Athens, GA (Mar 26, 2009) - In Sweet Sixteen action from the NCAA Men's Division I Basketball tournament on Thursday, Pittsburgh defeated Xavier 60-55. This is the transcript of the University of Pittsburgh post-game press conference as provided by the NCAA and ASAP Sports.
COACH DIXON: Obviously can't say enough about our kids. But first
off Xavier's kids, great team. We knew what they were and they came
out and played with tremendous physicality and toughness and
aggressiveness. Probably the most physical team we've seen this year.
They pushed us around for the first half, but we responded in the
second half as we usually do. And we're very proud of our guys how
they responded. It's the first half we didn't didn't go our way. We
had guys make big plays.
As I said earlier, I never get tired of watching Levance take big
shots. He's made them year after year. Our guys believe in him. I
believe in him. And that's all that matters.
I'm proud of these guys and what they did rebounding wise against a
very good team, especially in the second half. We came, we responded
and we did what we wanted to do after halftime.
Q. Levance, can you take us through that last possession. What did
you see that allowed you to take that shot in?
LEVANCE FIELDS: We came off we had a run, DeJuan screened, really
didn't turn the corner. He did a good job defending and getting over
and I did a little in and out move which created just enough space,
and got them on their heels. And once I got the separation I took the
shot and had all the confidence it would go in. And once it went
through it was a good thing.
Q. What is it that gives you that confidence to make those kind of
plays? Talk about the defensive play, too.
LEVANCE FIELDS: It's like Coach said, I always get the credit, but
it's special to have first off, I do have confidence, but especially
to have my coach and my teammates to believe in me down the stretch.
I've got two stars on each side of me right here who could step up in
that situation. But it's a special feeling.
As far as defensive play, it really started with Brown, pressuring
Raymond in doing what he didn't want to do. I think DeJuan did a great
job hedging out strong. He got a hand on it. And I happened to be
anticipating that and once it popped free, I was off to the races.
Q. Sam and Levance, the two seniors, you've been hearing all year
about how you have to get to the Sweet 16 to be successful. Can you
talk about what it means now?
SAM YOUNG: It definitely means a lot for us as players, the coach
and the city. It's something that everybody has been waiting for for a
long time, for us to give them that as a pleasure. But at the same
time we feel like we've still got work to do.
LEVANCE FIELDS: Like Sam said, it's been great all year, doing
numerous things the school hasn't done ever. And just stepping up to
that chapter for us seniors and this group, '08 09 team.
But we came in expecting to win two games, expecting to win our
first game Thursday, and that's what we've done. It was dramatic
fashion, but once we finish this media, it's on to either Duke or
Q. You got off to a slow start, but in the second half you were all
over the boards. What changed for you?
DeJUAN BLAIR: That's just my teammates and my coach, coaches just
believing in me, and not letting me get down on myself in the first
half. And they come in the locker room and talking to me, keeping me
Like I said last week, I have motivators with these two people next
to me, they just keep me into the game. And I found my way to score
for the team and I started rebounding. I did what I did to win.
So hats off to all the seniors and the coaches and the city for
getting past the Sweet 16. And that's cool.
Q. Levance, I asked you yesterday about the toughness of this team.
It's shown that it can take a punch, but deliver one in the end. How
does that galvanize this team going forward?
LEVANCE FIELDS: We're a confident group. We understand that no game
is going to be easy. Fortunately for us, in some ways we still haven't
played our best basketball, but other opponents have been playing
excellent. We're positive in this situation. It hasn't been a blowout,
but we're making the plays down the stretch when the game is on the
line. And we keep advancing and hopefully on Saturday we can play
better. But if we have to win again like this, we'll take it.
Q. Do you guys just feel that in a tight game down the stretch
that's your time to shine? You've played three close games in the
tournament down the stretch. Do you feel that's your time to shine?
DeJUAN BLAIR: Yeah, we give Levance the ball and he caught me up
there for the screen, and then we just let him play off of that. And
of course, Sam came up big at the end of the game. And when us three
are clicking, like I said, it's tough for us to be beat. We did a good
job today. We did good.
SAM YOUNG: I felt like with the free throws, they were big, but I
probably wouldn't have even been in that situation if it wasn't for
Levance. So in those situations I like Levance.
DeJUAN BLAIR: Me, too (laughter.)
Q. Levance, with just over two seconds, you sprinted down the court
and had a nice little moment with your coach. I'm wondering, did you
guys say anything or was it just a hug there?
LEVANCE FIELDS: He was still mad, telling me the game wasn't over
(laughter). I was excited for Coach. As good as he's been for this
University and picking up where Coach Howland left off. The biggest
knock has been not a Final Four appearance and not getting past Sweet
16. So this is just a step towards that. And I just wanted to embrace
him because he deserves it.
Q. Levance, you've done this several times in college and several
times in high school. Do you remember the first time you made a basket
LEVANCE FIELDS: No, I don't. No, I don't remember. But like I said,
I did it numerous times. So once again, I don't want to keep repeating
myself, but in any situation, my coach, whatever team I've been on and
my teammates have faith in me to make a play, whether it's me shooting
it or looking for a teammate. Tonight was no different. They put the
ball in my hands again and I made a play.
Q. Did you guys expect, like Coach said, for those guys to be as
tough as they were? How much did that make you guys change how you
approached them? What did you expect out of them, I guess?
