Quotes and Highlights - Arizona

SEATTLE - Isaiah Thomas and the rest of the guys were particularly chipper after Thursday night's 85-68 win over the Arizona Wildcats at UW's newly christened Alaska Airlines Arena at Hec Edmundson Pavilion. Here's what Thomas, Justin Holiday, and MBA had to say, as well as both head coaches - Lorenzo Romar and Sean Miller - as well as UA sophomore forward Solomon Hill.

Washington Head Coach Lorenzo Romar:

Opening Statement:
"We're pretty pleased. We were able to come out and beat a good basketball team in Arizona. What I liked the most about it was it was a total team effort. It took a total team effort to defend Derrick Williams and the rest of them. It took a team effort on offense. I thought we shared the basketball. Isaiah Thomas was great with 10 assists and only one turnover. We did this as a team and that's something we talk about quite a bit. So, I have to be excited about that. It's not about the score, it's about whether we tried to do things right and I thought we really tried to play right."

On whether they're where they want to be as a team:
"We are making progress. We're where we want to be in terms of standings. In terms of reaching our potential, we still are a work in progress that way."

On having Scott Suggs in the starting lineup:
"It helped against Cal in terms of who they were going to defend. Sometimes the opposition will put a longer, bigger defender on Isaiah [Thomas] if we're going with two smaller guards. Now, they're not really able to do that and, because of his size and his ability to knock the shot down, somebody has to guard them. Usually, it's someone taller that has to guard him. Scott [Suggs] also doesn't make very many mistakes. I think he brings some stability to that starting lineup."

Arizona Head Coach Sean Miller:

Opening Statement:
"We learned a lot about playing Washington.  Isaiah Thomas is at such a high level break you down and will them to a victory.  To beat Washington at Washington you really need to play a version of your very best.  For us it's a matter of moving to the next game and seeing if we can leave the state of Washington with a win.  I think we played a better team tonight."

  Ability of Isaiah Thomas:
"Some of their other players are very good, but Thomas has an amazing ability to use ball screens to score himself or get other people in a position to score.  It is much similar to stop a player from doing one of the two, but when he can do both its almost impossible.  Washington does a great job putting players in the right position, and some of their best baskets came off of Thomas passes."

  Key players for Washington:
"They [Washington] have two players - Matthew Bryan-Amaning and Justin Holliday - who were pieces to their success last year, and smaller pieces the year before.  As they have been in the Washington system they have taken it to the next level.  They are both having excellent years.  They both make fantastic individual plays, and they seem to have a great relationship with Thomas on the court.  Thomas really makes that team better.  I have a hard time imagining that there are five better point guards in the country than Isaiah Thomas."

Isaiah Thomas:

On that play and the following three being a key momentum shocker:
"Yeah that was big. I knew the rebound was right there and I was like ‘I'm going to do whatever it takes to get that' and we got it and then Darnell [Gant] knocked down a big three and that kind of changed the momentum to our side and we kept the lead for the rest of the half."

On how he saved the ball:
"I saw it and once it made that last bounce i knew that I could try to make an effort to get it and I saved it not knowing that Aziz was right there. I saved it and right when, looked back, he had it. I knew [how to stay in bounds]. That's my little football instincts. It was like football and then baseball. I was sliding in home plate. I slid quite a ways."

On how far he slid down the corridor:
"I was in there. I was almost back to the door. I didn't know it went to Aziz [N'Diaye]. Right when I got up I just tried to hustle back and get in the play."

On this game having a big-game atmosphere:
"You could tell all week. People have been pumping it up on Twitter and all that. They're the number 25 team in the country. We're number 20, fighting for first place. It's what you want to play for. You're a ballplayer, these are the games you want to play good in and get the win."

On this game being particularly chippy:
"I'm never going to back down no matter who it is. They were saying a little bit of stuff, we were too. That's how it's going to be; you're fighting to win you're going to talk a little mess here and there. But we got the last laugh."

On where the talk came from:
"It was just building up. All week. I read some things on Twitter that they were saying. I was holding it in; I was like ‘okay.' It was just two good teams talking and trying to win a ballgame, so big ups to them. They're a great team but we got the win though."

