room.
"Like Mitch said, when the kids came in, my responsibility is to make sure that they're not out of control or lose their composure like I did."
Trent, before this game, if most people were asked who is the gritty team, they would have said Marquette. Do you think if there were doubts about the grit of your team before this game, that some of that has shown through tonight?
"Again, we see these guys every day. We know our level of toughness. We know our level of competitiveness. And I don't get caught up in comparing our team to anybody else's teams because I don't see those teams every day. I just know our guys have been very good all year long and very competitive and very responsive to coaching."
Obviously a close game throughout. If this team had lost, would it have been your fault?
"No question. Technical; six points. No question."
Did you have any past history? It seemed like you had something early on, maybe even the first foul with that. Had there been anything before that?
What did you tell Coach Oliver when you left, having played for him and coached alongside him? What did you expect to take place when you put it in his hands?
"Again, I think the kids emphasized it to their best. They're used to hearing a bunch of voices. This is a coaching staff; it's not like these guys answer to me. Doug has a wealth of basketball knowledge, so I didn't need to tell Coach anything. We did the normal things we do at halftime.
"We talked about our adjustments. I was watching the game and his role throughout game, which is like at practice - he has defense at times; he has offense at times. Donny has defense at times and has offense at times."
Trent, it's not every day that a coach gets thrown out of an NCAA Tournament game, and it didn't look like you said very much. There wasn't a long conversation with either official. So there were really no magic words...
"No magic words. Hey, look, the officials have a tough job to do. And, you know, the bottom line was the responsibility was on me, and I was out of line. Just leave it at that, if you would, please."
Watching it on TV, was this Brook's finest game minutes as a college player?
"I thought he was impressive the second half. Mitch had 16 assists, one turnover against this type of pressure, so I would have to say he had a lot to do with that, too."
Doug said he was waiting for you to tell him something; before he knew it you had left. Was that done deliberately? Did you leave without saying anything?
"Again, I don't know if it was done deliberately, but I never think Doug Oliver needs me. You know, the bottom line is he's been a head coach for, like, 13-plus years. He was the assistant here and probably didn't get enough credit for building the tradition and the foundation of this program when he was by Mike's side, so it's not like he needs it. He's been better for me than I have been for him."
Trent, just a little follow up. When you actually got ejected, you looked a little surprised. Was the whole situation - did it unfold quickly? Were you surprised?
"I was shocked. I was shocked, believe me. Again, it's unacceptable. So you can say it's the high road, you can call it what you want; it's still unacceptable."
Will you ever get ejected from a tournament game ever again?
"Well, I don't think I'll ever get up in a tournament game again. [Laughing]"
Assistant coach Doug Oliver
"It was the type of game that we've experienced this year, time and time again. We've been in close ball games. For the most part, we were able to keep the game in the half court, and it was just it was a hell of a basketball game.
"I thought that Marquette answered when we got up a little bit. We showed some composure down the stretch and got it to overtime, and you know, that's why you play these games. The interesting thing is it's ironic that during practice I coach the team, the other assistants take the team, and Coach Johnson officiates. So that's the ironic part of it. [Laughing]
"So the kids are used to hearing my voice; that wasn't even a problem. And we all stayed on the same page. And we just played good basketball. And so did they."
You had a big decision in the second half when you took the twins out for an extended period. What was the thinking of when you were going to bring them back?
"It was going to be dictated by the score. We were fortunate to have a cushion of five, six points when both of them picked up three fouls and we went small. We were able to run a couple things that spaced the floor, took time off the clock, so we got from nine-and-a-half minutes to seven. And the game was tied, or it was a one-point ball game.
"So we put them back in with three fouls, and that was going to be good enough. We were happy where we were bringing those two big guys back on the floor at that time.
Doug, when Trent was ejected, how much calming down did you have to do with the players? What was their demeanor at that time going into the last few minutes?
[Trent Johnson:] "Tell them it was just like when you threw me out of practice when I was a player. [Laughing]
"Earlier when someone asked the question about what we discussed, Trent, when it was time, he walked off. I looked and maybe thought he would say something to me, but he just made his exit. I turned back and the kids were - they weren't chippy; they were sort of emotional.
"I just yapped at them a little bit, got their attention, so that they would hear one voice to calm down, and Mitch said it best. We were down 11, and we were able to get to halftime down six, and that's really the only thing that took place."
Doug, I think you put your hands to your head as soon as the ejection signal was given. It looked like you kind of went like this...
"I didn't see the first technical. When I saw the hand go up to leave, I was a bit shocked and caught off guard. And, you know, I watched Trent a little bit, and then I just - I actually started to work into the moment of head coach again.
"I mean, I've done this before, so it was like having to take a deep breath, think back and get the attention of the players. It's about the kids. I've said it a long time, and Trent knows this: X's and O's are pretty simple. It's about emotion, about young men and getting them on the same page, and we were able to do that."
Coach Oliver, did you throw Trent out of practice when he was a player and you were an assistant? And what was it for?
"The answer is yes. The answer is yes. He remembers the incident vividly. I guess it scarred him, I don't know. [Laughing]
He was mixing it up with one of the guys. I said that was enough, because it was screwing up my drill. He wanted the last word, and I wouldn't let him have it. So he made an exit, and we continued on with practice."
Sophomore forward/center Brook Lopez
Brook, I wanted to ask you to kind of walk us through what was going through your head that last possession.
"Coach called the play. He wanted to bump - he wanted me to post up on the block and just bump my man off. Fred did a really good job just getting me open, and then Mitch just gave me a really good pass, you know, so I got a good look. I mean, it was a good look, thanks to Mitch. I was on the floor looking at it, so I don't really know what to say."
