Sweet 16 Quotes: The Players

Players from both squads talked with the media after the Longhorns ended the Cardinal's NCAA Tournament run in an 82-62 loss in their Sweet 16 game on Friday at Reliant Stadium in Houston.

Thanks to the on-site Sports Information staff and ASAP Sports for much of the material.

Stanford Cardinal:

Brook Lopez:

On the difference:

Texas played really well. They just came out and I think they just wanted it more. They came out and hit us hard and got out really early and made a couple that we didn't respond to.

On Texas's posts:

They were pretty physical. They did a good job of keeping the basketball.

On the second half:

We made our run and they made their run and we didn't respond to that and then they made another one.

On whether there was a home court edge:

I don't know. If anything, I thought they came out a little bit stronger than we did because of all the adrenaline. I think we came out a little flat and that really hurt us.

On Coach Johnson at halftime:

He said there were a couple loose balls they got, and defensive breakdowns we had. We were only down six [nine, actually] and that pretty much equals out. So we needed to go out there and play harder than them.

On next year:

I'm not going to worry about that right now. This spring I am going to be with my family and discuss what happens, but right now I am here and with my team.

Mitch Johnson:

On Texas' run:

I think the second-chance points hurt us a lot tonight. When we don't rebound well, we struggle and that is one thing we strive to do and try to get an advantage in. On the defensive end, we had a couple of breakdowns. We had a lot of point-blank shots uncharacteristically go against our team and we didn't hit shots that we usually hit. They played good defense and for the most part we got the shots we wanted, we just didn't make them and they did. So, hats off to them.

On Augustin:

He is one of the best point guards in the nation. A lot of people talk about his game and he makes everyone around him better. You have to defend his shot and his pass and he changed directions very well. He can shoot it and drive to the hole and he makes the other players around him better.

On his thoughts postgame:

Just that game, to tell you the truth. Thing we could have done better, things I could have done better, obviously. Just play the game back in my head. I feel terrible for the guys who will not be here, obviously, next year. This will give us motivation for the future because we didn't reach our goals this year.

Taj Finger:

On the game:

They were just a little deeper than us. They kept throwing in guys that could box us out and go and get rebounds and get fouled. Again I think we just ran out of gas and they kept throwing bodies at us. They kept beating us up and just taking it to us.

On Brook:

Brook has been great all year. We wouldn't be here without him. Maybe we were a little cold because we were trying to get it down to Brook all the time, so we weren't looking for our shots as much. They have been there all year, but tonight just wasn't our night.

Press Conference:

Q. You're pretty much unstoppable offensively for the first 30 minutes, did you get worn down, and how much was Pittman a factor?

Brook Lopez: I think they just started playing aggressively. Since he started guarding me, I started throwing up poor percentage shots that I don't normally make.

Q. Can you talk about just the way Pittman guarded you? He seemed to really frustrate you.

Brook Lopez: He just bodied up against me and tried to push me off the lane.

Q. Did you feel like things were going a little better for you guys as a team throughout the first half, even though you were down by nine points at the half? Did it feel like you were playing better than that or you should be closer than that?

Brook Lopez: I thought we played well for the most part. There were just a couple possessions, like Coach said, where shots didn't go down or we didn't pick up a loose ball or just broke down defensively. You know, like Coach said, we really could have been tied at halftime.

Q. Trent mentioned the goal was to become one of best teams in Stanford history; can you look back that the team achieved some of those goals?

Taj Finger: Yeah, I definitely think so. No one expected us to be in this position. You know, we had a lot of down seasons – or not down seasons, but I guess we didn't play, you know, in the past three years to Stanford, kind of what people expected Stanford to be.
And this year, we had a great season, you know, second in the Pac 10, making it to the Sweet 16, and I definitely think that we left our mark.

Q. First half you guys seemed to have a lot of good looks but you went almost 18 minutes before getting a basket outside of the paint; was the arena a factor?

Mitch Johnson: We came in and practiced the last two days with the same backdrop, and for whatever reason, we didn't hit shots that we usually hit and they hit some tough ones along with some easy baskets we gave up. I think that was the tale of the game.

Q. I wanted to ask, what was running through your mind, how you felt about the flow of the game when you cut into that 52-51, you guys had a lot of momentum. What were you thinking right then?

Brook Lopez: I think we had just – they were making their run, so we finally made ours, and we really were just looking to keep attacking the basket, which we didn't do. And I guess they just had their run then and we didn't really respond.

Q. Did you feel like you guys had one more run after it was 52-51 and they started pulling away a little bit?

Brook Lopez: Yeah, I think we did. It's just, I don't know what really happened. Started turning over the ball a bit more, getting more careless with the ball, and I don't think we were going after loose balls or crashing the ball as much.

A 26-2 Texas run iced the contest.

Texas Longhorns:

Dexter Pittman:

On playing against Brook:

I knew I had to go in there and muscle them up a little bit. After the first half, the tempo of the game changed. … We could feel that they were starting to give in, so we all contributed as a team. Coach told us to attack them like an army. It is the same thing we did to Kansas State; we just kept throwing bodies at them. … I could tell he was getting frustrated because he kept talking to the referee. He is a great player and great players get frustrated a lot and try to find ways to get the job done.

On pushing him off the block:

I would always keep my leg higher than his so that he couldn't get a good position.

