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 10, 2018

Brian Dutcher

Kameron Rooks

Malik Pope

Trey Kell

Devin Watson

Las Vegas, Nevada

San Diego State - 82, New Mexico - 75

BRIAN DUTCHER: First of all, I want to say that New Mexico was the one opponent I didn't want to play in this thing early. Paul Weir has done a great job with that team, they've gotten so much better. A team on an 8-game winning played a team on a 7-game winning streak. It was the kind of game I thought we'd see, right down to the end. So I want to congratulate Paul on the job he's done with New Mexico.

I want to thank Steve Fisher for leaving me such a great team. Not many first-year coaches get a team like that. I want to thank Steve for all he's done to build this Aztec program to what it is today.

I want to thank my seniors, Trey Kell, Kameron Rooks, Malik Pope, they've provided everything I thought they would. And they weren't afraid of the big moment. That's why you have seniors on your team for these big moments, and they all delivered. I'd like to say Devin Watson's like a senior, he's a fourth-year junior. I have him back for one more. I don't want him to get too full.

Congratulations to my Aztecs. Thanks to Aztec Nation for following us. Two of the greatest fan bases in this conference were here tonight, New Mexico and San Diego State. And I thought it was a great environment for a championship game. And we're grateful to be moving on to the NCAA Tournament after suffering disappointments in the conference tournament in the past, to get back on the winning side of that. We're grateful for that.

Q. Trey, you got hurt and looked like Coach wanted to take you out. You indicated you wanted to stay in. Can you talk about how important it was for you to finish the game and how you were able to respond in that moment.
TREY KELL: I felt like I was rolling at the moment. And I saw that we were down about like six or something like that. So for me, coming out because of an injury wasn't an option. I didn't want to go home. It was just a simple as that. They asked me if I wanted to come out and I told them no.

Q. Trey, to feed off of that, did you personally feel it was on you, the senior leader, all due respect, to continue and take over at that point and lead your team?
TREY KELL: A little bit. It was just like I was saying, I felt like I was in a little bit of a groove at the moment. And I felt like what we were running, I felt like they couldn't -- they didn't have an answer for it. So the main thing I just wanted to keep running and see if they made an adjustment. And I'm glad it worked out for us.

Q. For the seniors, San Diego State has had so much success in this building, in tournament in the past. Did you feel like there was a lot of pressure for you guys to come out and win, just to carry on the legacy of having success in this tournament?
MALIK POPE: We kind of had a stable focus and controlling what we could control on the court within the team and just kept on with that.

Q. Devin, when you guys played here the first time during the regular season, obviously the team was struggling at the time. Can you just talk about where you were and what was it that kind of turned around to play the way you are now?
DEVIN WATSON: We were just tired of losing. We knew we had way too much potential to be losing games like that. And mentally from then to now I feel like we're on a whole another level.

Q. How are you feeling right now?
DEVIN WATSON: Not itching anymore. We won it. I don't got to itch no more.

Q. What was going through your minds when you were down by six late in the game?
MALIK POPE: Stay focused. It's a game of runs, you know what to do, lock in. We knew stops and rebounds were going to seal the deal. And guys locked in and we followed through with that.

Q. Moving on to the NCAA tournament, how excited are you guys?
MALIK POPE: I don't think words can describe that right now, to be honest. You can just see the smiles on our faces. We're not content, we're not really satisfied, we're definitely happy with the outcome, but we're still hungry.

DEVIN WATSON: We're still hungry.

MALIK POPE: It's not over.

Q. Trey, obviously amazing performance. What did this mean to you, after this whole season, the injuries, everything, just you did it?
TREY KELL: Yeah, it means a lot to me. Being there my freshman year in the tournament and seeing what it's like and everything like that, I wanted to get back so bad. And we came in wanting to win three, and we just needed one more tonight. And I tried to do whatever I could to make sure that happened. And I'm glad we came out on top.

Q. Kam, late in the game when you guys were down five, Coach put you in and Max in. Was that unexpected, did he tell you that was going to happen and what were your thoughts, Okay, I'm in this game in crunch time?
KAMERON ROOKS: I was just going to always be prepared, regardless of if I went in or not. I just wanted to stay ready. I know Dutch is putting me in the game and he's giving me an opportunity. And he trusted me and I'm just glad I was able to go out there and be able to get stops and help this team win.

Q. And Trey, it looked like on that foul a couple of minutes, maybe six minutes to go, when you got a long rebound and took off, and got fouled and took a bit of a bump, what happened to you there?
TREY KELL: I don't know what exactly happened. It kind of felt like I got like kicked or kneed in the shin. And the longer the game went on, it felt like there was a timeout every ten seconds to me, and it got tighter and tighter. But it wasn't a big deal.

