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March 12, 2016

Will Wade

Korey Billbury

JeQuan Lewis

Mo Alie-Cox

Brooklyn, New York

VCU - 76, Davidson - 54

WILL WADE: Good win. Really, really proud of our guys. We guarded well. We played very, very well. We took the air out of the ball there at the end so we could rest some guys and didn't have to play anybody a ton of minutes. Really proud of just everybody. Everybody stepped up. Mel really got us that spurt at the end of the first half that we needed to get a lead, but everybody stepped up. We did a good job on the glass again against them. Did a nice job contesting threes against them, that's been the story when we've played them this year. We've been able to do that. Very proud of our guys, and they've earned it, and we've got to turn the page quickly and get ready to go tomorrow.

Q. JeQuan, what was your game plan for Jack Gibbs, especially in the first half there?
JeQUAN LEWIS: We just wanted to contain him. Just one person guarding him but a lot of people loading to the ball and just running them off the three-point line. He's a great player, great shooter, so it's like cutting the head off a snake. You take him out, it put us in a good spot.

Q. JeQuan, what was your reaction when you set up that pass that sent Mo flying for that thunderous ally-oop?
JeQUAN LEWIS: That was big time. That was a big momentum shift and kind of got us going, got the people on the bench going, got the crowd going, and it was good for us.

Q. Mo, what is it about playing Davidson, another big game for you. Talk about you and Davidson.
MO ALIE-COX: I have no idea what it is. Probably they don't have the bigs that can match up with me. I don't have to use my speed to go around them. If Ekwu is on me, I think I can just overpower him. So they came and doubled a lot and I got a couple good assists. I had like three. And I had a couple hockey assists, also, that they just want more, and when they show me that kind of attention, I think I can use my pass and get other guys involved, also.

Q. Korey, Melvin obviously was limited with the ankle. How much did that stoke you all to pick it up, pick up the slack scoring for him?
KOREY BILLBURY: Thank God for the win first and foremost, but I think we lean on Mel a lot for leadership and once we knew that he was kind of not at 100 percent, each and every one of us had to step it up in some different way. I think we took a cue from him before the game, he told us this is for everything. We don't win today, we don't go tomorrow. I think we all just bought into what he said and followed his lead even though he wasn't physically able to lead us tonight.

Q. What does having the experience of winning the championship in this building a year ago do for you guys going into tomorrow's game against St. Joe's?
JeQUAN LEWIS: We're hungry. We want more.

MO ALIE-COX: I just told a couple of the guys after the game, don't take this for granted, and we've been here, we've lost, what, two championships here, and last year we got a taste of what winning felt like, so I told them there's no better feeling than going home with a win instead of a loss, so I think that just stuck in guys' minds and we just know we've got to come in here with an attacking mindset, sticking to our game plan, playing inside out and we should be fine.

Q. Nothing is guaranteed unless you win, but how do you feel about the NCAA Tournament chances now?
MO ALIE-COX: I mean, same answer as yesterday. We've still got one more game before we even start thinking about the NCAA Tournament. We're just trying to win. We have Saint Joe's. If we win tomorrow, we get the automatic bid, so we're just worried about our game tomorrow and taking care of that and winning the A-10 championship.

JeQUAN LEWIS: Like Mo said, we're not worried about that right now. We're not even thinking about it, just looking forward to tomorrow.

Q. Will, that was a very impressive performance. As a coach do you ever think, oh, gosh, this is almost too good to be true?
WILL WADE: No, we've prepared very well. I knew we were going to play well this week. I said on the radio before our first game, I said, if we lose, we're just getting beat by a better team against UMass yesterday. We beat UMass pretty handily. We beat these guys pretty handily. We've prepared well, and we're playing well. We played really well even in the loss at Dayton, and we've played really well here down the stretch, and no, I think we can play even better. We can get better. There's things we can certainly do at a higher level. But I think we did a nice job with that. Yesterday I it took us four or five minutes to get into the flow of the game and assert our will today and do what we needed to do. Today, we did it from the start. We got a turkey to start the game, three straight stops to start the game, and we were able to get off to a 6-0 lead, and didn't really look back from there. I don't think they led the whole game, and we had a pretty good working margin most of the game. And then we really put the pedal to the metal there at the start of the second half and got us the distance that we needed.

Q. What do you think your biggest strengths have been this year?
WILL WADE: Well, we're versatile. You saw it on display today. We've got a lot of different ways -- yesterday we couldn't make a three, today we hit 10 of them. We've got a lot of different ways we can beat you. We share the ball well. We play inside-out. We're able to pound that thing in the post and make things happen and play off of that, and really the last month we've really, really guarded very well, and our rebounding has been very good, and when you defend and rebound and run efficient offense, that's usually a pretty good recipe to have a good team.

Q. How limited was Mel, and what does it say about your club that you can win like this without him?
WILL WADE: You saw it. Once he got into the flow, he was a little limited at the start and I took him out, and once he got into the flow he was good. We had to go buy him new shoes this morning. He had to go get new shoes this morning because he was wearing low-top shoes. We had to go get him high-top shoes, and those shoes have a lot more padding in them. The ankle is part of the issue, but it's more of a heel issue than an ankle issue. I think he'll be fine. He'll be ready to go tomorrow. We're all hands on deck tomorrow, whoever we need, whatever we need. We've just got to see if we can find a way to make it happen. But it says a lot about our team. We had all those guys step up. All those guys wanted to step up for Mel. Truth be told, Mel has bailed us out many times this year, many times this year, and it was time that the rest of us kind of stepped up and bailed him out, and we did that.

Q. Where did you go to buy the shoes?
WILL WADE: Our ops guy went with him this morning. They had to go look -- we're in Brooklyn. There's stuff all around. I don't know, I know it opened at 10:00 and they were in there at 10:00, so we had to go get the shoes this morning.

Q. You mentioned how well you've been prepared. What have you been doing to get prepared, and has it been a plan later in the season to try to hit a peak at this point of the season?
WILL WADE: Well, you always want to hit a peak this point of the season. Our strength and conditioning program is very, very good. I think the way our guys' bodies looked has helped. Melvin dropping the weight has helped. There's a lot of factors. JeQuan has put on more weight, which makes a little bit more durable. There's a lot of factors that come in. Notice wrote a story on all the monitoring that we do of sleep patterns, of GPS, of how far they walked, calorie intake, all that. You guys did a story on that, right? Sorry, I don't read the Times Dispatch, but I thought you did one.

You know, there's -- all that stuff, when you need it, has to come through, and it's built for this type of environment, this time a year. That's what you want to do. You want to be hitting your peak. You want to monitor all that stuff so you can rejuvenate.

We took a little bit of a lull at the midpoint there in the conference season -- a little bit past the midpoint and we spiked it back up. We've mixed in the practices right. We've done the proper amount of time, calibration of the practice, that sort of thing.

Q. To be a coach who took over for a popular coach in his first year coming off a championship, what was that like hearing the fans? Maybe they've done that before.
WILL WADE: They've booed before.

Q. They were chanting your name at the end of this game.
WILL WADE: They were booing when we lost to Cincinnati.

No, I appreciate our fans. Our fan support is unbelievable. Unbelievable to have that many folks up here. They travel with us everywhere. They willed us to a win at George Washington.

Everything they do is appreciated. Their support is appreciated.

I do think they've taken to our team. Our expectations were a little bit lower than they've been this year. We were predicted fifth. I don't think a lot of people thought we'd tie for the regular season, and we're back in the conference final. I think they kind of like -- we're a gritty, blue collar, hard-working bunch. This is not the most talented group we've had -- is not the most talented group we've had in a long time, but we make up for it in other ways. We're a little bit more efficient, and so I think our people -- our fan base, we're a blue collar, hard-working school, so our people appreciate when you put a team out there that's like that, and I think they've really taken to our team this season. We're very excited about that, and hopefully we can give them a great moment tomorrow. We'd love to do that.

Q. You mentioned the contested threes. Their ball screen action, usually it's the third guy off there that gets a shot. What are you doing to take them out of that?
WILL WADE: Well, yeah. Their ball screens give us problems. We can guard their motion a lot better than we can guard their ball screens, and the one thing we did today, we felt like we needed to kind of spice it up even though we've beaten them twice, so we downed Gibbs on the left side where he's much less efficient if you make him go left, so we didn't let him get -- when we were downing him they couldn't get to the -- basically icing it on a side, so they couldn't get to the second and third sides in those second and third screeners coming off, which helped. They were basically on one side and that was one adjustment that we made, and our guys did a great job executing. We hadn't done it all year and we practiced it this week, because we felt like we may need it. We did the same thing to Hinds yesterday making him go right, so it was something we practiced and our guys did a really nice job. So there was no way they could get to it because they were clogged on some of their other actions.

Q. It's been almost, what, two months since you played Saint Joe's. What are your thoughts on them?
WILL WADE: Yeah, I've got to get familiar with them again. I've followed them obviously this year. We've seen them play on tape and that sort of thing, and I saw a little bit of their game today. But they've got two of the five best players in the league, and the guard is playing really well, Brown, and Newkirk is playing well, too. They're playing really well. They're playing at a high level. It'll be a challenge.

We'll reacquaint ourselves with them tonight. We haven't seen them in a month and a half or so. We'll put together a game plan and be ready to roll tomorrow at 12:30.

But at this point you've kind of got to do what you do, they're going to do what they do, and you've got to impose your will. Tougher team sets the rules, and see who can -- we'll see how that goes.

Q. You mentioned that you're a blue collar, gritty team. It also appears to me that you're a team that while Melvin is the leader, anyone at any time can be the leader on the court, can take charge of the game, make shots, no one guy would have to have the ball at the end of the game in a close game. Is that the way you see it?
WILL WADE: Yeah, we've got a lot of guys who can step up. I thought JeQuan played a really good floor game today. I thought he played a really good floor game today. I thought Billbury really stepped up. This stuff is all new to KB, so he toiled around in South Dakota right now in the quarterfinals of the Summit League or something so this is a new deal for him. But I'm really proud of him. He's stepped up big time when we've needed him. He stepped up today big time. When we had some of those other guys out there, he was the one making shots to keep that lead at a point where we could rest a lot of guys, which I thought was critical.

You know, he stepped up for us, and he hasn't been in these situations, Korey hasn't. He really stepped up for us at Dayton and hit a big three to give us the lead there in overtime, and he stepped up for us today, so I'm very proud of him, and we've had other guys step up. Burgess stepped up multiple times, he stepped up in the Richmond game, he stepped up for us today. Doug Brooks, I thought really guarded well today after not playing hardly at all yesterday, so we've been able to move guys around. Hamdy played really well yesterday, was just okay today but made some good plays early on.

You know, like I said, we're not the most -- not the best team you've seen maybe 1 through 5, but we've got nine or 10 guys that can come in there and make things happen.

Q. Your thoughts on does this clinch you an NCAA bid?
WILL WADE: I mean, we'll see. We need to win tomorrow. We need to win tomorrow. We need to win Friday. We need to win today. We need to win tomorrow. We can guarantee ourselves by winning tomorrow. But we came in together, we're the 2 seed, we tied for the league championship. Our numbers are pretty good. I think -- I don't want to leave it to chance, but I would feel pretty good tomorrow about our chances.

I think we've worked our way in there. If you watch the games this weekend -- I mean, what we did is not easy. There's a lot of teams that when the pressure gets -- if we'd have lost yesterday, we weren't going, and so -- today was a little bit of a different deal, but you see a lot of these teams across the country in these tournaments, it doesn't go so hot when the pressure is on them, and when the pressure is on us, man, we've put the pedal to the metal and blown two pretty good teams out. I think that says a lot about our guys' mentality and attacking it and going after it and trying to earn it, and we're going to try to do it again tomorrow.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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