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 14, 2017

Mark Slessinger

Nate Frye

Erik Thomas

Dayton, Ohio

Mount St. Mary's - 67, New Orleans - 66

THE MODERATOR: Being joined by Erik Thomas and Nate Frye, student-athletes, as well as Coach Mark Slessinger. Coach, an opening statement.

COACH SLESSINGER: My hat goes off to Mount St. Mary's and their game tonight. It was incredibly competitive game, start to finish. I'd like to publicly thank the city of Dayton, the University of Dayton and the First Four for everything they've done to make this a lifelong memory for our student-athletes.

This is a premier venue and premier event and we were proud to be part of it. And I'm sincerely grateful to the city of Dayton and the University of Dayton for hosting us and being a part of it.

I can't be more proud of where our program has come in a short time. To be able to go through the adversity we've been through is 100 percent credit to our student-athletes, to their commitment to the university, their commitment to our city and their commitment to each other.

And it's been a blessing to coach these guys and for us to move our program forward to a level that many didn't envision outside of our locker room. And so for that, my gratitude and my sincere thanks goes to our student-athletes.

THE MODERATOR: Questions for the student-athletes.

Q. Erik, what do you feel the difference in the game was?
ERIK THOMAS: The big difference in the game was we had a slow start. And that really hurt us. We dug a little hole for ourselves. But we just slowly came back into the game. Once we got our groove back, you know, we weren't able to finish the game out. So, you know, congrats to Saint Mary's. They played hard and it was a great game.

Q. Erik, you had trouble scoring in the second half. In fact I think you didn't get anything. What were they doing to you? How did they approach defending you?
ERIK THOMAS: They were just trying to double-down sometimes, get some bluffs here and there, trying to have that coverage on me. So it was a little difficult to score over my defender. But we tried to counter that. And by running our offense, we just stayed composed. And it wasn't the best half, but I was trying to help my teammates out in other ways defensively and on the boards. So I did the best that I could that second half.

Q. Nate, you really took over early in the second half. I think you scored 10 points in a row. What was your mindset at that point. And how tough is it to lose a game when you shoot well better than 50 percent as a team?
NATE FRYE: I mean, it's pretty hard. It's still hitting me. Like Erik said, we got off to a slow start and we were able to get away with that some games, but you're in a national game, and you can't afford to start off slow like that.

We got away from some things that made us successful. One is just simply guarding. I think they shot 53 percent and that's not something that we do.

And in a game like this, they made way too many 3s. We allowed way too many open looks from the 3 and rebounding. And in our tournament game we did a really, really good job of blocking out. We failed to do that this game.

But it was a fun game. And I enjoyed playing against Mount St. Mary's. They have a good team, a good group of guards. They're going to do well in the tournament. And that was pretty much it. I just felt like we didn't play defense like we normally do.

Q. Why was it so difficult to defend the 3 against them? Looked like they had some open looks. Y'all had patches of good defense, but the 3 was a problem?
NATE FRYE: Right. Right. And I think sometimes we were helping too much. We normally just bluff. But it started on the ball too. Us guards, we weren't getting over the top of the screen and stopping the ball, which caused the help and then caused the kickout. So it was a chain reaction in some ways, and they were getting a lot of wide open looks, like I said, we normally get out to. But the penetration was so deep we'd have to overhelp and they would kick out and get the 3.

Q. Erik, on the inbounds play there at the very end, what was the thought there? What was the play? And did that get away from you or did the receiver just not get deep enough?
ERIK THOMAS: I would just say just we weren't able to execute it. It was a well drawn-up play by one of our coaches, and I tried to deliver the ball to them, it was a little high. So it was tipped out and recovered by the other team. But I mean we've done that countless times through the regular season and it's worked out for us. We actually went into overtime and won games with that kind of play. So it was a great play. We just weren't able to finish the game out.

Q. Your thoughts on your career ending in this environment, and how much you guys really wanted to get that shot at Villanova in two days to extend your season against defending national champ?
ERIK THOMAS: It's been a great experience all throughout the season. Our team has accomplished so much this year, just being able to be on a national stage and putting our school on the map for our city, it means a lot to us. And being able to experience this with my teammates, my coaches it's a one in a lifetime deal. So I'm just blessed and thankful for Dayton to have us this week.

I'm not happy how it turned out. I would love to be in Buffalo but things worked out for a reason and I think it's just a start, big start for our program. I believe in the new guys the young guys we have and returning guys so I have faith in them coming back. We'll be back for sure next year. So that's that, man.

