Coach/Player Quotes - NIT

NEW YORK - Here's what Lorenzo Romar, Darnell Gant, Terrence Ross, Abdul Gaddy, Tubby Smith, and Rodney Williams told Monday afternoon at the National Invitation Tournament Press Conference, held at the New York Marriott Marquis - just one day before the No. 1 seed Washington Huskies and No. 6 seed Minnesota Golden Gophers play in an NIT semifinal at Madison Square Garden.

The winner of the Washington-Minnesota game will play either No. 5 seed Massachusetts or No. 3 seed Stanford. The UMass/Stanford game will be played Tuesday at 4 pm PT, and the Washington/Minnesota game will start roughly 30 minutes after the conclusion of the UMass/Stanford game. Both games will be shown on ESPN2.
Lorenzo Romar:
On being back in NYC and keeping the team focused - "This is a pretty good group, so it hasn't been all that difficult. They went out to a movie last night. We have a pretty mature group in that regard. So it's been fine."

On what's going to keep him up Monday night - "We've got to try and find a way to score. They are relentless on defense; they play with a lot of tenacity. They play hard. They are really quick and are a team that usually gets to the loose balls quicker than their opponent. So we have to make sure that we're focused and playing with a lot of intensity."

On the team being focused and loose too - "I think before, coming to New York and playing two games, it took away any jitters and over-anxiety as we come out here and play this game and as we're preparing for it. Being here before helped with that."

On coaching in the Garden - "It's always been fun; as a player and as a coach it's always been fun to come to the Garden."

On the scenery at the Garden - "I've actually been here and haven't seen it. I would imagine there's some New York Rangers jerseys up there and some Knick jerseys up there, but I haven't looked. I'll look next time. All these times here, and I've never looked."

On what he's anticipating tomorrow - "A hard fought game. That's what I anticipate."

On not wanting to go home so soon - "No…and I'm sure neither does Minnesota."
Darnell Gant:
On being back in NYC - "It feels good. Didn't think we'd be back here this year, but it's going to be alright. I think we're excited for it."

On squeezing into a 5.5 hour flight - "We didn't squeeze. We chartered this time. We had a whole row to ourselves, so it was a much better flight than getting on with a bunch of other people."

On what he did on the flight - "I slept the whole time, so I didn't see anything. I slept the whole time."

On what practice has been like the last couple days - "It's been real intense. Guys are getting after it and being excited. I feel good about the team right now and how we've been approaching practice and I think we're going to approach the game the same way, with the same attitude."

On if he thinks they are playing as good right now as they have all year - "I think so, but we've still got more room to get better, we've still got a few things to work on. We've been attacking that in practice, so I feel like by the time game time comes around, we'll be alright."

On Minnesota - "We know that they are a sold team; they play together, they are a real together team. They've got a bunch of athletes on their team and good players - so we're going to have to be ready for that."

On playing in MSG - "It's the Mecca of Basketball; great games happen in that gym. For us to be here playing under these circumstances and everyone is watching us - the NCAA Tournament isn't going on until this weekend - I feel like it's all eyes on us. It's Madison Square Garden, where the Knicks play - it's a wonderful feeling."

On being intimidated at MSG the first time - "I feel like now we know how to win on the road, and this time around we're a different team than we were in the beginning of the year. We're going to come out with a different mindset and a different focus to win these games."

On the shooting background at MSG - "I don't know what it is. I guess it's just the gym."

On what's been the most fun for him since he's been back in NYC - "Just kicking it with my teammates, just having fun that way. We've had a few hours of free time, and it's been great."
Terrence Ross:
On what he did on the plane - "I was asleep. I was asleep half the time. I think there were a lot of guys sleeping. It was a charter flight, so it was a lot more space, a lot more room to be comfortable. I think a lot of people took advantage of that and went to sleep and watched movies."

On NYC being different than Portland - "It's a lot different. It's a really big city here, there's a lot going on. There's a lot of history in this city. Just being here and playing in the NIT, everybody knows about it, so everybody's excited about us playing in the Garden and the feeling about it is unbelievable."

On Minnesota - "I know they are athletic. They have good guards and they play hard. They are scrappy and they like to get after it on defense."

On Abdul Gaddy's play right now - "He's playing big; he's doing a lot of different things for us. He's not just scoring. He's getting assists, rebounding, playing defense and locking people up. He's really doing everything that a guard needs to do to be successful, and he's doing it at a really high rate."

On how they are playing right now - "I think we're just playing focused, playing with a chip on our shoulder. I think we're trying to go out there with something to prove, to prove a lot of people wrong. I think we're just motivated."

On his game right now - "I feel like I'm just taking it one game at a time, playing my hardest and trying to do everything I can do to help this team win. I think it's just more motivation for us, this NIT Tournament, and I think things are all starting to come together."

On the shooting background at MSG - "Shooting at the Garden is different; the rims are a lot harder. If you get it going, you get it going. But I've been working with coach (Paul) Fortier every day, getting shots up, so I'm getting my shots on point. I don't have to worry about if they are shooter's rims or not, I can just go out there and play my game."

On what's more annoying; people asking where he was going to go to college, or if he's going to stay in college? - "I think it's the second one. It's a whole different ball game; there's a lot more pressure and there's a lot more people trying to talk to you. But I'm just taking it one day at a time."

