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March 18, 2017
THE MODERATOR: Okay, we are joined by the student-athletes from Rhode Island, Jared Terrell, Kuran Iverson, Hassan Martin and E.C. Matthews. E.C., you guys have obviously had the opportunity to look at tape of Oregon. What are your impressions and do they remind you of any teams that you've played this season?
E.C. MATTHEWS: We just got a chance to look over the personnel. We are probably going to watch their plays later tonight. We don't go over their plays live on the court after this. We haven't faced a team like this before. They're very good in isolation, so we really got to play our defenders and make them shoot hard shots.
Q. You guys are all vets at this point, but your freshman guard had a pretty nice game yesterday on a big stage. How has his maturation process throughout the season helped you guys get to where you are at?
E.C. MATTHEWS: Jeff, even though he's a freshman he doesn't play like a freshman. He goes at his own pace and he has a great IQ. It wasn't surprising he had a game like he did. He got good shots and he got everybody else involved.
Q. E.C., after the ACL tear did you wonder if a day like this would come and you could get to the second round of the tournament?
E.C. MATTHEWS: That was the goal. It's just the way it happened this whole season and the run we made. I didn't think it would happen this way but this definitely was in my goals and in our goals as a team so, yeah.
Q. Kuran, the Rhode Island Ram fans probably wouldn't allow this yesterday and after the game Coach Hurley and you guys waved at them. What did it feel like to have them here to support you and cheer you on?
KURAN IVERSON: It felt so good. After I got here they welcomed me and I feel like I've been -- I got a new family now. All the support has helped me on and off court and I just keep using it to motivate me.
Q. Hassan, both you and Oregon are elite shot blockers. How does that change your approach knowing that not only you can block shots but they can come back and do the same thing?
HASSAN MARTIN: Don't change my approach. Just gotta stick with what I've been through throughout my career. They're athletic and we're athletic, so I gotta be explosive and attack the rim and be that elite defender that I am against them.
Q. Do you relish these moments of playing a higher seed, playing a nationally-ranked top-10 team? What does that mean to you going into the second-round game?
E.C. MATTHEWS: We're happy to be here. We try to treat it as just playing basketball and nothing more than that but obviously it is. It's the biggest stage, but we thrive off that being an underdog and playing the best teams in the country. We just treat it as, why not us? Why can't we win? That's it.
Q. Jared, you guys have gotten off to great starts throughout the A-10 Tournament and yesterday. What has allowed you to do that so consistently?
JARED TERRELL: One is our confidence in our defense. We are defending at a high level, and just trusting each other on offense, just passing the ball willingly and being confident in making shots.
Q. Jared, the last time you guys played a Pac-12 team was at Stanford in the NIT. How much better is your team right now than that team a couple years ago?
JARED TERRELL: Defensively I think we're the same team. We both play with grit and desire, but offensively I think we've got a lot more skill and versatility, and we can go to more players to score the ball and do different things.
Q. Hassan, have you seen a difference in E.C., his game and how he leads the team since he came back from the injury?
HASSAN MARTIN: Yeah, he started off a little slow. He didn't have his touch and his rhythm, but as the season went along and now it's March, he's playing like the player he was before he got injured. He's leading us vocally and on the court so I couldn't be more proud of him.
Q. E.C., the other day you talked about how Coach Hurley took you to Providence a couple years ago for the tournament there. How did this experience compare to your trip then?
E.C. MATTHEWS: It doesn't. A year ago I was a fan, but now I'm actually part of something big and playing in it. It just doesn't get no better than this. It's a big difference.
Q. Jared, what does it mean to have a guy like Hassan protecting the rim for the entire team?
JARED TERRELL: It's a relief, man! Knowing that if you do get beat you got help on the backside. He blocks everything pretty much, man. So you feel comfortable when you're guarding the ball. You can be as aggressive as you want and if you do get beat you know you got protection.
Q. Hassan, can you talk just a little bit about the art of blocking shots? Can you tell a difference in a team's demeanor once you get one or two, if they shy away from coming into the paint?
HASSAN MARTIN: I feel like blocking shots is my job here. We play a real aggressive defense, so guys are bound to get beat and when they get beat I'm there to help 'em. The demeanor as far as when I get a couple of blocks, I become a shot alterer rather than a shot blocker because they fade away and start to do reverses and they miss 'em sometimes. So if I don't block 'em I'll definitely alter their shot.
Q. E.C., you obviously suffered your knee injury the start of last year. I wonder if you could take us inside what Chris Boucher is maybe feeling right now a week or two weeks out and just looking at that long rehab he's got coming up?
E.C. MATTHEWS: You've got to take it day by day instead of thinking about long term. It's a long and bumpy ride, but I think it will make him a better person out of everything. If he listens to the right people, and, you know, trusts himself and his body that he'll come back even better than what he was.
Q. I was wondering if any of you guys could talk a little bit about what Will means to your team. I know he used to be a manager and we see him across doing all of these celebrations. So what does he mean to you guys?
