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ATLANTIC 10 CONFERENCE MEN'S BASKETBALL CHAMPIONSHIP

March 14, 2019

Maurice Joseph Armel Potter Javier Langarica

Washington, D.C.

George Mason 61, George Washington 57

COACH MAURICE JOSEPH: I want give them credit. I thought we came out, played really, really hard. We executed the game plan almost to a T. So I give our guys a lot of credit, down our leading scorer going into this game with his head injury, it would have been easy to kind of cash in the chips and just say, you know what, let's lay down.

But our guys didn't do that. We have a resilient group. I'm proud of my guys. I thought these two guys played their tails off, and to come down here with a bunch of guys who haven't played in the A-10 Tournament, a bunch of inexperienced guys, no seniors, injuries, all that kind of stuff.

I'm proud of the effort and I'm proud of the two games we put together here. Something to build off of and I'm looking forward to continuing to grow with this group.

Q. You had 14 assists on 21 made baskets. What was going right in terms of ball movement, being able to get your team open shots that may not have been happening in games past?
ARMEL POTTER: It was in our game plan. We knew George Mason was going to be in the gaps heavy, so we just locked into the game plan and we wanted to get in and kick the ball out to the open player and trust him that they were going to make the right play. We made a lot of right plays tonight. Unfortunately we didn't end up with the win.

Q. This game was really tight throughout, seven ties, eight different lead changes. To close out your season, despite the loss, how does it feel to really make George Mason work for this win and not make it easy for them?
JAVIER LANGARICA: I think we proved that we could have won the game. There was a stretch where we were up, but George Mason played really good, and like many other games, I think we were very close, but we didn't finish the game.

ARMEL POTTER: The good thing about having a young team is these last two games we played, I think we played extremely well with our energy and effort, and we can grow from this and we can take it into next year.

So that's a positive way to look at things, and we're going to keep our head high and keep working.

Q. This is the second game in a row I think you have double-digits rebounds and you had a really strong game underneath the rim. What's clicking for you, especially in these last two games, when it's win-or-go-home?
JAVIER LANGARICA: Well, these last two games, I just tried to give everything I had for the team, and now I know that I just have to get more physical, and just keep improving to help the team win.

Q. Is it on that late free throw, which they grabbed, what happened on that miss there? Seemed everyone boxed out, did the right thing.
JAVIER LANGARICA: The guy, I don't know who was next to me, I felt like he grabbed me. It wasn't the first time during a free throw someone was grabbing me. So I felt like he grabbed me. I kind of fell, and so he made me be out of position and someone else of George Mason team grabbed the rebound, I don't know.

Q. I think in the last game you played against them, you mentioned that George Mason plays in spurts and they get their points in spurts and runs and things like that. When you guys were experiencing some scoring droughts, how do you think your team handled that on defense, just limiting George Mason's point production when you weren't scoring?
COACH MAURICE JOSEPH: I thought we handled it really well. Coming into this game, with D.J., obviously our leading scorer with a head injury, we had to make sure we controlled tempo, controlled the pace for 40 minutes, and then we have to executed -- we have to execute in the halfcourt.

So we kind of slowed it down a bunch today and pumped the brakes so that we could make it more of a halfcourt game. Because we said, hey, if we keep the game in the low 60s, you know, mid 60s, we're going to have a really good chance of winning. If we get to the 70s or 80s, we're probably going to be in a sufficient spot.

And I kid you not, almost everything that we talked about in our meetings last night as a staff and this morning as a staff and with our entire team, we executed. We played really well, and I thought our guys played hard.

But it comes down to basketball is a game of inches. I thought we missed two bunnies that -- up three, could have went up five. They come down and hit a shot. So when we went through those little droughts and weren't scoring, the good thing is, in these last two games, we really defended and played hard and just bit down and showed some grit and toughness and resiliency, and that's encouraging for me.

So I'm proud of our guys for our effort in that regard.

Q. What did you think, you got up to a five-point lead late, five minutes left or so. Was the maturity of a team -- you have a lot of young players obviously. Does that come into play in a situation like that? Did you see that come into play?
COACH MAURICE JOSEPH: I think that always comes into play, but the bottom line is, our guys played hard. You know, it wasn't -- you know, we didn't lose that lead due to a lack of effort.

