March 27, 2008
COACH TONY BENNETT: Well, it was not the way we wanted to go out. But I told these guys in the locker room after the game, what a run, for their careers. These two seniors, especially. I'm very thankful for that. We so desired to get to this point, and played a heck of a team, and they certainly exploited us. We had some trouble against them, and we'll learn from it. Obviously I want to focus on now, what they did for our program. It meant a lot to me and I'm sure you guys will ask questions about that, but Robbie, Derrick and Kyle especially came in when nobody wanted to give us the time of day, and they went through a lot to get our program to where it's at, and I'm just thankful for that.
Again, I'm thankful for what we learned. It was hard out there. It was disappointing because I think we're better than what we showed, and North Carolina is excellent and well coached and tremendous talent and all that. And we thought we could play better than that, but we just didn't do the job tonight.
Q. Aron, Hansbrough had no points in the first half, how were you able to limit him? And conversely in the second half what did he do differently to get his points?
ARON BAYNES: I don't know, I just tried to make him play over a body the whole time. I tried to stay between them in the basket the whole time. I knew he was going to score points, but I tried to do the best I could to stay out of foul trouble and make it tough on him. The second half, he's a great player and great players are going to get shots off and they're going to get some of those to go down. So he came out and scored a few more points in the second half, but still just tried to stay -- I got a few calls, a few fouls called on me and that kinda made me sit out. And it was a struggle down there. But, yeah, I don't know, just tried to play the best D we can.
Q. What is it that you normally like to do that you were able to do when you were successful that you did not feel that you could do tonight, and then related to that, what did North Carolina do to take that away, if, in fact, it was something they did?
KYLE WEAVER: I think it was our team defense. We really didn't play the team defense that has gotten us here all year. We broke down a lot of times, each time down the floor, you know, someone was out of position and we just didn't cover each other. That's the type of team defense that we needed to play. We just didn't get it done and I think that's a bit due to the way Carolina played. Every time down the floor they pushed it at us, and tried run it go down our throat, and they tried to force us into making mistakes in defensive transition. And a couple times that happened to us and they hit some big shots, and they were able to stretch the lead out.
DERRICK LOW: I thought we were pretty good at transition defense, but tonight I thought that was lacking a little bit. I thought for the most part we got back most of the time, but when you're going up against a quick guard like Lawson, you know, you've got to get everyone back and build the wall and stop him. And I thought, you know, it was partly my fault in the second half -- I mean, yeah, second half, Lawson got a few in a row when he drove the lane through the court and just zig-zagged his way to the rim. But I thought last couple games we were successful at that and tonight it wasn't.
Q. Can you guys talk about shooting tonight? Was it something they did defensively or was it just sometimes in basketball you get cold?
KYLE WEAVER: Yeah, it was freezing out there. I thought we got a lot of good looks offensively. Pretty often I thought we got a lot of good looks, we drove and kicked a few times. It just wouldn't go down for us tonight, even inside. We missed a few bunnies, a few put-backs that we usually put down, so I think it was more of us than them at times.
Sometimes it just doesn't go down and tonight was one of those nights.
Q. Derrick, you've had games like this when you struggled in the first half, even last week, 0-5 in the
first half against Winthrop and you were able to turn it around and score 11 in the second half. At UCLA 0 in the first half, 24 in the second. Tonight was there any sense that you could get that roll going in the second half at all?
DERRICK LOW: I was trying to, but I thought offensively I thought I got all the looks, you know, that I could get and that I wanted. A lot of them were good shots but like he said, it was just hard to get it to drop, and, you know, in most games I would have my teammates making shots and it would probably just be me missing. But it was pretty much offensively us tonight and we just didn't shoot well as a team. That's how it goes sometimes, but, you know, you can't stop shooting. I thought I just kept trying to get them down and a couple of times I had to switch it up and go to the basket, but it was just one of them nights that it didn't want to fall.
Q. Kyle and Derrick, could you talk about the last night of your senior year and the thoughts as you came off the court and what you talked with Tony about as you left the court.
KYLE WEAVER: It's hard, you know, right after you lose a game like that. Like Coach said, you don't expect to lose or go out in that type of style, but, you know, to take it to where we've -- to get it to where we are now, you know, to where we started, being last in the Pac and, you know, every year being a struggle to get it to where we are now. I mean, it's kinda hard to say that now but it was pretty -- it's pretty satisfying now that it's over to just look at it from a big picture.
Like I say, it hurts to lose, especially like this, being our last game as seniors, but I think we can look back at this, and I think we can say we left a mark at Washington State.
DERRICK LOW: I'll answer that one, too. Walking off the court, like Kyle said, it was kinda hard not to feel disappointed to end our college career like that. But then again, after that it just kinda made me reminisce back to the beginning and, you know, how it was back then when we first got here and the adversity that we went through, maybe being injuries or just being the last in the Pac 10, and no one believing in you and then, you know, to look where we were now walking off the court coming out of Sweet 16 game. And you just gotta smile at that and even though we lost, we just thank Washington State and the coaching staff for taking a chance on us. Just kinda stuff like that.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks, guys. Congratulations on a great year. Questions for Coach Bennett.
Q. You're an NBA point guard. Certainly people around here think the X-factor for them is Lawson. How good is he? And everybody talks about them being their engine.
COACH TONY BENNETT: Yeah, he was good tonight. I asked Derrick in the waiting room, how fast is he? Because in the second half we stopped him two or three times, but then we scored a couple of baskets and he's right on top of you. And I mean, we worked so hard preparing for this and sprinting back and trying to build a wall, but you can't mimic that in practice, and his ability to change directions and use his strength.
He certainly is a significant guy, because that's our strength, transition defense, it was our strength against Notre Dame and Winthrop and throughout the season. And he found some holes in it and he would get so deep. You know, you try to get out there and pick him up and get the ball off him, but he gets so deep. That was impressive, it certainly was. He's healthy now and getting full strength, and he showed why he's thought of as a big league guard. Tried to go behind the ball, screen a couple times. We made them shoot 43% as a team, but they do, they keep coming at you, the best off of makes that you'll see, turnovers, and they keep coming and we knew that.
Q. Tony, you faced a lot of good basketball teams this year, how good are these guys?
COACH TONY BENNETT: They're good. I feel bad, I didn't feel like we represented the Pac 10 the way we should. We got to the Sweet 16. There's three teams here, but I felt early the game was going at least where we needed it to go and I felt we could get shots, we could do things, but where they're good at, you can see it, is they keep coming at you. They keep playing over the course of forty minutes, and we've played some really good teams in our league, a little different style but really good. And I thought we were better than we showed. But I do think North Carolina is very special. And when you shoot it as poor as we did -- and I think North Carolina is better defensively than people think, too. They can guard you, they certainly can, but I did think we got enough quality looks for us to be in the game longer than we were.
And when you keep missing it does something to you defensively, too, and we couldn't get the easy ones to go down. And when that started happening you could just feel it and certainly they have a nice atmosphere here for them. But they can play. I'm just disappointed because we should have represented our league better than that. We didn't, but we represented it well for most of the tournament, and it would be a heck of a match-up against the couple of the top teams in our league, if they played them.
Q. Will you talk about Aron's game? Was this maybe the best game of his career?
COACH TONY BENNETT: He certainly could physically compete out there. Just physical with the banging and for the most part the officials let it go. I felt bad for one of his calls because they needed him on the floor. But he grabbed some rebounds and showed his physical toughness, and this was a game where physical toughness was going to be at a premium, and he met the challenge that way. And I was glad to see him complete that way. The one thing he said when it was four minutes left and we were down whatever it was, he kept saying to the guys after he fouled out, "remember, be thankful. Being passionate." He was talking about the things that mattered to our program, "Go out learning something. Go out hungry." He was engaged and locked in and I thought he -- I think he probably impressed some people, and he's played against some offensively good interior guys in Brook Lopez and Kevin Love and playing against Harangody. And I think that helped prepare him to play. But he certainly stepped up and was the one guy offensively that was a bright spot.
Q. Coach, you talked about the seniors and what they meant to this program, and can you touch a little bit on that and also what future they might have in basketball after this?
COACH TONY BENNETT: I told them in the locker room, I said, "I'm going to miss you guys." And miss them a lot. They're like family. Most of you people don't understand what it was like when they did come in, and we took a chance on them, but they took a chance on us, and they endured and they're wonderful kids. Derrick and Kyle, what they did making the Pan-Am team.
They're definitely going to have a future. I hope they get great looks at the NBA level, but they have a perspective. You could hear that listening to them here, and I think they'll be okay, I really do, and whether it's high-level Europe or a chance in the NBA. They can play and they've done a lot and a lot has been asked of them. It certainly has and they have certainly responded. And Robbie against Notre Dame, he was significant in that game. He wasn't as good today, but he'll have some decisions to make, what he wants to do after his career. But he could, I think, certainly play somewhere.
But they're the foundation for us, and they took it to a spot -- like I said, after all this stuff goes away, they'll feel real good and they'll be remembered forever in Pullman, Washington. I promise you that.
Q. You talked last week about the photo of the Vanderbilt game and how you wanted them to learn from that. Now as the seniors leave from the program, what do you hope that they learned from this experience as they go on now past the Washington State doors?
COACH TONY BENNETT: I told them, they came in as boys and I believe they're leaving as young men for what they've been through. I just hope that what matters to our program most are the five principles we talk about, that they remain humble, they know who they are, whether they play professionally or whatever profession they go in, that they are always passionate about what they do, that they're true servants. We talk about servanthood being the way to greatness. They'll embody those principles, and that they're unified in. Those are the things that matter to our program and those are life principles. I hope they'll take those and know "I can do it," even though it doesn't look like it's possible. But they're good kids, they'll both get their degrees at the end of year, and they represent to me what a student-athlete should look like at this level from Washington State or anywhere, and they can hold their heads high with their Pan-Am experiences, and it's almost sweeter when you come from the bottom and get to the -- I'm not going to say to the top, but get to a spot where they wanted to be.
So I hope they believe in those principles because it matters to us.
Q. Can you talk a little bit about the shooting. I asked the guys this, is it contagious, poor shooting?
COACH TONY BENNETT: We didn't shoot real well against Notre Dame, I can't remember what we were from three, and I was concerned about that, and against a team this talented I knew we would have to make some shots. The quality of shots were pretty good. I think it affects you more on the defensive end. We couldn't get one to drop and you felt so much pressure on your defense, and the looks, again, were there. Robbie couldn't knock it down. Derrick got some, we got into the lane, chippies, things that didn't want to fall and that's devastating. It really is because you need to stay attached to a team like North Carolina. You don't do that and you really don't have much of a chance.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach.
End of FastScripts