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March 13, 2018

Mike Jones

Carlik Jones

Travis Fields Jr.

Ed Polite Jr.

Dayton, Ohio

Radford - 71, LIU Brooklyn - 61

THE MODERATOR: Coach, an opening statement.

COACH JONES: Well, first and foremost, all the glory goes to God. He just continues to bless our lives, my life. Great college basketball game. We knew it was going to be tough. Those guys are very talented scorers. And for our team to hold that group to 61 points is really a testament to the kind of defense we've been playing here toward the end of the year. When it mattered most, down the stretch our defense got better and better, which we've seen for several games.

And I'm just really proud of these guys and happy for them to be able to say that no team in Division I history at Radford has won 23 games and they're champions. So just really proud of these guys for their accomplishments and hopefully there's more for us to do.

THE MODERATOR: Questions for the student-athletes.

Q. Ed, what was the key defensively for you guys tonight, do you think?
ED POLITE JR.: We knew they were a fast-paced team. So we knew our transition defense had to be on this point.

Q. Carlik, you guys -- guards kind of like took over this game at times tonight. Was that the point, to get after these guys?
CARLIK JONES: Definitely. It's usually our bigs that are, for instance, rebounding and taking charges. But today it was just mostly the guards that were taking charges and also us guards helping rebound in the paint.

Q. Travis, you had a little microwave moment there scoring some points. 27 to 7 of bench points, how key was that and how much pride do you take of outscoring a team like that?
TRAVIS FIELDS JR.: I just try to bring whatever I could to help the team out. I appreciate my guys for giving me the looks I got. But as far as the bench points, I know I speak for the whole bench when I say, like I said, we just try to do anything to help the game out, help these guys out, bring the same energy that they start the game with.

Q. Ed, just thinking about some foul trouble and some guys, big guys off the bench really had to play big inside for you guys too. Devonnte played a lot and Bolstad got in there even. How big was that for you guys too?
ED POLITE JR.: I trust every player on our bench is going to come in do get their job done. If we know that Randy Phillips is going to get in foul trouble, Devonnte is going to come in and will bring that same energy he brings. If he gets in foul trouble we know Darius Bolstad is going to come in and bring that same energy. So our bench really helps us because we go at each other in practice, we get better each day.

Q. Carlik, looked like you had a pretty large fan club in the stands. Do you have any idea about how many you had here, family and friends? And also what did it mean to you to play that kind of game in front of the home?
CARLIK JONES: Honestly I couldn't tell you how many off my head. But I know it was a good amount. I know I've received multiple text messages from friends and family telling me they would be in attendance. And it's just big to be able to come back home and perform in front of my family and friends that haven't been able to see me play. And it's just been a good feeling.

Q. Ed, what's the feeling to do something that a Radford team has never done and winning an NCAA Tournament game?
ED POLITE JR.: It's huge. It's a blessing to be able to play with these guys and be a part, make history with these, with my fellow teammates and coaching staff. So it's an amazing feeling right now.

Q. Carlik, what do you think about playing Villanova now going forward?
CARLIK JONES: I mean, I'm hyped about it. Right now it's not really much I could say. I'm just happy we got this win and looking forward to playing them.

Q. Carlik, there late, you kind of got trapped in the corner there, threw a ball down court that they intercepted, No. 3. Drives back and all of a sudden, 32, what's his name, I forgot his name, Randy Phillips, comes out of nowhere and blocks it. How big of a moment was that in that game? I think it was still like a six-point game at that point?
CARLIK JONES: I looked at it as he had my back. I seen him open for a split second when I was in the trap. So I thought he was still open and I threw a ball -- it was a bad decision. But I appreciate him hustling back down on the floor and he got a key block and it was a good stop for us.

Q. Ed, Coach mentioned your defense, you guys were trying to build a lead throughout that second half. It seemed like they came back two or three times to get it down into maybe a one-possession game. What was it about your defense in the second half that didn't let them get over the hump?
ED POLITE JR.: We remained calm. Basketball is about a game of runs. So we knew -- they're a good team, so they're going to make shots. So we just had to remain focused and go with the game plan. And that's to pressure them even though they're a fast-paced team and don't give them any easy baskets and guard with all five players on the court. They like to play iso basketball.

