Quotes - Arizona

LOS ANGELES - Lorenzo Romar, Sean Miller, Isaiah Thomas, Matthew Bryan-Amaning, Terrence Ross, C.J. Wilcox, Darnell Gant, Aziz N'Diaye, and Derrick Williams all spoke with media after Washington's 77-75 OT shocker to give the Huskies their second-straight Pac-10 Tournament crown, as well as an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

Washington Head Coach Lorenzo Romar:
"You can never be prouder of your team when they lay it all out on the floor and they play together as a group and they're just pulling for one another. They're all lost in the game, trying to put forth their best effort.

"You can't be more proud when you see something like that happens. I think we're able to see from our team that happened three days in a row.

"Isaiah averaged over 40 minutes a game and saved his best for last in this game here today. He did a great job of leading. And our group, our team did a great job of joining in with him, kind of following his lead.

"From the seniors to the freshmen who seem like they've done this before for some reason, it was just a great effort. I'm looking forward to find and see where Arizona's going to go and play in a tournament because they're a really good basketball team, and we're going to be pulling for them as the Pac 10 goes out."

Where does this victory rank with you as a coach?:
"Whenever a game leads you to win a championship, it's a victory that you'll always remember. The way and the fashion that this was done makes it a victory that ranks up there pretty high. It's up there.

"One of these days when I'm not coaching anymore I'll sit back in the rocking chair and reminisce about this game. Reminisce how Isaiah Thomas just totally flagged off his coach. I'll remember a lot of things about this tournament, and they're all good."

Can you just talk about all the hustle plays and the rebounds and diving for loose balls and things that your guys did to get the win. And the adversity that you've overcome to get to this point?
"That's one of the main things we talked about prior to this game. If we didn't win the hustle plays, if we weren't tough, we weren't going to win the game, because Arizona is a team that usually wins the hustle plays. They are a very, very tough minded team.

"But our guys stepped up and did what was necessary and showed a lot of toughness and resolve in winning that game. Some things have gone on throughout the year, injuries and other things, and our guys have stayed the course and have remained together.

Could you look forward a little bit? Tomorrow you get Selection Sunday, do you have any ideas or cares what happens with it? And a performance like this, the way they played these three days, what could this team do in that tournament?
"We felt from the beginning of the year if we came out and played Husky basketball and played the way we were capable of, we'd have a chance to be successful in most any game. So we'll go see. We'll see what happens. It's a good time for us to be playing together and playing right. I know that much. Where we go, what comes of the field of 68, you just wait for the call, prepare yourself and you go."

Speak on the play of Darnell Gant and C.J. Wilcox.
"C.J. has an uncanny knack of focusing and zeroing in on the rim. When that pass came to him, you could just see he picked out his spot up there, and I don't think he heard anything. I don't think he saw anything except for the orange ring up there. He's already a good shooter, but you could just see the focus in his eyes and he knocked it down.

"And Darnell did so many things in three days in this tournament to help us win games. He would be Mr. Intangible. He's really an unsung hero in this tournament."

Can you comment on who do you think, aside from yourself and Arizona, potentially UCLA, USC is on the bubble, can you comment on who you think from this tournament will move on to the next round in the NCAA Tournament?
"Based on being able to play those teams, I'd say they're all capable. The way SC defends, and with their front line and the quickness of their guards, you just don't face that a lot. I think if they get invited to this tournament, they definitely could advance.

"UCLA's starting five is very, very, very talented. They've got a big front line. They've got some scorers in there. They come out ready to play, and they obviously could make some noise.

"Arizona, I think they could play with anyone. They defend. Derrick Williams is so hard to deal with. They can shoot it, so they have a chance. I hope we get four in, because it will be fun to watch this conference."

Q. 45 minutes for Isaiah. Any thought go through your mind pulling him out at any point during the game?
"Not tonight, no. Yesterday we tried to do it a little while because Oregon you could just see they were going to try to wear him down, pick it up full court and try to beat on him a little bit.

"We knew if we were fortunate enough to win we were going to have to come back and he was going to have to log big minutes again, so we tried it for a little bit. In these situations you call a timeout instead of substituting for him."
Arizona Head Coach Sean Miller:
Opening Comments: "I thought it was just a great basketball game. Two teams that were playing their hearts out. I thought at times we were the more aggressive, better team. Certainly at times they were the more aggressive, better team.

