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March 9, 2018

Dan Hurley

Jeff Dowtin

Jared Terrell

Washington, D.C.

Rhode Island - 76, VCU - 67

DAN HURLEY: Number one, my thoughts and prayers to a great family in Rhode Island, the Campanella family, who at the beginning of this week, their son Nicholas Campanella lost his battle with leukemia, so I want to send my thoughts and prayers to Nicholas and the Campanella family. They're a great family in Rhode Island.

It's always a great challenge to play VCU. You know, it's a pleasure to compete against them. They've been the model, I guess, mid-major, transcending mid-major program in college basketball for a long time. You know, it's a pleasure to compete against their players, their coaches, and then to play in front of their fans, who are some of the best fans in college basketball.

Hard-fought game. We knew it was going to be a tough game, quarterfinal game. You're not really expecting to see VCU in a quarterfinal game in the A10 tournament, but that was your typical postseason conference game, whether it's an NCAA Tournament or a conference tournament. Both teams are playing for their lives. Both teams obviously were very desperate out there, and we did what we didn't do the other day: Got a lead late like we did against Davidson on the road, almost in the same exact situation, up six with around 40 seconds or so, and then showed who we've been the whole year and came through in the clutch.

So we're excited to move on to the semifinals and play the winner.

Q. Jeff, talk about your migration from 2 guard to point guard. Talk about how you've embraced it.
JEFF DOWTIN: Yeah, coming from a 2 guard to a point guard, I had to really change my game a lot, so I've just been practicing getting to the paint, getting my teammates open shots and just being a leader on and off the court. I think it's really helped me out a lot.

Q. Jeff, how much did coming to the A10 tournament last year and playing deep into March help you in this game?
JEFF DOWTIN: It really helped me a lot. It gave me a lot of confidence knowing that March is when all the big players really step up, make their game just grow even more. Like last year was kind of a coming-out party for me, and I just love March. All the best players come out and do what they have to do to win, so I feel like I did that today.

Q. Jeff, seemed like VCU was kind of continuously making comebacks as you guys were building leads. How were you able to stay calm as they were able to get momentum and get the crowd behind them?
JEFF DOWTIN: Confidence, patience. My teammates were able to hit open shots, big shots. I know Jerry hit a big tough three, Stan hit a three in the corner, Fatts hit a three, also, and then we hit two free throws. E.C. came down, hit two clutch free throws. Jerry also hit free throws. So we were just making plays. We did what we didn't do last game, and that was close it out.

Q. VCU the first half used a 2-3 zone there. What adjustments did you talk about at halftime coming into the second half and how did you kind of adjust to that?
JARED TERRELL: We just wanted to attack it the first half. We just kept rotating around the perimeter, not really trying to get in gaps, not trying to hit the high post, and second half we set screens, got them to the paint where we shared the ball, and that's where we were able to make shots.

Q. Jared, the stretch there at the end of the first half, the time-out, the big defensive stand and then Fatts's three, how important was that to keep the positivity and keep the energy going in the huddle at the end of that half?
JARED TERRELL: We pride ourselves on defense. That's what we work on every day in practice, and it showed today. We got stops, we rebounded the ball, and we made shots at the end of the game, and we closed out with free throws.

Q. Coach, at one point in the second half you guys were 3 of 11 from the foul line and then down the stretch you did hit I think it was at least three or four to close the game out. What are your thoughts on free-throw shooting as you head into March?
DAN HURLEY: Yeah, I mean, that's just something -- it's about routine. It's about confidence. It's about being comfortable. You know, it's kind of a -- it's so different than any part of the game, and it's been a little bit of a mental block for us at the end of the season, and it hadn't been throughout the year. But we obviously struggled with it. Maybe that was a little bit of the residue from the Davidson loss on the road, up six, 40 seconds to go, missing three front ends, having the game won and kind of giving it away. So I wasn't feeling pretty good about shooting free throws into that last minute, but these guys have had an amazing season, and they showed their character. I think that we'll be a different free-throw shooting team tomorrow because of the success that we had late.

