Quote Lines: WVU - Missouri

What the players and coaches were saying following West Virginia's 68-59 win over Missouri in the second round of the NCAA tournament.


Q. For any of the players that want to answer it. Obviously Missouri's press was the talk leading up to this game. It didn't seem to cause you any undue discomfort. Can you talk about how you felt about that and how you went about it?

DA'SEAN BUTLER: Kind of -- it was just like a press. It was a regular press. We came to the ball, we met the ball a lot when they pressed and we got people coming back to the ball and we just took care of it. We didn't really panic. As a team we didn't really panic at all. We just stepped up to the challenge and played like men and broke the press.

DEVIN EBANKS: They said being strong with the ball. That was our big concern. Especially watching the tape. We see that they got a lot of steals when people didn't meet the ball. We wanted to be strong. Once we got past half court we knew we could execute the offense.

Q. Devin and Kevin, can you talk a little bit about -- there's been so much made of Da'Sean's late-game heroics. His ability to hit the shot at the end. Today it was more like the methodical performance. 19 in the first half. The key free-throws in the second half. I take it that's more than Da'Sean you see on a regular basis, always hitting the shot at the end.

KEVIN JONES: Definitely. He's been our leader throughout the whole season. We look to him for a lot of things, and he's just been able to come through throughout the whole season. I know he'll keep on coming through for us. I'm just happy to be here and looking forward to playing Washington in the Sweet 16.

Q. Da'Sean, it's been somewhat of a rough weekend for the BIG EAST here. Syracuse did what it was supposed to do today. You guys came in and did what you were supposed to do. Does that say anything about the fact that the two teams here were able to win, say anything for the conference itself?

DA'SEAN BUTLER: That the conference is good still. Granted some of our teams might have lost. It's a bad draw of the cards, you know. We can only play for ourselves right now. We can't play -- we can play for our conference. But right now we can only take care of what we need to take care of on the court and worry about West Virginia. What happens at the end of the year happens. However we represent our conference we represent our conference. You have to take care of your business on the court.

Q. Da'Sean, you talked the other day about Joe Alexander leading you to the Sweet 16 when you were a sophomore. I know you have bigger goals, but do you feel -- are you proud to lead these younger guys to the Sweet 16?

DA'SEAN BUTLER: I'm just happy that we got the opportunity to come out and play. In reality it's been a ton of games this year where they carried me. You think about last game. Granted we won in a decent fashion, but there's been plenty of games where these two especially come out in the beginning of the game and carry me and made the load easier for me to go out there and just make -- pass the ball or rebound and just play. But to answer your question, I say it kind of feels good to go out there and show the younger players, these guys understand pretty much, they're ahead of their class in a way, but just to show the younger guys, Doug and Danny, if you come in and play hard and work hard all year, in the summer, of course, you can do this. You can go to the Sweet 16 or even further. So...

Q. Da'Sean, is there a difference in attitude or a difference in feeling for you personally for this Sweet 16 run as opposed to two years ago when you guys were the underdogs, beat Duke? This year you were the favorites and expected to make it this far.

DA'SEAN BUTLER: I don't think of us as anything else other than underdogs. Always I need that mentality before I go into a game. I can't go into the game thinking we're the best team in the country or whatever the case may be. Always think that we're the team people always overlooked. When Coach first got here, we were the team that others overlooked, I always put the team in on my back. Missouri, doesn't matter who it is. Missouri, I need that chip.

Q. Kevin, yesterday you mentioned about how the press was intended to wear teams down mentally. But you look at what you guys were able to do particularly at the free-throw line, down the stretch in this game and how you limited their steals. I'm taking it, it didn't wear you down as much as they had hoped it would?

KEVIN JONES: Yes. Like I said before, it's just like any other press that you face. The intended purpose is to get to you play faster. And I think we did a good job of playing at our own pace then get into our offense. I don't think it wore us down a lot at all.

Q. Da'Sean, could you just describe the putback of the free-throw at the end of the game and how important it was at that time?

DA'SEAN BUTLER: Obviously Cam was shooting the free-throw. He missed his first one. In my head if I miss my first one, if I don't go out there and take care of business, I might miss my second one. We always crash anyway. We kind of crossed and nobody really boxed me out, so I just went up there and grabbed it and laid it in, but it was just a matter of just getting to the basketball. I got there first before he did, and made the play.

Q. For Devin and Da'Sean, with everything that Joe Mazzulla has gone through on and off the court, when did you guys feel like you really had him back this year?