"I think there's really two parts to us in terms of this game. One, give up 16 second shots, and especially late. Some of the possessions that we were on defense it seemed like an eternity because they were getting two and three shots.

"They out-hustled us to a couple balls. Couple may have bounced their way. But it's tough to win against Washington when they get 16 second shots.

"The second part is, and I'll talk a lot of responsibility, about four years ago I lost a game to Ohio State. We were up three very late. We always look to foul so they can't make a three and tie.

But in this situation there were 14.5 seconds left. Sometimes if you do that with too much time you out-smart yourself because you have to inbound the ball and you have to make free throws. We could have found ourselves in a situation where eight seconds left they have the ball and we're up two. We're up one now instead of a three tie, and a three wins, a two ties and all the things that go with that.

"But if I had to do it all over again, and it's the hardest part of losing a game like this, we would have at least called the timeout and made sure our guys didn't run in. If you leave the three- point line when you're winning by three and it's about under 10, that's the worst way of losing, and we've left. We ran from the corner in for no reason and gave them a wide open three to tie.

"Derrick (Williams) will tell you one of the things we've talked a lot about with our team is the maturity at the end of games, and it's easier to take when you blow a 15-point lead and it becomes a nine-point win.

"But we're always trying to prepare for this moment, and that concentration, that intelligence, that finishing. We did not do that. In spite of a lot of things, that game was just about over and we didn't finish.

"So that's the disheartening part. The good news for us is we obviously played very hard, and we're playing well and we look forward to the NCAA Tournament."

Besides the game winner that Isaiah hit, can you talk about the effect he had on the game?:
"He's just a heck of a player. We've struggled with him in all three games. The last shot is what everybody will focus on. The toll that he takes on our team throughout the game, creating shots for his teammates. There were times when I thought we did a great job on him.

"But you look at that stat sheet, 28.7 assists, 45 minutes on the third game in three days. Physically to play 45 minutes, three games, in three days is almost impossible. He made a step back three, third game in three days in the 45th minute that he played.

"So give credit where credit's due. It's one of the reasons Washington is such an outstanding team."

I was going to ask you about the three-point decision, so thanks for clarifying that. There's losing and then there's losing a significant game like this at the buzzer. You've been through these before. What is going to be your mental approach with the team as you lead into the NCAA Tournament and getting over this type of an ending?
"It's nothing but a positive. The fact that we were here in the championship and won two games in this tournament in addition to the 14 that we won in our conference, it is a great achievement to be still playing today.

"For us, I think it will be easy for us to leave this game and move towards something bigger and special like the tournament. I also think that it's good for our team, and whether it's Derrick to my right or guys in the locker room, to recognize the importance in March of not only playing hard or playing together, but there is a certain level of concentration and intelligence that's also required.

"Those that don't concentrate have that basketball intelligence as a team, coaches, players. You just can't advance. I've been there before. I think the painful lesson whether I should have called a timeout or fouled or whatever, you can't run in on a drive under 10 seconds when you're up three. That's a mistake that we've learned the hard way.

What was going through your mind the last few seconds as he moved the ball up the court and ends up shooting the ball? Were you expecting it to go in?
"I was hoping it wasn't going to go in. He's a terrific player. On our end I don't think Derrick's performance can be overlooked. Derrick's 8 for 14 from the field. Got to the line 13 times, 11 rebounds, 24 points. Played 40 minutes himself, three games in three days.

"It was Isaiah Thomas on their end, outstanding, Derrick Williams on our end, outstanding as usual.

"We have a lot of great guys and players on our team that step up and make good plays, hard plays. This loss isn't any one individual really not even any one play.

"I think winning the game by 3, under 15, 10 seconds, whatever strategy we had we want to do it well. We didn't do any strategy well, and we paid the price."

Was there any particular reason why when Derrick Williams was going to the basket and seeming like he was starting to have success, was there a reason you got away from that?
"How many points did you want him to score, 40?"

Forty-five, I think.
"He had 24 points and 11 rebounds. You can ask Derrick, it's not always easy to catch it on Washington and drive. We tried to get him the ball in scoring position. If you do the math, 14 field goal attempts, 13 free throw attempts. To me, I thought Derrick and our team did a good job of getting him the ball."

