NCAA Second Round: No. 4 WSU 61, No. 5 Notre Dame 41
March 22, 2008
THE MODERATOR: Joined now by Washington State University. Coach, if you want to give us your thoughts on the game.
COACH BENNETT: Well, obviously we did what we needed to do. We made it our kind of game. It started with our transition defense. No question.
These guys bought in at a new level tonight playing against a very talented offensive team. And each one of them stepped up in their own right and were significant. But we got the game the way we needed to get the game. We didn't yield. We didn't let them get easy shots. We made them earn all night. If we can do that, we're always in good shape. The guys showed some composure. Feels great. Big step for our program. I challenged them before the game. I said, You were in this spot last year against Vanderbilt. I said, now have we learned from it? Are we going to go out there and what cost us against Vanderbilt? Are we going to learn from that? They certainly did. It's a good moment for Washington State basketball certainly.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for the student athletes.
Q. You gave up 17 of 78 to your opponents in the last three halves. What is going so well for you guys defensively right now?
Coach has been telling us all year, that's got to be our ticket. We have to be a very solid defensive team to be in games. I feel like we were in a league where a lot of good offensive talent, a lot of good offensive players, that obviously helps your team D.
But I think the main thing is we know that has to be our bread and butter if we're going to do well in this tournament.
Q. You talked about the year about having unfinished business. Tonight was that part of what you thought about before the game, moving on to the next round?
I think from that moment I think the team realized that we had a chance to come out and do something special by winning this game and to advance, show a little progress from last year.
I wouldn't say it's finished yet. We got a long way to go. We got a few days to get ready for our next opponent. We'll see what happens at Charlotte.
Q. Now that you are at the Sweet 16 level, is the pressure off? Is this the rest of this gravy or is it a different approach now?
I think we're ready for it. We're just gonna, you know, take this as a challenge, play our game and see what happens.
Q. Kyle, do you have bragging rights in the Weaver household yet in terms of basketball accomplishments or is it going to take an NCAA title for that?
Q. Kyle, I know you envisioned games going this way in your dreams, but did it surprise you to hold them to 25% shooting and have them out of the game as early as you did? How much of a surprise?
But to go out and perform like that, you know, and to beat a good team like Notre Dame by 20 points in a second round matchup, it was pretty neat. I think we were all ready tonight. I think we just wanted to come out and play as good as we can. I think we're starting to find our niche and starting to do it at a good time.
Q. Was there any point you really felt Notre Dame got frustrated? You talked that's when you guys are able to put teams away.
Q. Yes. At what point?
But it was just, you know, our job to just try and make them take those kind of shots, and I thought we did a good job at that, then we tried to secure the rebounds.
Q. After watching the two No. 4 seeds lose yesterday, does this put any special meaning advancing as the No. 4 seed?
So, no, I don't think that was in our heads. We knew this was going to be a tough, physical, grind out game, and that's what our focus was.
Q. What's the like to be here going to the Sweet 16 just two years after you were last place in the PAC 10? Can you describe what that turnaround has been like?
Q. We all just witnessed it, but I'm wondering if you can put into words how you were able to hold Notre Dame to half of its scoring average.
That was kind of our key in this game, was getting back and making them play against our set halfcourt D.
Q. Robbie, Aron did a lot of the work, but can you talk about the effort on Luke. He was held to 3 of 17, talk about some of the frustration he was feeling.
It was really a good team effort on Luke the whole way around.
Q. You just held two tournament teams to 40 and 41 points. Without getting too technical, what is it that you do, what is it that seems to completely unsettle these teams that haven't seen you before?
There's no secret. We play our pack defense, try to keep the ball out of the paint, make the opposing team shoot tough shots. I think as team we did a pretty good job of that, sometimes trapping the post, making Harangody to do different things with it and forcing other guys to make shots on their team. With a mix of some other small things, I think us just playing hard, too, the effort we put in on the defensive end tonight I think was pretty big time.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks, guys. Questions for coach.
Q. Coach, talk about what you and your dad talked about when you met with him.
I need to embrace my wife, mom and dad, my two kids. That's what you want to do in that moment, is share it. I got to go along on the ride with him in 2000 when they went to the Final Four. I remember how special each step of that was. He's obviously been a huge part of my life and it was pretty cool to do that.
