Quotes - West Virginia

Da'Sean Butler and Kevin Jones led the way for the Mountaineers 69-56 win over Washington in the Sweet 16. Butler, West Virginia's top player, scored 14 and had seven rebounds while Jones notched 18 and eight. Here's what they had to say after their big win over the Dawgs...

West Virginia players: Da'Sean Butler, Kevin Jones and Devin Ebanks

Q. Kevin, the three of you guys outscored them 33-27 in the second half. What was the difference in the second half for you guys?

KEVIN JONES: First half they got us really playing fast-paced. Their way of playing basketball. The second half we kind of slowed down and got into our offense. Just like we did in the Missouri game. And it worked for us. We were motivated throughout the whole game, especially with Truck gone. That was just like extra motivation for us to come out there and play hard.

Q. Da'Sean, can you talk about kind of your journey here and what it's been like for you since the Beilein and now to go to Huggs. What this is like being one win away from going to a Final Four for you?

DA'SEAN BUTLER: It's been a long journey, if anything. We had one good coach. I learned a lot from him. Then we get a great coach comes in the next year and my game pretty much has gotten tremendously better. I've learned so much. I've become a better player, stronger player, tougher player and more experienced. And now, you know, we go from being the team that was picked to be last in the BIG EAST every year because of the style of play that we had, from the fact that we recruited all these top players and top athletes and elite players, and now we won the BIG EAST Tournament and we're one game away from the Final Four. I can't really complain at all. I couldn't have dreamt it better or scripted it better at all either.

Q. For Kevin, they led for the last time with about five minutes into the second half. You hit a three, you guys went on a run. Had a big block shortly thereafter. Were you kind of looking to assert yourself during that run? And did you feel like that was when the game started to turn?

KEVIN JONES: Yeah. I definitely wanted to go out there and do whatever my team needed me to do to win. I think I can say this for all of us, we just went out there and played tremendously hard in the second half, and that just carried us throughout the rest of the game.

Q. For Devin and for Da'Sean, how uncomfortable was it in the first half without Bryant there to handle the ball? You guys had 13 turnovers. And what did you do to get things under control offensively in the second half?

DEVIN EBANKS: It was tremendously uncomfortable, especially this time of the year when we're not used to bringing the ball up. Having our point guard out was a huge blow to us. We played kind of poorly in the first half. In the second half we kind of limited our turnovers. But still I think, in my opinion, we had too many turnovers in the second half.

DA'SEAN BUTLER: Yeah, it was a struggle, I'm not going to lie to you. I hate having to bring the ball up. But first half we came out there, we did a poor job of taking care of the ball. Coach even told us, keep passing the ball side to side instead of advancing it forward. You don't have to beat the press just dribbling it. You can pass the ball ahead sometimes. We didn't do a great job of that.

Second half we came out we did a better job. Still not a great job at all either. But we did a better -- we were a little more assertive, bringing to the ball up the floor instead of having the ball over our heads or over-dribbling a lot. I think we did a better job the second half.

Q. Da'Sean, the BIG EAST is known as being a physical league, but that game out there looked pretty physical, even more so than a BIG EAST game. Was it one of the more physical games you guys have played in?

DA'SEAN BUTLER: It was a very physical game. You see everybody has ice on. We went out there and they had great intensity and played very physical. We wanted to match that. Obviously their coach is very good friends with our coach. They played against each other a couple of times. He knows how physical his teams are. So obviously he was putting that in his players' heads for the last couple of days. Getting ready for the game to match their physicalness and toughness. And they came out there ready to play, obviously in the first half. I think we came and stepped it up in the second half. And it was great to have Joe (Mazzulla) in the game playing the way he was playing today. That just helped us out.

Q. Da'Sean, was there a point in the second half, they obviously had never played against you guys and hadn't seen your length and how you defend, was there a point in the second half where you felt like maybe they gave in a little bit? That you just had them so frustrated?

DA'SEAN BUTLER: By the time we got to that 1-3-1 and they had about two turnovers, you could see the frustration and how they were slapping at people instead of playing, guarding the ball, I mean. They kind of, I won't say caved but I would say laid down. We just pressed them. We still kept pressing them in the half court with the 1-3-1. Devin did a great job on top of the 1-3-1. It just worked out well for us in the second half.

Q. Devin, can you talk about your match-up with Isaiah Thomas, such a little guy, your match-up, can you talk about that.

DEVIN EBANKS: Basically, doing the scouting for them, we see nobody really had a hand in his face the whole tournament. So we really wanted length. That's what I bring on the defensive end. I guarded smaller players before in my league. It wasn't as big of a challenge, knowing he's a great player. I had to stay in front of him and play defense and keep my length towards him.

Q. Kevin and Da'Sean, particularly Da'Sean, is this a testament to what Huggs' style can do? You guys end up 23 offense rebounds and won second-chance point 27-0. Is this a testament to what his style does?

KEVIN JONES: He teaches to us play physical and aggressive style of basketball. We're always taught to crash the glass no matter what. I think we're going to do that, and if we keep on crashing the glass like we're supposed to and keep on playing defense we'll be fine.

DA'SEAN BUTLER: Like I said before, our best chance of making a shot is missing one first. We just do a great job of getting guys there and they work hard. We had two guys fighting over the ball. We had one turnover one time. Devin and Wells fighting over the offensive rebound. We always get people there. It's something Coach practices us on religiously. So we're always there.


West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins

Q. Bob, it's been a long time since you took Cincinnati to the Final Four. You're a game away. Been to K State now your alma mater. Can you put a perspective how long this journey has been to get back to this point?

