March 16, 2007
POST-GAME PRESS CONFERENCE
UNLV COACH QUOTES
Head Coach Lon Kruger:
It very obviously was a really hard-fought game. I thought both teams really, really competed. It wasn’t a game in which percentages, shooting-wise, were great, but the effort on the offensive boards was outstanding. The defensive effort was outstanding both ways. Again, I thought the guys on both squads just really competed. It was a very, very tough game. I’m proud of our guys. They hung in there. We had a good start, but Tech got their effort back up late in the first half. In the second half, it was an even ballgame from that point on. It could have gone either way. I’m proud of my guys making plays down the stretch to get a win. It was a very good win.
On the 5-second call caused by Wink Adams:
Wink is outstanding on the ball. His balance and quickness in combination with his strength has really allowed him to set the tone for us all year defensively on meeting the ball out front. (Georgia Tech’s) Javaris Crittenton is such a good shifty ball handler. Wink was really making that extra effort to stay there, and he was rewarded. I thought he did a great job, worked at it, made that effort and made a big time play for us at a critical time.
On Kevin Kruger struggling with his shot:
Kevin had some good looks. A lot of them were just right off the heel and they didn’t go. He’ll work at it tomorrow and the next day and will be anxious to step back out there. Other guys stepped up and picked up the slack, which has been the case all year long. He’s been around the game a long time and he knows that if he’s not making shots, there are a lot of other things to do.
On Wendell White’s injury:
I’m not sure about Wendell. He’s checking it out right now. He said the rib on his side was sore. I have no idea at this point what the conclusion will be.
On Georgia Tech’s run after the early lead:
They really did, they’re an outstanding team. We got off to a good start. They made the run to cut into it late in the first half. Then they made the run to start the second half to tie it up, then it was back and fourth the rest of the way. I thought our guys just kept battling. It wasn’t a game in which we shot the ball particularly well or anything came easy, but that hasn’t been particularly unusual for this team. We’ve been a little inconsistent shooting the ball all year long, but the effort and the fight and the grit has been there consistently throughout the year. These guys hung in there. They kind of wavered a little bit when Tech took the lead in the second half, but they came back with a couple of big plays and were able to create a little bit of a margin to play with there at the end.
UNLV STUDENT-ATHLETE QUOTES
On starting the game off with three three-pointers:
We definitely wanted to come out and play a tough ball game and down the stretch, Kevin (Kruger) got me some open looks on some drives and some kicks. He found me and I was able to knock down the shots. On the difficulty of shooting in the United Center: It was tough to shoot in, but we felt good when we warmed up yesterday. We got some shots out here today, before the game. Definitely, we just wanted to trust our hands and knock down shots.
On going 0-for-8 with eight assists:
I don’t know. The eight assists just come from guys getting open and knocking down shots. That’s what we do. We did a good job today of moving the ball. When Mike (Umeh) and Wink (Adams) are shooting the way they are and Wendell the way that he was, and we’ve always got Joel (Anthony) back there defending the way he does. It’s pretty easy on this team to get assists. It’s really nothing to brag about.
On the importance of Wendell White:
Wendell’s an x-factor for us. At the forward position, teams can always go either way with the big or the small and his athleticism provides a big advantage for us. Not many teams can put someone at the four as athletic as Wendell because he can also defend the four. We ride him all year. He’s the bull. That’s his nickname. We’ve been riding him all year and we will continue to.
On persevering through a tough shooting day:
It wasn’t tough to keep playing at all. I wasn’t going to quit just because I hadn’t made a shot. I’ve watched a lot of games in the United Center, growing up, but some nights it’s not going to fall. Some nights, it is. There’s nothing I can do but get up a lot of shots tomorrow and before the game on Sunday.
On causing the five-second call on Javaris Crittenton and the out-of-bounds play off Crittenton:
My whole thing was just to stay in front of him. I didn’t expect to stay that close to him because Javaris is a shifty player so he’s kind of hard to stay in front of. But I knew my team needed a stop and I just stayed in front of him. I tried my hardest and raced out of my way trying to defend on that one possession and I was able to get the five-count. Kevin (Kruger) got me a wide-open look and I felt when it came off my fingers that it was going to come up short. Javaris seemed like he was going to let the ball go out so I just had to sacrifice my whole body, just dived for it so hopefully I could throw it off him and I was able to.
On the importance of UNLV’s seniors:
Our seniors have done a great job all year. I’ve got confidence in all five of them and when they go to the free throw line, they knock free throws down. Mike (Umeh), he had a great shooting night tonight and Mike is always a good shooter. We always depend on him and Kevin (Kruger) and when Kevin’s off, Mike is on. Our two seniors carried us tonight and Joel (Anthony) carried us some big plays and Gaston (Essengue) had a great second half. So, there were a lot of plays there when all our seniors stepped up and kept us in the game.