On the confusion over who was supposed to be the shooter after MBA was fouled hard in the second half:
"I wanted some points [laughs]. Naw, he was on the side so I was like maybe I can make a free throw and then go. They gave it to me; I miss it so I told them I'm the wrong shooter right when I missed it. It was all jokes. They [the referees] kind of got mad, but it's whatever."

On his alley-oop pass to Venoy:
"We work on that all the time. We know once I drive and he's on the same side he goes back door, because we did it a few times in practice and it works because the guy is facing me. At first I thought it was going to go over the backboard. I was like ‘man, he jumped up and got it.' I don't know the last time I saw him dunk because he's been hurt but he got that one."

On the importance of entertaining the crowd:
"Yeah [it is important]. Especially at home. You want all the energy you can. The Dawg Pack is tremendous at times. They're so loud they help us play as hard as they can. We try and get as much energy as possible [out of the fans], you know me I'm trying to raise the roof and trying to get them up and rowdy so we can have some energy, and it's hard for the other team to play through how loud it is."

Justin Holiday:

On what it means to be alone in first place:
"I mean, it's where we want to be. It's better to be at the top and to stay at the top than having to fight for it. So if we can keep getting wins, keep playing the playing the way we're playing, we'll be fine. This win is going to help us tremendously because after Arizona State and Washington State we're starting over again. If we can stay at number one it's going to help us for the second half of the Pac-10."

On whether Arizona looks like a team that is going to push for first place the rest of the way:
"Of course. Like I've said plenty of times before any team in the Pac-10 can be a team that can beat us. The whole conference is really good. And especially being on their home court it's going to be a tough one down there. I'm going to be waiting for that but as of right now we're going to worry about Arizona State. Even though they're coming in here it's going to be tough on Saturday."

On keeping Derrick Williams scoreless in the final seven minutes of the game:
"That was a good effort by our bigs. I think we had to adjust from the first half when he was getting on the baseline, getting moves in there. We packed it in and we were able to help the bigs and either he was going to have to go up and have a hard shot or kick it out…that was good for us: got our lead higher and we won the game."

Matthew Bryan-Amaning:

On whether the team is where it wants to be right now:
"As a team I think we're just trying to do the best we can of playing as hard as we can for 40 minutes. Once we're doing that every game and obviously in practice then that's where we're going to be where we want to be."

On standing up to the physical challenge posed by the UA bigs:
"They were really physical tonight. I had a horrible, I think, first half. Got a couple of quick fouls. I felt like I couldn't make a bucket in the first half and just trying to settle down and stay aggressive in the second half and things just started to fall my way. Same shots I was taking in the first half were falling in the second half. I just think it was a good job of trying to stick with it when things weren't going my way early."

On how well the team did guarding Derrick Williams:
"Well, first off, he's just a heck of a player. There ain't much you can do to stop him. We threw a whole bunch of looks at him whether it was myself guarding him, Aziz guarding him, Darnell [guarding him], or running a zone. Just trying to force him to his weaknesses rather than his strengths. That being said we felt we did a good job but he still, obviously, ended up with 22 [points] and 11 [rebounds]. Also, we just tried to make sure nobody else killed us. "

On how well the zone worked stopping UA's offense: "I think we did a good job of collapsing. We knew once we get into the zone that he likes to catch it around the high post and make his move but it seemed like every time we were in the zone somebody was there. If he tried to make a drive there was somebody else there that collapse on him, which made him have to kick it out."

Sophomore Forward Solomon Hill:

"I thought Isaiah [Thomas] was a key point for them.  Him getting to the middle really hurt our team.  When he did get to the middle we collapsed and he passed it for the open three, and when we didn't help he was able to score or get to the line. He had 22 [points] and 10 [assists].  He was really the man for them tonight."  

On the Second half:
"We were so used to getting fouled and when we didn't get the fouls called it kind of took us out of our game.  You think you get fouled and you stop to look at the official, and by that time they [Washington] are already pushing the ball to half court.  All five of their guys are past half court and are looking to score."  

Effect of Derrick Williams fourth foul:
"We knew it was coming.  With the way that they [Washington] plays we knew that it was coming.  They set so many screens and Derrick has to run and hedge at a full sprint, and if he doesn't get out there then Isaiah is going to shoot it."

(Video courtesy of Kyle McCormick and the UW Athletic Department)

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