Athens, GA (Mar 26, 2009) - In Sweet Sixteen action from the NCAA Men's Division I Basketball tournament on Thursday, Villanova trounced Duke 77-54. This is the transcript of the Villanova University post-game press conference as provided by the NCAA and ASAP Sports.
COACH WRIGHT: Well, a great game for us. We are -- we're getting better this late in the year, which is really exciting. It's fun to coach this group. We have so much respect for Duke, the program, those players. We know all those guys. We really respect how they compete and they're a great program. It was a great win against them.
What's really exciting for our staff is that these guys just keep improving. We actually had two or three practices before this where we can see guys improving and our team improving, and that's exciting.
Q. This is for any one of the guys. This is a neutral site game, but it seemed like your fans came up in force. Did it feel like a home game at times for you guys?
DANTE CUNNINGHAM: You know, we like to call it Nova Nation, it's everywhere. It was great to hear everyone behind us yelling and screaming.
REGGIE REDDING: I think it was a real advantage for us and they came out to Boston and just showed us what kind of university Villanova is.
SCOTTIE REYNOLDS: Yeah, they did a great job, even though we were down, staying in the game, and we appreciate their support.
Q. For any of the players, first half, 26 points, kind of a half-court game. The second half you opened it up a little bit. What changed for you guys?
DANTE CUNNINGHAM: We honestly just kept the same intensity, brought it up a little bit more in the second half. Honestly, just the same thing we came into the game with. We just tightened it up a little bit more and just continued to get stops on the defensive end.
REGGIE REDDING: I think in the second half we got the ball moving a little bit more. Every guy on the floor was trying to make plays. And the first half it was just like we were passing, passing, not doing anything, really. In the second half we tried to make plays.
Q. You guys played so well against UCLA. Was tonight's effort better than that, even?
SCOTTIE REYNOLDS: I don't know. We've got to talk to Coach later on tonight (laughter). I think every game we can learn from. There's definitely points in this game that we can learn from and get better and go into Pitt and kind of get better from that.
Like Coach said when we were in the locker room, this team can continue to get better and that's the beauty of this team. We're not at our peak, and like he just said, we can continue to get better. And that's it, we can continue to get better.
Q. Dante, given how tough the league was all year, do you think it's poetic justice that you had the Big East final and the Region here?
DANTE CUNNINGHAM: I wasn't -- really didn't look at the schedule that far at the beginning of the tournament. Coach handed us a bracket of four teams that was in our area. And we just tried to win that bracket. We just keep moving on. We looked up, Pitt was in that area, and so that's something that we kind of looked forward to. We know that they're going to come out tough, we've played them before. We won the first one, but we're not going to take them lightly.
Q. Scottie, can you give an update on your wrist? How it happened and your pain now, what's going on with it?
SCOTTIE REYNOLDS: No, that's a happy smile. This is just precautionary, just ice everywhere. I'm old. The wrap. It's good, actually. I mean, when I had the ball in my hands it felt good. I'll be ready to go Saturday.
Q. For any of the players, what got into you guys on defense? You really ratcheted it up the last two games.
DANTE CUNNINGHAM: Honestly, I think it's our individual, just personally taking it upon ourselves to keep a person in front of you, not allowing them to drive to the hole, diving for loose balls. And then as everyone sees that, they're doing it themselves, we're trying to bring it more and more together as a team. That chemistry is just getting better.
REGGIE REDDING: I think it's the commitment to defense that we have now and us playing hard and together. And even though we made some mistakes, we can count on our teammates to be there for us. And I think it's more togetherness.
SCOTTIE REYNOLDS: One of the things that Coach said kind of around January, he said if the team is going to be great, when you guys really become good and great is when you take pride and it comes from within on defense. We all knew we can score. We knew we could put points on the board, but it's going to be those times where we're not going to be able to score and we have to do it on the defensive end. And I think everyone has taken pride on that and likes to come back on defense and try to get stops.
Q. Gerald Henderson and Jon Scheyer, quite possibly the worst shooting percentages. How were you able to contain them defensively?
COACH WRIGHT: We did not want to play those guys one-on-one. We wanted to always give help on actually the three of them. We didn't do as good a job on Singler, but those guys, they're really good.
What we did a great job is I don't think Gerald got a shot off one-on-one. The three he hit was the one where one-on-one. They're just so good individually offensively, we always wanted to have a second guy coming at him.
Q. I'm sure you were confident in your ability in this team to advance beyond tonight, but is there any surprise that the final margin of victory is 23?
COACH WRIGHT: Definitely. Now that we've played it, I think kind of everything fell into place for us. When we got a lead to start the second half, they had to press. And we made the plays. And then they had to shoot 3's. And it's easier to guard someone when you know they have to shoot 3's. If they're mixing it up on you, you -- what makes Duke so difficult to play is when they mix in the 3's and the drives, you don't know what they're going to do.
