Quote Lines: West Virginia - Morgan State

What the players and coaches had to say following West Virginia's 77-50 win over Morgan State in the first round of the NCAA tournament


Q. For Devin and Kevin, did you have any visions in the early going of what happened to Georgetown last night? And what did you two in particular do to kind of take charge there?

DEVIN EBANKS: I kind of thought about the Dayton game too from last year.

Started off 10 points to our zero. Just trying to get it going with my teammates. Let's go. Can't have another close game. We have to step on the -- during the game we stepped it up and broke it out to a big lead.

KEVIN JONES: I thought the same way Devin do. Just thinking about last year's NCAA tournament game. I definitely didn't want to end it off like that. I'm just glad we got our minds right and at the end of the first half and going into the whole second half, we just do what we needed to do to win.

Q. Devin, can you talk a little about your defense on number 11? He really never got a chance to get off in the game.

DEVIN EBANKS: Holmes is a great player as far as his team and his coverages. Watching tape with him the last three days, I really tried to study his moves to the basket. Two dribbles in, step back, create open shot. I was trying to eliminate his touches. When he got the ball just stay in his face and not let him get a clean shot off.

Q. Do you think your size and your height against him -- he's quick -- but you were able to neutralize him?

DEVIN EBANKS: I try to use my length. I'm taller and way longer than he is. I try to keep my hand in his face and not let him get a clean look at the basket. And if he did get a clean look, just keep it in his face so it'll be difficult to make the shot.

Q. Kevin, you got on a little run there where you scored about 8 or 10 points in a row. Were you calling for the basketball there? Was everybody looking to go to you there?

KEVIN JONES: I mean, yeah, I felt in the beginning I wasn't being aggressive enough. I had to go and still play team basketball. But just be a little more aggressive. I mean my shots was falling. I was just in one of those zones and I'm glad that it worked out for my team that -- and it got us back into the game.

Q. Devin, Kevin, Da'Sean, did you all pay attention to what happened with the BIG EAST teams yesterday and what a struggle it was for them or were you so concerned about your own situation that you didn't really pay that much attention to it?

DA'SEAN BUTLER: We're our own team. Granted we're in the same conference and we wish our conference teams well. We're a different team from everybody else. We do different things. At the end of the day we had to worry about ourselves. But they had their games. Their games were all close as opposed to -- aside from Villanova, everybody else was pretty much even teams. They were all even compared to Villanova and Robert Morris. We came in and didn't want to leave early. We wanted to take care of our business. So we did.

Q. This is also for Da'Sean. How important was it, though, in that sense that you didn't have your "oh, no" moment and the team rallied while you were being double-teamed and really taken out of the game in the early going?

DA'SEAN BUTLER: To answer that, I kind of give everybody else the same answer when they say how does it feel to be on a team from this year compared to last year. We had a good team last year. But everybody was so young. I kind of felt that I had to do a lot more. This year we have a team. Everybody has matured. The freshmen are now sophomores. And upperclassmen understand their roles and things they can and can't do. It's a lot easier for me to go out there and play and make that one more pass to Devin and Kevin and Wells and Truck and Joe too. Everybody can score. Everybody knows what they can do. So it's a lot -- it makes it easier on myself and not to worry about scoring.

Q. Da'Sean and Devin, could you just in that vein you were talking Da'Sean, can you talk about the progress that Kevin has made this year? You two guys were all Big East pre-season. Kevin's really picked it up. Can the two of you talk about what he's done for the team this year and today too?

DEVIN EBANKS: Kevin is the perfect example of student athlete. He works hard on and off the court. He put a lot of time in the summer. Now it's paying off. It paid off for him all season. That's why I think he has produced the way he has. We need his strong play the rest of this year for us to make a deep run.

DA'SEAN BUTLER: Same thing Devin says. Kevin has been the hardest worker on the team consistently during the off season and during the season as well. So it only goes with the territory as far as him being consistent during the season. He's been our most consistent player all year-round. As far as rebounding and scoring and just guarding his man and doing all the things -- all the little things that he does. And off the court, he's generally an excellent person to be around. I'm just glad he's on our team.

Q. Coach, in a similar vein to you, what was your reaction to the slow start? What did you tell them? Was there any mention at all of what has happened to some of these other BIG EAST teams in this tournament?

