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March 8, 2017

Marvin Menzies

Jovan Mooring

Christian Jones

Las Vegas, Nevada

San Diego State - 62 (OT) UNLV - 52

COACH MARVIN MENZIES: I'll keep it short. I'm happy for Coach Fisher and the staff over there. I thought they did a really good job of keeping their guys engaged and fighting, especially with the deficit, coming into the second half. So proud of my guys and those guys and the way they fought. It's a credit to the program that they have.

Probably a little more proud of my guys and the way that we played, in spite of the mental faux pas there at the end of the game. I thought we showed a lot of heart, a lot of fight. Kind of a microcosm of our season in terms of the attention to detail at critical times. I thought we still had enough to get over the hump. And a couple of missed rebounds, a couple of missed free throws and the rest is history.

Q. You looked pretty spent down the stretch. Was that true? Were you playing on fumes down the stretch? Did that contribute to your struggles at the line at the end?
CHRISTIAN JONES: Maybe. I'm not sure. It was more of a mental thing than anything. I was just missing free throws, basically.

Q. What was the biggest difference offensively for you guys between the first half and the second half? The second half you started having some of those droughts. What was the big difference to you guys?
JOVAN MOORING: We missed a couple of shots in the second half that we were making in the first half. And I think it had a lot to do with them making shots. We weren't getting the stops we were getting in the first half. So that's pretty much how it goes.

COACH MARVIN MENZIES: You can ask them positive questions, too. They fought. Their season is over. You can allude to things that will help them move it forward. It's not just do what we normally do. Their season is over, so let's be conscientious of that, please.

Q. You're coming back next season. What do you take away from this game and this season going forward and what you've seen with the program?
JOVAN MOORING: I think I've learned to be more of a leader, set an example for the guys this year and the guys we have coming in. And I think next year there will be a little more structure. We're pretty much put together on the fly. And I think we did a great job of coming together and fighting the way we did. There's no doubt that we could have won this tournament. I think we are headed in the right direction.

Q. When that lead starts getting lower and lower, how tough was that when you knew they had the momentum to combat that and just get the game into overtime?
CHRISTIAN JONES: Just -- we just needed to stay with our principles. They're a good defensive team. And they attacked our weakness. Execute from the opposite end. They came down and made big shots. And that's how they kept the lead -- they went up.

Q. Obviously it's a change of scenery here for you. Can you reflect on your senior year here and your experiences here with UNLV this season.
CHRISTIAN JONES: I had a lot of fun, knowing that this is a completely different scene. I knew some challenges that we might have, but most of the time it was all fun. We had a lot of close games. This team, we had good chemistry, we had everybody brand new. Overall I had a good experience here.

Q. You had that big lead early in the second half. Do you feel like your players at that point were trying -- I won't say sit on -- but maybe not to lose it?
COACH MARVIN MENZIES: Not at all. I thought the pressure of the press turned the tide. I think as soon as they got some turnovers. I think it was Malik made a big three. And I don't think we were playing to protect the lead at any point. I thought we missed some good looks.

More importantly I don't think we handled the turnovers. In the second half we ended up with 12. We only had, I think, three turnovers in the first half. So that's -- nine turnovers, between that and overtime. So that was probably the biggest difference. I think the way that they -- we practiced for pressure, but they very rarely run that 1-2-1-1, unless they're down. And I probably should have spent more time in prep. It was something we had in our repertoire, but just a couple reminders, maybe a couple more times in practice, so we could have been a little more settled I think would have been good for us. Hindsight is 20/20.

Q. Defensively and in the first half, looked like you guys were flying around. Did you make any changes in the second half or did you sense a difference in the way guys were playing defensively in the second half?
COACH MARVIN MENZIES: Well, they got tired. I rode a few guys. Played less guys and played them more minutes. Six guys, you know, really played the game. And it was working. But they did hit a wall. We just kept doing what our game plan was, which was to protect the paint more, get three guys back in transition, rather than two. And we did a couple of things different to try to post some -- we had a matchup zone a couple of times, I don't think they recognized it and we got some good turnovers off of them in the first half, as well.

We did some things I don't think they recognized right away, and tried to disguise a few things. When we got to the second half, the bottom line, their full court pressure is probably the difference maker.

Q. A lot has been made what you inherited, Coach Fisher spoke on that, what do you believe should be the next step in terms of improvement for a year from now, two years from now, as you try to build recruiting, what do you think is fair at this point?
COACH MARVIN MENZIES: This will be the first year I can get a class together, even though we're still kind of behind the clock on this class. But combining junior college guys, transfers, potential transfers, things like that, I think we could at least get a solid foundation in. We have a good culture. We have a good staff. We have some guys that are returning. I can see them being integral in our future.