On the game:
“Our guys just played really hard and we had a lot of guys in there rebounding and gained control down the stretch.”
On the possibility of playing his last collegiate game:
“I just wanted to make sure that we stayed focus. You don’t want to think about it, that it might be close to the end.”
On the UNLV fans:
“Yeah, I did not realize that we had that many fans. It is great that we can go to the NCAA Tournament and get this kind of support. I’ve said all along how great our fans are.”
On the game:
“We started out good and got a feel of how they were playing us offensively and defensively then we kind of lost it. We didn’t have anything going in the early part of the second half but got it back and then it was a fight to the finish.”
On UNLV’s first NCAA Tournament win in 16 years:
“Everybody knows that this was a great win for Las Vegas, for UNLV and the Mountain West Conference. But we’re not done yet.”
On winning despite struggles shooting the ball:
“If you had told me we would win against a team as talented and athletic as that … it was a complete team effort today to come out and get the win.”
On the flow of the game:
“We got way ahead in the first half and then they came back on got the lead. In my mind, we had gone all day and been ahead and we had to find a way to win the game.”
On Georgia Tech’s defense on Kevin Kruger:
“They know Kevin will get his shots and they had a hand in his face. But we have a great team and Mike (Umeh) and Wink (Adams) hit some big shots. It was a whole team effort.”
GEORGIA TECH COACH QUOTES
Head Coach Paul Hewitt:
I think we played extremely hard today. We executed the things we wanted to do defensively and held them to a low shooting percentage. They just out-hustled us for a lot of rebounds today. It’s tough any time your season ends, but particularly when you’ve got a guy like Mario West. He’s meant so much to our team this year and over the five years I’ve been around him. I’m not sure there’s a guy that has made the most of the opportunity he has had to play college basketball and attended Georgia Tech [like Mario]. It’s especially tough to have to say goodbye to him as a basketball player.
On the five-second call late in the game:
I wouldn’t say it was the turning point, but I really wasn’t looking at it. I don’t think anybody can pressure Javaris for five seconds in that situation. I would have no way to judge whether it was a good or bad call.
On the turning point of the game:
The rebounding was the turning point. I think there were several opportunities with 1:11 to go. They missed three or four shots, and we just couldn’t get our hands on the ball. I think [the game clock] stopped with 53 seconds and they still had the ball. That was the turning point.
On the identity of his team:
I think we became a feel-good team, which is what everyone tries to avoid in coaching. When you scout people, you try to sniff out the teams that are feel-good teams, which means if you put a run on them you can put them away. I felt we exhibited some of that feel-good [mentality] in the first half. They put a couple runs on us and instead of getting back on the next play and keeping themselves in the moment, there was a little bit of bickering that was disappointing. I didn’t do a good job of steering us away from being a feel-good team.
GEORGIA TECH STUDENT-ATHLETE QUOTES
On Tech’s errors in the game:
In a game like this that was very close back and forth, it comes down to little things like boxing out, getting the rebound and getting the loose ball, especially on defense. Unfortunately, it cost us the game and that is very tough to swallow.
On moving into the point guard position:
I just tried to settle the team down. I tried to get us organized on offense. I tried to pressure the point guard on defense. Just keep the guys together. We had some shots that were right in but came out. I just kept telling the team to keep shooting because those shots are going to fall. I just tried to execute the game plan. I just tried to take care of the ball.
On guarding UNLV’s Wendell White:
He just plays hard. When he shot the ball he always followed his shot. We all know he is a good player. He is right-handed but he dribbled with his left and shot with his right and that made it a little difficult to determine which way to push him. It’s hard to guard a three-point team. You can’t push out a lot of people so you can’t help like you would want to. He is a good player. He just plays hard all the time and that’s the main thing.
On UNLV out-rebounding Georgia Tech:
Rebounding is all about will. You have to have the will and heart to rebound out there. As you can tell, they had a lot more will than we did under that glass. Wendell (White) and Essengue (Gaston) had a couple of rebounds at the end of the game that really put us away.
On the main factor that led to the outcome:
We got out-toughed. Give them a lot of credit, UNLV showed a lot of toughness at the end. They had great coaching. We just couldn’t come up with those rebounds. We got to get those rebounds. On the adjustments Georgia Tech made to get back into the game: We really had made some tough plays to get back into the game. Once we understood what we had to do defensively to be able to contain their guards and stop them from draining a lot of threes, we were in good shape. We came back and took the lead, but it just came down to toughness. They out-toughed us at the end, and that’s part of why it was a low-scoring, grind-it-out game. That’s the way it goes sometimes. We couldn’t and shouldn’t have got out-toughed like that.
On the outcome:
They just wanted it more. This is the probably the worst experience of ever, my first NCAA [Tournament] and I didn’t think it would be like this.