BOB HUGGINS: No, we didn't mention anything like that. We just -- we've done this -- we didn't attack them. We were playing pitch and catch on the perimeter. We started some games that way. I honestly thought we were ready to play. We just didn't do a very good job of attacking their 2-3 early. I think after the first media time-out, we did a much better job of doing what we're good at doing.

Q. Do you feel like rebounding was the key to getting it turned around?

BOB HUGGINS: We didn't rebound it early. We have to rebound it for us to be successful, we have to rebound it. But we -- you know, we have to throw it where we're good at scoring it too. There's days when some of our guys shoot the three pretty well. Then there's a lot of days they don't. We just try to ham-and-egg it to the one that's making it that particular day. But the core of what we have to do is put pressure on the rim. We didn't put any pressure on the rim. And that was my -- my conversation with them had a lot more to do with us putting pressure on the rim than it did anything else.

Q. In that first media time-out, did the players realize what they were doing wrong; is it something that you told them?

BOB HUGGINS: Hopefully I helped them. I mean, they were fine. I think they understood -- and then we changed some things what we were doing too.

Q. Any thoughts on the slow start by the Big East yesterday, and did you warn your players about that?

BOB HUGGINS: I didn't. I didn't say anything about it.

Q. Any thoughts on why the BIG EAST was -- started off slow and got upset yesterday?

BOB HUGGINS: I didn't watch any of the games. I'm a bad one to ask about those things, because I was watching tape last night.

Q. Coach, I was talking to Devin, is that a common thing for you to have him playing defensively, players like that, smaller and quicker? He really just took him out of the game.

BOB HUGGINS: He's played everybody. We put him on Scottie Reynolds for instance. We've put him on a lot of small guys. And Dev has good feet. He's got good feet but he has such great length. And I think the things that he was talking about, Reggie's step-back move, the step-back move is a lot better when you have somebody who's not 6'9", and as long as Dev is. He's done a really good job on smaller guys for us. We usually but Da'Sean on the small forward and put Devin on whatever their better perimeter guys guy is. Unless their small forward is really good then we put Dev on them. He's accepted the challenge to go out and guard other people's best players.

Q. Bob, Casey came in two shots and he's been doing this a lot. What's working with him and how is his knee?

BOB HUGGINS: I didn't ask him. I don't know. I think it's all right. You know, because Casey's knees bother him a little bit, I try to go with Pep (Dalton Pepper) earlier. Pep didn't make any shots. We had to loosen it up a little bit. Casey -- he missed the first couple but then he made a couple. I think he's fine.

Q. It's not just threes. He had a couple of steals tonight, assists. It's not just a one-time thing now with him.

BOB HUGGINS: He's smart enough to know he'd better play. I think he's figured that part of it out. He better, when he gets in the game, he better play.

Q. Bob, could you address what I had asked earlier of Devin and Da'Sean about Kevin? From a coach's standpoint, his progress this year, what he's done and what he's meant to all this?

BOB HUGGINS: He had a great summer, I think, to start with. He was 215 pounds when he came in. I don't know what he is right now, but I know at one point in time he was between 245 and 250. He got knocked off the block before. He got pushed under the basket. And he's a big, strong guy now. I think that's one thing. And I think he's worked really hard at his skill level. He's worked at his footwork. Kev is a great kid. He's going to give you everything he has. Kevin is a guy who really enjoys being in the gym and really spends a lot of time in the gym. I mean, he's -- I think he's like Da'Sean was earlier in his career. Da'Sean still is. We have a day off, probably if you go in there at some point in time of the day, you're going to see both of those guys in there still working on their game.

Q. As big as Devin's job was on Reggie, didn't you also feel like you had a big advantage at the point? And did you maybe pressure them a little bit more than you normally do or is that about what you do?

BOB HUGGINS: No, we are what we are. We try to pressure all point guards. Sometimes we don't do as good a job as we need to. We wanted to do that. We want to try to take them out of what they want to run. If you let them run what they want to run, they're very, very good. We try to take them out of it a little bit.

Q. Bob, when it was 10-0, did you sense any panic from your kids? Were you proud of the way they kind of didn't deviate from their intended course?

