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March 8, 2018

Michael Perry

B.J. Tyson

Hartford, Connecticut

UCF - 66, East Carolina - 52

THE MODERATOR: We'll start with an opening statement from Coach, and then take questions for Coach and B.J.

MICHAEL PERRY: Well, I thought our guys competed and played hard, played their hearts out and that's all you can ask for as a coach. I think all year we have been undermanned and I think certainly late in games it catches up with us when we're undermanned, and fatigue becomes a major factor and turnovers begin to mount, and that certainly was the case tonight. We made a valiant effort at getting back in the game, and then probably in the last seven minutes of the game turnovers, that I can attribute to fatigue, begin to mount for us and you can't give them more opportunities to score than you have. And typically that's what happens, when you look down the bench and you don't have a lot of options available to you and you just continue to fight and try to manage the game as best you can.

But I was really proud of the effort from our guys and it was a valiant effort on their part.

THE MODERATOR: Take questions for Coach and B.J., please.

Q. Coach, you talked about the turnovers, how much of the 20 turnovers were a part of just what UCF was doing defensively?
MICHAEL PERRY: Well, obviously you've got to give credit to them defensively. They were in the gaps, they were really helping out, but again I think that the physicality at times when that happens I think being able to fight through that, I think fatigue can play a factor in that. And that's not taking anything away from UCF, but we have seen it again late in games, it typically catches up with us, and it's just been a problem throughout the year for us.

I would have liked to have had a couple of more options to be able to use in terms of our rotation, but we were not able to be a part of things this year. But I commend these kids on the effort that they gave.

Q. What was the turning point in the second half early on when you guys were really able to cut UCF's lead down 46-45, what contributed to that?
MICHAEL PERRY: Well, I thought we were able to get the ball moving and ball reversal and kept the ball moving, the ball didn't stick and we didn't over-dribble during that period of time. We tried to really keep the ball moving. We often refer to it as keeping moving as if it's a hot potato, and I thought the guys did a really good job of getting ball reversals. We talked about it going into the game, and they're really good defensively. If you try to score on them on the first side, we wanted to try get to the second side, the third side, we wanted more ball reversals. We wanted to keep the ball moving as much as possible, and get them in closeout situations, where we could attack them off the bounce, or make them have to have two guys try to guard one, and we can make the extra pass. That was part of the game plan going in.

Q. What was your impression of their defense? I know that's something that UCF build its identity on with Johnny Dawkins, is their strong defense.
MICHAEL PERRY: They do a good job defensively. They get back in transition. Teams typically do not get easy baskets against them, and then they make you play half-court basketball, which obviously to be a good defensive team, that's what you want to do, make teams play half-court basketball.

Again, they're really good when teams over-dribble and when teams try to score on the first side. To be effective against them you have to be patient offensively, and you're going to have to have some mental toughness in terms of being able to maybe pass up a pretty decent one to get eventually a really good one.

Q. In the first half UCF was 7-of-11 from three. What would you credit to that? Was it just some shots were falling? Was it a defensive lapse?
MICHAEL PERRY: I thought they shot the ball well in the first half. I thought that we didn't engage them as much, we gave them a little bit too much space, and we didn't engage them as much as we should have. In the second half we did a better job of trying to engage them and make them floor it and bounce it more. We were concerned about their ability to be able to drive the basketball. They have several guys that can drive it, and a couple of shooters, I think Mumin got open one time in transition, Griffin got one or two because of penetration, and they kicked it out to him. But we did a better job of trying to stay home and try to guard as we say "guard our yard", so we didn't have other guys trying to help where you can give up extra opportunities in terms of the perimeter shots that they were getting.

Q. What can you guys take away from this season?
B.J. TYSON: We never gave up. I commend the guys, I commend my brothers for not giving up. They fought to the end. One thing that you can take from this is they're young. ECU is going to be experienced next year, they're young, they got what, the Rookie of the Year coming back next year, but you can build around those guys with Fleming coming back. So you got a lot of key players that are coming back next year, and I feel like you can take a lot from it but one thing that ECU should probably focus on is limiting the turnovers.

MICHAEL PERRY: For me on a personal note it was a tremendous experience and it was a privilege and also a pleasure to be able to coach this group. Interesting, and I've coached teams before, but this was an interesting group because obviously this wasn't the hand that they actually started out with. As I told these guys in the locker room after the game, this is a great experience in life for you, because things aren't going to always turn out as planned. And obviously there was some transition with me taking over, and the guys trusted me and respected me, and it's a very difficult situation to be in when you really don't have real leverage. You have real leverage when you have a contract. When you don't have a contract, you don't have real leverage. But we were able to hold it together without that because of the respect and trust. And I was really proud of that. And we were able to keep it together.

I always remind people Colorado State's coach stepped aside, assistant took over and they boycotted practice and wouldn't practice, and we got through the first one or two and I thought okay, we got a chance here. But it was a great experience and one of the things that I take away from with this group also is how relentless they were in terms of their work ethic. Even after a tough loss, they would come in with a big smile on their face and they worked hard in practice. They were very attentive in film, and that's a very difficult thing to do, particularly when have you a year in which you're struggling. In a lot of cases they understand they're undermanned, and they know that they're being asked to do a lot with less than maybe some of the other teams in the league have. But that's what we're about. We know that we can, we're people, we're young men and it's a great experience for them that they learn how to do more with less.

Q. A lot of teams go through the moment of when their season ends. As a coach how do you describe that moment?
MICHAEL PERRY: Well, it always takes you back as a coach when you actually have that moment as a player. You really relate well to the kids in that moment. For us we wanted to celebrate. Very similar to a funeral in that you want to celebrate a person's life when they're passing, very similar in this situation here, they're passing on, they're moving on to another stage in their life. But rather than mourn them, we want to celebrate them, and that's what we did, we celebrated them and congratulated them and commended them for all the things that they brought to this program.

B.J. particularly. He really embodied what a student-athlete should be. He did things the right way. Both on and off the floor. He graduated early, and he's in grad school now. He's a good citizen, he's one of the most popular players -- I've been there 11 years, probably the most popular student-athlete that I've come in contact with. Most people would probably agree with that, and not just amongst his athletic peers but also throughout the community. And that's what it should be about. He's a tremendous ambassador for our university and that's what you want to have as a student-athlete, tremendous ambassadors for your university.

So being able to celebrate a young man like him as well as some of our other guys, and our young guys being able to see them and see the work ethic that those guys have, see young men that are about the right stuff. He's been able to take, put guys and put underclassmen under his wing and his leadership is going to have an influence on those kids going forward in life and that's going to be tremendous experience. He's got a legacy. He's put an imprint on this program, as well as the other seniors.

THE MODERATOR: ECU, thank you.


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