HASSAN MARTIN: Will is like the invisible heart and soul of the team. He comes to practice with tons of energy. He's like -- I don't know, he's just always hyper, excited to be around and cheer us on. Having him as a walk-on has really helped us. He's just the type of guy you want to your team that's not providing for you on the court. But when it comes to support he's always there for us.
Q. E.C. and Hassan, we have the same hair!
HASSAN MARTIN: Same barber.
Q. I was wondering if I can get an appointment or I should go shorter on the sides?
HASSAN MARTIN: It's called the South of France.
Q. Good to know.
E.C. MATTHEWS: I like your hair.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, gentlemen.
Coach Hurley has joined us now. Coach, how are preparations going for tomorrow night's game?
DAN HURLEY: We were able to obviously get out of here yesterday and get a lot of film work in, so the joy and excitement of the win disappeared quickly once we got a chance to watch some of the Ducks games and an impressive team, high-powered, offensive team led by a national Player of the Year candidate in Tyler Dorsey. Tremendous offensive team and they pose a lot of problems at the defensive end with a match-up zone and different things they do.
Q. Dan, you obviously had four upperclassmen up here with you yesterday and you had a freshman in Jeff, his first game of the tournament. How has his maturation process helped you throughout the season, and did you expect him to have a good game like he did yesterday?
DAN HURLEY: Obviously Creighton, the defensive game plan was take away Terrell and E.C. which let opportunities for Jeff to make plays and as far as his development. We take pride in our player development at Rhode Island. We got a great coaching staff.
David Cox I think is one of the best assistant coaches in the country, does a great job with the guards and then I think with him he came in ready. This is a guy that came from a great family, played at a great high school program at St. John's College in D.C., maybe the best high school league in the country, DeMatha, pulled a 6, high-level league, comes from a great family, high-level student.
This guy has all the attributes, all the qualities of someone that's going to be very, very successful. Because he's such a well-rounded person he has tremendous confidence.
Q. Coach, with Oregon's Chris Boucher out, Kavell Bigby-Williams is a player that's going to have to step up. Is he someone you want to test early?
DAN HURLEY: He hurts rim protection, because of his size. He's a huge man. They got the same thing with Chris Boucher. The element they miss with Chris Boucher is the three-point shooting and obviously that other potentially explosive offensive player. Is he going to be put -- are we going to put him in ball screens tomorrow? Yeah. We will put him in ball screens.
Q. Is it a totally different attack you're facing tomorrow?
DAN HURLEY: Yeah, these are elite level, 5-star type of recruits here. These are NBA players. These are first-round, draft-pick-type of guys. Size, explosiveness, the pedigree. They've been in these moments before. They have that type of confidence. They played deep into the tournament last year, just the -- I think the difference between Creighton and Oregon is their athleticism. The explosiveness. In terms of athleticism this is as good as you're going to see in college.
Q. Curious if you happen to be watching the ASU-Oregon game last week when it was on in the Pac-12 tournament and if you saw it live or on the replay. Can you take something more as a scout against your brother or get information from him than you would have from another team?
DAN HURLEY: I watched the first half because we were in the Atlantic 10 tournament. So I wasn't able to see the whole game, but it was one of the games we watched in preparing. Really when you have a one-day prep and a ballroom walk-through on Sunday. You've got to go earlier in the season, watch a game, watch one of their most competitive games and take a mid-season game or two and lock in on that and then you try to watch the last couple, and Arizona State was one of the last couple. So I gotta chance to watch Bob play a really good first half and then suffer a little bit in the second half there.
There are some things you can take from every game just based on how many good coaches there are in the Pac-12 and we saw some different approaches that different teams took. Obviously, now with the injury, though, we really tried to focus on what they did those last two games.
Q. Coach, have you had a chance to watch a lot of Pac-12 because of your brother this year? What's your perception of the conference? Have you talked to Bobby in the last 24 hours or 18 hours about this Duck team?
DAN HURLEY: I probably talked to Bobby in the last 24 minutes about this Duck team. I watch a lot of Pac-12 basketball. It's a great league. Amazing talent in the league. Obviously, some of the best coaches in the country. So it's an up-tempo league. It's a high-flying league.
I think tomorrow it's -- and they're a good defensive team and they're rugged and they're tough in a similar way to an Arizona in the Pac-12. They "out-tough" their opponents in this league from what we watched with their physicality. But they're also dynamic and high-flying and we're gritty, resilient and tough. It's two different types of teams tomorrow.
Q. Dan, the last time you played a Pac-12 team was at Stanford in the NIT. How much better is your group going into this game with Oregon than they were a couple years ago?
DAN HURLEY: We remember that game, NIT second-round game. The guys that were our core guys are now juniors and seniors. When we played that game they were babies. They were freshmen and sophomores. Kuran Iverson I think was in the process of transferring in from Memphis. Stan Robinson was in Indiana brickin' threes. Jeff Dowtin might have been playing JV ball. We're a different team. We have a different maturity about us, a different confidence about us. Obviously, just a lot better.
