Holy Cross-Southern Illinois Postgame Quotes

March 16, 2007

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2007 NCAA Men's Basketball Championship First Round
Nationwide Arena, Columbus, Ohio
March 16, 2007
No. 4 Southern Illinois 61, No. 13 Holy Cross 51

Holy Cross Postgame Press Conference Transcript

COACH WILLARD: I thought we would have a good opportunity to win this game if we could limit a couple things, one, their transition baskets and I think towards the end of the first half, they got three or four transition baskets that hurt us, and then the second thing was to make sure we did a good job of doubling the post and we did a good job of that until Tim got in foul trouble and we didn't do a good job after he went out of the basketball game and they hurt us inside with a couple plays. When Tim got back in the game, we used him a little tentative. But these two guys here, I just want to finish by saying it's been a real privilege having the opportunity to coach these guys for four years and I couldn't be prouder of the two guys sitting next to me.

REPORTER: For both of you, can you tell us a little bit about how the defense that they played on you two was maybe different than you'd seen before?
SIMMONS: Well, it wasn't, they may have been a little more physical on all of our plays, but me and Troy have been facing defenses like that the whole season, even in our league, every team would try to focus on us and stop us. I thought I was ready for it. I had a bad day, but I thought Troy played well. But that's something that we see, we've been seeing for 30 games.

REPORTER: Can each of you just comment a bit, then, on playing in your final game.
THOMAS: Yeah, this is our final game, we don't want to go out like this, but it was a special program. I'm still going to wear Holy Cross across my chest everywhere I go ranting and raving about my experience here and being with the players and coaches that we had. It's just been an ultimate experience. It was cut short tonight, but we had a chance to win and we didn't do some of the things we could have done to do to win, we didn't play to our strengths and I give them some credit because they did play physical defense and if I would have limited some of my turnovers, I think we would have had a better chance of winning the game, so I have to put that on my shoulders because I'm a senior point guard and if I would have had a better day, we would have definitely won this game.

REPORTER: Can you just comment, you finally made it to the NCAA tournament, was it everything you thought it would be, just comment on that a little bit.
SIMMONS: We were really excited to be here, but this is very disappointing for us. We really wanted to win this game and we felt we executed our game plan -- if we'd executed our game plan, we could have won the game. Like Torey said, I thought Torey played better than I did, we take responsibility for that, but the tournament was fun, everything about it was fun and exciting, but this is still very disappointing for us and it still hurts a lot and we have to bounce back and learn from it and better ourselves as people because of this loss. Being in a tournament is not something that -- we didn't want to just show up and have fun, we wanted to win this game and this loss does hurt.

REPORTER: Guys, if you can talk a little bit about how your defense changed and how things were different when Tim went to the bench with his foul trouble.
THOMAS: Tim is a big space, six-10, 270, he's going to carve a lot of space out in the paint. When he goes out, experience leaves with him or other players come in who did a great job tonight, as far as being a freshmen, he was awesome. It's just a big thing, Tim he takes up that space, but he blocks shots without going over people's backs, he really gives us an opportunity to go and get out on fast break so losing Tim was a big blow to us, plus he came in and was playing tentative because he didn't want to pick up those fouls. And for how physical the game was, the calls were still real tentative, it was real touchy fouls, the game was real physical on both ends and I felt they came at us, but we came right back at them.

REPORTER: Ralph, can you talk about what Torey and Keith meant to the program.
COACH WILLARD: I think the biggest thing is not only have they been great players in the program, but they've been great leaders on campus, very selfless people, couldn't ask for better role models, two representatives of our school. I'm very proud of them. It's tough for them to go out this way. Keith had the cramp issue, the first time he's had it all year and he has to get it tonight unfortunately, and Torey, with Keith cramping and not being able to execute, Torey really put the team on his back and scored 16, and he made some great plays and did great things, we just needed some other guys to step up. If Tim would have given us a better game inside, we had a lot of opportunities and just didn't make plays. When we missed that lay-up, we could have been just down two, instead we missed a lay-up, they come down and score at the other end. We need some guys to play a little better because obviously if they concentrated like everybody else has for the past year on Keith and Torey, but just two great kids, two great young men and two great representatives of our school.

