What went wrong? Dores search deep for answers

The postgame locker room was a somber place after Vandy's shocking 77-73 loss to Auburn Thursday, but a few players were willing to talk about it. What went wrong? And can the 18-13 Commodores regroup for a possible post-season invitation?

Junior guard Mario Moore (21 points, 4 assists)

Q: Mario, the outcome vs. Auburn was certainly not what you wanted. Can you talk about how you're feeling right now?

A: Emotionless. I don't even know what to say right now. It is what it is. We just weren't ready to play.

Q: You guys kind of dug yourselves into a deep hole, yet you were almost able to climb out of it with a rally at the end. Toward the end of the game there was a glimmer of hope, and it seems like you guys should get a little bit of credit for coming back as you did.

A: It ain't no win, though. We ain't in it for moral victories. We dig ourselves in a hole at LSU, we dig ourselves in a hole in every game. We just can't afford to have to fight back like that every time. We can't get down 21 points and try to win a game. You've just got to be in it the whole time. We should have been fighting and clawing like that the whole game.

Q: Probably you guys are going to end up with an NIT bid, something like that. Will you be able to re-gather yourselves and get re-focused?

A: Shrugs I don't even know what to say about that. I mean, yeah, we can regather ourselves. Everybody in here is a basketball player. But as far as the NIT, we're not even thinking about that right now. But we can gather ourselves though. Everybody helped me when I needed it.

Q: You opened up blazing hot from outside, and had yourself a pretty good first half. Then it seemed like the shots sort of stopped falling. Then when Vandy started making its big run, the shots started falling again.

A: Yeah, we tried to get out to a quick start, but couldn't maintain it as a team. We just didn't do the things we need to do to be able to win. We didn't go after the ball, we didn't rebound. We put them on the foul line too much. We did a lot of things wrong. Once you do things like that, it's going to be hard for you to win.

Freshman forward DeMarre Carroll (4 points, 8 rebounds)

Q: DeMarre, could you kind of put into words what you guys are feeling after this loss?

A: We feel hurt. We did all that hard work during the off-season just to prepare for games like this. Then we talked about not overlooking Auburn, but then started the game really slow, and finally got into it at the end. There's just not much you can say. Auburn just came out very aggressively.

Q: Somewhere around the nine-minute mark in the game, you guys seemed to regroup and put together a pretty good comeback.

A: Yeah, we gave it all we got the last ten minutes. We finally got a wake-up call when we were down by 20. We just went out there and tried to play as hard as we could, but everybody says, when you dig a hole too deep, you can't get out of it. So I guess we dug a hole too deep.

Q: What did Coach Stallings say to you right after the game?

A: He told us, keep our heads up. We played hard the last few minutes, but the hole was too deep.

Q: Was there a point where you guys in the huddle kind of said, we're going to have to do something to climb out? You did make an excellent run that got the score close at the end.

A: Yeah. We just got in the huddle, everybody, and our seniors like Corey Smith started challenging everybody. He said, this is his season, and he needed four guys who would go out there and play hard. Everybody kind of made up their minds that they were going to go out and play hard. We just all went out and put our minds to playing hard.

Q: Could you talk about the three seniors and what they've meant to the team this year?

A: Jason, Corey, Dawid... I respect all of them. They all came out and tried to lead us. They put everything on the line. I respect how much they've put into the program, making sure nobody disobeyed the rules and the law. They made me better, not only as a player, but as an individual.

Senior forward Dawid Przybyszewski:

Q: Could you talk about your feelings after this loss?

A: Well, it's a great disappointment, for sure. It looks like we didn't come out ready to play. We didn't execute, especially the defensive plan, as we were supposed to. That put us back, and then we were trying to fight back at the end. I guess we ran out of time. Of course we knew that we had to come back to win this game. What we couldn't do before, we had to do later. We were just motivated extremely hard. We had to stop them, but we weren't able to.

Q: You really won't know until Sunday whether you're in or out of the NCAA, but if you have to come back and play some more basketball, can you regroup?

A: I think we will be able to, no matter what kind of post-season we'll be in. We're going to show character and unity as a team, and we're not going to break down after just one loss like this.

Senior forward Corey Smith (11 points, 2 steals):

Q: Corey, you were able to get back in the game by really scrambling on defense. How did that catch them off guard? It seemed a little out of character for you guys.

A: Right, and I think it was something that really wasn't on their scouting report or their game plan. And when you don't prepare for it before the game, you're kind of caught blind-sided. It takes a while to make adjustments for it.

Q: How long could you guys play that kind of scramble? Because that takes a lot out of you, going in the backcourt and such.

A: It depends. I felt like we went as long as we did. There's no telling. I know a lot of us would have gotten burned out, but I think a lot of fouls gave us a chance to restore our energy.

Q: The NIT is kind of a bittersweet situation. How do you guys re-focus for that, if indeed that's what comes out of this?

A: You just have to make the best out of any opportunity that's given to you. If the NIT is in our future, we just have to make the best of it. Any postseason play is an honor, and you've got to treat it as such.

Q: Can you put into words what the team is feeling right now?

A: I don't know. Just mixed emotions. We're lower than sad. We're mad, upset and all that other stuff. But I think we'll do a good job of bouncing back from it, and trying to get ready for whatever postseason play we have in store for us.


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