"I also want you to understand, if you watch the game, they played a lot of zone. Really hard to get a guy to drive the basket when they're playing zone."

Wondered if you could assess what kind of threat that Washington is in the NCAA Tournament?
"They're an outstanding team, and Lorenzo and his team and staff, they have weathered so many things. I mean, everybody forgets that Abdul Gaddy got hurt a long time ago. I know he was off to a good start. And they've had (Scott) Suggs, who was missing time, Venoy Overton, they played this tournament without him. They just are a tough-minded, deep team. They have a real identity about them.

"Their identity outworked our identity, when you think about it. 43 rebounds to 32. 16 second shots, and we had them. They kept fighting. It's one thing for us to blame ourselves, but you have to make the big shots too and they made quite a few of them down the stretch.

"They're an outstanding team. They've been in the winner's circle before, and I would not want to play them in the first round of the tournament at all."

I know you addressed this foul thing ad nauseam. But can you take us inside how that kind of comes about? I know you're not having a lot of time to make that decision. Are you discussing it as a staff or saying this is what we're doing?
"If you're winning by three points and if you foul on purpose with too much time left, you take a pretty high percentage win and let's go through it.

"Say you foul on purpose. It happens at around 10 seconds. The one thing you have to do is foul because as the ball approaches the three- point line, it's tough to reach in. You could foul them in the act of shooting. So you foul them, you're up three and now there are 10 seconds left.

"He makes both free throws. So now you're up 1. Ten seconds to go, 9 seconds to go, you now have to inbound the ball. You do inbound the ball. They don't steal it. They foul you.

"So now real quickly you're winning by 1 point with 8 seconds to go. You miss one. They get the ball and now you put that same team in a position with 8 seconds, and we're only up two. A three beats you, a two ties. It's a different game. Our marker is more 11 seconds.

"Once in a while you can say I'm not losing that way. I lost the game against Ohio State, and when you lose it that way, you never want to do it again. I'm telling you, since we started to foul we probably won six games in a row like that.

"The regret I have isn't necessarily fouling, because I still think there's too much time. It would be to use our one timeout and make sure that we're organized so that we don't run in. We remind our guys not to run in. Again, if you do that, the danger that you have is I have no timeouts.

"So if they score, two once again now we have to inbound the ball with no timeouts. So there are a lot of things that go through your mind. The biggest thing is doing the math. Don't ever leave the three-point lineup three under 10 seconds left. A two only puts they Will Down one.

"So it's a hard lesson to learn, and I think from my perspective it really falls on the coach. You want to see your team execute in that situation, and we did not do that."

On every game with Washington being a war
"It is. Two teams playing really hard and [Washington] made a big shot at the end. 16 offensive rebounds for them – give them credit, and for us, that's tough to overcome. They also made some big shots to have a chance to win."

On whether the series is going to continue like this for a while
"I hope so because that means we're a good team because they're always going to be good."
Isaiah Thomas:
I noticed coming out in the second half you pretty much didn't score until about the 7-minute mark. How were you able to maintain your composure and stay mentally in the game to be able to contribute?:
"With me, I feel like a lot of people have seen it before. I score in bunches, so I'm really not worried about scoring. I was just worried about making plays for my teammates. When it came down to it, when I needed to score, I did. At the end of the day it was just about making plays and seeing where I could get people open shots.

"My teammates did a great job of knocking down shots and keeping confidence in themselves. Just doing the right thing. That's the main thing with me.

Can you take us through that last play what you were thinking, how it developed?:
"I don't know (smiling). Coach was going to call a timeout. He trusted me. I told him let me just try to take it and get something."

COACH ROMAR: "You didn't say all that."

ISAIAH THOMAS: "I didn't say it. That was my motion though."

COACH ROMAR: "Okay, I'm with you. I'm with you."

ISAIAH THOMAS: "I knew I had a smaller guy on me, so I could get a shot off and I just made a little step back and God made the ball go in the hoop."

Isaiah, what was your reaction when you found out you were going to be the Most Outstanding Player for the second consecutive season?
"It was pretty cool. I'm just worried about winning. When you win, individual awards come, but the player of the tournament is not as important as the conference championship we just won.

"It's praise to all my teammates, because without them I can't win nothing, especially a game. Some guys stepped up, and I love my teammates."