Q. The guys talk as if they love playing defense. Can you comment on their approach to playing defense?
DAN HURLEY: I think they understand the connection between playing high-level defense and winning games. Then when you have success and when you win, that changes your life, you know. When you win Championships and you make the NCAA Tournament and when you advance in games it changes the careers of these players. It changes the lives of these players.
If maximum effort on a defensive end is going to enhance our chances of being successful and winning, and if winning is going to help their careers then it makes sense to get out there and guard at the highest possible level.
Also, too, I think it takes a certain type of player to play for me or to play for a Hurley, and if you're not committed to play defense you should not apply to our university or take the text or phone call from me because it's something I was taught from a young age from my dad and my college coach P.J. Carlesimo.
Q. You are statistically not getting your shots blocked. With Oregon so good at blocking shots is it something you can coach or is it just the individual players that are good at avoiding getting their shots blocked?
DAN HURLEY: Our recruiting has been, I think, has been underrated in terms of the quality of players that we have at URI. E.C. Matthews was a top-75 player in high school. So was Jared Terrell, 4-star players. Hassan Martin was a 4-star player. Top 100 fringe player, Kuran Iverson at one point was a top-10 player in the country. We have very high-level talent to go along with the grittiness and unselfishness and the togetherness.
Q. You're the last A-10 team left in the field. Your thoughts on representing the conference both as its champion and the last representative here in the 68?
DAN HURLEY: We're proud of that. The Atlantic 10 is a great league. I think it's one of the top basketball conferences year-in and year-out. A lot of honor in carrying that flag right now. Great coaches in the league, great players in the league, and we hope to represent it well tomorrow night.
Q. Can you talk about what former student manager and now player Will Leviton means to you guys?
DAN HURLEY: Will was a manager last year and he elevated from -- he's so beloved by the players. He's a Providence kid, from the city of Providence. He worked incredibly hard to get himself admitted to the University of Rhode Island and better his life and get an education at URI and then one day he appeared to become a manager. I didn't know he had a master plan to work with our players when he was done with his responsibilities every day to work on his game so that he could hatch the plan in the preseason of sneaking into the walk-on tryout, and when E.C. Matthews, Hassan Martin, Jared Terrell, Kuran Iverson come over and tell you, they would like him to be a walk-on, if you're a smart coach you get him a jersey.
Q. I know the turnaround is quick, but you mentioned talking to Bobby. Did you have a chance with him to reflect about everything that's happened since you guys started with the success you've had, both reaching the tournament, anything like that?
DAN HURLEY: We shared some time last night and we talked about -- not so much his experience and our experience here in Sacramento and what that was like, but more about the decision that we made together seven years ago when I was a high school coach at St. Benedict's Prep in Newark and was offered the Wagner job and wasn't sure what to do.
My vision for my life was to follow the path of my father, and Bob pushed me a little bit. It took a little convincing to take that job and let's do this together and we reflected on that last night and how it's changed our lives and changed the lives of our family. It was a nice moment, spent about a half hour because there was a lot of video to watch.
Q. Coach Dana Altman was out here and he mentioned that he has seen a big difference in your team over the last five or six games. Have you noticed that difference? If so, what do you attribute it to?
DAN HURLEY: I would attribute it -- I appreciate Coach saying that. Couldn't have -- couldn't have more respect for a coach than Coach Altman. We just got healthy. We were injured the whole year. Our star player got his knee tore up the year before. Our next best player fractured his patella last year, and then we dealt with a litany of injuries. We just couldn't get healthy. Since we've gotten healthy we've been the team that people thought we could be in the preseason.
It wasn't a lack of commitment, selfishness, it's been a health thing for us this year. We're healthy now and we're confident.
Q. Dan, in addition to your recruiting the players, hiring assistant coaches you needed to build a sports staff here when you got hired. Can you speak to how important some of the folks like Eric Youncofski and Daniel Anthony and people behind the scenes have been in particular when you have to play consecutive days or play quick turnaround like this?
DAN HURLEY: The University Rhode Island didn't make a decision five years ago to really commit to this thing when we walked in there. It was standard definition television and video cassette tapes and it wasn't that long ago. Things have flipped completely, you know? Redid the locker room, state of the art weight room facility, upgraded the arena that to a super impressive level and then the people. Having an opportunity to put together a great staff, high-level strength and conditioning coach, great medical people, you know, outstanding video staff, GAs. That gives you a chance when you couple it with the recruiting to get to this level and then we plan on staying at this level. Also, Thorr Bjorn, the Athletic Director, has done an amazing job putting it together with Dave Dooley and our great fans and donors.
Q. Dan, what will be your pregame message be tomorrow?
DAN HURLEY: Can't think about being forty minutes away from a chance to go to the Sweet 16. I think we just take it 4 minutes at a time. We call them "wars," four-minute wars. Let's just go and win this four-minute war. If you focus on just trying to beat Oregon, one of the elite programs in the country, the "blue blood" college programs is what Dana has turned this thing into, that becomes this overwhelming task. For us, let's break it down into four-minute wars that we're going to play, and let's just try to, regardless of what's happened in the last four minutes, let's focus on the next four.
THE MODERATOR: Okay, Coach, thank you.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports