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March 13, 2019

Dave Pilipovich

Ryan Swan

Chris Joyce

Las Vegas, Nevada

Air Force - 87, San Jose State - 56

THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Air Force head coach Dave Pilipovich and student-athletes Chris Joyce and Ryan Swan. Coach, an opening statement.

COACH PILIPOVICH: We got off to a little slow start. 13-0, I believe, the start by San Jose State. They did a great job. And I want to say this about them. That team has fought all year. Obviously haven't had the win totals expected or wanted. But their kids are tough. They play hard. They're a hard match. And we knew they would come out, and they did, they came out and got the lead on us.

But a credit to our players. They stayed within themselves. They didn't panic. They didn't point fingers. But they never do that. We just said, one possession at a time. We had to get some stops to get us back into the game. And we did and we made some shots. And eventually the tide turned and we were able to manage it from there.


Q. Ryan, how much pride do you take in Michael Steadman's stat line?
RYAN SWAN: To be honest with you, I just really take pride in the team stat line, and if that's what I have to do to help us win, that's what I'm going to do. I don't really pay attention to individual stats like that.

Q. Their coach talked a lot about how the double teams helped that. How much do you think you impacted the way he played today?
RYAN SWAN: I think I was more active on him. He's a very good player and so big, skilled around the basket. But I was able to move my feet and really just try --


RYAN SWAN: Comedian over here. I just moved my feet and I was able to kind of stay a step ahead of him for most of the night. I think that was what got to him the most.

Q. And you were here for the Wyoming Game two years ago when you guys started on a 25-0 run. Did you have memories of that from the other side?
RYAN SWAN: That's one of my favorite memories at the academy. Got me out of recognition for another day. (Laughter).

COACH PILIPOVICH: He didn't mean that, sir.

Q. Did you have fears of that, though, from the other side, having seen that happen?
RYAN SWAN: No, we know they're a good team. I think they're one of the tallest teams in America, something like that. But we know they're a good team, but we know what we can do. If there's one thing I've learned about this game, it's a game of runs. And you just gotta make yours when you make yours and storm theirs when they make theirs.

Q. How much would it mean to make the semifinals?
RYAN SWAN: It would mean a lot. But I'm not trying to just go to the semifinals. We didn't come out here just to say we played in the semifinals.

Q. Chris, your first bucket ended that 13-0 run. Did you sense that kind of put a needle in the balloon a little bit?
CHRIS JOYCE: Yeah, we started out super flat and I was just trying to be aggressive, kick start us a little bit. I mean, if it was me scoring, me passing, rebounding, defending, whatever, I just wanted to do something to get us going.

Q. Is this the best game you've played this year?
CHRIS JOYCE: Could have been. Hopefully my best game is tomorrow. That would be better. Or on Saturday. I just want to keep playing better from here on out.

We talked about, earlier in the year, consistency. And I'd have a good game, have a bad game. So having a good game first game of the tournament, just keep it going would be good.

Q. How do you think you guys fought off nerves when they did start 13-0 to keep it from compounding from there?
CHRIS JOYCE: I think we just stayed positive, just positive talk to each other. We have good leaders on this team -- Lavelle Scottie, Ryan. They just told us to calm down, we're good we've been in this situation before. And we just stayed positive.

THE MODERATOR: Questions for Coach.

Q. What did you think about neutralizing Steadman, because you mentioned him as a huge factor coming into this?
COACH PILIPOVICH: He was playing well against us, averaging 24 points, maybe 16 rebounds. He was a force inside. And he's really strong. Ran into Coach Musselman in the lobby yesterday, and that's what he mentioned, too, how good a player he is in the low post.

So we worked on that for a couple days. And we did a good job -- I thought Ryan did a good job moving his feet and pushing him further away from the basket. And then we sent another player down on his, as we say, his lap to take the ball out of his hands or to make it little bit more uncomfortable for him. It was a credit to our team. It was not just Ryan, but it was everybody realizing their assignment and responding to the play.

Q. How much of a relief was it for you when Joyce got to the rim?
COACH PILIPOVICH: Yeah, and I tell you, this team has grown all year. I think when we came into this season, they talked about "everybody back," and then we'll talk about it again next year, whenever that comes. But I don't know if we were ready to win early in the season, because we still weren't in those moments.

We missed Trevor Lyons and Frank Toohey and Jacob Van and C.J. Siples and Ryan Manning. They were the older players, the voice of the locker room. I don't know, if we play this game in November early December, if we come back from 13-0. But we've grown as the year has come through. We've gotten better. We have gotten ownership of this team. We've had some leaders step up. And we've responded pretty well. And I like how the season has come about and where we've gone.

You hear different things and I know I try to keep it away, but we've never won as a higher seed in this tournament. And this was the first time. We've never beaten a team three times in one year. We've had a 1 seed, the only regular season champ, and they came and lost to the last place team, the eighth seed and a second lost to a 7, a 3 to a 6, a 4 to a 5, so they hear that.

I was trying to keep it away but everything is available. I was proud of them to come in, wear the white uniforms. Many years we never packed a light jersey. It's good for this team. We've taken another step.

Q. We've mentioned a couple times, is this going to be the shot that gets Sid going. He made two of them today.

Q. You're in the conference tournament; it's not too late, is it, for him?
COACH PILIPOVICH: Sid's picture has been on a milk carton for a lot this year. Wonder where he's been. Sid, where have you been? But he's such a great kid. He keeps working, working. He was missing for us through the year.

We talked as a staff, he was our best player in preseason practice. What a tremendous young man. His sister obviously a member of the women's program. They're great cadets we knew he was going to come. And today was good for him. And he's done a good job in our games against San Jose defensively. He's really taken pride about guarding Baumann. Baumann can really shoot the basketball, No. 20. He's a good player.

Q. You talk about the growth of the team. But for Lavelle to really not have a good game today and win by 30 in the tournament --
COACH PILIPOVICH: Right. And they have changed how they played against us because of Lavelle's success. They play a 2-3 zone. They've gone, like, a 1-1-3 to take the player put it in the middle where Lavelle is usually occupied. And we adjusted to that.

So for them to do that -- Lavelle got in a little bit of foul trouble. He was leading on the bench. He was talking to guys. He shared the ball. Encouraging to see some other people step up and come in and score and do some things, yes.

I'd like to say one thing, I'm going to get choked up here, when you get to the Academy, there's great people at the Academy. And we had a gentleman by the name of Floyd Withrow Farmer, a lot of people know Farmer. Farmer loved the Academy, worked at the prep school and was a great gentleman, and he passed on Thursday. And he loved this team. And I know he's watching today. Great guy. Great guy.


FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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