It played into our hand. Coach K plays to win, not keep it close. And when you do, it can turn out this way.
Q. Looking over the box score, nine different players scored in the game, 7 guys had at least 6 points. Can you talk about the depth on the team, and Corey coming off the bench and giving your team a lift?
COACH WRIGHT: I think that's been the strength of our team, is really having 8 scorers. Antonio Pena can score, but we always haven't been consistent defensively. It is -- it's really fun coaching a team when you know one or two guys aren't hitting shots, you know you've got five others that can make shots and make plays. What we're starting to do now is all eight of those guys are playing consistently defensively. That's what's making us really good.
Q. I think you went on a 12-1 run to break the game open, I believe six different guys scored. Can you talk about that run?
COACH WRIGHT: I think that's what makes it so difficult to guard. You can't -- even Dante, you really can't double him. There's so many other guys that can score. And they can make plays, too. Not only can they make baskets, but they can make plays for their teammates.
And that's what I was talking about earlier, I think that run, they can say, Okay, we're going to try to hang and keep this close. They said, We're down, we're going to go after them.
We could have turned it over and missed some free throws, and it would have been a close game. But we made the plays and that's why I think it turned out like it did.
Q. As you know, Mike Tranghese has done so much for this league, what do you think it means to have a Big East final here in Boston?
COACH WRIGHT: You know what, Mike's -- I'm sure he loves it. Anytime there's Big East teams advancing, Mike loves it. But he's -- you know what, he's a coach's guy, too. I think he's just as happy for the coaches. He's a big picture guy. I don't think he's gloating or anything. But he always likes when his guys are successful.
I think everybody in the Big East likes this, us being in the East and having two Big East teams playing. I know the Big East takes a lot of pride in the conference, we all do. You know what, if we're not going to win the final 8 and not go to the Final Four, I'll be glad it's Pitt, but I hope it's us (laughter).
Q. Coach, talk a little bit about rebounding, first of all, tonight and also looking ahead to Saturday, how to attack the interior to Blair?
COACH WRIGHT: One of the things that I think Duke doesn't get credit for is they are an incredibly aggressive offensive rebounding team. I was really actually impressed with our guys in the second half the way we competed on the boards because they were missing shots and they were going after it hard, and they really do. And they're bouncing and they're long.
So I thought that was huge in that game. A lot of their second shots turn into 3's, the offensive rebound, kick it out, and that was huge for us. I haven't figured out yet -- Blair, we played them so long ago, I was so happy that we would not have to see them again. I just watched them today some and seeing that beast, I just -- I don't want to think about it yet. I want to enjoy this one. I really haven't thought about it yet.
Q. Earlier in the week you said you were going to see how the game went for the first five minutes before you really decided how you were going to attack their defense. As the game went on, I think you guys only hit 4 jumpers of any kind of discernible distance, 34 points in the paint. What was the plan of attack offensively to get all those baskets right at the rim?
COACH WRIGHT: I thought in the first five minutes we did a really good job. We were very aggressive. We were mixing up drives, post-ups, jump shots, and then -- so it counters what I said.
But after that we got a little complacent offensively, that's what Reggie said, we were standing around, nobody was on the attack. But we did a great job defensively in the first half. But offensively we really were not effective and we were not executing well.
The second half we really got it -- we got our motion going, got people moving, we got the ball moving and we really made some great plays, extra passes. We started off that way, but I don't know what happened there. And Dwayne Anderson getting in foul trouble, that was important. He got out of there early.
Q. After the UCLA game one thing you were proudest of was playing a full 40 minutes, and here you came out and did it again tonight. Can you talk about that?
COACH WRIGHT: We really defended for 40 minutes, we really did. It was better than the UCLA game defensively. That's why I'm really excited about this team.
I'm repeating myself, but I want to answer your question. We were good offensively a lot this year and it won us some games, even though we maybe played 20 minutes of defense. But the last two games we played 40 minutes of defense. And you're not going to advance against these great teams unless you do that.
Q. The coaches meeting after the game seemed to take a little bit longer than normal. What did Coach K have to say to you?
COACH WRIGHT: I'll keep that between us. He's a very classy guy, very classy guy. And we have great respect for him.
Q. Were you sure you were going to get all of that 40 minutes? You go in at halftime only up 3 after you hold them to 28 percent shooting. It's almost like you've shot great bullets, but do you have enough to keep that going?
COACH WRIGHT: I was really concerned the second half if Scheyer and -- we knew Henderson was going to start to go. And we did a great job on him the first half. And I was afraid that if we committed too much to Henderson -- we lost Scheyer a couple of times -- remember that one that went in and out right at the end, that might have been Singler, but I was concerned that they were going to start drilling 3's and we were going to be in trouble.
We just did a great job, we really did.
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