How tired are you right now? Are you looking forward to getting a nap in after all those minutes? For your teammates, what was it like watching him out there, gutting it out and coming up so big at the end?
"I'm really tired. I'm ready to get on the plane and go to sleep. It's great. I have so much confidence in my teammates that I'm going to do whatever it takes to win. Like Matt said, in one of the timeouts I told him, I'm tired, man. I'm not worried about scoring.

"So when I get you the ball, just score. Don't pass it back to me (laughing). And they did a great job of that.

"Matt (Bryan-Amaning) was in foul trouble, but he had some big buckets. Terrence hit some crucial shots and Darnell Gant and C.J. Wilcox did a lot of things for us. I'm just proud of my teammates because we never gave up."

On the last shot
"Once they scored I was like: ‘okay, we gotta get the last shot.' Things slowed down and opened up. Usually we set a pick at the end of the shot-clock, but I just wanted four flat to try to create. I just made a shot, and it's a big one, and I'm just so happy we won."

On thinking about the shots he's missed, the shots he's made during his career leading up to the last shot
"A little bit. I was just like, man, I gotta try to get to the hoop. But at the same time, I'm not going to force it. I see guys like Kobe Bryant, Paul Pierce, guys like that, they always try to get to the elbows and not settle for the three. I just got to the elbow and lifted up and it went in."

On ignoring the doubters and haters
"You've got to ignore them. It comes with the territory; it comes with winning and losing. Once you're losing, everybody's on you, once you're winning, they love you. We just kept faith in each other and kept everything positive and once we get on the court, all the outside distractions we really didn't care about."

On being on his back after the game
"I told everybody: ‘give me some room.' I just needed to breathe a little bit."

On waving off Coach Romar calling a timeout before the final possession
"He was about to call a timeout, I saw him because he was talking to the ref, waiting for the ref to come by him. I just said: ‘no, no, no,' and he let me go. I got his attention and he let me go. That's just your coach having trust in you and that's big."

On dishing for threes on the last two possessions in regulation
"I just wanted to create, whether it was for myself or for others. I got kind of close to the hoop and they collapsed and I found CJ Wilcox and Terrance Ross and they knocked down the shot."

On what it means to get an automatic bid
"It's a blessing. All the hard work's paying off. We still have more work to do. We want to get in the tournament and make some noise."
Matthew Bryan-Amaning:
Can you talk about the ups and downs you've been through this season, and just what it means for you guys to win this type of game and get into the tournament?
"It's just been a long year, real, real long year with everything going off the court as well as injuries. And we've been able to face a lot of adversity. Especially being a man down in this tournament, I think a lot of people wrote us off and the whole team believed in themselves and believed they would be able to get it done.

"Obviously, the way we played the last few days, just playing together. First game had four or five guys in double figures. Again, in the second game had about four guys in double figures. Then tonight with Isaiah having an outstanding game, and Terrence obviously, and myself and C.J. just right on the brink of double figures shows how much of a team that we've become. That we're trusting everybody.

"One of our timeouts, Isaiah was just talking to us before the coaches came in, talking about I believe in you guys. Doesn't matter. I'm not trying to score like that. I'm giving the ball up. I believe in you guys and that you're going to knock down shots.

"To know as a leader that he believes in the rest of us and knows what we can do…it shows how far we've come."

On Isaiah and his play
"I was just trying to say he's a hell of a player. He gets a lot of flack about his height, and he's dealt with it all his life. He's just shown it on another level. Just when a guy's in the zone, he's in the zone.

"His assists this tournament have been ridiculous. I think he's had about what, 29, 30 assists throughout the tournament. I know that must be a record somewhere. When he's in that mode, you just kind of go out and let him play. I know that's what coach has to let him do sometimes.

"He might not be happy with all his decisions, but when he's playing basketball, he's playing basketball. He just makes everyone around him better. When he does that, we have a lot of success."
Terrence Ross:
Terrence, could you talk about what must be an amazing ten days that you've had? I think you had a combined four minutes in the last two regular season games to moving into the starting lineup, to making the all tournament team to cutting the net for the Pac10 Tournament championship?
"I would say it's probably emotional. It was kind of disappointing I didn't play the first two games, but I had to shake it off, get focused. I knew I was going to start. I just had to be prepared and play and prepared to work. I guess it paid off."
C.J. Wilcox:
On what he's feeling right now
"I can't believe it. Last year, I was part of it, but I didn't really do much, and it's just good to have a feeling where I actually helped the team to get to where we are today. It's just a really good feeling, I can't describe it."