BOB HUGGINS: They've done it all year. We have not been -- we have not gotten out of the gate very good the majority of games. For whatever reason, I'm not sure what it is, but I thought -- I thought we -- I thought we were ready to play. I didn't think it was a matter of us not being ready to play. I just didn't think we attacked them very well.

Q. Beyond the obvious of helping K.J. physically in the block, the way you talked about, there was a perception maybe he sort of physically tailed off the end the last season, postseason-wise. Do you feel like it helped him sustain his effort through postseason play?

BOB HUGGINS: Well, I'm sure being bigger and stronger and going through the rigors of a season, I'm sure he's better at it. We're also playing a lot better teams. We were -- we played the Big East tournament. About then we played a very good Dayton team who has -- all those teams we played had bigger, stronger guys. So I'm not -- I'm not positive it was a matter of K.J. just breaking down physically. I think he just got outmanned from a physical standpoint. And then that hasn't happened at all this year. We've played pretty good people. And he hasn't physically got outmanned ever.

Q. It's been a little while since anybody really pressed you for more than just token. Are you better at handling it now, and maybe is that why people have stopped pressing you?

BOB HUGGINS: I don't know why they've stopped pressing us, but we're ready to handle it. I can tell that you. We've spent a lot of time on it since the debacle in Cleveland, for a lot of reasons. Because I think there's going to be a lot of situations where we're headed at the end of the game where we're going to have to take care of the ball. I don't know why anybody -- I think it helps us, to be honest with you, it opens the floor. It gives us a better chance to score. We can score with the floor open. I mean, I think that's when Da'Sean has big games. I think that plays well into Devin's hands. Mazzulla's hands. And so I hope people do extend their defense a little bit and spread it out a little bit. Basically, what we've done is played against people who have stood five guys in a line.

Q. Certainly, it's not going to hurt that you were able to rest some guys today.

BOB HUGGINS: Hopefully not. That's the first time in a long time we've been able to rest anybody.


TODD BOZEMAN: Those damn 40-minute games. If we had it at 12, we would have won the game. Obviously, you have to tip your hat to West Virginia. We knew coming in it was going to be a tough, it was going to be a hell of a challenge. They were, as I said before the game, I thought they were a number one seed. And they turned it up and played like it. So we got off to a good start. That doesn't always bode well for teams. I thought the guys -- I'm just proud of them. It was a hell of a year. And really I'm sad to see these two guys leave. These seniors. Reggie has been here since the first practice at Morgan. So I got emotional at the end because it's like watching one of your kids go away to school or leave the house. Hats off to West Virginia. And they have had a hell of a year. I know it's going to keep going. They possibly can go to the Final Four.

Q. Reggie, talk a little about going against Ebanks and the fact that he had that reach and extension and everything. And then secondly, I would like to know what Todd said to you, if you would, when you came off the floor for the last time.

REGGIE HOLMES: He's a great defender. The shots just weren't falling today. When I came off the court, it was very emotional. That's my last game as a college basketball player.

Q. Did Todd say anything in particular meaningful to you at that point?

REGGIE HOLMES: Great career. We've been here since Morgan. The last four years, since the start.

TODD BOZEMAN: You ain't going to tell him I told you I love you?

REGGIE HOLMES: He love me.

Q. Reggie you play guard. Ebanks is 6'9". Have you been defended by a guy that tall; is that an unusual matchup?

REGGIE HOLMES: DeWayne Jackson he's 6'8". We go at it at practice every day. Wasn't no difference.

Q. This is for both players. What do you take away from a season like this? It's hard right after the game, but what do you take away from a season like this?

REGGIE HOLMES: Like I said, we were grinders. We ain't never quit. Even though we lost, we still ain't quit today.

TROY SMITH: The same. Preparation is the whole key. I take away you have to be prepared for every situation. Every situation could be different in life. Basketball, life, they're the same basically. You go through the same things. So I'm going to take this as a learning experience.

Q. Troy, talk about the offense and what happened with the offense. Did you reach a point where the offense was just not effective because of the way they were playing, or did you get to that point because you guys became frustrated?

TROY SMITH: We wasn't frustrated. We had a hard time getting to our offense the way we wanted to, getting the ball inside like we wanted to. To be honest, they just played a good game. They played a good game, and we ain't played too well. The ball wasn't going in as much as it usually goes in for us. Didn't get as many open looks as we usually get. Hats off to West Virginia for what they done.

