home jobs contact us
Our Clients:
Browse by Sport
Find us on ASAP sports on Facebook ASAP sports on Twitter
ASAP Sports RSS Subscribe to RSS
Click to go to
ASAP Sports e-Brochure View our


March 26, 2016

Ryan Arcidiacono

Josh Hart

Daniel Ochefu

Jay Wright

Louisville, Kentucky

Villanova - 64, Kansas 59

THE MODERATOR: Coach, congratulations.

COACH WRIGHT: Thank you very much. I\'m so proud of these guys. They got me. They got me really bad in the locker room. It was reminiscent of the Big East Championship. I should have anticipated it. But I wear it as a badge of honor.

It\'s like being -- you know, when you\'re a parent, you think your kids are the greatest, and then when you see them live that out and become great, it just makes your heart swell. Even if they would have lost, you still think they\'re great, but you can see they\'ve proved to everybody else they\'re great, and I\'m so proud of them and happy for them.

I definitely want to say that that Kansas team is a championship team. That\'s a national caliber -- National Championship-caliber team. They made every single correct play down the stretch. They hit the three, they got the layup, they fouled the right guys. We made the foul shots. They kept coming until we got a steal at the end. That\'s a great team. Never went away, made every right play.

I have all the respect in the world for Bill and their program. And, specifically, this team this year.

Q. For Ryan and Daniel, was this the way you dreamed it? For Josh, what was the feeling when you caught that last pass and squeezed it?
RYAN ARCIDIACONO: This is just a total team effort and it was everything that I dreamed of. And I can\'t speak for Daniel, but I would think it was unbelievable to know where we\'ve been from our freshman year and to go through the struggles that we went through throughout the whole season, sophomore, junior year, losing early in the tournament to just persevere and make it through the whole tournament is something really special.

DANIEL OCHEFU: This is definitely, definitely dreams are coming true right here. For us to get here, all the work we\'ve put in, all our senior captains that we had before Mouph, Tony, Mosa (phonetic) and Taj Bell, JayVaughn Pinkston, Darrun Hilliard, Nick McMahon all those guys, this is for them. They\'ve made us the men we are today, made us the leaders we are today. This is very special for us.

JOSH HART: The feeling when I caught it, it was just -- we had three seconds left. I had Ryan over there yelling, ball, ball, ball! I didn\'t know if I should throw it or what to do. I was in shock. All the work that these two put in, they were great leaders. And it\'s just a real feeling, something you dream about. It\'s just loss for words.

Q. Daniel, can you describe quickly the defense you put on Ellis, what you did? It\'s pretty obvious, but can you describe what your plan was in general?
DANIEL OCHEFU: That was completely a team effort. From the day we found out we were playing Kansas, everybody on the team locked in. We knew he was the number one guy on the scouting report. I didn\'t even start on him. Kris Jenkins started on him. It was everybody loading to him, everybody making plays on him, being aware of where he was. When we went to defense, knowing where he was all the time.

Our communication was great. I can\'t take any of that credit. It was literally the whole team effort that made it tough for that. We all know he\'s a special player. For us to be able to do that talks a lot about the way we defended him.

Q. Ryan, you guys had the seven-point lead at half. You fall behind five there midway through the second. Looks like the wheels are starting to come off a little bit. Jenkins in foul trouble. Was anything said at that point that kind of got you guys back into it? It seemed like everything calmed down after that.
RYAN ARCIDIACONO: No, I think we always want to grind it out and play Villanova basketball for 40 minutes no matter the situation. We knew they were going to come out firing at the beginning of the second half. It was unfortunate Kris got in foul trouble. But I think the guys on the bench, especially Mikal Bridges, stepped up in place of him and we just kept grinding. We wanted to make it a street fight, make it an ugly game. I think we did that.

Q. Ryan, correct me if I\'m wrong, but happy birthday.

Q. Describe what this day has been like with this and also your play to knock away the loose ball or knock the ball away from Mason at the end.
RYAN ARCIDIACONO: Thank you. It was probably the best birthday I\'ve had in my life. But at the end of the game, we were up three and we said we were going to foul under a certain amount of time. I went for a steal just to -- even if we got a foul, we\'d still get the ball back whether we were up one or two. That was a big-time dive by Mikal Bridges, and we just called timeout.

