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March 11, 2017

Dan Hurley

Hassan Martin

E.C. Matthews

Kuran Iverson

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

RHODE ISLAND 84, Davidson 60

DAN HURLEY: Obviously played the game at a really high level defensively, shot it well. I've said this for awhile now, for the last, you know, several weeks, last ten, 12, 13 games, this is who we are when we're healthy. We're that type of defensive team. We have the ability to be that explosive on offense, and that was against, obviously, you know, a team playing their third game in three days.

But that's a tremendous basketball team with one of the very best coaches in college, and you know, those two guys, Aldridge and Gibbs, you know, two amazing players.

So thrilled to win. Thrilled to get a chance to play for a championship tomorrow.

Q. Where is the confidence level right now, when you guys have a game like this?
E.C. MATTHEWS: I think we just now are hitting our ceiling. We believe we're the best team in the conference, and every game, we're just going out there trusting each other. Like I said yesterday, just making more winning plays than everybody.

HASSAN MARTIN: A win like that against a team that's really tough, our confidence is really high right now, but still got to lock in and focus on the next game and try to win it.

Q. Was there a challenge in facing these guys a third time? I mean, those two first games were pretty close. We had a lead I think and you guys were able to climb back. Anything different this time around?
KURAN IVERSON: We played them three times, so we know what they are capable of. They have great players on their team. We just tried to stay locked in on defense. Ball screen coverage was a big factor in the game and ball pressure, and we just tried to stay with it.

HASSAN MARTIN: I think we just tried to control the game for the whole 40 minutes because both teams in the past, we were down by, what, nine or so. So the key was just to control the game for the whole 40 minutes, and we did a really good job with the scout, because we knew what they like to run. The key was to stop Gibbs and Aldridge.

Q. For E.C., the way you guys shot the ball, particularly from three in the first half, what's it like when you see those first couple shots go down, how much more confidence does that give you guys going forward?
E.C. MATTHEWS: Like you said, you see the first one go down, and that's all we really need. You know, we work on our shot a lot in the off-season, and Coach gives us confidence to shoot good threes. So once we see one going down, that gives us more motivation to make more.

Q. You've gotten off to fast starts two days in a row. What has led to those starts coming out of the locker room?
HASSAN MARTIN: The way we come out and defend. We've got to come out and really attack them on the defensive end and really rebound the ball. Today our offense was clicking right away, so that really helped us.

Q. How close are you guys going to watch this game, or does it matter who you play? Does it matter more what you guys do, as opposed to who your opponent is tomorrow?
HASSAN MARTIN: We've just got to lock in, no matter who we play, we're excited to see both of them. Both are really good teams. Still got to keep our same focus, and play defense and rebound, and hopefully our shots will fall and just do a really good job, and I think we'll be fine, whoever we play.

E.C. MATTHEWS: We respect both teams that's playing. So you know, whoever wins, you know, we're going to have a game plan for that, and tomorrow we're going to leave it all out on the court.

Q. Just four years ago, you guys came into the program, and now here you are, you're going to the A-10 title game, this is a goal that you set out for you guys. What's it like to just finally have that opportunity and be playing in this game on Sunday?
E.C. MATTHEWS: Really blessed. This is what we talked about four years ago, and to be like finally here, you know, we can really taste it. We're not there yet, so we know we have a lot of work to put in and we're going to be patient and we're going to get a lot of rest. We're going to look at it as another game even though it's not and be ready to play tomorrow.

HASSAN MARTIN: Yeah, we've been talking about this since I got here, and I have the opportunity to make it to the championship, that's real big, and I'm just real excited to play.

Q. You guys started 9-for-12 from three in the first half. Was that part of the original game plan or something that developed as the game went on?
DAN HURLEY: No, it wasn't the game plan. We were more comfortable shooting today than we were yesterday from the perimeter, and this is kind of who we've been. We've been kind of -- I thought we'd be kind of a 37 percent three-point shooting team this year. Because, you know, E.C. can shoot it, and Jared can shoot it and Jarvis shot 52 percent from three last year in league games.