Q. The one part of your body you haven't hurt this year?
TREY KELL: Yes. Like I was saying when I was walking over here, it's a new week, a new injury for me. I'm just used to it at this point.

Q. So it's nothing lingering?
TREY KELL: No, I'll be all right. Get some ice and treatment and I'll be straight.

Q. Coach mentioned there was the two fan bases here today, it was a great atmosphere. What was it like for you to play in this type of environment with the NCAA tournament on the line?
TREY KELL: It was a great environment, like you said. It's always fun to play in a game where one team scores, their fans go crazy, the other team scores, their fans go crazy. It was the type of game every player wants to play in. And like I keep saying, I'm glad we got the victory.

Q. Talk a little bit more about that decision to put Kam and Max in the game and take Malik and Jalen out, and talk about tactically, but also in the context of rookie head coach in your biggest game down five with four minutes to go and having the guts to do that?
BRIAN DUTCHER: I don't even remember that happening. I don't know what the score was when I put them in. I know that this is New Mexico's style, they wear you down at the end. And so I know Malik and Jalen, I was going to give them one more blow and come back with them to finish the game.

But that crew came in with Max and Kam and they did a great job. They got us back in the game so I rode with them longer. You know what I've said, I'm going to play the people that are playing the best at the time. Those two played really well. I told Max that I thought he was going to do something special in this tournament. I don't know where or when and I thought he would. He hit the big corner three and got fouled, attacked the offensive glass, and he had his moment.

The key to basketball is not being frustrated when you're not in, so you're ready for your moment when it comes. And I've talked all year about developing my bench. And counting on my bench. And I could count on it here in the tournament and it helped me win tonight.

Q. What tactically did they both bring? Coach Weir talked about Max spreading the floor. He said that was a key there because they couldn't help on the ball screens. And it looked like Kam was setting all those ball screens.
BRIAN DUTCHER: Yeah, absolutely. Jalen is dynamic attacking the glass. And is going to be a very good 3-point shooter, Max already is a very good 3-point shooter. With all the high ball screens we were setting, they were switching and having to deal with it, that I needed shooters around the ball screen so they couldn't helped in on the rolling post.

Max stretched the defense for us a little bit, he made that timely three. And he did run in to rebound from the corner or the perimeter, he just didn't stay there. When he saw the shot go up, he ran in and was aggressive on the glass. Real pleased with his performance tonight.

Q. When you lost to UNLV here, that was obviously during the time the team was struggling, did you do anything at that moment with the players to keep their head up? How did you turn it around?
BRIAN DUTCHER: That was Trey Kell played one minute or two minutes into the game and got hurt, and didn't play the rest of the game and didn't play the next two or three. So I don't think it's any surprise that our nine-game win streak started when Trey Kell came back into the lineup.

This is what I envisioned for Trey all year long, senior guard with the ball in his hands with the game on the line. Devin was sensational, too, good guard play can make a coach look good. And they made me look good tonight.

Q. Looking ahead, now, what is it going to take this team to legitimately have a shot and make any kind of run at the NCAA tournament?
BRIAN DUTCHER: We're on a nine-game win streak. I told them four weeks ago, when it didn't look like we were going to avoid a play-in game, that I thought we were the best team in the Mountain West. And that's motivation. That's trying to tell them. But they have to believe that. And they have that kind of swagger. They believe they're the best team in the Mountain West. We had to win nine games to cut nets down and prove that we are.

And so I don't think this team is satisfied at all. I think some teams are satisfied to get in tournament. This is the second trip for Malik and Trey, and Kam's been there with Cal, and so I've got veterans that played in this environment before and are ready for this moment and are going with no other intention other than to win games in the NCAA tournament. And I wish we were playing at Viejas, but we can't.

Q. Just a little bit more on Trey. You've said you wanted to have him with the ball in key situations. Did you sense that entire season a frustration finally coming out? He's almost like he willed you guys to this win.
BRIAN DUTCHER: I don't think it's frustration. Trey is just such a smart player. If he doesn't draw a double team, you can see how he scores. If they put two on him, he gets the assist. So he's is smart.

When you run a ball screen, you don't feel he's going to shoot whether he's open or not. Trey takes what the defense gives him. There's been players like that with Coach Fisher. A guy you give the ball to, that if they don't double him he's going to get a good shot, if they double him, he's going to get a really good look for someone else. That's Trey, Devin tonight too. Both of them like that high ball screen. Veteran guards that made big plays at big moments, and that's why we're advancing.

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