From that point on, I think it was just surreal, the whole feeling of us making free throws and clinching the game.

Q. Ryan, if you could just tell me about making those free throws and then watching your teammates make them and how much, I guess, did you relish being in that position?
RYAN ARCIDIACONO: I know at the end of the game situation we all want the ball for free throws. It\'s what we finish -- kind of start practice with, work on our form all the time. We finish practice the same way. In every situation, we\'ll shoot three, two, one and one and one. Coach puts the pressure on us at the end of practice, and I knew anyone who\'s going to the line at the end of the game, they were going to be calm, cool and collected making the free throws.

Q. For Ryan, but also would like to ask you guys to weigh in, you\'ve been using the word "ugly" over and over again. When did it get sufficiently ugly to where you knew, okay, this is beautiful? This is how we want it?
RYAN ARCIDIACONO: It was beautiful once the final buzzer went off and we were winning. But we wanted to make it ugly. We knew we weren\'t shooting the ball well. But the backbone of our program is just defend and rebound and play hard and together. I think we did that.

We started off a little slow, but I would say the last 35 or so minutes of the game is where we really turned it up and made it an ugly street fight.

DANIEL OCHEFU: We came into this game knowing that we\'re both teams that were on great offensive runs and for us in our program, we don\'t depend on our offense. We like proving we can win off the defensive rebounding. Making the game ugly and a street fight was to our advantage because that\'s what we preach every day in practice.

JOSH HART: Continuing what these two guys said, the toughest situation for us is not making shots. That\'s what -- we thrive with that. We know we\'re going to let offense take care of itself. If we buckle down on defense, we make it ugly, we\'re diving on the floor, taking charges, doing the little things this program is built on that we knew we were going to be in the game.

It was just all-around team effort from the beginning of the game to the end of the game. It was ugly, but it was beautiful to us.

Q. I hope it\'s not too soon, but I\'m going to ask anyway about the next game. Buddy Hield had 37 today. It\'s obviously a strong offensive team. Can you ugly up a game like that and look forward to getting the chance?
DANIEL OCHEFU: Definitely. I think the first time we played them we had a lot of young guys coming in that didn\'t know what we were completely about yet. The game was not ugly at all.

I think throughout the course of the year, we\'ve grown a lot, and Buddy Hield is an amazing player, Oklahoma is an extremely well-coached team with great players. It\'s going to be a battle. We take it upon ourselves to make the game extremely ugly.

THE MODERATOR: Thanks, guys.

Q. Jay, congratulations. How is the feeling of this different than the last time you made it to the Final Four? Can you compare and contrast the two?
COACH WRIGHT: I think the first time, you\'re kind of in shock. You don\'t know what to expect. This time, it\'s -- you know what it is. It\'s the next game. You\'ve been there. Now we\'ve got to make sure they approach it the same way.

It\'s definitely different. That first time is overwhelming. And there\'s a lot of things that go on there that people tell you about and they try to help you, but until you get there and experience it, it\'s hard to understand that. I hope we\'ll be better prepared this time.

Q. Coach, yesterday you were asked about defending Perry Ellis, why people don\'t try junk stuff with him. What was your game plan tonight? Was that a little gamesmanship or were you playing it straight?
COACH WRIGHT: We played him mostly straight. We played zone. We played man-to-man. But we just always tried to find where he was. We really didn\'t double him too many times. I don\'t -- I don\'t know if we doubled him once.

But we were very aware of trying to limit his touches. Bill\'s a great coach. As soon as they started the second half, bang, bang, they got him inside differently than they were trying to get him in the first half. That got us.

One of the good things about our timeout -- it wasn\'t a good -- we turned the ball over. We did not start off well. But it gave us a chance to explain to the guys what they were doing differently now to get him the ball. And we did a little bit better job.

If we didn\'t turn that ball over and they didn\'t score and get a foul on Kris, and we didn\'t call timeout, I don\'t know if we\'d have been able to adjust. So it actually helped a little bit that way.

Bill knows how to get him the ball, and we just kept -- we had Mikal Bridges on him. We had Jenkins on him. That\'s why he got in foul trouble. We had Hart on him. We had Ochefu on in a little bit. We tried to keep different bodies on him.

