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March 16, 2017

Will Wade

JeQuan Lewis

Jordan Burgess

Salt Lake City, Utah

Saint Mary's - 85 VCU - 77

COACH WILL WADE: Well, first off there's no shame in losing to Saint Mary's. They're a tremendous, tremendous team, both offensively and defensively. As we've done all year I thought our guys fought extremely, extremely hard. We're really, really tough to knock out. They couldn't quite knock us out. But we could never get over the hump and get the lead in the second half or get it tied. We got it to two and could never get over the hump. I thought the free throw block-out was critical. We missed free throws. And we got fouled.

I can't say enough about our seniors to get back here for the second straight time. It was a good year. Disappointing anytime you end it, but I'm proud of our guys. I'm proud of our program. And we'll be back hopefully soon. Give Saint Mary's credit, they're a tremendous, tremendous team.

Q. What makes Saint Mary's so difficult to defend now that you've actually been out on the floor with them?
JORDAN BURGESS: Just they vary their offense, three-point shooting, big man inside and they throw it inside and you have to lock out on all the shooters, and it's just one on one for him, and he's already seven foot. When he gets close to the basket it's not that difficult for him to score. So just an all-around good offensive team.

JeQUAN LEWIS: They're a really good offensive team. They do a good job of playing their pace, and they don't let teams beat them up. They didn't let us beat them up today. They move the ball on offense. They use the whole shot clock. They'll pass up a good shot for a great shot.

Q. You guys had a lot of fouls tonight. Had three guys foul out. Was that frustrating for you at all?
JeQUAN LEWIS: Yeah, that's frustrating. But they were playing hard. I don't think any foul was really lazy. They were just trying to make a play and be aggressive. That's what we build our team around, being aggressive. I feel like for the most part they left it all out there.

Q. Can you just talk about JeQuan's effort tonight. It seemed like two or three times he went down with something that might have taken a regular player out of the game and it didn't, in his case.
COACH WILL WADE: Yeah, he's a warrior. I mean he's been wounded and he's been hurt basically the last month of the season here, just banged up. We've ridden him. He's the one guy that's been our most consistent guard. He's the one guy that made shots for us all year. I don't know how much you've seen us this year. We have just ridden him.

You see -- we don't always play -- we don't always play smart, but we play extremely, extremely, extremely, extremely hard. There's not many teams that play much harder than we do. And to play 33, 35 minutes a night like he does, playing that hard and flying around and getting after it, it's not easy to do. We wouldn't be here if it wasn't for him. He's hit some huge free throws for us all season. He's hit some big shots for us all season.

And I love the kid to death. And I'm going to miss him. Miss him, miss him, miss him. But he's the got a bright, bright future both on and off the court. He was a warrior tonight. He didn't want to go home.

Burgess was the same way. He has played really well for us down the stretch. The last month of the season has probably been his best basketball of his career here at VCU. And really, really proud of him. Proud of all of our seniors.

Q. Can you talk about the effort from Ahmed Hamdy and what he brought to keep you guys in the game?
COACH WILL WADE: The difference in the game simply is -- when you get to this level of play you've got to have very, very good big guys. And their bigs were just bigger and better than our bigs. At the end of the day I hate to be so simplistic, but at the end of the day that's what it was.

But Hamdy, as you know who follow us, he gives us the best opportunity to score down there. He's the one guy who can really wheel and deal down there. It was obvious early in the game the only way we were going to score bigs-wise was just on dump-offs and playing behind, just kind of garbage baskets down there. We were able to get Hamdy matched him up on Pineau, which was what we were hoping to do when we played Hamdy and Mo together. We thought that was a matchup that favored Hamdy. He played really, really well. And hopefully this will be a good springboard for him.

Q. Like you said, Burgess stepped up the last couple of weeks. Can you talk about that, kind of ongoing?
COACH WILL WADE: Just think, he's a senior. Sometimes when you're a senior you get a little tight towards the end. And I think he just really got excited and said, We're going to make the most of this and do the best we can and really, really get after it. And Jordan did that. We are really proud of him. I thought he played extremely well today, driving the ball, being aggressive. And he just had a tremendous end of the season for us.