REPORTER: And as they stated before, Meister stepped up, but Vander Baan getting in foul trouble had to hurt as well.
COACH WILLARD: When they got the transition game, they got those three or four easy buckets on us, both Tim and Alex were in foul trouble, Eric's a good player, he's only a freshmen, they scored the out of bounds play in the second half, that was Eric just falling asleep, referee's handing the kid the ball out of bounds, I don't know what he was thinking, but we gave up a dunk on that play to Falker, that's another huge play, that's what happens when you have to play freshmen in this environment.

Southern Illinois Postgame Press Conference Transcript

COACH LOWERY: I just thought that our kids, the last thing I wrote on the board today was stay together, not knowing that something like we'd have a kid get injured at the end of the half after the buzzer and wouldn't be able to play again, and then for these kids to do that, stay together and really have a kid play a whole second half without being in foul trouble, executing on both sides of the ball the right way like Tony Boyle did today, that was phenomenal. I've been on him quite a bit his three years here and for him to reward it like this is hopefully something that makes him take off in the future.

REPORTER: This is for Tony. Tony, talk about the defense you guys put on their two big players, it seemed like they just didn't have anything.
YOUNG: We just went out there and tried to pressure the ball the best we could. We knew they had the strength and what they try to do, but that's always part of the game plan, try to take people out of the game. They still played a good game doing all they did, but we just tried to take them out on defense and make them uncomfortable.

REPORTER: First off, what were you thinking when you saw Matt go down at the end of the first half and what was your mindset the whole second half?
BOYLE: First he was just laying there rubbing his ankle, you can't really judge how bad it is, I really wasn't thinking. I was thinking about just, I can't even say I was even think about him not even coming back because I didn't know until 30 seconds before it was over, halftime was over, so I really wasn't thinking much.

REPORTER: Tony, did you get tired the second half or did you start getting more energy from how you were playing? Can you talk about what it was like to be in the flow of a game like that.
BOYLE: It was probably the longest I've played in a row all year, so I got a little tired, it's just a throw of the marbles, you just have to suck it up and go.

REPORTER: For both guards, it seems as though you guys are very comfortable when the shot clock gets under 10 seconds where most people, the game speeds up. With you guys, it kind of slows down. Can you talk about why you guys execute so well when the shot clock starts winding down?
YOUNG: I think it's just maturity level. Last year we tried to throw quick shots and get it out of the way. This year we realize that nine seconds is a lot of time. We practice it all the time, practice working at the end of the shot clock and keep your cool, being patient.
TATUM: I definitely agree it's maturity level, I think there are times Tony and myself last year with the shot clock at eight or nine would come in there and shoot a backward shot off of one foot and Coach would be yelling at us from the sideline. This year, when we got it in with four or five seconds left, kicked it out to a teammate and they knocked down the shot. Coach has talked a lot about trusting our teammates, I think we've done just that, listened and trusted our teammates.

REPORTER: Tony, what was it like getting that crowd reaction for you at the end of the game and hearing the chants of your name when you were coming out of the game?
BOYLE: Every time -- anytime something like that happens, it's very special, it meant a lot to me, I heard it. I thank all the fans for coming. It hasn't happened since high school, so I mean, it's awesome, what can I say?

REPORTER: For any of you guys, when Matt came back to the bench in the second half, did you guys notice that and did that give you a little bit of a lift at all?
YOUNG: Matt's a soldier, so we knew he was going to come back eventually, we didn't know if he was going to come back playing or come back just being there. When he came back,es constantly talking to us, he was down, we had to keep his spirits up, he kept us up. It felt good just to have him there, whether he could get on the court or not.

