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NCAA Sweet 16 Press Conference Transcript: Villanova (March 25, 2009)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009 , Posted by Christopher Byrne at 8:06 PM, under , ,

Athens, GA (Mar 25, 2009) -The Sweet 16 Teams are getting ready for their games over the next two days. Part of that preparation is sitting down with the media. Here is the transcript of the Villanova press conference, as provided by the NCAA.

COACH WRIGHT: Well, we're thrilled to be here. It's nice to be in
Boston and stay in the East. I hope we have a lot of alumni up here.
Really excited about playing Duke. I think all of us, coaches and
players, have watched Duke over the years, we have great respect for
them. We love how their team plays. We obviously love a lot of their
guys, because we recruited a lot of them and didn't get any of them.

We're looking forward to a great game. I think this is going to be a
great game and I hope we play well enough to make it that way.

Q. Jay, even though it was quite clearly the object when they
started this stuff, to keep a team at home or earn the right to do so,
did you have to apologize too much to play in the Wachovia Center?

COACH WRIGHT: I didn't find myself apologizing a lot, but and that's
probably not a good word, "apologize," but it was brought up a lot.
And it's an advantage. What can I say? If you get to play and you
don't have to travel, it's an advantage.

There are some disadvantages, and I would always rather be at home,
but you can have your own place turn on you when you're going against
the underdog and everybody gets behind the underdog, that's a little
unsettling, too. But I'd always rather stay home.

Q. This Duke team has had a lot of mutations and evolutions in terms
of lineup. Could you talk about Coach Krzyzewski's coaching this
season with this group.

COACH WRIGHT: Yeah, I think what he did this summer with the USA
team, it might be overshadowing what he's doing this year. I've heard
people say this isn't your typical Duke team. And maybe they mean it's
not a Shelden Williams in the middle and a Jay Williams on the
perimeter. But they've got great length.

I thought the move putting Scheyer to the point and putting a team
out there that's six four, six five, six eight, six eight with length
and great mobility and a lot of skill was genius. And they're very,
very difficult to play against because of that.

They can switch a lot. Everybody can guard every position. And
they're all skilled. They can put it on the floor, pass it. He's one
of the best in the business, there's no doubt. And I think he's proved
it again this season, even after what he did this summer.

Q. Talk about Villanova and Duke having similar styles, do you think
there are similar styles at work here?

COACH WRIGHT: I think there are. And I think with both of us
there's, kind of similar to the previous question, I don't think we
planned it this way. But I think we'd all love to have a major low
post presence and a shot blocker. But if you don't, you've got to find
a way to play.

For us next year we think we have a guy coming in that's going to be
able to do that. And I think both of us are basically playing the best
players, regardless of position. And that can be difficult to play
against, too. And I think that's where the similarities really lie.

Q. Can you elaborate a little bit more on what you like about Jon
Scheyer at point.

COACH WRIGHT: Well, I think, you know, he was compared a little bit
to J.J. Redick as a shooter and scorer. And I think what he's showing
is he's much more than that. He is deceptively effective with the
dribble and driving the ball. And he's not the kind of guy you're
going to press him and get him to turn the bull over. But yet he can
shoot over a smaller point guard, he can drive the ball.

And another area of his game again, we're just watching film here,
but I just haven't heard him being a great defensive player, but what
we're seeing, watching film, is he's a very good defensive player. And
it's tough for a bigger guard a lot of times to guard small quicker
guards. He's smart about it. He uses his length and we really think
he's a hell of a player.

Q. You have a veteran, experienced group here. And they've played in
a tough conference against good teams. Duke is one of those sort of
mythical programs, they've been heard of forever since they were
growing up. Is there a value to that mystique, and do you have to do
anything with your group, as experienced as they are, to offset that
and say, Yeah, it's Duke, but

COACH WRIGHT: I think there is a value to that and I think there are
times when we benefit from that value. When you play UCLA or Duke, we
don't benefit. I think they do. And I think that's just having that
name on the front of your chest. You expect good things to happen. You
expect to win close games. You expect the team to respect you.

I was a little bit concerned about that going to the UCLA game and I
think our guys handled it well. So I'm a little bit less concerned
about Duke. One of the things about Duke is that our players know
their players pretty well. So I hope that familiarity can lessen that
Duke mystique a little bit for them.