Q. You've got five guys in that locker room that have played their last college game. What do you say to these guys after this and how do you deal with all that emotion?
COACH WILL WADE: First off, I thanked them. They gave it all we had this year. I was telling somebody the other day, and I'm not taking a knock on anybody, but this was our 7th straight NCAA tournament. Next to that team we took to the tournament after the Final Four, this was probably the weakest of the bunch. The team we took the year after the Final Four, Coach Smart, he was a magician to get that group in.

But this group, we had some real limitations and deficiencies. Our guys, they fought through it and battled and I'm really proud of those seniors. It wasn't the easiest year. And we battled through. And we had to bring some of these young guys along. And it wasn't always an easy process. But I think our guys did a really, really nice job.

And I'm really proud of those guys. And I let them know that and thanked them. Two of those guys are fifth-year seniors. That's a long time to be doing it. They're going to both have graduate degrees when he leave here. That's what it's all about. I'm proud of them. Torey has already graduated. Burgess and Mo are going to have graduate degrees, and J and Doug graduate in the spring. That's what you want. That's what you want. And they've done it all and they've grown and really proud of them. And we've got to get these other guys better so we can try to get back.

Q. There was a big disparity in foul shots. They had a lot more than you did. And you had your hot season high in fouls. Is that your aggressive play?
COACH WILL WADE: I think typically I don't think they call it this close in the NCAA. But tonight there's good fouls and bad fouls. I think we wasted too many fouls. We had some reach-ins at the end of shot clocks. We didn't get enough bang for our buck on some of the fouls. I thought that really hurt us.

The disparity in fouls, also, we fouled for the last two and a half minutes of the game, basically, nonstop and they were shooting two shots every time. So that makes up for part of it.

I thought the difference in the first half, to answer your question somewhat, was our goal for the game was to be plus ten from the foul line. And they were ten for ten from the foul line in the first half. And we gave them 12 points off turnovers. And we only gave them three of those in the second half because we limited our turnovers. I thought that really was the difference, when we turn the ball over and they went and scored. When you turn the ball over against them they're a tremendous defensive team, they're a positional defensive team. They're not trying to turn you over. That's not the basis of their defense like we are. We turned them over 15 times, that's enough to beat them.

But we were giving them the ball. The two baseline drift passes were huge that they picked off. That was big. The difference in the game was obviously the free throw line in the first half and their points off turnovers, I thought that really did us in.

Q. At the beginning of the year you said this team wasn't always going to be pretty, but they were going to be tough. How do you think they lived up to your expectations at the beginning?
COACH WILL WADE: What do you think? Pretty tough group. Pretty tough group. We wouldn't be here if we weren't tough. Got a good way about us. You can never knock us out. You can never knock us out. I knew we were going to come back when it was 15 at the half. I knew we had a fighting chance. Our guys knew that. We've done that all year long. With the exception of one game every game has been an absolute dogfight. Even some nights when it didn't deserve to be a dogfight. We've got good fiber and that's the culture and the fiber of our program. You don't ever want to lose that.

Q. You had a 13-2 run, is there a sense of here we go, why weren't you able to build off that?
COACH WILL WADE: The free throw block-out killed us. It was a two-point game, Landale missed both the free throws. We don't check the shooter. They get the offensive rebound. That was a huge, huge sequence. Then we come down and miss a layup, contested layup. It was a good defense. That to me -- if we get that rebound and have the ball down two, I think it's a totally different game. I thought that was a huge, huge sequence in the second half.

Q. Hermanson was the unsung hero?
COACH WILL WADE: He's a good player. I think the kid Rahon doesn't get enough credit. He has great pace to him, good body. And they're as good as I've seen stringing out ball screens and playing off ball screens. They're tremendously coached. Hermanson is more than just a shooter. If you just bank on him being a shooter, it's a problem. I think he's a really, really good, all-around player.

I think the other part of the game, Rahon picked up his fourth foul at 15:02. They sat him for a little bit. If we could have gotten him out of the game it would be totally different. We couldn't get the fifth foul on him. If we could have gotten him out of the game it would have been a totally different ballgame.

Thank you. Salt Lake, you guys, Utah, all you guys, you've been a great host. We appreciate it, and thank you very much.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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