Q. Your overall defensive alertness seemed right on the mark. Things that stood out in your mind?
Guys were just really locked in. It was a possession by possession battle, we told them. They wouldn't break down. I think they had one transition basket where we followed them in transition. But that was the only breakdown in transition defense. That's a great place to start.
Q. Thursday night Derrick got off to a slow start, 0 5 in the first half. Tonight scores six points in the first five minutes. Did that make you breathe earlier?
I was so pleased with his performance tonight. He was aggressive. His 6 for 15, but he hunted the shot and he stayed focused all game. I thought that was significant for us.
Q. Could you talk about Taylor, his defense.
But Taylor was very good both nights. Kyle did not get too many clean looks on the offensive end. I thought he and Derrick are one and two, out front. Kyle was rebounding. He was good tonight. We had the trap working. Every guy was good individually. I said, You got to have accountability to yourself, handling your own guy. But they were very good as a team and it came together at the right time.
Q. Aron played most of the second half with three fouls. What were you and the other coaches thinking?
Q. Kyle mentioned the picture. When did you come up with that idea?
I showed them that. I said before the game, fellas, here we are. I want everybody to take a look at this picture. I said, You were in this spot last year before the game. Remember the thoughts going through your head? I said, What can you do better to get us one step further? What have you learned from this experience? Against Vanderbilt, we played well for the most part, but I didn't think defensively we were as tough as we needed to be. We gave up some transition baskets. Turned over late down the stretch of the game. Things happened. Derrick wasn't as assertive. I said, Show me that you have learned from this experience. That's what I want to see. That was the picture. They saw it. After the game, I ripped it up in front of them and said, You did it.
Q. Does Weaver surprise even you when he seemingly comes out of nowhere for a rebound or slips through for a layup?
Kyle is so versatile, his ability to slash, drop passes, make plays offensively. But that ability to rebound is really I think the thing that has jumped up in the last few weeks of the season. You know, he's made a difference. He's really playing sound basketball. It's real good to see.
I didn't mention this. I think our league really prepared us for this game. The PAC 10, you know, every night you go out, you got to battle. You play against different kinds of styles. It's hard fought. That was my hope this year, if we could get in the tournament, the league was going to beat each other up, but it would prepare you to play in games like this. I really believe that the PAC 10 did.
Q. Could you speak to Caleb's contributions?
He gives you all effort. You know, he had five rebounds, too, in 15 minutes. They were important minutes with Aron picking up a foul, the fatigue factor of trying to run the floor with Luke. I thought his minutes were very valuable. That shot, he saw that on Thursday, he can knock down that shot when he screens or loosens. We found them. We attacked them.
Q. Can you talk about what the plan was on Harangody and how you were so effective?
Q. What has it been like from a coaching standpoint, the turnaround this team has taken?
You know, you can lose with them. That's what my dad said. You got to recruit kids you can lose with before we win. I can't tell you the character in our locker room. They're a joy to coach. Sometimes we drive each other nuts. But you can always look at each other and know that it's about the right stuff.
That's what Washington State's about, Pullman. It's a fighter, underdog, fighter mentality. The people embrace that there. There's nothing better than going to a place where people don't think it can be done. But the administration and the community believes you, they embrace it when you're competitive to start. That's what drew my dad out of retirement. I want to go to a place where they don't think it can be done. He's never experienced something like that, people were so thankful they fought hard. Even though we finished in last place, they believed, were encouraged. For those people who suffered a long time, this is a great reward for them.
It's a special place to be, a special group of kids to do something like that. Now I get to go back to Charlotte, where I met my wife, she's not from there, got to play with the Hornets for three years. That will be very special for our family to go back. But I'm just very thankful right now for what I've had the opportunity to be a part of.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks very much, coach.
THE MODERATOR: Joined now by Notre Dame. Coach, if you want to begin with thoughts on the game.
COACH BREY: I think you certainly take your hat off to Washington State. They imposed their will on us. You know, the first four minutes we had that thing going up and down a little bit, but after that we couldn't really get it moving.
I thought they played older, and they are older. Very good defensively. Smart offensively. So they certainly deserve to move on.
THE MODERATOR: We'll take questions for the student athletes.
