March 27, 2021
Indianapolis, Indiana, USA
Sweet 16 Postgame Media Conference
Baylor - 62, Villanova - 51
THE MODERATOR: We will now begin with an opening statement from Coach Scott Drew.
COACH DREW: We knew coming into the game we have so much respect for Villanova. They won two of the last four national championships. Played them last year in Myrtle Beach. Coach Wright is a Hall of Famer and a tremendous coach. Their players, they really execute and never beat themselves. And we had to earn it.
I thought the first half they did a great job. Second half really commend our guys for coming in and trying to find a way to get better shot selection and try to put some points on the board and at the same time get some stops so we could get out in transition.
Q. What does it mean for the program, for you, I know you've been in this round before, but to be this close to make the first Final Four?
COACH DREW: I think it's something at the beginning of the year every team in the country wants to be in the NCAA Tournament. Every team in the country wants to go to a Final Four. We're on the verge of that. I think in life, experiences always teach you lessons and different things. And hopefully our staff will be able to prepare our guys and put them in a good position through the two experiences in the Elite Eights before.
Q. Looked like you all really ratcheted up the defense the second half. Attacked the basket. Was that pretty much the plan?
COACH DREW: Well, it was the plan the whole game. But second half it worked better. So, really credit to Davion. We got three guys who were top-15 all defenders -- Jared, Davion and Mark. But Davion sets the pace up top. To force Villanova to 16 turnovers, I don't know when the last time they had 16 turnovers, but normally they're in the sixes and sevens and eights. So our guys really did a great job.
Q. To focus on what John just asked, you've been good from 3 all season. What struck you when you made your adjustment that going inside was the right move rather than trying to shoot through it or shoot out of it?
COACH DREW: When we were 2-for-12 at the half we knew we had to get inside. We had decent looks, not great looks. Credit Villanova for doing a great job contesting shots. I thought our guards did a great job not settling and probing more. And because of that we shot 53 percent second half.
Q. I don't imagine that when you left Atlanta nine years ago you thought it would take this long to get back to this point. But to get back to the Elite Eight, what's the feeling going through your head right now?
COACH DREW: Well, first and foremost, in basketball, why March Madness is March Madness and why no one can get a perfect bracket after the first weekend is because if you're blessed enough to make the tournament, it's really hard to win and advance in the tournament. And you never take that for granted. And every time you have an opportunity to do something like this, especially after last year where there was no NCAA Tournament, so many of our guys came back to be a part of this and play in this. And we can't thank the NCAA enough for making sure we had a tournament this year.
But you've got to take advantage of every opportunity. And obviously we have an opportunity to go to a Final Four as will another team. And hopefully we put our best foot forward, control all the things we can control.
Q. Obviously basketball's a big deal, but your brother at Grand Canyon lost a player this week. What did you say to him in such a difficult time like this?
COACH DREW: I tell you what, it puts it all into perspective. I mean O had been there for five years. He had graduated. And I mean I cried for two days. And I never coached him. And, I tell you, with our players, we talked about it. The great thing is O accepted Christ 11 days earlier so he's hooping up in the big gym where you don't miss any and you get no losses.
Q. What does it say about this team -- and really Davion talked about just not getting down in a moment -- against a team like Villanova to see them fight back, punch back the way they did, how much does that mean to you as a coach?
COACH DREW: We've got guys that are really tough, really competitive. They put so much time into their craft and their development. And the big thing is they love each other. And it's always great coaching a group that is always telling me things on the sideline: Run a play for so and so or do this for so and so.
But they're always thinking about each other and encouraging one another and they stayed together. When you're down 7 at halftime, when there's this much pressure, win or go home, sometimes pressure bursts pipes. And obviously it didn't burst ours tonight.
Q. You just mentioned pressure. You've been at this tournament as a pretty high seed a number of times over the years and left earlier than you would certainly had hoped or planned. Can you speak to that pressure? I know Jay Wright before this game talked about the fact that if there was a perception of your team as a team that goes out earlier than the seeding might indicate, he hopes this is not a game that changes that perception. How does it weigh on you as a coach -- you just mentioned how random --
COACH DREW: I would disagree with that because I think there's a lot of times we've advanced in the tournament and done well in the tournament. You can take the seed numbers, if we wanted to put them out there I think people would get their brackets a lot better than they do. Anytime you advance in the tournament, it's because you've played well. And sometimes you play well and you don't win.