Q. Can you answer the same question, basically?
NATE FRYE: To piggyback what Erik said, we started the engine on the car now the car is moving. We've got to pick up speed and keep building off what we did this year and I personally would say I'm proud of what we accomplished as well.

We established the building blocks of what was broken down from Katrina and I know Coach Slessinger will do everything to keep it going, keep it building and the guys were eager to step up. Some had to wait their time.

But now they've seen or hopefully they've learned from what we've done, thrown out the bad and kept the good, and can keep this program going in the direction that it should go.

So I'm upset about the loss. I wanted to play Villanova so, so, so bad; but like Erik said, things happen for a reason. And I think New Orleans is going to be good just watch out for us.

THE MODERATOR: Questions for Coach.

Q. Mark, five or six minutes left you guys had looked like an altercation between two of your players. Do you know what happened there? Can you give us any insight on what was happening and maybe the decision you made with your lineup from there out?
COACH SLESSINGER: Well, we got two extremely competitive guys that are, I mean, they're best friends, to be honest with you, and just got it, they got sideways with each other, one thought he should have zigged and the other thought he should zagged. They got sideways with each other.

And I made a decision to set Travin the rest of the half. I thought it was in the best interests of our team moving forward for that half.

It's disappointing. He's got as big a heart. And unfortunately for him, it gives an uncharacteristic impression of how great a kid he is. He's an honor student who is extremely passionate and cares about his team and loves -- and it will be something that unfortunately for both those guys under the lights it's the first question. Unfortunately, it will take away a little bit from the experience of the game and how great of an experience this was for us.

Q. You all played defense with 32.4 seconds left. Did you all want to foul sooner there?
COACH SLESSINGER: No, there was like a three, four-second difference in the clock. And they didn't have many guys on the floor that were poor percentage guys.

We felt pretty good about late clock execution. We've done it two, three times in this year to either put it into overtime or to get us a win.

We had hoped to be able to get them maybe get it off a little quicker and us to advance it a little farther, but to use our last timeout to have it a little farther up the floor is what we talked about in that timeout. I just didn't think -- I felt like we could get a stop and keep them and get a shot on the other end, just unfortunate we didn't get the shot.

Q. Both teams were able to do a lot of what they wanted to do offensively for the whole game. What did you feel was the difference in the outcome and what set you back?
COACH SLESSINGER: You know, we play an incredible league in the Southland Conference, a league that's got teams that play a very myriad of styles.

And we've seen about every style of play you could have. And I think the biggest issues was we never got into a groove defensively where we could keep them in what I feel like is our main fundamental areas. We didn't ball pressure well to the second half, the first half I didn't think we ball pressured and forced turnovers, didn't feel like we kept them on the side of the floor.

There were a lot of things that we did that were outside of us and outside of what made us a really good championship team out of the Southland.

And it's unfortunate, because I think that everybody didn't get to see our best game tonight, and I sure would have loved to have an opportunity to take it to the next round to see if we could play that perfect game.

Q. What's your feelings on Erik Thomas's future in basketball, either in the states or abroad?
COACH SLESSINGER: He's got extremely high, high ceiling. He's got a knack for scoring without hunting shots, without hunting catches, without trying to go and find it.

And that's rare. A lot of guys can score the ball that have it in their hands all the time. But he finds ways to score and yet still keep his team involved.

We led the league in field goal percentage this year and lead the league in assists, and had the second-leading scorer, player of the year, that shows you how good a team player he is.

He's one of the guys that fits in the category of basketball player. He's not an athlete or shooter, he's a basketball player. In my 20 years of experience at this level, those guys play for a good while and have an opportunity to make a living playing the game. I think he'll do that.

And he's a mean competitor. He wants to get better every day. Comes in to play to win, I think it will carry him a long way.

Q. What did they do? Did they double him a lot to kind of shut him down in the second half?
COACH SLESSINGER: They sagged after we got our initial baskets early in the half court I thought they came out and pressured. We were able to execute offensively. They switched and started sagging and packing back, almost into the paint to try to force us and dare us to shoot. We talked about that we thought that might be something they might do with the size difference for us we talked about passing up good shots for great shots.

The reality of it is we probably took a couple too many good shots and when it's a one point game you needed all great shots.

And I think a couple of those elbow jumpers where they sagged back off of you or an open 3 early in the shot clock where maybe we could have ran a couple reversals and got a great shot on the backside, offensively that was the difference for us. Now, conversely defensively that piece of their game plan worked well until we got dialed in the second half and were able to get downhill start attacking and really go at it and attack. And that piece will haunt me for a while trying to figure out how we didn't get a faster rhythm to be able to get a win.


FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

ASAP sports

tech 129
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