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March 10, 2016

Jim Larranaga

Sheldon McClellan

Angel Rodriguez

Washington, DC

Miami - 88

Virginia Tech - 82

THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Miami.

We'll start with an opening statement from coach.

COACH LARRANAGA: Well, first of all, we're very happy to be moving into the semifinals. It was a very hard-fought contest. One of the things I'm a little concerned about, we are top 20 in the country in not fouling.

We've worked so hard as a team and as defensive players to learn the importance of not fouling. So we're very disappointed that we gave up 31 free throws tonight. Some of these guys are going to be doing wind sprints tomorrow as practice to remind them not to foul.


Q. Angel, you had a stretch where you scored 11 of your team's 14 points. Did you see something you were attacking or did you just feel like your team needed a lift?
ANGEL RODRIGUEZ: No, I was just out there taking what the defense was giving me. Seemed like they were getting a little confused on the ball screens. I had the open shots. I made the first one. I'm a confident player.

I was just taking what they were giving me.

Q. You mentioned the fouls. Was this a game that tensions were running high throughout?
COACH LARRANAGA: I tell the guys all the time to ignore all that stuff, keep their poise, not worry about anybody else but ourselves.

It's not about who we play, it's not about where we play, but it is about how we play.

I thought for the most part there was a lot going on on the court, obviously a lot of emotion. It was very uncharacteristic of Tonye. But I think frustration does set in if a lot of things seem to be going either against an individual or a team.

Q. What was the key for you in terms of ball movement?
COACH LARRANAGA: I thought when we played them the last time, they played faster, they played harder, they played more confident than us. We looked a little tight. We might have been a little tired.

I told the players, if you look at our schedule these last two weeks, we played at Carolina, then we played Virginia, then we played Louisville, then we played at Notre Dame, at Virginia Tech. If you look at the standings, the only team we didn't play in the last two weeks is Duke.

We played the top teams. We won some of those games. We beat Virginia, Louisville and Notre Dame, but we lost to Carolina and Virginia Tech.

But I thought that may have been the toughest stretch of any team in the country where you're talking about, first of all, Carolina's in the top 10, Virginia's in the top 5, Louisville is in the top 15, Notre Dame is in the top 25, and Virginia Tech has been on a roll. When we played them, they had won four in a row. Up until tonight they had won six in a row. They were playing great basketball.

Q. With the stretch that Angel had early in the second half, did you feel that was a scenario where he really let the game come to him? Also, in these tournament settings this week and beyond, how important are having seniors that have been there, have that veteran poise?
COACH LARRANAGA: Well, Angel and Sheldon, these guys sitting next to me, have been tremendous. Great fun to coach, great kids to be around. They come with a lot of enthusiasm and energy and effort and execution. Tonight when Angel sees his opportunities, he's going to take advantage of it. Sheldon the same way. Some of the baskets he made in the lane, acrobatic, hitting threes.

We had a number of guys in double figures - I don't have it in front of me - but we had guys with 11, 17, 21, 19 and 10. Five guys in double figures. So great balance in our offense, led by two seniors.

Q. The significance of having those are sorts of guys in a tournament setting.
COACH LARRANGA: I think the greatest teacher is experience. Anytime you're going through any situation, if you can look back on a previous experience, it helps you prepare and do well in the next experience.

It's better if you've had really positive experiences, but even a negative experience like we had last Saturday helped motivate us and made us aware of how fast Virginia Tech was playing and how important it would be to get back and play great defense.

Q. For the players, Virginia, their defense, with the challenge it presents, looking forward? Are you concerned that coach said he's going to have you running sprints the day of the game.
SHELDON McCLELLAN: No, not concerned at all. He just wants us to do a better job of not fouling. A lot of teams played us zone this year. They couldn't guard us man-to-man because we're such a great defensive team. That's something we worked on this year.

I think we got better throughout the year. We definitely want to improve from the last time we played, so I think we definitely did a better job today.

ANGEL RODRIGUEZ: No. I just think it's going to be a fun game to play and a fun game to watch. Two good teams going at it. We have a lot of respect for them, and I know they have a lot of respect for them.

It's the ACC tournament. What else can I say?

Q. When Jekiri fouled out, then Murphy later, why did you decide not to put Cruz in?
COACH LARRANAGA: The way Virginia Tech plays, they play with a lot of speed and quickness and driving ability. So you have to put your fastest, quickest athletes out there. Ivan is terrific. He'll be a major player tomorrow night. Different matchups cause different things.

If you saw the team that we had out there at the end of the first half and the end of the game, we had five guards. Why? Because they had five guards. You can't guard a guard with a big guy. It's just too hard. They're so good at driving and drawing fouls, we just didn't want to put them on the foul line.

Our best opportunity to keep them off the foul line is to play small on small.

Q. Angel, can you talk about the stretch when you had 11 points, the steal for the layup.
ANGEL RODRIGUEZ: I guess I was just excited to be out there. I felt like the first half, you know, getting in foul trouble and stuff, it's frustrating. This really could have been my last ACC game. I was just happy to be out there.

Really the coaches and the players have tremendous trust in me. I'm not quite sure if they were getting confused or whatever the case might be. They left me open. I'm not going to deny that. I'll take the shots.

Q. You had only two three-pointers the whole first half. Did you make any adjustments for the second half?
SHELDON McCLELLAN: Not really. Just being aggressive, taking what the defense give us. Once we drive and kick, we have a lot of guards that can get in the lane. Myself, Ja'Quan, Angel, Davon drive the lane and kick those guys open for open shots on the three-point line. You have to take what's defense give you.

If you don't take that shot, it could lead into something bad, so you have to be able to shoot it.


FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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