Q. Luke, talk about what's going through your mind now. This was obviously the biggest game of the year for you. To come up this short, how do you explain it and how does it feel?
Not much we can say about that. The feeling right now is disappointment, obviously, with myself, with my performance, you know. I kind of feel like I let the guys down. You know, just wasn't my night.
Q. What happened? What did they do defensively out there to cause you, to slow you up?
Like Coach Brey said, they're a very good team, a veteran team. We can use this game and learn a lot from it. In the off season, we'll probably use this as motivation and off season workouts.
Today they just got us. Defensively they were better than us. Like I said, you know, that's going to be used as motivation in the off season.
Q. Kyle, it seemed like you could never get in transition tonight. What were they doing? Were they getting up into you right away or... ?
So it was very hard for us to get out in transition.
Q. Kyle, when you look back on this game in July, what will you remember about it?
Like I said before, we'll use this as motivation. Me personally, I'll do the same thing. Coach Brey said to me before, they're a veteran group. We can learn a lot from them. For me personally, their guards are very good. Tory and me can learn a lot from their patience and their demeanor out there.
Q. If and when they do get beat in this tournament, how hard of a game that is going to be just because of their style, the way they grind?
I feel like they can go all the way. I know we'll be rooting for them.
THE MODERATOR: Guys, thank you. We'll continue with questions for Coach Brey.
Q. You talked yesterday about running after misses and made baskets. You never even got close to that. Did you see on tape people actually being able to do that?
We were not going to be able to part of me saying that was psychologically. I'm certainly not going to say we're playing halfcourt, even though I knew we were going to have to play halfcourt against these guys. It is easier to slow a team down, and they did.
I look at 17 three point shots. I think 12 of those were good looks. In the first half, I thought we had some pretty good looks for good shooters.
We're going to have to make a couple more of those to feel good about ourselves at halftime. And when you don't, you go back down and have to guard for 25 seconds, one of the reasons they're a great defensive team is how they play offense. They wear you down, running you through screens and stuff.
What they did is really established their will and their style. That's gonna be their strength and probably not ours.
I loved the fact that we fought back, I think we had it at seven with the ball. But, boy, you know, it was a hard it was a big hole to get out of because of the style.
Q. As well as you played the other day, did you see any scenario where it could just come out this lopsided?
But, you know, again, I tried to get their heads up a little bit. I love the group that I have. I love what's coming back. I'm excited. We start practice August 1st because we're going to Ireland. Certainly there's some thing you can learn and work on, but those guys need some rest right now 'cause this group, boy, they gave us everything they had.
Q. How much did their traps trouble you today?
Ryan had looks that he stroked the other night. Zeller, we got to hit a couple of those. Rob, we got to hit a couple of those. That's who we are. We shoot the ball well.
Why didn't we shoot the ball well? Number one they play defense, number two you're a little tired because you play defense against them for 25 seconds. I would have loved to play more zone tonight. But when you're in a hole, you're not playing zone against them. You would have had to have more control of the game and maybe the lead to rotate D. I think we played one possession of zone and then we were digging out of a hole the rest of the game.
Q. Could you comment on the experience of coaching Rob Kurz for the last four years. That was the last time.
I told him yesterday at practice, here is a young man who scored a thousand points at Notre Dame. You look at the company he's in on that list, it's staggering. He's a guy who came to us 200 pounds, mono, a broken jaw. He's a great story. I wish we could have extended his season. I will always be indebted to his leadership, how he set the tone as an example of a worker in our program, a guy who made himself better.
He's got a really bright future making money playing this game somewhere. We need to start working on that for him next week. He will go to Portsmouth, by the way, so that will be a good follow up.
Q. We talked about it being a two year experience with this group. People say you'll be better next year. Losing Rob Kurz makes that very difficult.
But, you know, guys change. Are we gonna still chase it as a group? You're right, that's a big loss right there. The little things. The screening. The dirty work. The defense. You just don't plug in and move on.
So I am concerned about that. I need to squelch that. Let's take a deep breath and figure that out. We'll know in Ireland. We'll know by August 20th. But that's a big loss.
He's a Notre Dame man. I'm very proud of him. I'm excited to see the opportunities he gets professionally because he's an interesting guy.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks very much, coach.
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