On if he's having fun right now - "Oh yeah - of course!"

On seeing Terrence Jones doing well - "I'm happy for him; I'm happy that he's doing well. He's taking his team back to another Final Four, and that's big for our town. I'm glad he's doing well for himself."
Abdul Gaddy:
On playing at pre-injury level now - "I'm just trying to play basketball, trying to win games with my teammates. The season is coming to an end, so I'm just trying to play as best I can to keep the season going."

On playing better now than earlier in the season - "Yeah, I'm just playing well. Just being in the gym, doing the extra things like that."

On how much easier Terrence Ross makes his job - "He makes it a lot easier. He's playing well, he's making shots. I just look to find those guys and put them in positions where they can make shots."

On Minnesota - "They are a good, scrappy team that plays really good defense and they'll be a tough team to score on. We'll have to guard them too, because they have a couple good players that can go off at any time, so we'll have to contain them. They are a really good team, and it'll be a good matchup tomorrow."

On being back in NYC - "It's fun. It's always fun going out on the road and being with your teammates, especially in a city like New York. It's a fun atmosphere."

On who on the team keeps it light for the rest of the team - Darnell (Gant). And Scott (Suggs). Those two are the two seniors. They've been through it before, so they know how to keep us loose and everything and don't have us tight when we have a big stage to play on. You just let 'em go…that's the only thing that works."
Tubby Smith:
On one focus of tomorrow's game - "Rebounding is going to be key. Washington is a very good rebounding team, so that's something we have to be concerned about. And they have good balance, balanced scoring. They have Ross and Wilcox and Wroten - they've got some ballers up there. They are going to play at the next level, the pro level. It's the biggest team we've played in the NIT also. They've got size with N'Diaye inside; he's a shot-blocker. We didn't run into that at Miami…we didn't run into that against La Salle. We didn't run into that in our last game against Middle Tennessee State. So they bring a different style of play that we haven't seen in a while, and that's something we'll have to adapt to and adjust to."

On Ralph Sampson's status - "He's dressed and he's ready, but he doesn't have the explosiveness off of that leg. I hope he can play."

On his relationship with coach Romar - "We go back…obviously we're both on the Nike…we go on a lot of Nike trips together. I met him years ago…a young man I recruited to VCU, Calvin Duncan, they played in Athletes in Action together and had toured the country back when teams could play college teams. So we had a chance to coach against him then when Lorenzo was still playing. I've watched him grow and when he was at Saint Louis…he's an outstanding coach and a great man, a man of principle and a man faith. So he's a special breed. It's a real honor to be coaching against him and I have the utmost respect for Lorenzo and his team, because they are playing extremely well. I was just saying, they are probably the most talented team in the field, from top to bottom, so we're going to have our work cut out for us."

On if UW looks like anyone Minnesota has played - "They have the total package. They've got inside-outside, a great shot-blocker. They've got Ross, who can score in a number of different ways. They've got guys coming off the bench…Wilcox does a great job. And they've got good balance. I'm trying to think of who…we've had some teams that…they remind me a lot of Ohio State. They are like Ohio State, in my opinion. They can challenge you at the rim, they can throw the ball inside and finish. They've got the outside perimeter shooting, they've got a good point guard that really runs the show well. They have the same things that Ohio State has, and that's why they are one of the final four teams here at the NIT."

On what they need to take care of before tomorrow - "Defensively, we have to defend them. The matchups are going to be tough for us, because of the talent they have at every position. I'm not sure we have a…Rodney Williams, he might be the only guy, but they've got their power forward…they are pretty talented. I think we've got to play great defense. And we have to rebound the ball. That's something they do very well, and we've got to keep them off the boards."
Rodney Williams:
On being in NYC - "This is actually my first time to New York City, so this is all new to me. Growing up I never thought I would play in the Garden by Times Square. This is a real fun experience for me."

On Washington - "I know they are a team that likes to get out in transition and run. They are real guard-oriented, so they'll shoot the three a lot and they'll hit the backboards real hard, so we're going to have to rebound."

On knowing any of the UW players - "I was at a camp this summer with Terrence Ross, and I played against Abdul Gaddy a couple of times, so that's it."

On what he remembers about Terrence - "He's real athletic and he can shoot the ball. I think he's averaging about 26 points per game in the NIT, so we're going to have to lock up on him. Some of the time that's going to be my responsibility; if he plays the four spot that will be my responsibility, but right now for most of the game I'll be focused on No. 44. I see him over there. We're just going to go out there and play ball and see how it goes."

On what Minnesota needs to do to win - "I think we're going to have to go out and run a little bit in transition. I feel like that's our best offense, so we're going to have to hit the boards hard to get out on transition."

On if he'd want to watch this game as a neutral - "Yeah, I'd definitely keep my eye on this game."

On where the scoring is going to be in the game…In the 80's? - "Well…let's hope we can put the ball in the hole that many times, but we're a team that takes pride in our defense, so hopefully we don't give up that many points."

On if Washington reminds him of anyone in the Big Ten - "No. I don't think they play like anybody in our conference, so they are new to us. Their whole game plan is new to us, and it's going to be interesting out there tomorrow." Top Stories