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2009 NCAA Elite 8 Post Game Transcript: Pittsburgh (March 28, 2009)

Sunday, March 29, 2009 , Posted by Christopher Byrne at 11:30 AM, under , , ,

Athens, GA (Mar 29, 2009) - In Elite Eight action from the NCAA Men's Division I Basketball tournament on Saturday, Pitt was left heartbroken and a bridesmaid after a last second shot with a last second shot by Scottie Reynolds to give Villanova a 78-76 victory to win the East Region 78-76. This is the transcript of the University of Pittsburgh post-game press conference as provided by the NCAA and ASAP Sports.

COACH DIXON: Well, the first thing is I can't say how proud I am of
our team and how we've played all year. But even more so how they
played in the last 30 seconds, to beat down and make plays and make
big shots, Sam and Levance making two free throws. Everybody in the
gym knew those two free throws were going in, there was no question in
our players' minds, in our teammates' minds.

And I'm just so proud of everything they've done. They've set
records. They won more than any other group, our three seniors, and I
can't tell you how proud I am. More proud than any group.

I give credit to Villanova. Obviously wish them luck down the road.
They're a very good team. And it's just a game that could have gone
either way, and unfortunately, we came up short.

Q. Levance, Scottie Reynolds' drive to win the game, how did you see
that playing out defensively?

LEVANCE FIELDS: It looked for a minute like they was having trouble
getting it in. If it had been one more second probably could have been
a five second they had no timeouts, so we did a good job of denying
for about three or four seconds. The last minute he was able to kick
it to Cunningham. I guess Jermaine turned the wrong way, which gave
Scottie stepping room. Cunningham made a good pass to Reynolds and
Reynolds went straight to the basket and even took a little bit of
contact and was able to still finish.

Q. DeJuan, can you also kind of recollect what you saw there at the
end and did you try and maybe alter the shot or what was your intent?

DeJUAN BLAIR: Like he said, I thought it was going to be a five
second call. But they got it to Cunningham and Scottie Reynolds went
down the baseline on the sideline and he just went to the hoop. And he
got contact and I thought it was coming out, but at the end they won.
I thought Levance's shot was going to go in, but they won out there.
They just had more points than us.

Q. Levance, can you take us through what your swing of emotion was
from making the free throws to when Scottie Reynolds shot went?

LEVANCE FIELDS: When I made the free throws had a chance of going
into overtime, and we just needed one stop. And we just didn't do what
we needed to do in the five seconds.

Reynolds just made a great play going to the basket. It went from
being you know, having a chance of going to overtime and possibly
winning the game to, you know, season being over.

Q. Sam and Levance, everybody is going to remember the ending, but
you guys were up 4 with 3 minutes to go and then had a couple
turnovers. Do you feel you might have let it slip away more so there
than at the end?

SAM YOUNG: Obviously I think that we was up four or five or
something like that and we got some turnovers and it let them get a
little bit of momentum and get back in the game. And I think from that
point when they got back into the game, a moment where it kind of felt
like we had it done. It was anybody's ballgame.

Q. I wanted to ask the same question of the other two players, the
exact same question.

LEVANCE FIELDS: What was the question, again?

Q. About being up by four with three something to go in the game and
where it went from there.

LEVANCE FIELDS: We did a good job on the press the whole game. And
unfortunately right there we made a mistake.

But you've got to give them credit. Anderson not only making the
steal, but finishing the play and then making the free throw. And then
they did a good job of being in the gaps, which they were doing the
whole tournament, forced another turnover and went down and executed
on offense.

Q. Can you talk about being up, they called a timeout with 3.05 to
go, you were up by four, then two quick turnovers and they were ahead.

COACH DIXON: Obviously, as we came back in the huddle I heard the
guys saying we reinforced that and obviously it was really a big play,
it was a turnover and turned into a three point play for them. And
obviously we had handled their half court pressure well up to that
point, but that was a big play. And obviously that changed it. So it's
a small margin, that one play turned it.

But I can't say enough about our guys being down and then making the
shots, the three, then the two free throws by Sam and Levance. Talk
about courage, guts and big game plays, those guys made it and have
done it their whole careers.

Just it was a split second play, it could have gone either way, and
it was really a loose jump ball, pass, inbounds pass that we could
have got, but it just went their way.

Q. I'm sure you're not thinking too much about the future, but do
you think DeJuan will come back next year or you'll advise him to
leave early?

COACH DIXON: I think that's something that's probably not a good
time the right time to be thinking about it. I think this is about our
kids. I'm more focused on my three seniors right now and their
careers. We just had an incredible game and two very good teams
playing their hearts out and they left everything on the floor.

I told those guys you can't have anymore the amount of respect and
admiration I think they earned throughout their careers, but
especially tonight, I think, was pretty evident. I think anybody that
saw us come back the first half, then come back in the second half at
that last point, would recognize that first and foremost.