Press Conference:

Q. Can you guys talk about the effort of Pittman and what he gave you guys down there at the end, especially against Brook?

A.J. Abrams: I think he brought just a big body towards him and Robin Lopez. I think he did a great job running the court on offense and keeping him off the glass.
D.J. Augustin: Like A.J. said, he did a great job and put his body against him and I don't think Brook could handle that weight on him. Brook is a great player and he made some big shots but Dex came in and gave us a big lift.

Q. What was the plan as far as using your quickness to get past them?

D.J. Augustin: We wanted to be aggressive on offensive lane. We didn't want to change anything we've been doing all year and change our offense and just running, and that's what we were trying to do tonight.

Q. Can you talk about the crowd, they cut it to one thereafter you guys had a double-digit lead and then you break it open; how about the crowd?

Justin Mason: The crowd, we had a great turnout. We had a feeling that we had a good load of our fans down here, and they really did a good job of getting this place loud and really supporting us. It really helped us out a little bit when they started to come back and the crowd got into it.

Q. Can you talk about after they cut it to one, you just really took over; can you talk about that?

D.J. Augustin: I just tried to be aggressive and keep driving them and keep my teammates involved and my teammates did a great job of moving out the ball and knocking down shots. We do a great job of playing defense and that's what it came down to. Our defense helped us in the last four minutes.

Q. You had pushed out again to like five points and you came up with a steal at mid-court for a fast break layup, they were trying to save a ball; can you talk about that play, because that really seemed to get that run going.

D.J. Augustin: Like I said our defense was key tonight. We just tried to be aggressive and pick them up, put pressure on them, especially their guards and it worked out tonight. That's what we want to do and that's our game plan.

Q. You had a run in the first half; I was wondering what you thought the hang time was on that shot you made?

D.J. Augustin: I don't know if it was hang time but I just had to shoot it up high because they come in to block shots every time. I knew it was coming and like I said my teammate did a great job of getting open and I knew I could kick it to him, and he finished it.

Q. You guys held Lopez without a basket for the last 13 and a half minutes of the game. Talk about that and maybe the run that you had to put the game away at the very end.

A.J. Abrams: We just went back to playing our style of defense as far as just pressuring the ball, trying not to let them catch it so easy on the block. I think we just played with good high hands on the bottom, pressuring the ball, and it was just a great team effort from everybody, just playing with a lot of intensity. I think the defense led to our offense and we kind of settled down and started getting good shots.

Q. Can you talk about the way the defense put the game away late for you guys?

Justin Mason: Like A.J. said, we wanted to come out and get back to playing Texas basketball. In the first half, I think we got away from that a little bit worrying about the Lopez twins down there.

We came out in the second half and really started pressuring the ball and it started to change a little bit for us.

Q. It seems like when people talk about the one or two best players in the country, you're not always included in that. Do you think you maybe should be and do you think the way you played tonight will put you in that conversation more?

D.J. Augustin: I'm not worried about that. I never did worry about that. I just worry about my team and as long as we winning and playing well together and playing defense, that's all that matters to me.

Q. Could you talk about playing in a big building like this with the back drop, and as a shooter, how difficult with the crowd and everything?

A.J. Abrams: It was a great atmosphere out there. As far as the basket, we came in and had a shoot around yesterday. We got accustomed to the basket and just after that, it was just going back and playing basketball, and you can't really worry about it. As far as the depth perception, I think everybody got used to it. We shot the ball pretty well tonight.

Q. This team has been a very good defensive team all year. Was there any element heading into this game that you felt maybe people were underestimating your ability to defend a team that was so big like Stanford?

D.J. Augustin: I think people knew they were bigger than us down low, but they didn't know how good our guards prepared. We were very prepared to come down and help our big men out and that was key tonight. Our big men did a great job of stopping the Lopez brothers, and we just tried to help out as much as we could.

Q. Are you okay? At the very ends of the game you came up limping and you didn't go back in the game. Is there anything seriously wrong with you?

A.J. Abrams: No, I'm good. (Smiling) Just go home and get our trainer to look at it and ice it up and I'll be ready.

Q. Exactly what happened?

A.J. Abrams: I really don't know. It was a loose ball situation.
Coach Barnes: Missed a wide-open shot. (Laughter).
A.J. Abrams: It was a loose ball situation and the guy slipped and I guess I stepped on his foot, I'm not sure, but I'll be fine.

Q. First of all, the 23-3 [sic] run in the second half, can you talk about that and what happened in that time-out before that run?

D.J. Augustin: Coach just told us to go back to how we play defense, Texas basketball and that's what we did. Our big men did a great job of rebounding and kicking it out on fast break. It was all the defense; put a lot of credit on our defense tonight.

Q. Would you make a case for D.J. for national Player of the Year?

A.J. Abrams: I would. He's pretty much the best point guard in the country. He sees the floor well. He shoots the ball as well as anybody in the country, so I would have to put him up there.

Q. On the inside, D.J. mentioned how you were helping out the big guys, but between Dexter and Connor and all those guys, did you feel like it frustrated them throughout the game and as the game went on?

A.J. Abrams: I think just throwing a lot of bodies at him just frustrated him a little bit. We had a good game plan going into the game as far as what our posts were going to do and our guards coming down to help. I think it did frustrate him a little bit, just a lot of bodies on him.

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