COACH BOB HUGGINS: I don't know. I don't look backwards. I had fun -- this is a great bunch of guys. They're way better people than they are basketball players. They've been fun to be around. I told the story the other day, I grew up in Midvale. I got in a pick-up truck with a guy who didn't have a rearview mirror. We're going to play, and I said to him, I said, man, you don't have a rear-view mirror in this truck. He said, boy, we ain't going backwards. That's kind of how I live my life.

Q. Coach, at what point did you guys become aware that Syracuse had lost? And does it mean anything to be the last BIG EAST team alive in this tournament?

COACH BOB HUGGINS: Sitting in there when those little girls and Syracuse students in there told the guys that Syracuse had lost. We want to be the last ones standing, period.

Q. You guys, if you had to play against your team and all that size and length, how frustrating do you think it would to be to attack and score against your team? And did you see Washington, which is a pretty good offensive team, get frustrated?

COACH BOB HUGGINS: You know, it's hard for me because I see it every day. It's hard for me to understand. But I mean we do have great length. We're not very big, but we have great length. And we've got great guys. They do pretty much try to do at least what I ask them to do, other than the first half offensively.

I have a harder time convincing them to run offense than I do to play defense. They've done a great job. And we've gotten so much better over the last like three weeks to a month, it's unbelievable. And I used to tell them, you're the worst defensive team I've had in the last 10 or 12 years. We didn't help. We got into guarding our man and we didn't help, and just in three or four weeks, we have become a very, very good defensive team.

Q. Coach, at the 7:00 mark left to go in the game, you guys had like 41 rebounds already in the game. I think half were offensive. Did you guys just simply come out and sort of impose your will in the second half?

COACH BOB HUGGINS: I think we showed them so much tape of how fast Washington is in transition and the need to get back, that I think we were thinking about getting back rather than doing what we do. And that's what I told them at halftime. I said, you know, maybe we're going to lose, I don't know. But if we do lose, let's lose our way. Let's lose doing what we do. Forget all this stuff, let's just go do what we do. I thought we did a much, much better job of playing the way we're good at playing in the second half.

Q. Coach, can you talk a little bit about Da'Sean and what he brings to the team and what you think he brought to the team this evening, especially?

COACH BOB HUGGINS: He struggled offensively today. You know, he makes two huge plays defensively. We were playing pitch and catch with the wrong team for a while there. And Devin threw it away. They tried to throw it ahead. Da ran it down. He made a great play in the 1-3-1. Stepping in front of a guy and making a steal. You know, he knows how to play. Da'Sean's greatest strength is he really knows how to play.

Q. I know you don't want to go back, so I'm going to take you back to the BIG EAST Tournament. Do you remember that?

COACH BOB HUGGINS: Yeah.

Q. It's a little while ago. Past couple of weeks.

COACH BOB HUGGINS: Barely.

Q. I won't go back to the early '90s. You were very emotional that night. If you win on Saturday to get to the Final Four, how emotional do you think you'll be?

COACH BOB HUGGINS: I'm not sure where you grew up, but when you grow up and you're born and raised in West Virginia and you grow up the son of a coach, and you get to play in Madison Square Garden and I got to play there as a player, and to be able to go coach in Madison Square Garden -- and when the game is over with, to hear "Country Roads" come over the loudspeaker in Madison Square Garden, it's unbelievable. I mean, and I think a culmination of all the work that those guys put in and the dedication and effort that they had.

You don't understand unless you've ever been to West Virginia how much it means to the people. Let me tell you what the governor told me before the game. They piped --

Q. Which game?

COACH BOB HUGGINS: This game. They piped in to all the factories and all the mines and everything, the play-by-play, because otherwise guys were trying to get off their shift. Because they wanted to watch the game. So they piped it in. It's piped in everywhere in the state of West Virginia. Everybody in West Virginia is listening to the game or watching the game. That's how much it means to our state. There's such great pride there. And for me, having played there and born there. My mom and dad are both from Morgantown. My dad grew up in Dug Hill. My mom grew up on Eighth Street. So I understand. I understand how much it means. And I think the great thing is these guys understand how much it means to the people.

That was the reason -- I mean, Mike has seen me a whole bunch. We've won a lot of conference championships. I kind of let the kids steal them and I walk away and let them have fun. Because of where it was and because how much I know it means to our people, that's why I got emotional.

Q. It seemed like a key stretch in the game came when you entered the zone in the second half. What was the philosophy behind that, and how do you think that changed the game?

COACH BOB HUGGINS: We were in foul trouble. We got in foul trouble. Mazzulla had three, and we were afraid they would iso us. Da'Sean had two. They would just iso us and get us in foul trouble. So we started out playing match and we ended up playing the 1-3-1. The reason was foul trouble.

Q. This might be a stretch, but --

COACH BOB HUGGINS: Not from you.

Q. You're probably right. The end of the first half is when you established some physicality. That was when you put Deniz in the game. How important was that? Was that why he went in the game?

COACH BOB HUGGINS: I told those guys walking up here, I thought the MVP of the game was John Flowers. But Deniz certainly -- Deniz got six points in five minutes. He probably could have had a couple more if we had thrown the ball when he was open. We were struggling to score, and that's one thing Deniz can do. And then I think Deniz knew -- first time on defense his guy caught it and shot a lay-up, he knew he better do something. He wasn't going to last very long. He gave us a huge boost there. I thought Flowers in the second half was terrific.


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