Q. Can you just describe your swing of emotion watching that second
foul shot go in for Fields and then the way it unfolded there and how
Reynolds got into the hole so quickly.

A. Well, you know, obviously the free throw, everybody we had the
utmost confidence in the free throws going in. We talked about that
and guarded it and really got preparation for how we were going to
guard their inbounds and what we did. We did a pretty good job of what
we did.

They floated it up there and it was really a jump ball and could
have gone either way. I don't know if that was exactly what they had
planned. I would doubt it. But it just was a pass that could have gone
either way. And that's kind of how it went.

But as far as the kid made a tough shot, Scottie Reynolds made a
tough shot. But the shots that Levance hit and Sam, those were game
unbelievably high character plays that they made.

Q. Did you have DeJuan on the ball?

COACH DIXON: No, we didn't have anybody on the ball. We wanted to
keep it in front of us. It was a jump ball, really, thrown up top, a
lob, anybody's ball. They ended up getting it and then played off of

Q. This is obviously one of the great basketball games in college
history. Can you talk about the competition, what it's like to be a
part of that?

COACH DIXON: Well, I haven't really had that sense of perspective
right now. Really, all it is is about disappointment for our guys and
we really felt like we should have won the game. We felt that we
played hard, played smart, but it just didn't go our way. They made
the plays, though. They made free throws, which I thought was a big
factor. And then we got out rebounded and that was something we said
we had to do.

I don't know how it will rank, that's not my job, but I know I'm
very proud of our guys and have never been more proud of a team,
especially our seniors, Tyrell, Levance and Sam. They were tremendous.
And I think that will be evident to everybody that watched.

Q. Can you talk about Sam's performance tonight and the tournament
in general?

COACH DIXON: Yeah, I think he's I've said all along he's a guy
that's gotten better every year. And he seemed to get better as the
season went on and down the stretch. He can put the ball in the
basket. And that was key for us.

We have guys that can distribute the ball and get the ball in the
right spot and he takes advantage of it. But again, he's the guy
that's just gotten better and better. He's gotten better down the
stretch. The last couple of weeks he's gotten better and that's really
been hard work, determination and really been the story of his career
at Pitt. He's just continued to improve.

Q. Yesterday Jay Wright, he went through this a couple of years ago
losing in the round of 8. You're crushed, you've worked so hard. You
started to break up almost a little bit talking about the seniors.
Could you just put into words your disappointment about not being able
to get it done with this group.

COACH DIXON: Well, I mean, every loss is disappointing, and this
will stick out because it's the one right now. But, again, as I told
our guys afterwards, a round of respect and love and care we have for
our seniors, I think they did so much for this program. They set
records, as we talked about. But they also left a legacy and left our
young guys with something to build on. And I think they learned what
hard work can do and they learned from three great seniors. And their
determination will be continuing throughout our program, even after
they leave.

Obviously it's a game that I guess people will talk about as far as
a great game. But right now all we're reflecting on is it's just a
disappointment and loss. But I'm not disappointed at all in our effort
or character we displayed, especially the three guys that stepped up
here right now.

Q. Coach, you mentioned Sam. He's really had like a pretty
tremendous development over the last four years. Can you use that to
show some of the younger guys, maybe the first year or two they're not
getting a whole lot of time or scoring too much, what he was able to
do with his career and the last two years, what he's been able to do.

COACH DIXON: No question. We've been saying that all along. Again,
we pride ourselves in the number of most improved players in the Big
East and our players, and he's another representative of that. We can
tell recruits and tell kids that are in our program and use him as an
example. I think there's no question as to that. People now that
remember him in high school and just are amazed by his development and

It comes from hard work. It comes from the determination that he
has. And you need to start with that, first. He was determined to
improve, to get better, and that's why he's become the player he's

Q. Coach, just given the nature of the Big East all season and how
that league played out, was there any doubt in your mind that this
would come down to the last second?

COACH DIXON: Yeah. Obviously all of our games this year with all the
top teams in the conference have been these type of battles. I thought
this was just another well played game down the stretch, and all the
way through. And it's just representative of our conference.

I think, as I said before, it's lived up to some very high
expectations or even proclamation of the other coaches and probably
this game will go down and be another representative or example of the
caliber of play that was in the Big East this year and has continued
to be.

Q. You played Villanova twice this year. Is there something about
them that a team should know, the next team that plays them, that
isn't evident, just even looking at them or looking at them on tape?

COACH DIXON: Well, I think the physicality they play with, I think
that's something that they do. They rebound well. When they're
smaller, they rebound well. They're very aggressive. They continue to
come at you, and I think that's the biggest thing that really stands
out. They're somewhat smaller, their quickness, their strength, their
physicality. Again, they are tremendous at getting into the ball.
They're constantly into you and then at the same time they rebound
well with a smaller group.

But, again, they're very experienced, they're strong, and they play
with amazing determination.

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