On bringing the momentum on to the NCAA Tournament
"Oh yeah, it's good to get that under your belt. We'd been struggling but we've been winning out since we got to the tournament, so we feel like we've got good momentum to do some damage this year again [in the NCAA Tournament]."

On feeling like he needed to step up after MBA fouled out
"When somebody like that goes out, everyone has to step up and make a shot. It doesn't matter who it is. It happened to be me and Terrance so we just stepped in and hit some big shots and, of course, Isaiah finished it."
Darnell Gant:
On how the win feels
"It feels real good, that's a big win."

On where he was when Isaiah took the last shot
"I was crashing the boards. I saw that shot go up and I knew that shot was going in the whole time."

On having doubt that Isaiah was going to take the last shot
"No. I knew he was going to take it. Coach was going to call a timeout but Isaiah said: ‘No, I've got this.' He hit a big shot. That's the big time. That's a pro shot."

On CJ Wilcox's shot to send the game into overtime
"That's a big shot by CJ. That was a big shot by Terrance. The freshmen stepped up, everybody stepped up today. They tried to take Matt [Bryan-Amaning] out of his game and keep him off the floor and he did a good job staying with it and staying with the team and we came out on top."

On what it means to win at Staples Center since he's from LA
"Just being home and showing my people that we can get another championship. I just wish my dad was here to see it. I'm steady working and everybody's steady working and we're going to try to make a run at this [NCAA] Tournament."

On raising his all-around game the last three games
"I'm just trying to be confident. I'm out here working. It's time for it to pay off. I have to show up and be here for my team like I'm supposed to."

On what goes through his head when he's getting rebounds
"Make an impact. The past two years, coach has been telling me: ‘rebound, rebound.' It hasn't been working in the past and I'm trying to make an effort and it's something that hasn't come up but I just have to say forget it and just go. Just go get rebounds, go do what I have to do to help the team. Be in the right spots on defense and do my thing."

On what it feels like to be PAC 10 champion
"It's crazy. To me it feels better than last year. I guess it's because I'm out there playing. Last year I didn't have a good game in the championship game. This year, I just told myself don't be like last year and don't be so quick and in a hurry to do things and just calm down and play. That's what I did and I felt good about myself and that's why I feel like this championship is the [best] one."
Aziz N'Diaye:
On how big of a win this was tonight
"It was amazing, man. I expected this before, coming to UW with all the expectations, all the hard work we've put in. I'm so happy."

On this being what he expected when he committed to UW
"Coming here I knew things were going to be good, I'm just going to come bring my part. Just keep working and trying to get better going to the NCAA Tournament. It's an amazing feeling, I've never experienced anything like this before."

On CJ Wilcox's shot to put the game into overtime
"When I was on the bench, I just told my guys to keep believing and anything can happen in basketball. We stick together and we believed in it and we took those shots and it made a big difference in the game, so we needed that."

On his chemistry with Isaiah Thomas
"I mean, he's a good guy, not only just a basketball player, but somebody you can talk to. We're in the same classes and stuff. I'm very proud of him."
Derrick Williams:
On the last play of overtime
"It was just a great shot. You could see it in his eyes when the person I was guarding was going to go set a pick, (Thomas) called it off. He was just looking for that last shot. The best player on the team, that's what he wants to do. He wants to take the last shot.

"He made a great move, and on top of that it was a step back. So give him all the credit. Great players make big shots like that. That's going to go down as one of the best shots in Pac10 Tournament history, so he deserves it."

A lot of you guys have never even been on a stage like this in a championship game. Can you talk about the big game experience and how that might help moving on to another big game, tournament game?
"You never want to go into the tournament with a loss like that; and you know, it's always going to be in the back of our mind. But at the same time we accomplished a lot so far. We were up six with 15 seconds left, I believe, or up three. So just little things we just need to work on.

"Coach always stresses every day we go through these series like that up four points with 10 seconds, just I little series like that. It's just concentration. We can't look back on this too much. We've just got to get back on Sunday, see who we play, and get back to practice on Monday. Just go through it."
Sabrina Squires and Scott Panitz contributed to this story.


Dawgman.com Top Stories