Q. Was that size? Was it a difference of size? You don't face teams like that in the MEAC?

TROY SMITH: Size has something to do with -- I wouldn't say size. We just wasn't hitting our shots, you know?

Q. Reggie, you talked about being grinders. How much does everything that's happened this year contribute to that mentality?

REGGIE HOLMES: I mean, we've been through a lot. A lot of adversity from our children to our teammates, we've been through a lot. Like to never quit. That's all I tell our players in the huddle before we go out and play, never quit. No matter who they are.

Q. Reggie and Troy, what was going so well those first eight minutes when you guys were up so big, West Virginia couldn't hit a shot? And also, did things change after Kevin got his second foul? How much did it change?

REGGIE HOLMES: I think we had a lot of energy, a lot of energy. And our shots were falling. But Kevin, he's a great rebounder, no one person is going to block him out. Two people were trying to block him out. We were getting the rebounds. I guess the energy went down. We started missing shots. That's how the game changed.

TROY SMITH: I think Reggie hit it on the nose. Kevin in the game, you have to box him out. It's going to take more than one person. Guys like us, we off-side rebound. So when he went out the game, they knew they had a rebounding advantage over us and they took advantage of it.

Q. Both players, sum up your career at Morgan, how you feel about it and how you feel about a legacy, if you feel you have left one.

REGGIE HOLMES: I mean, I feel great about my career. Right now I'm not thinking about it. I'm still mad about the loss. But I feel great to have two championships -- two conference championships and three regular season championships since I've been here from day one. To say it and do it is a lot right now. Right now I'm still feeling the effects from that loss.

TROY SMITH: Yeah, I don't like to lose. That's one thing. I don't like to do -- I've been winning for a long time. When we first came in last year from junior college, coach said we're going to win and go to the tournament this year and do some good things. Like Reggie said, we put the work in and we done it. We didn't win the game that we wanted to win, but I think we prepared ourselves to keep playing basketball in the near future.

Q. You guys did a pretty good job. Certainly Da'Sean Butler didn't do a whole lot in the first half. The other guys obviously in West Virginia did hurt. How much did Ebanks and Jones hurt you, and how were they able to do it?

REGGIE HOLMES: I think -- what's his name -- Jones, in the middle of our zone, he killed us in the middle of the zone. That's what I was saying. Ebanks, he was getting a lot of rebounds that first half. That really kept them in it.

TROY SMITH: Reggie said it. He had 13 rebounds. Ebanks and Jones. That's the shot. You get it, pivot, don't travel and going to knock it down if you don't have a hot hand. Like I said, we give credit to them. They played really, really good game.

Q. Talk about the foul trouble of both Kevin and Reggie, how much that affected you and the fact you sat them down and you had to sit them down the end of the half.

TODD BOZEMAN: I'm answering that question but I'm not taking anything away from West Virginia because they're a good basketball team. But our margin for error is very slim when we have those two off the court. Reggie is a top scorer in the country and Kevin is a top rebounder. I was trying to get out of the half without them stretching it to double figures without those guys on the floor. We have depth, but we don't have BIG EAST depth on the other side. So it's a little bit different. They went to subs, and they were able to adjust some things. We don't have that kind of depth. We have depth, but not that kind of depth where you can continue to play at a high level. So the level of play kind of goes down a little bit. And we struggled a little bit at the point guard. Their length is significant. Early on we were being aggressive in the zone, kind of slowed them up a little bit. But that was our best opportunity, was the zone. We couldn't guard them man to man, not without size. When you go to the bench you don't have the same kind of experience. I was going to say, that did affect us. I'm not going to say that's the only reason why we lost the game. I was trying not to let them stretch it out like that. But we've had -- if we have a deficiency, it probably is with our point guard play. But with that said, we won 27 games with the back court.

Q. What about Rodney? You used Rodney with Ameer out. You used Rodney in the middle. Was the size in there a part of the reason that you were able to get the early lead and maybe confuse them a little bit?