REPORTER: For Tony and Jamaal, I'm just wondering how it feels to keep your careers here going?
YOUNG: To me, it's going to feel good to play another day. We're going to keep going as long as possible and as long as we can stay together as a team, it feels good to go out there and win.
TATUM: I didn't want to lose today and Tony didn't want to lose today and I think everybody on the team felt the same way. This team is very special and we all love each other. I don't think anybody wants to see the season end, so we were playing for each other today and like Coach said, we just stayed together.

REPORTER: Jamaal, how are you looking forward to the rematch with Virginia Tech?
TATUM: I'm definitely looking forward to it. It's going to be a fight. I know they're a much different team, so are we. It's going to be a fight, just like this game was today. They've got a little different personnel, you've got to match up against them and come out with your best effort, I know they're going to.

REPORTER: The same question I asked your guards, why do they seem so comfortable with the shot clock winding down where you usually see that shot clock wind down and things get a little hectic?
COACH LOWERY: Like they said, we work at it. We always say we're not afraid to go to the end of the shot clock, and when we guard people, we make them do that too so we know how to play on both sides of the ball when it's on the line. The biggest thing is what you make them learn how to do and we talk about life stuff afterwards. If you can handle going to the end of the shot clock five straight possessions and something positive happens, then you can go run business, you can go do other things that are pressure packed too, so we kind of trick them into doing stuff and they've all gotten much better with it this year as they've gotten older.

REPORTER: What do you expect out of Matt? Are you expecting him to be an to play Sunday or just no way to know yet?
COACH LOWERY: I didn't know he came back on the bench, so I don't know. At this point, I addressed the team in there, he was smiling, happy, just like everybody else was and I didn't even say anything to him about it. We're just going to wait and see tonight, just go back to the hotel, get with the doctor and see what happens.

REPORTER: Today was the first day in 45 games that Keith Simmons didn't score in double figures. He helped out with that field goal, how important was that in stopping holy cross' attack and what did you do to stop him today?
COACH LOWERY: We guard everybody and we know how good he is, and that was the biggest thing. We really wanted to pressure everybody else and make it hard for them to do their sets that they run for him, but Tony Young was very good defensively how we want to guard him. Tony's guarded big guys a lot for us throughout his career, we knew he was going to give up five inches, but we knew Tony was going to fight and try to make him miserable and get under his skin which I thought he did. He's a good player and this is a game, move on, lose, you're done. I thought our kids really stepped up and guarded well.

REPORTER: When did you know that Matt wasn't going to be able to play in the second half and then did you say anything to Tony before the second half started there?
COACH LOWERY: No, they went back out and we waited, I waited until two minutes and he got off the table and walked a little bit and was a little ginger and I just said, no, and walk out. At that point I decided that I wasn't going to play him no matter if he could or he couldn't, just a roll of the dice to see what would happen. When I went out there, I drew something up and put Tony Boyle's initials down and we just went on. I didn't even say anything about it. That was the key. I think if I would have talked to him, I think he would have panicked and gotten nervous and he stepped up.

REPORTER: How big was it for you to get Clifford in foul trouble? It seemed like when you went out, you got on the run there in the first half.
COACH LOWERY: We wanted to go at him initially and they're very good defensively and we had to overcome the first wave of having Simmons and Thomas, they're very good at faking and dropping and making you think they're not in lanes and getting in the lanes. Once we overcame that, we had 12 turnovers in the first half because we couldn't overcome the first wave of the guards. Once we got inside, we really try to tell our guys to go to the rim. Don't shot fake, don't do any soft moves around the post, they all attacked the rim when they did get it in there.

REPORTER: Coach, let me ask that a different way. How different were they defensively when Clifford was out as opposed to when he was on the floor?
COACH LOWERY: They were different because he's huge. He's massive in there. And he's not an athletic shot blocker, he's a space shot blocker. He spaces you out, you don't think he's there and he's there. That's when we really got it going to Randle, we got the lob and we got some other stuff on him and obviously in the second half, we got Tony Boyle some stuff because he was out too, but he's smart and he's older and he understands what they do and how they play on the back line zone so when he went out, younger guys less experienced at running their stuff came in.