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March 11, 2016

Will Wade

Justin Tillman

Mo Alie-Cox

Brooklyn, New York

VCU - 85, UMass - 70

WILL WADE: Good win, good to get the first one, obviously. I thought we did a great job on the backboard. That was critical. Offensive rebounding was tremendous. That was a point of emphasis for us coming into the game. Got a lot of extra possessions that way. Thought we played extremely hard. Start of the second half really helped us attacking downhill, getting to the front of the rim, being able to finish in there.

We'll take it. Good win.

Q. What does it say about the team that you had the disparity from the outside, 1 for 16 but you scored so many points in the paint and almost every possession in the second half seemed like you were outrunning getting some kind of lay-up or some kind of inside shot?
MO ALIE-COX: I think in our last game, one of our last home games at Davidson we hit one three, also, so we just tried to keep attacking the paint, killing them on the glass. We saw Rhode Island get a bunch of offensive rebounds yesterday, so we knew we could do the same thing. Like the first time we played them, we didn't play our game. We were like lackadaisical and lazy, so we just tried to come out here and worry about ourselves and not worry about them and just control what we can control, and we just attacked them on the glass, and we finished it.

Q. Mo, you battled with Rashaan Holloway. What's it like going up against a guy his size?
MO ALIE-COX: It reminded me of like freshman year when I was guarding Josh Smith from Georgetown. I couldn't see him around. It took all my energy just trying to get in front, but once I got in front, then I would hold the ball so long, he would like fight back and get position, so I just tried to do my best to hold him off.

Q. Does it feel like you guys are playing a home game today with the kind of pro-VCU atmosphere?
JUSTIN TILLMAN: Yeah, we had mostly our fans out there so we got a lot of energy and you always want to come out and put on a show.

Q. For both guys, Mel is not here, getting treatment, but he seemed to play with an extra amount of intensity. Do you guys notice that and is that something he's transferring to you guys?
MO ALIE-COX: Melvin just talked about the whole week getting past the first game. First game. We didn't play well against UMass last night, so against them last time and saw we weren't aggressive in ball screens and attacking them and making plays in front of the rim. So he came out, he set the tone with that, and JeQuan and Johnny and the rest of them just trying to follow his lead.

JUSTIN TILLMAN: In the locker room, just talking about mostly us having the energy the whole game and feeding off of each other, and that's what we tried to do going into the game.

Q. You've had a whole bunch of rebounds in the last couple of games. Can you talk about is anything different with what you're doing out there? Looks like you're much more aggressive.
JUSTIN TILLMAN: Just playing with a killer attitude, just attacking, being very aggressive on every play, offense and defense.

WILL WADE: I'm playing him more. (Laughter).

Q. The goal is to get to the NCAA Tournament. Do you feel like this is a step in the right direction? Is it the step that gets you in or do you think you still need to win tomorrow night?
MO ALIE-COX: We want to make it to the tournament, but our first task at hand is winning the A-10 Tournament, so we just got to focus on Davidson or St. Bonaventure or whoever gets the win and if we take care of business here, we should be fine for the NCAA Tournament.

JUSTIN TILLMAN: This is our main goal, make it to the dance, whatever, but this is our main goal now, taking it game by game, focusing on each team and taking it from there.

Q. Mo, you didn't shoot well early on. Was it just getting settled down and getting accustomed to stuff?
MO ALIE-COX: We weren't taking very good shots. I think we took like six threes before the first media or something like that, and that's not what we talked about coming into the game. We talked about attacking the rim. So once we settled down and we started making plays at the rim, we were fine from there and we just tried to contain Hinds and Davis from going off, and we held them to 30 points in the first half and they had like six or seven in the first 10 minutes of the second half, so we just tried to really focus on our defense and not let our offense affect our defense.

Q. Extremely fast-paced game. Is it playing into your hands when teams try to run with you or outrun you?
MO ALIE-COX: I mean, I didn't really think about it today. I guess because you've got JeQuan who can just zoom it up the court, and Melvin, I black a shot, we had like a three on one and Justin finished it with a dunk and that just gives us more energy on the defensive end and when we're locked in defensively, I think we can guard anybody.

JUSTIN TILLMAN: During the off-season we really prepared, like running a lot and stuff like that just for moments like this, playing against teams like this, because we play at a high pace and outrun teams.

Q. Can you offer a status update on the condition of Melvin?
WILL WADE: The game ended three minutes ago. I don't know. He did something to his ankle. It appears -- no swelling. He appears to be okay, but we won't know for a couple more hours at the hotel. We'll see. But it appears like everything will be okay.