Brook, were you actually behind the backboard when you shot that? It kind of looked from that angle that you were.
"I think I might have been a bit. I think my hand was in front of it, luckily. The rest of my body was behind it. Like I said, I was pretty much watching from behind the backboard the whole time, and the ground. So I guess I got a nice bounce or something."
Have you had a game winner like that, and obviously anything close to that kind of pressure on that kind of shot?
"I don't think so, really. I remember Gonzaga - a year ago in regulation I missed a fade away bank shot, so I was really looking just to attack the basket this time."
Brook, it seemed like there was a lot of emotion in the paint tonight. Did you feel like they were trying to get you guys off the game by being really physical and talking to you?
"No. You know, I've got to really cherish these games that are really physical, and you've got guys talking to you. You've just got to let your game do the talking, so I just kept attacking."
How did you guys feel about your size advantage early on when you guys got that 7-0 lead or 9-2 lead on your brother's back early posting up?
"We came in wanting to play inside out, and Robin did a great job of just getting it inside, playing slow, looking at what the defense gave him. If they came to double, you kicked it out. If it was just one-on-one, you attacked the basket."
Brook, you had 28 in the second half and overtime. You've had a couple games this year where you struggled in the first half with foul trouble then had a big second half. Were you able too draw on some of these experiences?
"Yeah, it really did help. I just had to put the first half behind me. We were basically down 6-0. We knew we had to get back in the game without Coach, so I was just attacking the basket and playing defense."
Junior point guard Mitch Johnson
Mitch, just what was going through your head and your teammates' head when you see your coach get ejected like that that quick, then get down 11 pretty quickly after the that?
"We just talked about staying together. It's kind of been the theme of our team for whatever reason this year. We just really wanted to stay together. We talked about a lot of mental toughness. Coach Oliver got us together very quickly and said, "Let's just try to end the half out." I think there was about three minutes left. He said, "End the half out right," and I think that was huge. Kenny Brown hit a big shot. We came in at halftime and kind of got that emotional high and kind of regrouped a little bit, and took a deep breath and just got back to playing basketball."
Mitch, you looked a little more aggressive early for your shot. You were three of three from three. Were you trying to be a little more aggressive offensively?
"I saw at the start of the game, it looked like they were really sitting in our big guys' laps. I thought if we could hit a couple perimeter jump shots, which Kenny did, and Anthony as well, that can always relieve pressure of our big guys.
"We talk about it all the time, going inside out. I think the NCAA Tournament these past two games have been the best that Brook and Robin have passed out of the post. I think that's a big thing for them because then it's almost kind of pick your poison. If we're hitting our shots - I think he scored twice in a row in overtime, then passed out to me, and I hit a three. And I think that's huge because now they really can't double him too much, and he can score usually one-on-one. We'll take our chances."
You told us a little bit about the mindset that you had after your coach was ejected, but it's a pretty rare thing that happened here. What was your initial response to seeing him be ejected?
"I don't think we really knew what happened at the beginning. I thought it was just one technical, then I kind of saw someone's arm give him the umpire 'You're out of here.' And at that point I just knew we really had to regroup. We had a couple emotional times there, like I said, before halftime, and Coach Oliver did a great job of really pulling us together and just regrouping and having everybody kind of use that adrenaline into the second half and the rest of the game.
"So I think we also had a little extra adrenaline because Stanford hasn't been past the second round to the next weekend for a while, and I actually haven't talked about it, but I knew that was something that I really wanted to do. So there was definitely a little bit of extra adrenaline and emotion in this game"
[Brook Lopez:] "I was thinking the same thing, really. Once I realized what happened, we really wanted to regroup. Coach did a great job of calming us down and just preparing us for the game, and our team was just really good about it.
"We've been playing together for so long we knew what we had to do. We just had to go out and play our game, play inside out and try to 'D' up as much as possible."
Mitch, obviously you played a lot of great games in high school and college. Where would you put this in terms of the stakes, in terms of the drama?
"I think I'd have to put it number one, just because of the magnitude of the game. I won a couple state championships, but that's not anything compared to the NCAA Tournament play for the Sweet 16 and the way that we had to battle for 45 minutes and just really show our toughness and character. I put it as probably the most intense game, considering the magnitude."
Mitch, as a point guard what are you seeing when you're trying to feed the ball inside to Brook and to Robin? What do you see as a point guard, as far as your keys to try to be able to get them the ball at the correct time?
"I think a big thing is the weak side. A lot of times, guys want to sag off certain people, or the other big guy will be kind of on Brook's back almost as a double-team, so Robin and Taj and our other post a lot of times do a great job of flashing, so that guy has to get away.
"At that point it's just Brook to give me the angle to pass it to and kind of try to put it right on the money, so he gets it and usually can turn and get one or finish, and that was kind of what he did when we needed it."
Was Coach Johnson waiting for you at halftime? What did he tell you if he was? And what was the mood and discussion like at halftime?
"When we first came in, I think I was the last person in, but he was kind of off to the left. When I looked in the locker room real quick, he met with the coaches before he addressed the team. We just talked amongst ourselves and said we've got to regroup.
"He came in and went over the pointers and said we've shown mental toughness and character the whole year, and he just wanted us to show it. Like Coach Oliver said, we've had different coaches and different voices. We stay together no matter what. That was kind of like I said, the theme to stay together no matter what happened. I think Marquette had us on the ropes a couple times, and we really showed a lot of character tonight."
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