Q. Gerald Henderson is one of the most explosive players in the ACC.
From the Big East, is there anybody when you look at him that you can
compare him to that maybe you've played this season?

COACH WRIGHT: Good question. I would say Young at Pitt would be very
comparable, explosive, good off the dribble, great shot fake, long and
lengthy defensively. I'd probably he'd be right now that would be the
guy to come to mind.

Q. A couple of ACC coaches said this year that the best way to
attack that tenacious Duke defense is the dribble penetration. In Fish
and Scottie, you have guys that excel at that. Is that something that
you see as being a key in terms of you guys getting a couple of easier

COACH WRIGHT: I think that we're going against one of the best
coaches in the country, and also a very smart team. What we normally
try to do is just see how they're playing us.

If the drive's there, we're going to take it. If they're going to
take away the drive and give us the jumpers, we're going to take it.
If we're able to go inside Dante, we'll take that. That's how we've
played all year.

Teams play us differently. I'm sure they've watched film and they
have their ideas what they're going to do. I think the best thing
we've got to do is take what they give us.

Q. Can you talk about Dwayne's role and the overall success of what
you've done this year?

COACH WRIGHT: Dwayne Anderson, off the court has been a leader on
this team for the last two years. His maturity as a player has kind of
mirrored our team's maturity. He's done a lot of great things
defensively, unselfishly offensively. But the confidence he's been
playing with the last two games in the NCAA tournament. That American
game, in the first half we were down ten at the halftime, we could
have been down 16 if it wasn't for him. I think our team is playing
with the confidence that Dwayne Anderson is playing with. I think
that's been a great factor in our team's success, because the guys
respect him. He's probably the most respected person, separate from
basketball player, respected person on our team.

Q. Coach, can you talk about what impact you think Taylor King will
have in the future for you guys, and whether or not he's able to be
here this weekend?

COACH WRIGHT: He has to go to class today. I made that deal with
him. So if he can get up here tomorrow, I think he's going to get a
ride with one of his classmates, he wants to come up here. This has
been tough on him. I told him, I didn't want him to be in the middle
of this at all. We don't need Taylor King scouting reports, everybody
watches Duke enough and knows everything about Duke. I don't know if
he knows enough about what we're doing yet to help. But he will help
us. He's a tremendous competitor, outstanding shooter and he loves to
play. He's in the gym all the time. Those kind of guys usually do
pretty well for us.

Q. These are two really storied programs, but you don't have much of
a history. You haven't played in the NCAA tournament for 30 years.
Does that add an extra level to this game?

COACH WRIGHT: What do you mean I don't know if I follow you.

Q. You've only played ten games total, haven't met since 2000

COACH WRIGHT: It is kind of strange that you would think Duke and
Villanova would have matched up more. But it's pretty cool. I think it
adds to this game. I think it's two teams that a lot of basketball
people have said to me we love how you play. We love how Duke plays.
And we definitely recruit a lot of the same players, a lot. They come
into the northeast and do very well, unfortunately. So I think it kind
of adds to the game. We'd like to see these two teams play more. And I
do think it will be a great game.

Q. If you think back to Gerald in high school, what stood out then
and how soon did you know he was going to be a big time player?

COACH WRIGHT: I met him when he was big Gerald brought him to
Birmingham, a Phillie tournament, nine or ten years old. And he
introduced him to me, This is my son, he's going to play for you some
day. I was at Hofstra. Little did I know I would be back at Villanova
and recruiting him. He went to the same school my children went to, an
Episcopal academy, kindergarten through 12, all at the same school.
When he was in ninth grade I said, he's going to be special.

But he was one of those guys that was very athletic, but didn't have
his game refined yet. And he was playing a lot of golf then, too. So
he didn't totally commit to basketball. I think what you've seen now
is a guy over three years that's committed himself, he's been well
coached. His game is refined, it's efficient. And I tell you what,
this is a guy that's still got a lot of room to grow, is going to get
a lot better.

Q. How early in the recruiting process do you remind kids or point
out that Villanova has, in fact, won a National Championship, there's
indoor plumbing and everything? And then do you remind your teams
along the way that it's been done here, you are the place that can win
a National Championship?