Q. With that in mind, your guys talked about wanting to win the A-10 Tournament being the biggest goal, but if you think you're in decent shape for the NCAA Tournament, are you careful with Melvin?
WILL WADE: No, we'll play whoever we need to play tomorrow to win. No. We're not in -- there's nothing for sure. So we'll play whoever we need to play tomorrow to win the game. We can deal with everything else after that.

Q. How much relief is it that you finally got the win and now you can just now solely focus on the next game after your team performance tonight?
WILL WADE: I mean, you always want to win the first one, so that's important. You know, there's no relief. We've got two really good teams getting ready to play out there. We're going to have to play one of them tomorrow, so we've got to get back and get ready to go.

Q. What's that like when you have such a disparity in threes? You go 1 for 16 but score so many points inside?
WILL WADE: I think that's growth in our team and our program. We've been pretty reliant on the three in the past. I think this year -- we've had some games like this. The Davidson game at home we were this exact same way and we just pounded that thing in the paint and were able to score. That's just growth in our team, growth in our program. UMass is a good team. They're playing really well here at the end of the year. Hinds is playing well. They clubbed us up there pretty good. It wasn't as close as the final score. We made it respectable at the end. They got us pretty good up there, and they've been playing really well.

Q. When UMass took down Rhode Island last night, was there any extra excitement among the players just to get a second shot at those guys?
WILL WADE: We were ready for whoever. Actually we kind of expected UMass to win that game. I spent actually most of the week preparing for UMass because they've been doing some triangle-and-two and box-and-one tonight. We had worked extensively against that stuff this week in practice. They played it against Bonaventure, they played it against Rhode Island some, at Rhode Island, before this game. You know, we were prepared for both, but we definitely put a little bit more time into UMass.

Q. If my addition is right, 129 shots --
WILL WADE: You didn't go to Clemson so your addition is right.

Q. You took 72 of them. Does it play into your hands when teams want to run with you?
WILL WADE: I think our defense led to our offense. When we're able to get out in transition -- we just got downhill and got to the front of the rim so much in the second half. Yeah, I mean, that's what we need to do. We need to be able to get downhill and get to the front of the rim, make things happen at the rim, and when you do that, a lot of good things are byproducts of that. The offensive rebounding, that's why we took 15 more shots than they did.

Q. We talked about JeQuan getting more shots. Did you like what you saw out of him tonight?
WILL WADE: He was good. He was more aggressive. I liked how he got to the foul line, which was great. We needed that. We had four guys in double figures, which is what you want.

Q. Any different motivational tactics getting ready for the tournament?
WILL WADE: No, we didn't do too much, just get the first win. Get the first win.

Q. Would you talk about what you like to do defensively on full-court press and traps than your predecessor?
WILL WADE: We don't press quite as much if you saw that tonight. We're a little bit more conservative. I can't stand giving up lay-ups, so we -- we still do some of the same stuff, but we do it more in the half court. We're a little bit -- just a little bit less risky with what we do. But we still pick up full court at times. We only played our match-up zone a couple possessions tonight. Usually our best press is back into our match-up zone, and we didn't play it very much tonight. We'll play it probably tomorrow as the tournament goes on.

Q. Why are you playing Justin Tillman more?
WILL WADE: He's earned it. He's working hard. He understands what we're doing quite a bit better now. Just got to let him play through mistakes. He makes things happen when he's out there. Sometimes he makes them happen for both teams, but he makes things happen when he's out there, so you want guys who are making things happen and are about action. He's not timid. He's going to go after it, and something is going to happen. It's 75 to 80 percent positive for us, so that's what you want.

Q. How proud are you that Tillman is now peaking at the crucial time?
WILL WADE: Good. We need some of those guys to step up. Johnny has played well here down the stretch. We needed him to play well. Tillman has played well. Those guys are sophomores. We need those guys to step up for us.

Q. Is there any reason why Doug Brooks didn't see much playing time in this game?
WILL WADE: Yeah, good question. You've got to prepare the right way, and at some point you've got to go with the guys that you trust the most, and I trust Jordan Burgess, so we rolled with him tonight. You've got to do things the right way. It catches up to you in critical moments if guys don't do everything right. You know, I trust Jordan and our team, and that was my decision tonight. We'll get Doug -- we'll probably play him here the next couple days, but he was a good teammate tonight on the bench, real encouraging, flying around, which is what you want. But yeah, it was my decision.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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