DEVIN EBANKS: As soon as he steps on the court at the start of the season, he went through some problems earlier. He has been able to overcome it. He's just been stepping up for us at a good time. Starting in the BIG EAST tournament and it's carrying over to the NCAA tournament. He's being very more vocal on the court and more into the game. You can definitely tell and sense it from him. That's what we need from him.

DA'SEAN BUTLER: By far one of the toughest people we have on the team. He's played with one arm the majority of the year. He hasn't complained about it or cried or anything. He just got on the court, played as hard as he could and did what he can do. He never came out there and hoisted up three threes or done anything out of his game. He's done nothing but come on the court and lead the team when he has the ball in his hands as the point guard. And just guard -- the best player at -- whoever you ask him to guard, he guards. He had a great BIG EAST tournament. He's having a great tournament now as far as doing what I told you, leading and guarding. I don't see why he wouldn't continue to do the same.

Q. Actually Devin and Da'Sean, all three can answer, the final nine minutes I think of the first half you guys didn't get a basket. You were up I think maybe 7 and then you went into the half up six. Keeping that gap in place, free-throws, defense, towards the final outcome how important was that stretch of play?

KEVIN JONES: We just had to stay focused throughout the game. Like sometimes you come out after halftime and we have a lot of letups. We want to make sure especially with this team we didn't come out flat. This is a team that can definitely take advantage of you playing bad and we just didn't want to do that.

DEVIN EBANKS: Same as Kevin. The other day we started off slow and we knew that we couldn't come out like that against a good Missouri team. Definitely the way they press. We knew if we would have dug ourselves a hole it would have been tough to get out. That was definitely the mentality coming out strong the second half the first four minutes. Definitely getting the stops and making some buckets.

DA'SEAN BUTLER: I just say we -- after the time without scoring, after we got our first one about being mentally tough and taking care of the ball running the offense and running the sets, you need to run and get the ball to the right people. Kevin made some big shots in the second half as well as Devin, getting the ball to the right people at the right times and just executing.

Q. I'm wondering if you can express Joe's maturity, maybe off the court as much as on the court over the last couple of months.

BOB HUGGINS: I think you have to understand what Joe goes through to be able to play. He still goes in for rehab an hour a day. And he does that pretty much -- he had done it about pretty much seven days a week. It may be down to six now. I kind of honestly thought that Joe was kind of really, at the start of the BIG EAST tournament, he was kind of settling for just being a role player for us. And I had a conversation about him stepping up and playing the way that we all expected him to play. He played probably, at least half the season, probably more, and couldn't shoot the ball with his left hand. Shot free-throws right-handed and -- but like Da said, he just wanted to be out there contributing. He didn't feel sorry for himself or -- and he didn't in any way want to hurt the team. It hasn't been -- I guess probably the last three weeks or month that he's been able to shoot the ball. He has shot it really well. I mean, honestly I was surprised the three that he took today didn't go in. Because he's really made shots in practice for us.

Q. Bob, everybody has seemingly written a story about Missouri's defense coming into this game. Did maybe they not talk about the half court defensive effort your team gives in the run-up to this game?

BOB HUGGINS: I did yesterday. But I don't know if anybody else did. No -- and I told our guys, you know, I think we have an advantage to a degree because I've coached against Mike so many times. I had a pretty good idea -- and I knew what we did in the past. So I think that was an advantage for us. It wasn't like I just -- that's the first time I saw it the other day. And they do a great job. They do a great job with pressure. And I thought -- I think the key thing is you have to be able to inbound it to somebody who is going to be able to handle a double team. Da'Sean did a great job of that all day. We talk about his 29 points. He's a guy who really handled the double teams for us. And then Truck and Joe both did a job -- a good job advancing the ball for us. And we tried to keep it out of spots where they could trap us.

Q. What about defensively, half court-wise and when you went to that zone?

BOB HUGGINS: When I said yesterday we're going to guard, they're going to have a hard time scoring against us. Everybody has a hard time scoring against us. Thank God they do. We have gotten a lot better over the last like three weeks to a month. We've gotten a whole lot better defensively.

Q. Can you just discuss the weekend here in general and what you take out of it, you know, just the fact that you're going on to the next round?

BOB HUGGINS: The last time I was here for an extended period of time, I was coaching the World University Games. We spent a lot of time at the Anchor Bar eating those wings. We didn't make it that far this time. This time we had too much to do. We were at the hotel. I didn't get to go to the other place either, whatever it is. I kind of wanted to compare. No, it's a great town. It's a great town, great people. I was very fortunate to be able to recruit Lenny Stokes out of here and Leonard had a great career for us at Cincinnati. So I was in here recruiting Lenny and what a great family he has. So Buffalo has been good to me.