Q. Coach, to piggy back on the zone question, I think they threw it out 6:45 in the first, it was narrow up front, kind of choked you off. You spread it in the second half. Talk about the importance of creating those passing and driving lanes by physically spreading it.
DAN HURLEY: Yeah, listen, we watched like six VCU games, and I've probably watched 15 VCU games this year, with the first game, cross scouts, and then playing them again today. I haven't seen them play zone like one possession. So yesterday obviously if we would have played Dayton, it would have been a lot bigger part of our preparation. It's rare that you see a team that presses and plays pretty aggressive man and then gets into a zone defense. I thought we handled it obviously a lot better in the second half. We were a little bit surprised to see it. On a short prep, it's kind of -- it was tough, but these players made tremendous adjustments in the second half.

Q. What kind of impact did Tillman picking up his fourth foul with 10 minutes to go have?
DAN HURLEY: Yeah, it definitely had an impact. It definitely had an impact on the game. He was living at the free-throw line, just living there. And wasn't always converting, but he put us in a ton of foul trouble by drawing contact and then shooting and then getting the call. He's a heck of a player. We made some mistakes defensively. We didn't guard him anywhere near as well as we guarded him the first time. We got stuck behind a lot, and again, we just didn't think -- we wanted to make him work for his twos. We felt like the only way that we could lose this game would be if we gave up a high number of threes to them.

Q. How much more value maybe does a win like this where you get a push and you're challenged and you lose the lead, how much more value does a win like this have in March as opposed to maybe November or December?
DAN HURLEY: I mean, we haven't had that much adversity this year. Like our -- we had the injury issues for a while with E.C. and Cyril Langevine, who missed a significant part of critical games for us. But we haven't really had like adversity in terms of like losing two in a row and having to respond, and then losing two in a row and having to respond against VCU in D.C. with a ton of pressure on you to bounce back and show who you are, I just think it was exactly the type of game that we needed, and we needed it to be tight and we needed to get back to that free-throw line today and show some guts and some nerves and close it out.

Q. Fatts hit a few timely threes today including the one at the end of the first half. How big has he been off the bench for you all season long?
DAN HURLEY: Yeah, had Fatts Russell played on just about any other team in our league, he would have been vying for Rookie of the Year. That guy is special. You know, you just -- in coaching, you recruit guys when you watch them during the process, and then once they get on campus you look at them day in and day out and you just see that they have special things about them, and he is one of those guys. Again, if he was on a different team that wasn't so loaded at guard and wasn't such a deep team, if he averaged 30 minutes a game, 35 minutes a game like some of the other top freshmen in this league, his numbers would have been identical, and he would have been vying for that award, but he sacrificed the whole year. And I don't know if there's a rookie in the league this year that had more clutch performances in big games. You know, his game versus Providence, his game versus Seton Hall at Barclay's, those were clutch performances to get us in this at-large position. Without those performances from him in high-leverage games, not meaningless games in January or February where you're playing for 10th or 11th place or fifth place, this guy was a monster for us when E.C. went out and in large part saved our season.

Q. VCU has found themselves in a bit of a rebuild for the first time in a while, which is clearly something you went through in taking over Rhode Island. I wonder what are some things with this VCU team that you've seen as someone who has rebuilt a program that makes you think they'll be back playing you not in a quarterfinals but eventually in a final or something like that?
DAN HURLEY: They've got really good young players. I know that Mike is going to recruit well. Obviously it all comes down to recruiting and recruiting the right people. Obviously they're losing two amazing seniors, Justin Tillman is one of the best players I've coached against since I've been in this league. I couldn't have more respect for a player in terms of his competitiveness and winning attitude than Jonathan Williams. So losing those two guys is going to hurt.

But they've got some really outstanding young players in Vann and Jenkins, Mobley, Simms, Crowfield. They've got some young guys that are going to develop, and then obviously it all comes down to recruiting the same level of guys that they've had in this program. Shaka and Will and Mike will continue to do it.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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