We had that drive on our left-hand side, ran a play to Mace, ripped to his left hand because we were sitting on his right hand to get him to the cup, and he just missed a great shot. I told Mace, I'll go to my grave with you on that shot, you know what I mean. Like I have all the confidence in the world in you making that shot. It rimmed out today.

You know, he's beating himself up because he's a good kid and he works hard, but he can't hang his head. He cannot hang his head. Then we had another layup a little later after that and the free throw at the end you mentioned, and little plays here and there.

But I thought for 40 minutes we played really, really well and we played hard. Again, we're just proud of our guys.

Q. It seems like Javier was a big part of the game plan offense. He got a ton of touches inside. How does that help the other guys get open and give them lanes to drive and then kind of do some of the things that you want to do on offense?
COACH MAURICE JOSEPH: Well, playing to the post against Mason has always been something we wanted to do because they often either double straight from the passer or from the ball side slot. So we knew that if they doubled and we played through the post; that if we flattened our guys out through the strong side, we would get kickouts, drives, all that kind of stuff.

They didn't show the doubles today, so when Javi got the ball he had one-on-one coverage and he's able to wheel and deal and get in there and get some shots and get to the free throw line a little bit. Got there once. I thought he got fouled a couple times.

He was able to get off some pretty good looks there, and then on the glass on the other end, I thought I was a monster the last two games. He really, really battled. And he knows he's not the biggest strongest most physical guy, but he's in there sticking his head in every bar fight there is to stick his head in.

So I give him a lot of credit because he was thrown into the fire to play this role at that position with our lack of depth at that position and he did a monster job to finish the season averaging six and five, whatever it was, I guess from where he was at last year, he's made unbelievable strides.

I couldn't be more proud of him. No one's harder on him than I am; I think he'll tell you that. But it's because I see that he's capable of these things, and now going into his upperclassman years, I think this year is going to be -- is going to prove to be a really, really valuable experience and learning lessons for him, because he got so much better with the opportunity he was given.

Q. You mentioned this at the very, very beginning of the season, but you have your whole team coming back next year. So when you just look at how the season went overall, and the high points and the low points, too, what do you want your team taking away, just in terms of what they have learned this year going into next?
COACH MAURICE JOSEPH: Yeah, you know, our team is young, like you mentioned. For us, it's just a process of understanding the standards that we need to live by every single day, and I think young guys don't quite get that because they don't -- and when you have the season that we've had, they don't really -- it's harder to buy into that because hey, you're talking about the stuff we're losing and all that kind of stuff.

But for us, it's a process of understanding that winning is a byproduct of the things that you consistently do every single day, and that sitting in the first third of class correlates to winning. Being on time in study call correlates to winning. Showing up to practice ten minutes early and doing your pre practice shooting and all that kind of stuff, those things correlate to winning. It's not just throwing the ball up in games and hey, let's go try to outscore a team and let's try to win a basketball game. It's not about that.

Obviously this year we didn't get the results we wanted throughout the course of the year. We're disappointed with the season we've had overall obviously but I'm incredibly encouraged by the growth that our players have shown and the experience that they got and how this can make their development and our program a lot better.

We're going to continue to plug away at the culture. We're going to continue to get our guys better on and off the court. They are going to continue to remain stellar students in the classroom, great representatives of their families and of our great university.

We are going to continue all those things. We're going to make sure that we understand that our culture is going to be bigger than any one person and any one thing. We're going to continue to plug away at that, and again I'm incredibly encouraged by that because of the people in our locker room.

We have really good kids. You know, we had, what was it, seven Dean's List kids. We have great guys in our locker room. I couldn't be more proud of them. They didn't complain that they were young. I complained a little bit they were young, but they didn't complain. We just came to work and did what they needed to do on a day-to-day basis.

We are going to take these experiences from this year and told our guys, we have nowhere to go but up. We have got to go get better and we've got to hunker down. Our guys did that, and now we have to take it up a notch, now that our guys have gotten some valuable experience.

So I'm looking forward to seeing their growth because it was a joy to watch them grow this season.

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