Q. If we can get your thoughts on moving on forward to Syracuse and seeing some -- you mentioned the teams that had trouble scoring against you and thank God they do. Some pretty good offensive clubs you may see out in Syracuse and Washington and Cornell and Kentucky.

BOB HUGGINS: They're going to see a pretty good defensive team. So -- it comes down to do we defend them better than they score? I haven't looked at -- Lorenzo is a very good friend of mine. He's a great guy. Lorenzo was in Cincinnati for a long time. Played with Athletes in Action. He's a wonderful human being. I have great respect for him as a person and great respect for him as a coach. I haven't looked at one play. So I don't know anything. Other than I know Zo is a great guy. That's all I know.

Q. Bob, I thought it was a joke the first time you said it, but the Cam Thoroughman missed free-throw play. Was that on Da'Sean's putback?

BOB HUGGINS: We're used to Cam missing them. It may have been a surprise to them. It wasn't to us.

Q. Bob, the criticism or the complaint against your team has been point guard play. Was that unfair the way the guys handled the pressure today, does that sort of answer that question?

BOB HUGGINS: I don't know. We had one point guard, because Joe really couldn't go early on. And Truck did a good job for us. I think we probably asked him to do too much, play too many minutes. And then we played Da'Sean there. Da did a great job for us, but it takes away from the other really positive things that Da'Sean does. And I think getting Joe back -- we've kind of split the minutes now between the two of them. I think that keeps both of them fresher. I think both of them do a better job at the defensive end. And I think both of them have done a better job getting us into offense. It's different for Truck. Truck is the all-time leading scorer at St. Raymond's. He's used to scoring the ball. He and I have had several sitdowns about what a point guard is, what a point guard does. And I think he's done a really good job. I told him I have absolutely no problem with my point guard scoring. I coached Van Exel. I have no problem with that. I coached Logan. I had no problem with those guys scoring the ball. It's just you still have to be able to get other people involved and get us in offense. And I think both of those guys have done a better job as the season has progressed.

Q. Bob, if I can just go back to Joe. Do you feel more comfortable now with his decision-making away from basketball?

BOB HUGGINS: He's a great kid. I think anybody who has been around Joe would tell you that. He's a wonderful kid. We all make mistakes. I'm looking out there at a bunch of people that made some mistakes in their life. They're looking at one right here that's made some. It's not whether you make a mistake; it's how you deal with it. I think Joe has done a great job. And he's loved on campus. They absolutely love him on campus. He's a wonderful guy who has got time for everybody. I would venture to say one of our student leaders.

Q. Coach, yesterday you talked about how you knew going into the game that you were going to have to use your bench second half, I think, Cam and Joe, short rotation. Was that surprising that you didn't use the bench more or by design?

BOB HUGGINS: Well, we didn't use a lot of time-outs in the first half. And we were fortunate Mike called some time-outs. 16-12, 8-4 is 2 minutes. That's a long time. That's what I told our guys at halftime. I said, you're going to play for four minutes, you get a two-minute rest. You can't do that? That's kind of how we went about it is we're going to play for four and have a two-minute rest. And I really didn't call time-out because they got tired. I called time-out because they didn't block anybody out once.

Q. Coach, could you talk about your team's aggressiveness and ability to get to the free-throw line 33 times and convert 25 of them?

BOB HUGGINS: Well, we wanted to attack their pressure. When you are as aggressive as what they are, you're going to foul some. And we knew that. I think you don't foul when you don't attack. And we wanted to be in an attack mode and continue to attack them. They do a great job with ball pressure and they do a great job of trapping you if you put yourself in the wrong spots. I thought by and large we did a pretty good job of staying out of trap areas. And I thought we attacked pressure.

Q. I had asked the question about the BIG EAST to your players. What it all means, you see five BIG EAST teams. Pittsburgh is playing right now. You two are in, for the league.

BOB HUGGINS: Whoever doesn't think the BIG EAST is a great league really shouldn't write sports. They ought to do something else. Do cooking or something. You have to be kidding me. The BIG EAST is a great, great basketball league. And by the way, you all are the ones who voted four of us in the top ten for the majority of the year. So apparently a lot of people thought we were pretty good then. Five in the top 25. It's a great league. We've lost some close games and things. But, you know, now is the Big 12 not any good because Kansas lost? No. The Big 12 is a great league. It's a great league full of great players and great coaches. And the BIG EAST is a great league. So I don't know -- I actually was wondering were you guys going to start talking about the Missouri Valley was the best league in the country. What do you guys think about?

Q. Does it say anything about how good basketball is across the country, that the difference sometimes is very -- minute?