THE MODERATOR: Questions for Coach Jones.

Q. This building has served you well in your career. What's the feeling after this one? How does it compare to the first one, any different feeling this time?
COACH JONES: It feels great. It felt great that time. When I walked back in for our practice yesterday, you know, it was familiar, walking down the steep incline there to come into the media area in the locker room. So it felt good. It was like that warm, fuzzy feeling I'm coming home.

And I knew that it was going to be a good thing for our team to play in the First Four. A lot of people look at it, I got a couple of texts, people saying that's messed up they put you in the First Four. I was like, are, you kidding? It's awesome.

First of all, Dayton is such a great city. They run a great event. They make you feel like kings. We had -- guys came down for breakfast and there was a guy playing a bagpipe downstairs and people with streamers and yelling. Felt like a king for a second. It's a great experience to come and play here. So it felt just as good as the first time.

Q. Coach, about your bench. You played, I think, 11 guys the first half. You played 12 altogether, I think. Talk about your strategy of playing a lot of guys tonight, really from the outset of the early part of the game.
COACH JONES: It wasn't necessarily our intention to go that deep. But foul trouble precipitated us playing Darius a little bit. But our bench has been our strength all year. We said coming into the season that it was either going to be a strength or a weakness. At times it's been a weakness because guys want to play. And I'm the grim reaper. I'm the one who puts them in, or doesn't put them in.

And so we had some tough times during the year but the second half of the season it really became a strength. Those guys are good players. They pushed our primary rotation, our top five, top eight guys, in practice every day in the competition level was high. So they really became a strength.

So if you look at the stats from the year, our bench has probably outscored the other team's bench by hundreds of points. It's a stat that I see every day. So we know when we bring somebody off the bench they're more than capable. And they came up big tonight.

Q. Also with Fields, three straight games in double figures for you guys, tied a season high tonight. What's been going great for him?
COACH JONES: He's a winner. That's number one. He won three straight state championships his senior year. He hit the game winner. He just believes that he's going to be a part of a winning team. And we've got a lot of guys in the locker room that were part of high school teams that went further than their high school team had ever gone before or won state championships, so I think we've got a winning pedigree in that locker room.

And he will let you know that he's won more than anybody else on our team. And so he's just got a lot of confidence. And tough-nosed kid. I'm just really blessed to have him on my team.

Q. Looked like Christian had a couple of charges that he drew that sort of got the bench fired up there. You said you felt the defense got better as the game went on. What do you feel got better from your group there?
COACH JONES: We talked about they're such a dribble-drive team and they get to the foul line. And I mean we had nine or ten fouls by like the 10-minute mark. So we knew that if we -- I think we attempted three charges in the first half and got maybe one or two of them.

And we told the guys at halftime, hey, man, step in there, sacrifice your body and take some charges. And we knew those were going to be momentum plays. And the guys know how big of a momentum swing those plays are. It goes from two- or three-point play to now their guy is in foul trouble and it's our ball going the other way.

So that's been a big part of our season and it was a huge part in the second half. And CB, man, that dude, he just finds a way to make winning place down the stretch. I trust him and love him so much.

Q. Coach, on Hernandez especially, I think he was their leading scorer going in, averaging 20 and you held him to eight. Specifically what was the plan, I guess, to neutralize him?
COACH JONES: Well, he's a problem, man, he is a major problem. He's so strong and he can score in a variety of ways. He gets to the free-throw line. So we knew we weren't going to shut him out. He had 32 in their championship game and just willed their team. And when he hit that shot at the end of the first half, we told our guys, hey, understand now he's coming at you with both barrels blazing in the second half.

And we just tried to make it tough on him. I thought Donald did a really good job of fighting him for position. He got some fouls. He ended up fouling out. But he left everything on the floor fighting him for position. We tried to commit extra bodies to him. We tried to load the box and make sure that, like in football, that there's a lot of bodies in there when he's trying to get a bucket. But it's impossible to stop him, but I thought we made him work for everything and we got just enough stops that we needed.


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