TODD BOZEMAN: I don't think it confused them. You have to try to attack people where you think you have the best opportunity. The best opportunity was in the zone, because they shoot 33% from the three. So it was playing in our favor early on. It was just a matter of us scoring on the other end. We missed free-throws, we missed four free-throws. It was front end of one and one. You are talking about we have an opportunity to score. And you have to score. You can't -- you can't go down and come up empty-handed. So that will affect you against a team like that. And so I mean, even though we were up like that, it was a matter of time before they made a run. Most teams it happens to, when we watch the tape of Villanova game, they were down like that. We're not Villanova, but still they were down like that, and they came back.

Q. Todd, was there a point there when you were so effective early that you allowed yourself to think this could be another Georgetown-Ohio?

TODD BOZEMAN: I thought that coming into the game. So that's not -- during the game you don't really get caught up in that. You know it's a long game. Like I said in the beginning, damn games are too long. 40 minutes is too long. Should run it at 12 and then end it the first time-out. I mean, it didn't -- I wasn't thinking that far in advance, because if you coach long enough, you know that you start out on a run and often times the other team is going to make a run. If you can extend that like Ohio did against Georgetown, they created a cushion. But if you can't create that cushion, you are going to have a problem because they're going to make a run. It's just a matter of time. Those guys have a lot of length. They did a good job -- we did a good job on Butler. Kevin Jones, he got loose in the middle there and then Ebanks, they're really, really good players. We played against that kind of length when we played Baylor. Baylor has the same kind of length. They have a three man at 6'11". We've seen that before. That's why Reggie wasn't necessarily that surprised by it. They do a good job. They really take you out of your offense. They put extreme pressure on you. And they force your offense out further than where you want it to be. So normally we can play. Normally we can play with that. We didn't do a good job today.

Q. Because it was a 2-15 game, did you guys watch and talk about the Robert Morris game, either you and your kids? When it was 10-0 and you came into the huddle or the first media and you came into the huddle, what did you say?

TODD BOZEMAN: I watched the game because I just watch basketball like that. But we didn't talk about it. We didn't talk about it with the team. And then in terms of the first time out, we were up 10-0, to be honest with you, I didn't even look up at the score. I knew -- I had a feeling what it was. I said, forget the score. That has nothing to do with this. You guys have to keep playing. You have to keep playing hard. You have to keep talking and rebounding. Because I mean I knew it was a matter of time before they would get comfortable with it. And I knew I was going to have to go to the bench. Like I said, we have depth, we don't have that kind of depth to keep up a level of a rebounder of Kevin Thompson and the scoring of Reggie Holmes.

Q. I know the game is over now and there's nothing you can do about it. But can you take something out of the fact that you really kind of shut Da'Sean down and really made West Virginia have to make adjustments and find other people to beat you?

TODD BOZEMAN: No. That category there, I don't get anything out of that category. We didn't get any trophies or recognition for it. All they're going to say on SportsCenter is we got drubbed. Ain't not going to say shut Da'Sean Butler down. No. That's a team. It's a team sport. So you would hope that if one guy doesn't have a good game, somebody else will step up. We have had that during the course of the year. So you would think that -- they're not a -- they're a top ten ballclub. They're not doing that just because of him. But we knew that coming in. It's not like he's Blake Griffin. He's a great player but not Blake Griffin. Blake Griffin, he carried the whole show. So hopefully I answered your question.

Q. You keep referring to depth and there's Big East depth. Last year Oklahoma, this year West Virginia. As a coach, you're a competitor, you want to win, is there a point you get frustrated sometimes where there comes a point in the game where, you know, you have to go to your bench and you realize it's just another level. Does it get frustrating or do you as a coach just kind of make peace with where you're at?

TODD BOZEMAN: I told the staff, I said, fellows, it is what it is. That's what we got. It's not like we -- we can't make a trade. It's not like we're going to go and somebody else is going to come in the door. I said, it is what it is. You have to keep things in perspective. We are at mid-major -- I know that others might consider us low major. We might have been low major when we first got here, but we're mid-major. We compete like that. That's a different kind of depth with guys with that kind of physicality coming off the bench. And so, and our guys don't have the same kind of experience. So against the mid-majors or some of the high majors you can't compete like that. But they just continue to bring guys in that play at that level, it does affect you. I wasn't frustrated, because I know the reality of it. And I've been on that side of the ball. So I know what it's like to have that kind of depth and have guys -- for all intents and purposes, we had five or six pros that played together at Cal. I know what it's like to have that kind of depth. But you just can't sustain it if your top players come off the floor. That's the way it is. But that doesn't mean that we're not going to recruit to try to get that now. I'm trying to get that. I'm trying to get it at this level as much as I can. The weight room comes into play. It played dividends for us this year from last year, when Kevin went up against Blake Griffin. He came back with a whole different mentality. Now DeWayne Jackson has that taste. Joe Davis has that taste, Sean Thomas now has that experience with it. Rodney Stokes has more experience. We want to build on that.