BOB HUGGINS: I think we've said that for a long time. There's tremendous parity in college basketball. And the parity is because when you have someone like Northern Iowa, Ben does a great job -- I certainly wasn't taking a shot at them -- they do a great job -- but when you can keep people in your program, I think what happens a lot in the so-called BCS leagues is guys don't stay for four years. So you're coaching guys for two years and then all of a sudden you have to go in and retool again. And if you look at what happens in our league this year -- year after year after year we lose underclassmen every year. That takes a toll. I think that teams that stay together and guys play together and they understand each other and how to play, like a Northern Iowa, are very, very good. And they're very difficult for anybody to beat.


MIKE ANDERSON: It wasn't the way I envisioned these guys going out, but at the same time I couldn't be more proud of any team I have had an opportunity to coach than these guys. They left everything on the floor. A lot of teams this time of the year they are fully loaded, they have all their players and we had some guys -- I always said we have some guys that didn't have an opportunity to play. Justin Safford. We have one guy playing his hand hurt, Laurence Bowers. We have one guy playing with a broke nose. Yet these guys gave me everything they had each and every day. That's why I couldn't be more proud of a team, the effort. Congratulations to West Virginia. They get a chance to move on. But we just ran out of time. I don't think these guys lost; I think they just ran out of time. But I thought it was a tremendous effort by our guys, and of course I think the guy that had the statement on his game was Da'Sean Butler. I think he was the big catalyst I think for the team, making big plays for West Virginia.

Q. J.T. and Keith, that game from the sidelines seemed like you didn't get it speeded up the way you wanted, but they didn't dominate particularly in the paint the way they hoped to. Was it a game where nobody could really get everything done at all?

J.T. TILLER: No, I don't think -- I don't think nobody had the dominant hand in this game, where they were trying to slow us down, we were trying to speed them up. I don't think anybody imposed their will fully, you know what I mean? I think it was in spurts; who had the longest spurt of what they were really trying to do in the game.

ZAIRE TAYLOR: I agree with him. I agree with him.

Q. Keith, I think back to those back-to-back possessions at the start of the second half. I think it was seven shots. Was that kind of symptomatic of the frustration you guys felt; your passion for the game was certainly there, the ball just didn't fall almost all day?

KEITH RAMSEY: Of course, man. It's tough -- it's going to be tough to win when you have guys shoot 2 for 9, 3 for 8, another 2 for 9. It's tough. It's frustrating. So, I mean, if those shots would have fell we would probably talking about us winning.

Q. J.T., can you just talk about dealing with Butler out there? He seemed to be maybe the only guy for either team who could impose, like you talked about, impose a little will on the game. How good was he now that you saw him in the flesh?

J.T. TILLER: I mean, he's a good player, you know. Night in and night out, you're going to be challenged. He stepped up to the plate. He knew we were going to try to really see what he was going to do. He put his stamp on the game. So you can't take anything away from him. He's a good player.

Q. Coach, could you talk about what you saw from Michael Dixon today?

MIKE ANDERSON: I thought I saw a young player kind of grow up a little bit more. An NCAA basketball tournament player. That experience alone I think will enable him to be a better basketball player next year. It's one thing to be in the tournament. But then to come in and play in it as a freshman and to play well, I thought he was real pivotal in what took place today, as we made a run back in the game. We got down and he made some key shots, some key plays for us. Again, he didn't look like a freshman out there.

Q. We talked a lot about defense, both with you and Bob. In order to make a deep run, do teams have to be able to score in this tournament and put together some sort of offense?

MIKE ANDERSON: I think you're absolutely right. I think you have to be able to put the ball in the hole. When you're talking about teams, the higher seed teams playing against some of the lower seed teams, a lot of things have to go right for you. It was evident tonight -- I thought we came with the right mindset defensively, getting after it, putting ourself in position to have a chance to win. But you're correct in what you just said. You have to put the ball in the hole. We had opportunities to do that. And when that didn't take place, it enabled West Virginia to get to the free-throw line. And they made their free-throws. But when you talk about making a run in the tournament, you have to put it in the hole, but you also have to play defense. I think they're a good defensive team. We're a good defensive team. But the free-throw line, there's a big difference, discrepancy in the free-throws. So, with that being said, they're known for their offensive, rebounding ability. And I thought we matched that. But we had some opportunities to really -- between the free-throw line, ourselves and some lay-ups that we missed, it was an interesting game.

Q. As a quick follow-up, you held them, I think it was 12:55 without a field goal. Was it a case of if you could kind of get out of your own way you would be all right and make a bucket or two offensively? Were you disheartened that you couldn't build on to a lead or garner a lead in that you were playing such defense?

MIKE ANDERSON: When it was 25-all I thought we were gaining some momentum and getting ready to take off. We took a couple of quick shots. But at the same time I thought we attacked the basket a couple of times. We didn't get to the line. On the other end, they got to the line. What was 25, where you say they didn't score a field goal, they got to the free-throw line. But we had opportunities to really gain some momentum, even in the second half. I thought we got the game speeded up a little bit, disrupted. We had some lay-ups that we normally cash in on, and just didn't. When you don't do that, you don't make it happen. You don't get the winning formula if you don't cash in those opportunities. But it wasn't because of lack of effort. I think these guys when you look at these seniors, they've won 31 games last year. They won 23 this year. That's quite a few wins. When you talk about teams across the nation. But I thought they played against a good West Virginia team, and they came up a little short.

Q. Mike, you said you told the guys -- like you said here, that you were never more proud of a team than you were this one. Why? What especially?

MIKE ANDERSON: Why, because I made a statement at the beginning of the year, and I'm sure a lot of people picked up on it, a lot of people didn't. They talked about our team losing 1,000 point scorers, three great players that are playing professional ball. And I said it depends on how you look at the hourglass. You can look at it half full or half empty. And I think a lot of people probably wrote that we are probably going to be half empty. I think people now see what I was talking about. It was half full. And with that being said, it kind of evolved, and I think these guys put themselves into position to almost, to almost do some of the same things they did last year. That's what I mean, to have some things thrown at them adversity-wise. You get Joseph Safford to go down, one of your most experienced guys to go down, that's probably not even the fourth of the season left. And now there's adjustments that have to be taking place. You have a guy playing hurt, Laurence Bowers. You have a guy playing with a broke nose, J.T. Tiller. And yet, they never complained. They continued to work. You guys wrote about it. But they continued to work. That's why I said I couldn't be more proud of a group of guys, because they paid the ultimate price, and with that being said, I think they're going to be successful in life.

Q. Do you think the fact you did get them back to the tournament replacing those three 1,000 point scorers and having a sophomore league team shows your program has some staying power?

MIKE ANDERSON: I think there's no question about it. Not only sustaining power. We hope to be dancing again. It's not just coming to the dance. I think a lot of people get caught up just coming here. We want to dance. I think that baton was passed last year. It will be passed this year with these three seniors you saw here. These guys are going to be really missed. I think when you look at these guys here, you are looking at glue guys, guys that get in the trenches that do all the dirty work. With that being said, we have to have some guys to replace those guys. They will be dearly missed because of the -- dearly missed because of the impact they had on the program. They were the most selfless guys I've ever been around. You don't find that a whole lot in college basketball. A lot of guys are about "me"; these guys were about the team. And I think if anybody got a chance to see us play throughout the year, last year, this year, I think they saw that brand, the same thing, the unselfish guys that play to win.

Q. You guys have done a great job all year making the opposition feel uncomfortable, get out of their comfort zone. Butler never seemed to get out of the comfort zone tonight. Was that something you didn't do or something he did because he played that well?

MIKE ANDERSON: First half he got on a rhythm, he really got on a roll. I thought the second half we did disrupt him. I think he got frustrated. I saw him bark at the official. They were calling each other by the name. I went "holy cow." Okay, Da'Sean. I was like, whoah, what was this here? I thought we did. I thought that enabled to us get back into the game. I thought we did -- our defense keyed, our guys made some adjustments. It was a game. People are going to look at the final score and think they just -- no, they did not. I thought it was a heck of a game. We got -- three minutes to go and we got the ball. It's a four-point game. So it's a game that could have went any way.

Q. You talked about replacing the glue guys. Kim English said it will be harder to replace those guys than the three seniors from last year. Who do you see being the glue guys next year?

MIKE ANDERSON: Well, I think with the guys that already are on board right now, their roles will change even more. You talk about the sophomores, Justin Safford is going to be one of the few seniors we have. Then of course we have, I think, a good recruiting class coming in. They have to prove themselves. So with that being said, I mean, we'll get back and find out who those guys are going to be. Obviously there's going to be some playing time there. When you lose three starters from this team, three guys that were starting for us, hopefully the competition begins in the off season. As we get prepared for 2010, 2011. We'll find out. But I think there will be some candidates. I promise you that.

Q. Quick follow-up. This is the time of year where the talk is out there about coaches. Care to comment on any of the speculation about you and Auburn?

MIKE ANDERSON: I don't know about no speculation. I guess that's you talking -- I don't know anything about speculation. We just got finished up with the NCAA tournament. That's all I'm talking about. I'm excited about what's taking place at the University of Missouri. I really, really am.

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