DeJUAN BLAIR: We knew Xavier was a physical team and they obviously
they hit us with the first punch, but we came back in the second half
and we made some defensive plays. We jumped out and we started going
back and forth. Levance hit and shot and Coach kept saying whoever
wins the rebounds will win the game.
They were winning the first half, obviously they were up. So we
clamped down on the rebounding and we it was even at the end. So we
got the win, so we started rebounding.
Q. Coach, Sam, the second time in a row, two games in a row Sam has
really been the offense in the first half. You guys struggled and he's
really carried. Can you talk about how he's picked you up and kept you
guys in the game the first half?
COACH DIXON: We were trying to get the ball inside early and we just
didn't finish some plays. Sam made some shots. We scored a number of
baskets on our out of bounds plays, and that was, I thought, the key.
They're a very good defensive team. This is the type of game we
anticipated. It was going to be really they're very physical. They
guard well, they're low field goal percentage defense team. It was the
type of game that we expected.
But, again, we run the numbers for them, we count on him to score,
and we need to play off of him to get other stuff. He made big plays
and big shots early. But he was there in the second half, as well. So
our balance balanced team and balanced scoring. We have roles and our
guys understand them.
Q. Coach, first half did not end the way that you wanted it to, I
would imagine. What was the mood in the locker room at halftime and do
you bring up that your team has been to this point and has not
advanced to the Elite 8 or is that something you don't bring up to
COACH DIXON: Again, these are guys that they have nothing to do with
it eight years ago or seven years ago. So that's not a factor. Really,
we were a tie game and I think they outscored us like 8 down the
stretch. And it was just but the game, the tempo of the game, the tone
of the game, really, was the rebounding.
We were down early from the get go on the glass, and we said from
the beginning, whoever won the rebounding battle was going to win the
game. We put ourselves in the hole, we were down 7 on the glass and
they were up 8 at the halftime. And so it corresponded. In the second
half we got a change and out rebounded them by seven and that's a big
number. Really, that's what we discussed at halftime, made it very
clear that was what we had to do and they did it, they responded. It's
easier said than done. But we did get it done.
Q. Was this your team's best game of the tournament in your
estimation so far or do they still have another left in them?
COACH DIXON: I thought our defense was good. I thought our defense
was good. I think we've been defending pretty well. I think our
offense could be better in this game. They had a lot to do with it.
They're a team that's a physical game. There wasn't a lot of fouls
called. It was called evenly and balanced. We had two teams that are
very good. They're big, they're strong, they play a lot of guys and
they're very experienced.
They had something to do with it. We've got to execute a little bit
better. But again, you get down to this time, it's there's not going
to be a lot of easy baskets. And that's just part of playing against
good people and that's why they're all here at this point.
Q. Coach, you mentioned how the players weren't part of the history
of the past seven or eight years of the tournament. What does it mean
to hear them talk about how much they want to do this not just for the
fans and the city and the school but for you, as well?
COACH DIXON: I don't know how much they've really put into that.
I've always looked at it, if it was easy to get to the Sweet 16 more
teams would do what we've done. Only two teams have got there as much
as we have. So it's an accomplishment. But again, somehow we've turned
the Sweet 16 into a bad thing or a bad and it's not. It's a good
It will be you've got to keep no one is satisfied. If that was their
motivation, that's great. But these kids have played too hard, they've
done so many things right all year long. They've challenged each
other, they've been unselfish, they've sacrificed for one another. I'm
just happy for our seniors because when they came in, I said this was
the best group, Tyrell, Levance and Sam, that we've brought in.
They've lived up to it. They've got the most wins in school history as
a group. A huge number, I can't keep track now, and they've won a lot
Q. Can you talk specifically about some of the adjustments
defensively you made at halftime. It was night and day for Xavier
offensively first half to second.
COACH DIXON: Really, it was the glass. They were scoring on second
shots and they got a lot of kickouts after getting rebounds, second
shots. So that was the biggest thing.
I thought our defense was actually pretty sound in the first half. I
mean, they made some tough shots, which they do. They drive you and
they lean in and they look to get to the rim. And those were
But if you keep giving them opportunities, they're going to get open
shots. They shot 40 percent, 24 in the second half. I think we guarded
the three a little better in the second half. I thought that was key.
And in transition. I thought they hurt us in transition early. Not so
much, again, the scoring maybe on transition, but getting a shot and
then getting a rebounding opportunity. So I thought our transition
defense was probably the biggest improvement in the second half.
Q. Was Biggs just a match up situation? He didn't seem to play as
A. He got the two fouls early, so that was the key. And then just I
thought he played well in the second half. He came up with some
rebounds in the second half, but he got two fouls early.
So DeJuan and Sam seemed to be normally we don't like to play Sam
40, but we went with him today. That was something we put in that
position. Gary played well, I thought, too. So again, pretty good job
from our bench guys.
Q. Preliminary thoughts about who you might potentially face here.
COACH DIXON: You know, your guess is as good as mine. We know
Villanova better than Duke. But we played Duke last year at the
Garden. Familiar with both programs. You know, I think everybody's
looking forward to that match up. I don't know if it started yet.
We'll head back to the hotel as a team and get a couple of coaches
staying around and we'll have a good feel for them. We'll be up all
night getting ready for whoever it may be.
But it's good to be sitting and watching them, waiting for the next
opponent. That's a good thing. It's two hours, we'll need to get to
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