Q. Coach, you mentioned Mikal. Mikal played more minutes than he usually plays. You had Ochefu and Reynolds playing together, which is probably something you don\'t do too often. Was that part of the Perry Ellis strategy generally, or more broadly length and size?
COACH WRIGHT: It was more a Kansas strategy. And we\'ve wanted to do that all year, but Daniel Ochefu was hurt and not playing a lot. So Darryl, we couldn\'t afford to play them together. We had Darryl playing so many minutes.

But it was important in that game. We got some good minutes out of those guys. And if Mikal Bridges hadn\'t played so well at the end, we were going to go big defensively. But Mikal was playing so big himself and getting rebounds and defending Ellis that we just stayed with him.

Q. Coach, each year your program is near or at the top of the leader boards in free-throw shooting. Ryan talked about it earlier. The creating pressure situations in practice, how do you get these guys to shoot free throws so accurately year in and year out, especially in tight pressure games like we saw tonight?
COACH WRIGHT: We do spend a lot of time on it all year round. We spend a lot of time on technique shooting. We spend a lot of time on every possible situation in foul shooting, every day in practice. With people on the line, without people on the line, a three-shot foul, a two-shot foul. We even practice missing a foul shot in case we\'re -- if we\'re down two and we have one shot with three seconds left, you know.

So it\'s a big part of our program all year round.

Q. Jay, can you comment on Bridges\' two big steals in the last 34 seconds, and, also, that confusion at 34 when it looked like perhaps one referee was going to call a foul on your team and maybe a foul on their team as well. So it was kind of confusing. But Bridges really comes up big for you with the loose balls.
COACH WRIGHT: He\'s huge. It\'s a decision you have to make at the end of the game. Do we go into our press and try to get a turnover or slow them up knowing that Mason\'s so good. He could split it and get them an easy shot. We took a chance. And it\'s basketball. You take a chance, and the kid makes a great play. Mikal Bridges comes from behind.

On that play, I thought they called a foul on Kansas diving at our guy\'s legs and taking our guy\'s legs out. We were actually preparing for a free throw right there. And we only had one timeout left. And we came out. Our guys were not prepared for side OB. They did that all on their own. I just thought they were trying to see who the foul was on. I\'ve got to see that on film. I\'m not complaining. I\'m just saying we were unprepared, and it speaks to the leadership of Ryan and Daniel on the floor to get into our sideline out of bounds, our backcourt sideline out of bounds, get the ball in and up the floor. We caught a break there. We caught a break.

Q. Jay, you alluded to in your opening remarks, but just how rewarding was it to see those guys step up the way they did, then really kind of rise to this occasion for you down the stretch?
COACH WRIGHT: Coaching is a lot like parenting. You just believe in your guys so much and you\'re telling them how great they can be. And you know it. You see it in them, but they\'re 18 to 22 years old. Sometimes they don\'t realize it and you get them maybe 75 percent of the way there and they leave you.

You feel good for them, they got partly there, but you feel like you failed them a little bit. It\'s the greatest feeling in the world to see these guys get to that point where everyone else sees that they\'re as good as we see they can be, and that they see -- I could tell in that locker room, there wasn\'t as much -- they had more fun in the locker room soaking me, they were having fun with that. But after that, it was a real sense of accomplishment and I think they really felt good about themselves individually.

And that\'s the greatest thing you can -- that you can experience as a coach.

Q. Jay, is that water or Powerade? How did they set you up?
COACH WRIGHT: They did the same thing in the Big East Tournament. I should have thought about it. They hid behind a wall. When I walked in, they had cold, really cold bottles of water, all of them and they just doused me. They just continued to do it. Kept coming. Took my breath away. I know what those football coaches feel like now. I\'m just glad I\'m not outside and it\'s 20 degrees. I can\'t imagine that.

THE MODERATOR: See you in Houston.

COACH WRIGHT: Thank you, guys. Thank you to everybody in Louisville and at the Brown Hotel. They were awesome to us. This is a great town.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports


About ASAP SportsFastScripts ArchiveRecent InterviewsCaptioningUpcoming EventsContact Us
FastScripts | Events Covered | Our Clients | Other Services | ASAP in the News | Site Map | Job Opportunities | Links
ASAP Sports, Inc. | T: 1.212 385 0297