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NCAA MEN'S REGIONAL SEMIFINALS AND FINALS: LOUISVILLE


March 24, 2016


Jim LarraƱaga

Angel Rodriguez

Sheldon McClellan


Louisville, Kentucky

Villanova - 92, Miami - 69

THE MODERATOR: Whenever you're ready, Coach.

COACH LARRAƑAGA: Well, first of all, I want to congratulate Villanova, Jay Wright and his staff, their players, for just an outstanding performance. They've been playing great in the NCAA Tournament and throughout this season.

Normally, if I look at a stat sheet and we've shot 53 percent from the field, 58 percent from three, I think we probably won the game. But you look at their stats, 62 percent from the field, 66 percent from three, and 95 percent from the foul line, they're just an incredible offensive team.

We had no way to stop them. We couldn't put any defensive stops together, and the credit goes to Jay and the game plan they had and the way they've played throughout the season.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach.

Q. Angel, what made Villanova so tough?
ANGEL RODRIGUEZ: You know what? I don't even know what to think about right now. They shot great percentages. We did, but I feel like at the end of the day they outplayed us. Every loose ball, they got to it first. They got off to a great start. We seemed to make a comeback, but overall they just outplayed us.

And at this point in the season, I think whoever wants it more is going to win because everybody's very, very talented and basically at the same level.

But they wanted it more I guess, because they outplayed us.

Q. Have you guys ever played against a team that shot it so well like they did tonight? Talk about that. It seemed like no matter what you did, you couldn't stop them.
SHELDON MCCLELLAN: Yeah, we played against -- I mean in the ACC, so we play against great teams like that all the time. So it was a bit of a surprise they came out on fire like that.

We dug ourself a hole in the first half. Every time we made a run, they seemed to get those timely baskets. Sometimes they scored two times in a row, three times in a row just to stretch the lead back out to make themselves comfortable. So we never really got those important stops like we did against Wichita State.

THE MODERATOR: Guys, thank you for your time. Now questions for Coach.

Q. Jim, how difficult was it with two of your guys fouling out? I know that's something you didn't plan, didn't want to do. Talk about that, how much more difficult it made it for you all.
COACH LARRAƑAGA: We're a team that really prides itself on not fouling. Tonye Jekiri rarely fouls. We're in the top 20 of not putting people on the foul line. To Villanova's credit, their skill level is so high they have the ability to create contact when you think you're in great defensive position.

They do it either by shot faking or dribbling into the contact and forcing kind of a brief collision. And the way the rules are written now, all of those fouls are on the defense, the hand-checking and the touch fouls away from the basket.

And, quite frankly, we've been a very, very good defensive team against teams similar to Villanova. At one time in the ACC, for offensive efficiency, Notre Dame was one, Carolina was two, Virginia was three, Pittsburgh was four, and we were sixth.

So we were playing, ourselves, at a very high level of offensive efficiency, and everybody in the league that we faced did. But nobody shot the three and stretched our defense out like these guys did. They only took 15 threes. Seemed like they took 30 and made 25 of them. Seemed like every, every opportunity we had to get a stop, especially like at the end of the first half, it's a 3-point game, they throw it out to Kris Jenkins and he buries a 35-footer like it's a layup.

So you've just got to give them credit. They have the ability to make a lot of shots.

Q. Coach, with the depth of guards on Villanova, did you find it impossible to press them?
COACH LARRAƑAGA: We're not a pressing team. We haven't pressed all year long. We picked up man-to-man there, but that was kind of just to try to get our guys playing a little more aggressively defensively. But we haven't been a pressing team all season long. But falling behind is an issue for the way we play defense.

Q. What have Sheldon and Angel meant to this program?
COACH LARRAƑAGA: Well, for the last three years, they've given me the greatest pleasure as a coach that you could possibly ask from a player. They work very, very hard every day in practice. They've already graduated. They were terrific students.

They're very skilled offensive players. And during their three years, they've become better and better defensive players, and our defense improved dramatically with their improvement. Sheldon's reputation when he came to Miami was he wasn't a very good defender. Now I think it's actually one of his strengths. But he was guarding Josh Hart, and Josh Hart is one heck of an offensive player and he's very clever.

So it's not just his shot-making ability, his ability to read his defender and put him in a bad position and draw fouls. We were fortunate. We got him in a little foul trouble in the first half, but he came back in and really played an overall well-rounded game.

Q. Did what you saw from Villanova tonight, was that similar to what you saw in setting up a game plan for this, or was it a completely different team than what you were prepared for?
COACH LARRAƑAGA: No. It looked just like they played against Iowa. Didn't really look at the Asheville game. It was not a -- we watched them play Seton Hall. We watched them -- I watched the Virginia game from way back in -- it was either November or early December.

That was a great game against two great teams battling. Virginia ended up winning a close ball game because I think they guarded them a little bit better than we were able to do tonight.

Q. They had such a hot start. You started coming back. How did they stifle your run there?
COACH LARRAƑAGA: Well, we switched defenses twice -- well, three times. We were playing man, then we switched to a two-three zone, then we switched to a three-two zone. Each time we switched, we were able to cut a little bit into the lead.

As I said, it was three with the shot clock winding down when Kris Jenkins makes that three to put it up six at the half. It's a huge momentum builder for them.

But what really happened to start the second half, we played them very, very well on -- I'm not sure if it was the first two possessions or three possessions, and it was like one second left on the shot clock and they scored on that last second at the rim or made a shot.

And that was discouraging to our defense. They built a ten-point lead again. We tried to cut back into it, but it didn't work.

THE MODERATOR: Coach, thanks for your time.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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