But there's no question I have to go get some guys. We've got some new guys coming in that I like, but most of them are young. So they'll be at kind of the foundation.

So we'll be better, hopefully significantly better, but I think at the end of the day it's going to come back down to balancing the classes the right way and not try to knee-jerk and just go get guys -- just experienced guys. We're going to have to tier it up a little bit.

Q. Following on that, would that be one of the things you want to not do in terms of -- especially with a season like this -- do things like knee-jerk to where you're trying to sign experienced guys to get to a certain point where people think you should be, and is it going to be tough to balance classes and going in the pattern you want to go?
COACH MARVIN MENZIES: No, I think it will be different than next year's recruiting class and the year after that, because hopefully we'll be in a position by then to constantly trade on younger student-athletes, high school, maybe a prep school guy from time to time. But I'd like to recruit high school kids predominantly, when we get at that place. We're not at that place right now. We'll have a mixture that will give us the depth in the different positions and also the depth of classes to create a paradigm that we can be very, very competitive next year, and play at the style of play, as well.

And then build upon that. So we'll have a lot of returners, even on next year's team going forward that we can start to plug in the holes to make the puzzle work.

Q. When JoJo picked up his fourth foul, did you feel you had no choice to leave him in, then when he got his fifth foul?
COACH MARVIN MENZIES: It was one of those six on one, half dozen on the other. We're getting the -- with the full court pressure, I felt like I really needed to keep him on the floor. Him and I talked about it, he knew that he had to stay on the floor. But he just -- but I told him, I want you to play D, you have to make sure you show your hands. And there was some music in the background and I lost my concentration. What were we talking about?

So it was really one of those deals where you've got to make a decision. And he was just playing so well. And it's like most things, man, if I could do it again, he fouled out, so I would have given him a break. And then he would have maybe made it to the end of the game. Heck, what are you going to do.

Q. The first season is completed here. Has anything happened since you took the job that has made you alter your plan or your blueprint or your long-term thoughts?
COACH MARVIN MENZIES: No, I still feel like the luckiest man on the planet who has had a bad day. We're in a great city, great city. We're in a town that's the mecca of basketball. We'll be able to get players in here. That's not going to be an issue. We've got a fantastic fan base. We had some loyal fans that suffered the worst record of the history of the program and showed up cheering to the last buzzer. You can't make that up.

We had so many positive emails and texts and people reaching out saying, Coach, you'll get it going. You'll get it going. So it was easy to stay positive.

I think the challenge for me was the expectations I probably had on myself and this program for this year. I wasn't sure what I had, so I'm always a positive and optimistic guy. So I'm hoping we'll get more upsets during the season. But that didn't come to be. So next possession. Let's move forward and doing what we do, which is win games and win over fans.

And there's going to be some people that are going to be negative and still talk about the season as if it were a disaster. If you only go by wins and losses, it was pretty much a disaster. But if that's what you're judging the program on, then you're right. But I don't coach for just wins and losses. I coach to build a program that has a lot of components. Our guys will be in classes tomorrow. We'll be out in the community. And my seniors will have great lives because they said yes to me, and they said yes to UNLV, and I'll make sure they're good.

Q. Can you tell us what your speech was like to the players after the game.
COACH MARVIN MENZIES: Pretty much that. I talked to the seniors, specifically, because I've got the rest of the guys that I can embrace going forward. But basically we're going to have some player meetings and evaluations that we typically do at the end of every season, you have kind of a season exit interview meeting. So we'll have those next week. So we talked about that. Talked about getting their butts up and getting to class and fighting through that adversity of wanting to stay in bed.

And we talked to the seniors. And I just thanked them for their effort, their constant positive outlook, their character and their commitment to giving me the opportunity to coach them in their senior year.

Q. You asked us to be positive. So I'm going to ask you, from a basketball standpoint --
COACH MARVIN MENZIES: Now that they're gone, you can ask me. I have thick skin. I just didn't want you to beat up our guys.

Q. From a basketball standpoint what do you take positive out of this season?
COACH MARVIN MENZIES: I'm positive about the future based on a whole set of dynamics that exist at UNLV, the brand, the support, like I said, the community, the fan base, the city. So there's things that I understand now from the head coaching chair that I didn't quite understand or experience when I was here as an assistant with Lon Krueger. So I feel even more inspired that we will be successful and that I'm glad I have the job.

From a basketball standpoint, I think there's nowhere but up, right? And so I think the climb is going to be fruitful. And I think it will be enjoyable. And I think people will see the growth and see how we do what we do in the Menzies' house. And so I think that will be pleasing to the folks. I'm looking forward to getting that.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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