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 8, 2018

Tim Jankovich

Ben Emelogu

Akoy Agau

Orlando, Florida

SMU - 80, UCONN - 73

THE MODERATOR: We'll get started with an opening statement from coach and then take questions for the student-athletes.

TIM JANKOVICH: Thank you. Just really happy for our guys, especially these guys, seniors. I swore I would challenge anyone ever to find me a couple guys that have been through more amazingly difficult adversity in their careers than these two guys right here, let alone our last six weeks of what has taken place. But I'm talking about a whole career. So for me the best part is today for them and they get to feel this feeling.

I also thought I am really proud of our team. Had to fight off two great runs. We came out of the half about as poorly as we could ever hope to and give Connecticut a lot of credit, they fought their way right back into the game and then we extended I think back up to 20 or 22 and they made another run. So I got to give them a lot of credit. They were fighting until the bitter end. But I also have to feel great about our guys that fought off two big runs and the game -- when a team's behind they're going to start pressing and making the game crazy and turning into a different game, and our guys handled that very well and hit free throws down the stretch, too.

THE MODERATOR: Questions for the student-athletes, please.

Q. Akoy, today's a pretty good day to have a career high in scoring. What was your mindset coming into the game?
AKOY AGAU: Just obviously the season didn't go as we wanted, and kind of when you get into the post-season, everyone's starting 0-0. And this is kind of our last opportunity to try to make a push and do as well as we can and still try to make a push for March Madness.

Today just go out there and just try and play as hard as I can. Put a headband on, took the knee brace off, tried to shave about 10 years off. Just kind of a running joke with my teammates. But just kind of went out there and just kind of played hard and things happened as they did.

Q. Before the game you and your teammates were kind of smiling and laughing during shootaround, even into the right before tip-off. Was there kind of a looser attitude today before the game?
BEN EMELOGU: Coach told to us relax, "Go out there and have fun, be confident and act like you're at home." And that's what we did from the jump. As soon as we walked into the gym, we was comfortable having fun in warmups. We were focused but we were relaxed, and it transferred over to the game. We started off good and we had bad moments but I think just by being relaxed we didn't get too shook. Some teams they break but we just bent and we snapped back. That's what you have to do in March.

Q. Akoy, how's your ankle feeling and do you think you'll be able to play tomorrow?
AKOY AGAU: You can't have two questions, so I won't answer that (Laughter.)

I'm just kidding. Obviously I went after that blocked shot and I fell on Vital's foot and it's just a little tweak, it's fine. Just icing it up, but I'll be ready to play tomorrow, so nothing crazy.

Q. Coach, when things were going well for you, what was it that you thought you did really well today?
TIM JANKOVICH: Just make sure, what did I think we were doing very well today? A couple things stand out: No. 1, in the first half I thought our purpose and our ball movement and our concentration offensively was really outstanding. I'll just say obviously it helps when you shoot the ball in the basket. Sometimes you play really well and the ball doesn't go in and it looks like you're not playing well, so we were rewarded with the ball going in. But I really liked, I liked our ball movement, I liked our concentration.

I also really liked our activity defensively. I thought we were fast to balls, got our hands on a lot of balls, were really alert, and I thought that combination gave us a great, great first half. Probably was the difference in the game to build that lead, and then make them play from behind the entire second half.

Q. Ben, how much did your performance tonight come out of just trying to extend your career a couple more games?
BEN EMELOGU: Most definitely, I don't want it to end at all. I was thinking about that the whole time we were headed here, and I just look back on my career at SMU and all the things that I was able to accomplish with my teammates and my coaches, and I just wanted to have that feeling again, and it's a great opportunity to do it, get a conference tournament championship and go to March Madness. I never got to an NCAA tournament in my career, and that's what I want to do before I finish playing.

So I want to play as hard as I can. Get my teammates motivated to play as hard as we can just to achieve that goal.

Q. Coach, your thoughts about playing Cincinnati again and if the players would answer that, too.
TIM JANKOVICH: Yes, before I do that and I will, but I want to say this, haven't really had a chance to say this because sometimes you kind of hide, you can't tell the other team all your issues. I mean obviously our issues, the obvious ones are we got three guys out for the year. Those are obvious, but you don't want to tell them about the guys that are playing and what's wrong with them.

And so these guys, I can't tell you how many practices they could not practice, I can't tell you how -- tonight was the Ben Emelogu, the real one, because he's finally, I hope I'm not talking out of turn, he's finally, if you paid close attention, he could shoot the ball again, he's had a wrist injury and it's been about five weeks' worth. And poor guy's playing out here without one of the best things that, if not the best thing he does. He's been playing for five weeks without his strength. It's like I'm having my next-door neighbor play, not Ben Emelogu. It's a guy that looks like Ben, but it's not Ben. So finally, finally here he gets to actually look like the player that he is.

Akoy, same situation. I don't know how many practices -- there's so many days he can't practice, he's trying to push through so many things that I won't get into, but he gets to show today the player that he got cheated out of being four years and this is what -- I've been holding this back, but now it looks like, heck, what the heck, but that's why this is special to me because I know what these guys -- you can't imagine what their careers or even this year, what they have gone through to just get to the floor. And then not look like themselves of who they really are and how frustrating if you're really a good player and you can't look like the play that you are. And that's what these guys have been living. I've been living it through them, and I've been watching them and it's the most frustrating, helpless feeling in the world.

So that's why today is special. At least they get to at least we get to see again how good they are when they feel pretty darn good.

I forgot the question. Cincinnati. Yeah, I was trying to -- actually it was my way of avoiding it, and you were supposed to forget and then we were going to get on to something else.

Cincinnati's a great, great team. I have tons of respect for them, as did we last year. And it's the same guys basically, they didn't lose very much and so we know them very well, which just because know them well doesn't make it any easier to play them.

They're great. They're great, they're deep and they're old and they're talented and they're big and I mean, come on, they're great. I hope they make a humongous run in the NCAA tournament, regardless of outcome in this tournament.

So my respect is very, very high. We'll have to play incredible game, but we're going to tighten them up and lace them up and give it our best shot.

BEN EMELOGU: Like Coach said, they're a great team. Just got to go out there and play confident and play hard. Let the outcome be what it is. If we do our job and play as good as we can, I think we have great chance of winning the game. They're going to come out and play hard, we just got to play harder.

AKOY AGAU: I definitely agree with what they both said. They're a really good team, they're really good defensively. I think if we do what we did today, obviously take away a few lapses that we had, I think we'll have a really good chance and it's hard to beat a team three times, so.

Q. Ben, what were your nerves like at the free-throw line with your season on the line?
BEN EMELOGU: I was relaxed. I've been practicing free throws all year before I got an injured hand. So I went out there and relaxed. Coach helped me by having the teammates at the line, just making it as normal as possible, and just being able to breathe, I was focusing. I wanted to win so bad, and I just focused on making the shot and that's what happened.

THE MODERATOR: One final question?

TIM JANKOVICH: We're just thorough. We were just very thorough. So thank you.

THE MODERATOR: SMU, thank you.

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