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March 12, 2015

John Giannini

Jordan Price

Steve Zack


UMASS - 69

COACH GIANNINI:  We are obviously thrilled.  We beat a team that is a very good team and one that's hard for us to matchup with.  Their physicality is not easy to play against.
But I think first and foremost, we gave great effort.  That shows up defensively.  We were strong and tough with the ball, only eight turnovers.  That last, long play that almost really hurt us was more on me, even making that as an option, probably should only throw the ball long in that situation.  So we should probably only have seven turnovers.
So when you play defense and you don't turn it over, you have a real good chance.  And obviously Steve gave us great leadership and rebounded the ball wonderfully, had zero turnovers, and especially guarding Maxie Esho, who is a terrific player.  If you look at defense and rebound and passing, it's hard to play much better than what Steve did today.
And of course Jordan came up with big plays.  I thought it was one of Cleon's best defensive games he played.  We made big free throws, so we did a lot of things to win a close game against a very good team.

Q.  In a game like this, it's kind of hard to narrow it down to just one play.  But they come out and had that little spurt after halftime, you take a time‑out, run a set play, get that jumper.  How important is it you come out of time‑outs and be able to count on a bucket like that?
JORDAN PRICE:  We don't focus on just coming out of time‑outs like that.  Just in the time‑out, we were focusing on defense, because if they went on the run or whatever.  So our main focus was defense.  We know we are going to get the shots, open shots, and had to knock them down.

Q.  Jordan, can you talk about you're down nine the first half; what was it you thought turned it around for you guys?
JORDAN PRICE:  Getting stops, just multiple stops in a row.  That's what we basically focused on, is if we can get three stops in a row or more, that's good for us.  You know, defense leads the offense and that's what happened tonight for us.

Q.  Talk about the matchup inside with Esho.  You were banging all game long with him.  Talk through what was going through your mind on those possessions on defense?
STEVE ZACK:  I knew I had to keep Esho in front of me.  He's a quick four man that can drive you; if you relax, one big right by you.  And Cady, that guy's a monster.  I have the utmost respect for him.  Battled all night.  Only way he couldn't get the ball was if I down and around in front of him.  So we're battling through, they got it a couple times, but stayed in front.

Q.  Jordan had the first nine points of the game and I think it took you eight minutes until somebody else scored a basket.  How important were his minutes and his ability to let everyone else get into the game?
STEVE ZACK:  We know Jordan can score.  Everyone in the country knows he's a scorer.  He does a great job.  If he has shots, he knocks them down.  When they start posting on him, he finds an open guy all the time.  We feed off each other's energy.  One guy gets going and gets amped up and that brings the whole team right up with it.
COACH GIANNINI:  Also, I just noticed Jordan being our second‑leading defensive rebound; Steve with six defensive rebounds and zero turnovers.  When you're a guard and scoring and you don't turn it over and you get rebounds, there's a lot of credit for helping us win this game.  Forget about the points, just the rebounds and the passing alone are a big deal.

Q.  If you guys can talk about the challenge tomorrow and the job they do in spacing.
CLEON ROBERTS:  It's very important, especially in transition.  Most teams like to get to the cut‑‑ they like to space out for three‑‑ that's important.
STEVE ZACK:  Like you said I know we are playing a three‑point shooting team.  Can't allow them to get open looks.

Q.  Cleon, can you talk about the three‑pointer you hit from the corn right after they cut it to one?
CLEON ROBERTS:  Yeah, confidence shot, I haven't been hitting as many shots lately‑‑ had to keep my mind that the shot would go down.

Q.  You were aware of the shot clock at the time?  Was that a shot you would have taken normally in the rhythm of things?
CLEON ROBERTS:  (Inaudible) take the shot.

Q.  Same shot.  How big was that, given it looked like they had some momentum going.
COACH GIANNINI:  It's a big shot, a really big shot at that time.  But again, Cleon, that's a normal shot for him and he's good shooter.  He's been missing more than usual lately but I just believe in the laws of averages and I want a guy like Cleon to keep shooting the ball.

Q.  What initial adjustments made on Lien, he had a pretty big start to the game‑‑ what adjustment was made‑‑
COACH GIANNINI:  Like Steve said, he's a monster and he made some big baskets late.  He's a problem.  He's a very good player.  And probably the only thing you can really do is just try to stay in front of him, make it hard for him to catch the ball.  You can't score when you can't catch.  I think both Steve and Jerrell did a good job limiting his touches.
It's just old school basketball:  Have a guy in front and have a guy on weak side helping and trust your fundamentals.  I think it's as simple as that.  But that's a lot of work trying to stay in front of a guy that big and strong.  Steve and Jerrell deserve a tremendous amount of credit.

Q.  Doing all that work on Cady and Maxie, and then comes Donte Clark.  What's going through your mind?
COACH GIANNINI:  They are a very good team.  You're used to it in this league.  I'm just amazed sometimes at the absence of anything remotely close toan easy game in this league.  So everyone has really good players.  This is one of the top six leagues in the country for a reason and every team is going to have good players.
So they are tough.  They are tough.  But what's bothered us most in the past, and we did a better job of in this game, is their physicality.  I thought we turned it over more and got bumped off‑balance, and when we got to the rim we were avoiding contact.  I thought, again, the physicality really bothered us in the first two games.
In this game we got to the free throw line more because we were going through the contact.  We were just playing a little bit stronger.  We didn't turn it over as much because we were just physically stronger with the ball in our hands against the pressure.  That's what's bothering us the most.  Of course Jerrell struggled against Cady again because it was physicality.  In this game I think we were a little more physical and a little tougher.

Q.  How important were the free throws down the stretch, especially when you see UMASS miss some free throws in the last stretch of the game?
COACH GIANNINI:  You know, free throw shooting is such a huge factor in winning basketball games.  And unlike many of the other things in basketball, you can't make more by trying harder.  You can't make more by drawing something up on a clipboard.  You can't make more by game planning.
So, you know, hopefully you have good shooters with some poise.  Again, we have lost some games at the free throw line this year and today it really helped us win.

Q.  You talked a lot today about their physicality.  Tomorrow you're playing a team that not just makes threes but they make the kind of threes that are a dagger; you played them very well earlier and they hit a couple.  Did they present more of a challenge mentally that you always have to stay focused with them?
COACH GIANNINI:  Every team has a different mental challenge.  But I will say this:  They are not good offensively; they are not very good.  They are great.  They are really elite.  I think the Ken Pom (ph) has them something like the third most efficient team in the country.
I'll tell you some of the things that make them special.  They score a lot of points; No.1 scoring team in the league.  But when you play fast, you're bound to have some turnovers.  They are a team that plays fast and never loses the ball.  They have five, six, seven guys who are legitimately good three‑point shooters, so I think they have way more good shooters than anyone else.  They play as fast or faster than anyone else.
They are able to do that and make good decisions at high speed, which almost no one does.  And then, you know, Coach McKillop's offense is unbelievably spaced with great options and a lot of movement.
And then No.5, I go by numbers myself more with opponents.  The one guy that doesn't shoot threes is like an impossible matchup.  He's too strong for guards and too athletic for bigs.  No matter how you slice it, they are a nightmare offensively, whether it's their aggressiveness, their shooting, their execution of their halfcourt offense, their number of shooters or the tough matchup at both the center and power forward slot because their centers shoot threes, which not many people have, and their power forward is just so dang quick and athletic.
So, listen, they won this league for a reason, and they are‑‑ I tell people, look at national college basketball.  You look at how unbelievably great Virginia's defense has been this year.  Well, Davidson is like the offensive version of them.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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