Q. It's easy for us to look at your season and just say the word adversity. How would you describe it? It's easy for us to sort of say there was tons of adversity for you guys. How would you describe the year?

TODD BOZEMAN: Well, I mean, it was adversity. But my thing is I try to tell the guys, I try to impress upon them that sports and life mirror each other. So I hope they can draw from the fact that the things we did, we went back to basics, we stayed fundamental. They're going to face those kind of things in life. If they draw from that, that's what this whole experience should be about. For them to know -- although it's sports and some people might disregard it, it really is life. You're going to have tough times. You're going to have situations. I told them in one of the huddles, Kevin got really frustrated. I said, listen, man, you have to think big picture. Do not act up out on that floor. I said you're going to win some, you're going to lose some. Somebody gets the best of, you have to keep playing hard and be -- that's just how it goes. I'm not going to tell you to be a good loser, but you still have to handle yourself with class. I tell them there's consequences for your actions. Obviously I lived through that. That's my job to impress that upon them. But to take from it, it's a microcosm of life. Hopefully they'll get that.

Q. You can see the frustration on your bench. Is that just how you've learned -- how would you describe the team's personality usually? TODD BOZEMAN: I mean, like I said, that's a part of life. They were frustrated, but they're kids. They're not necessarily sure how to handle that and where to direct that energy. And they've had a great season. As I told them in the locker room, there's only one team that's going to have that feeling. Only one. It was a great season. It's just that their's came earlier. Fellows, you have to build upon this. This is how it goes. You guys know, they know, I won't talk about it here that we didn't do or we didn't follow directions. Hopefully they'll learn from that and they will say, you know what, last year this happened. Boze told us to do this and we have to make sure we correct it. Hopefully it will be a total learning experience. But I told them don't hang their heads. They beat you. That's how it goes. You can't stop living because they beat you. They beat you. Now you have to come back and get better. But it helped us this year through tough games in situations like that.

Q. How much did Ebanks send Reggie into this game into a spiral, as opposed to -- Reggie hasn't shot the ball well in March really. Didn't shoot it well in the MEAC. He struggled with his shot lately. How much of that was Ebanks and how much was Reggie maybe not forcing things too?

TODD BOZEMAN: Well, you say, sent him into a downward spiral.

Q. 4 for 17.

TODD BOZEMAN: Yeah, but if that's sending him into a downward spiral; he just didn't shoot the ball well for this game. He hasn't shot it great for -- as you say, March. But we've won. And that's the maturity of him not forcing shots as freshman/sophomore he would force shots. I was proud of him, he didn't force shots. He didn't make himself look bad. He still was a basketball player. The length, it's hard to get your shot off sometimes against a guy that's 6'9". You have guys -- I'm good friends with Dell Curry. He talked about that when he went into the league where he had to get his release quicker so he could get his shot off. That's why Stephen ended up having a quick release because he taught him that. Reggie is going to have to learn how to deal with that kind of length on a consistent basis. He has it with DeWayne. But DeWayne doesn't have the body that Ebanks has. DeWayne doesn't have the experience that Ebanks has. And he doesn't have the teammates that's pushing you to that has the same kind of length and denying you so you can't pass the ball to a guy. But he'll adjust to that.

That's nothing different than when you first get in the NBA you have a 7-footer like Patrick Ewing and David Robinson running it and now you have to now make your shot quicker. It's just a part of the game. It's not a knock on Reggie. It's just -- that's just how it goes with the length. Everybody talks about West Virginia's length. It is what it is. I heard Huggs say he put him on Scottie Reynolds. If he can guard Scottie Reynolds, he's an All-American. Big East player of the year. It is what it is.

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