COACH WRIGHT: It's funny, the guys on our team right now, I just
made this mistake a couple of weeks ago, I was referencing the
National Championship team and just in general said, How old were you
when we won it? And they all looked at me, and said, We weren't even

Our practice facility, when you walk in there's a big screen where
they play the song, "One Shining Moment" and they relive that run. And
I hit that button every time I go in there, so everybody that is
behind me looks at it. They see it every day.

In recruiting, you can't really talk about that anymore because to
kids they know about I think they know about two or three years back,
they know who the players are. We talk more about, in recruiting,
maybe Kyle Lowry, Randy Foye, the final 8 team, and even that team
now, believe it or not, now in recruiting, that final 8 team, they
don't really know. They know that Randy Foye, and Kyle are in the NBA,
but in recruiting it's a really short window that they remember.

Q. I'm sure you've talked about this a lot, but can you talk about
the play with Dante Cunningham and the step forward he's made this
season, always been a solid player the first three years, and then an
All East caliber player this year?

COACH WRIGHT: Every player that you have, you dream about how good
they can possibly be. You want them to reach their full potential. And
we put very high expectations on guys, and very rarely do they reach
their total potential. But when a guy does, it's just thrilling, and
he has. Everything we've asked him to do he's done. He's worked on
everything. And it's been gradual.

He became a good free throw shooter, he was poor when he came in, by
a sophomore he became a good finisher by his junior year, he became a
good shooter and leader on and off the floor this year. He's a guy
like Gerald Henderson, I think his best basketball is ahead of him.

He's not one of those guys that was a superstar in 7th or 8th grade
he was a phenom, he was a regular kid getting better. He's got a lot
more room to grow. I think you're going to see even a better Dante
Cunningham when he plays at the next level.

Q. A lot has been talked about this week about you guys and Duke
having similar styles of play. Could you just talk about whether you
think that is so?

DWAYNE ANDERSON: Yeah, I definitely think that's true, because Coach
Wright, he has a certain philosophy that plays hard, and Coach
Krzyzewski, they take the same approach. And we have guards and they
have guards. And that also they also have guys that can score down
low, so we're kind of similar in many ways.

DANTE CUNNINGHAM: Definitely. Both coaches Coach Krzyzewski
definitely recruits the same players. And being that we recruit in the
same areas, same players, you know, we jump on teams early and
continue to pound.

Q. Dante, do you feel like your game has risen to another level in
the first two games of the tournament?

DANTE CUNNINGHAM: I wouldn't say that it's risen to another level. I
think the intensity of play has brought everyone's just natural
abilities out a lot more. Just our style of play in general. It
definitely helps everyone just to go out and play free minded, almost.

Q. Dwayne, you guys just took care of UCLA, now you're facing Duke.
Can you talk about playing not just another top 25 team, another Sweet
16 team, but facing some of the elite teams in history and getting to
face them back to back?

DWAYNE ANDERSON: It definitely means a lot to us and the coaches.
We're trying to put ourselves in that elite category, also. And just
in playing UCLA and Duke, and the schedule with the teams with the
power names means a lot. We're trying to pave our own way.

Q. This one is for Dwayne. When you guys were down 14 to American,
was there a sense of desperation? And when you look back on that
moment, how important do you think it was to get to where you are now?

DWAYNE ANDERSON: It's something that in our mind, in each and every
one of these guys, we've been in this situation plenty of times. For
example, against Clemson and Georgetown last year, LSU early in the
season, and no matter how many points we're down by, when we come back
to the huddle, there's never pointing fingers, Coach uses any never
loses any level of confidence. When we come back to the huddle we know
what needs to be done, and it's taken us a long way.

Q. Dante, first two rounds were in Philadelphia, Coach Wright said
he found himself apologizing a little too much for playing those games
in Phillie. What did you take out of that experience and having to
leave the city and come to Boston?

DANTE CUNNINGHAM: A lot of people said that it was almost a home
game for us, but we took it as a road game. We stayed in the hotel. We
didn't leave the hotel. We had all of our meals in the hotel. We did
everything we do on the road in the hotel. Now we're in Boston, it's
the same thing we did last week, we're the team being in the hotel and
continuing to work.

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