WVU Interview Transcripts

Transcripts of West Virginia's interviews prior to its second round game against Clemson in Tampa, Fla.

Q. Question for Joe and for John. I know you guys were able to play in this arena as freshmen. I think you guys played against USF. I wonder if there's any advantage having played here before, if that helps you tomorrow.

Joe Mazzulla: I don't think so. That was four years ago, and you know, it was a great road win for us against South Florida, but I think it's a different environment, and I think the stakes are obviously much different.

John Flowers: I really don't think that it's a big advantage. I really don't even remember that game against USF. That was four years ago, and it's a different team. No, I really don't think it's an advantage.

Q. Kevin, can you tell me about playing a Clemson team that played last night, been on the road for so long, had to fly down here this morning? Do you see that as any type of advantage in playing that group?

Kevin Jones: We're definitely not looking at it like an advantage. I mean, we've just got to take care of our end of the deal. We've got to come out with a lot of intensity, crash the boards hard like we normally do, and we've just got to play within ourselves, and I think we should be fine. But we're not looking at their situation as any advantage.

Q. For all three of you, where were you watching the game last night? And how much preparation have you guys done before that game in terms of preparing for both teams?

JOHN FLOWERS: We watched the game in the hotel last night. It was a good game. Clemson is a good team. We've been just preparing -- we've really been preparing for both teams as of yesterday, and we were just seeing who was going to win the game yesterday, and Clemson came out on top, and we've been preparing for them ever since.

KEVIN JONES: Like John said, we watched the game last night in the hotel as a team, and we've really got to be prepared for these guys. They're really aggressive on the defensive end, and they really like to get out in transition, so we can't give them the ball.

JOE MAZZULLA: Yeah, we were in a similar situation with Marquette and Providence having one day to prepare. We just worked on defensive transition, we worked on ball screens and we worked on handling pressure. That's what both teams did. And then today in practice we focused on Clemson.

Q. Joe, does Clemson at all remind you of West Virginia in any way?

JOE MAZZULLA: I mean, I think the way they play their half court defense. They really look to extend their pressure at the half court. And from the film and from the UAB game last night, they really had UAB run their offense at half court. That's something, we have to handle that pressure. We don't want them to push us to half court.

Q. Joe, how much different are you guys from last year's Final Four team, and what do you take from that run last year?

JOE MAZZULLA: We're a much different team. I think we obviously relied on Da'Sean and his offensive ability, where this year it's more spread out. And we just take the experience, and we have to take the confidence. We really went on a run starting in the NCAA Tournament last year, and that's something we're looking to do this year.

Q. Kevin, how much film had you watched of Clemson before? Obviously you know you're going to play them now. And was it different watching them on film as opposed to seeing a complete game last night on TV?

KEVIN JONES: Yeah, well, we've watched film on Clemson and UAB since Monday, but we really got to watch film on just Clemson today, this morning, and it was different because you get to see how they actually go out and pressure teams and they make teams turn the ball over. So like Joe said, we've got to handle their pressure and we can't throw them the ball because that's where they thrive is in transition. And like I said, if we handle the ball and we handle the pressure, we'll be fine.

Q. Joe, this is off topic. Billy Donovan, when did you first find out about Billy Donovan, or when did he --

JOE MAZZULLA: What about him?

Q. Well, he's from Providence and you're from Providence.

JOE MAZZULLA: I mean, I guess hanging around the Providence campus, seeing his name in Dunkin' Donuts Arena and kind of around Alumni Hall where they practice.

Q. Have you ever met him?


Q. Joe, you've been through this a few times now, but I want to ask you about conference affiliation in a year in which the Big East gets a record number of teams. Do you feel like you're playing for the Big East in addition to West Virginia?

JOE MAZZULLA: I think every year we go into the tournament defending our conference, so this year isn't much different. I think we're playing for the Big East. We're playing for West Virginia. We're playing for the state and for our University.

Q. How much have you learned about Clemson in a very short period of time, and what are your challenges?

COACH HUGGINS: Hopefully enough. I really like their team. They've got good perimeter shooters, they've got good ball handlers, and they've got four or five bigs that all play very well, that all have played well at different times. Watching the game last night, they just came out and decided they were going to throw it inside close and score, and they did. They were really working hard, they're extremely physical. I think they're a good team. I think they're playing really, really well now.

Q. A lot has been made of their turnaround they've had to do here, leaving at 2:00 in the morning and playing in just a few hours. Do you think that's a considerable disadvantage for them? Have you been in a situation like that before?

COACH HUGGINS: Yeah, we were. We were pretty much in that situation -- we didn't play, but based on a plane that never got there. So we didn't get in until 5:00 in the morning in Minneapolis. Very much the same kind of deal, although we didn't play a game.

Kids today, they play at 2:00 and they go get a hamburger and french fries and a chocolate shake and they come back and play at 6:00. It's kind of a different breed of athletes, I think. I think they'll be fine.

I think sometimes it helps, particularly in like conference tournaments, it helps to get the first one under your belt.

Q. The preparation obviously is different than most NCAA tournaments, not knowing necessarily who your team, your opponent, is going to be. The players compared it to the Big East where you have a bye and you know it's one of two teams. Is it comparable in terms of how you get ready for this, before knowing who it is?

COACH HUGGINS: Yeah, I mean, we tried to prepare for kind of both teams as best we could. But yeah, it's a different kind of preparation, you know, and I don't have the answer. I don't know what to do. We were trying to figure out what we were going to do. You know, I thought, well, where are we going to confuse them, trying to do two people instead of one, or do you don't do any and try to just concentrate on your own stuff? I probably think too much.

Q. With that being said, what did you do? Did you try to steer the preparation towards Clemson predicting the time that they might win or did you focus on yourselves the past few days before you came here?

COACH HUGGINS: I decided to do all the above. We tried to concentrate on some things that I didn't think we were doing very well defensively, and then tried to concentrate on some things that -- where we could score the ball maybe a little bit easier, and did kind of a little bit of what both teams do.

Q. You talked about scoring the ball, scoring a little bit easier. Over the year, the course of a season, at times it's been a little bit of a challenge for you guys to score consistently. What do you see when you watch film and what do you guys have to do in order to make sure that you can score throughout this tournament?

COACH HUGGINS: We've got to pass the ball better. I think we haven't passed the ball as well as certainly what we need to or hopefully we can. But the truth be known, we've had pretty good shots; we've just got to make more of them. You know, we started the year out and Casey shot it really well, and then he kind of went in a slump. And K.J. had a couple-week stretch where he shot it well. We've just got to make some shots, that's all. But we've got to pass the ball better. We haven't passed the ball very well.

Q. Obviously you lost a couple key pieces from your Final Four team last year, but how is your team different and how is your team similar from that team last year?

COACH HUGGINS: Hmm. Well, I think particularly early in the year, you know, we were in a real close game with Minnesota, and I think everybody was looking for Da'Sean, and Da'Sean wasn't there. I think we haven't had kind of a guy step up that kind of we were going to throw the ball to or try to throw the ball to. It's been K.J. at times, it's been Joe Mazzulla at times, it's been Casey at times, it's been Truck (Darryl Bryant) at times. Actually it's been Deniz at times. We've just -- in some ways I think that's better because it hopefully makes it a little bit harder to scout. But at the same time you kind of want to know who everybody has confidence in, and I think what it is, it's pretty much whoever is playing well that day.

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