So I think we went into the year thinking we'd be a better shooting team than we were over the course of the year. But what's happened to us in games this year is we've had games like this where we've been on fire, and then we've had some games where we haven't been able to throw it in the ocean and then our defense has carried us.

If we just shoot it pretty good, we're very hard to beat because of our defense.

Q. What was the plan against Jack Gibbs and how well did you execute that?
DAN HURLEY: I mean, it was similar to what we were going to try to do with Jaylen Adams. Obviously there was a lot of attention to him. In ball screens we were really blitzing him. We were willing to give him shots at the rim today, because we knew just, listen, he was banged up coming in. That guy is, you know, just a total warrior, one of the best players I've ever coached against. We really just wanted to try to funnel him to the rim, because we knew he probably didn't have the same pop in his legs that he's had for the last two games here.

So we just wanted to chase him off the three-point line, and just keep Payton Aldridge and Gibbs under 30 points combined, which was what we wanted to do yesterday with Mobley and Adams.

Q. You mentioned Davidson's legs and playing three games in three days. With that in mind, how important was it to get up early and maybe did you think that because they were tired, they wouldn't be able to make a run at you in the second half?
DAN HURLEY: Yeah, any coach that says their game plan was to get ahead early in the game, is lying to you guys. No one has any idea how their team is going to start a game. We just were ready to play today. We've been playing great again in the last bunch of games since we've gotten healthier, and then I thought we did a pretty good job today managing the minutes with guys. We didn't have anybody play 30 today. So hopefully that will mean for us that we will be pretty fresh tomorrow.

Q. With the way specifically Jeff was playing, setting up shots to open guys with your three-point shooting and breaking the trap at the top of the key in the second, what do you make of his performance today?
DAN HURLEY: Just tremendous. Tremendous. Again, that's a guy coming from a high-level high school program, coming from a great family, a top-level student. He has the character and the composure and the nerve to -- and the nerves, to play in games like this, and deliver as a freshman point guard, playing on I guess a bubble team in the semifinals of a conference tournament here with a chance to play for a ring tomorrow.

But you know, he's been doing that for us since Jarvis went down. That guy is a baller and he's just going to get better.

Q. How do you stay locked in going into tomorrow?
DAN HURLEY: I think it's going to be pretty easy to be locked in. You know, we're going to go back and we're going to follow the same routine that we did yesterday with our guys. It's just going to be a matter of being able to come out and play well again and make shots again. We're going to play hard. We're going to play as hard as any team in the country. We're one of the best defensive teams in the country, both guarding and at three-point line and blocking shots. It's just going to come down to, you know, can we have another good offensive game; can we -- I don't know if we're going to have to shoot 12 from 23, but can we have another good offensive game. If we can, we'll probably have a chance against both teams.

Q. You also have a chance tomorrow to not only win the A-10 but get to the NCAA Tournament. It's what you pictured for the program when you took over. Are you looking forward to the opportunity to be in that game tomorrow?
DAN HURLEY: It's exciting. I was a high school coach seven years ago, and coached at Wagner for two years. Turned that thing around quickly. Got to the semifinals of the conference tournament in year two and lost to Robert Morris. There's a lot of heavy lifting that's went into the first two years here, taking over just a little bit of a mess. Then that third year, when these kids were babies, when E.C. and Hassan and Jared and Jarvis were freshmen, sophomores, we won 23 games. Last year E.C. tore his knee up and Hassan Martin missed half the year which blew up our season. So here we are, where we thought we might have been last year, with the chance to do something great.

Q. How strong is the motivation to take it out of the select committee's hands tomorrow and just go out and win yourselves a championship?
DAN HURLEY: I mean, listen, we said to our guys yesterday before the tournament started, the one thing we did say, when we recruited you, E.C. and Hassan in particular, Kuran, we never promised them we would win the Atlantic 10. We never promised them we would play in the NCAA Tournament.

What we told them was we would give them a great chance to do those things. You know, when they wake up tomorrow, they are going to have a great chance.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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