But there's a lot of times where we've advanced and done well and maxed out. We've lost to national champs, lost to teams that have gone to the Final Four. And I hold my head high and our players hold their head high when you lose to national champs and teams that go to the Final Four because they've got great players and great coaches too.
We've been on part of big upsets -- one of the best memories of all time was when my brother hit the shot -- and we've also been in heart breaks. Where Ron Hunter's son, we told him it was a great idea if you played for your dad and that came back to bite us. I guess coach's sons are always happy for coach's sons.
If you're in the tournament you're going to have great moments and you're going to have bad moments. That's why it's the tournament. It's a 40-minute game. And if we wanted the best team to advance, we'd do what the NBA does, play 4 out of seven and you'd get that. But that's why it's March Madness.
And I'm proud of every team that's been in this tournament because they deserve to be in it. And I'm proud of how they performed. And I think if you go through the record, and facts speak for themselves, we've done very well.
Q. Could you talk about the experience of your team and their abilities? What stood out to you at halftime that let you know they had it in them to (indiscernible) this number?
COACH DREW: I always knew they had it in them. They've shown me that for the years. In the last two years we've won more games than any Power Five team in the country. They've earned that right. And they've earned that trust.
Now it doesn't guarantee that you're going to come out and win. It doesn't guarantee you're going to play a great second half. But they have 100 percent my full trust.
Q. Your team came out kind of early at the end of the half, seemed to me anyway. Is it to the point you don't really have to tell them a lot, that they sort of instinctively know what they need to do? You just know that instinctively they know what they have to do; you don't have to spend a lot of time belaboring things at the first half?
COACH DREW: First of all, we get longer in the locker room. I worry about guys getting stiff, to be honest. Instead of staying in here extra longer, these are venues you're not getting a lot of shots, you're not familiar with. The earlier we get them out there, some of the guys that miss shots, they can shoot longer. Other guys that want to stretch they can stretch. So we're talking the same amount, if not more. But it's the beauty of getting extra time. You can now give them extra time on the court rather than in the locker room where they're just going to get stiff.
Q. Jeremiah Robinson-Earl had been on such a great run but you guys shut him down. I think only two points in the second half. What was the key defensively to making him such a nonfactor for Villanova this afternoon?
COACH DREW: I think, I mean, he's an outstanding player. And he's tremendous. And we put a whole lot of attention on him. And I think tried to make things as difficult as possible. But that's one thing about him, he's efficient. He's 4-for-7. Doesn't force things. He's just a great player.
We're blessed that he didn't have a real high-scoring night, and a lot of that is because of the attention we put on him. But at the same time that leads to Samuels and Justin Moore getting more. No pun intended.
Q. What was Villanova doing defensively in the first half to get you guys, I guess, from not taking your normal shots, and what did you do to adjust in the second half?
COACH DREW: Good question. I think, first of all, first half we weren't getting many stops. They shot 50 percent first half. Second half, we were getting stops in transition, getting into our offense quicker, with advantages. And we finished with fastbreak .70, points off turnovers, 22-4.
I think that was huge in not going against their set defense. And every coach, when you start with a game plan, you can't give up easy buckets. The first half they did a great job of not giving us any easy buckets. Second half we were able to get out and go a little bit more. Second half I thought our guys didn't necessarily take the first shot but tried to get a better shot.
Q. Could you share what was going through your mind when Mark was chasing down that loose ball, I think it was the opposite end of the court of you, and he jumped over, looked like he was banged up but then, of course, he came back to finish the game?
COACH DREW: I was hoping he didn't kill anybody, first of all, because I knew he it wasn't stopping. He plays one speed and that's full speed. I was glad that no one was there to get injured.
I was glad that he was able to get up, because when they called for Dave to come over, I didn't know what happened because you couldn't see behind there.
I just know, if there's a loose ball and you're in that front row and Mark Vital is going after it, he's not stopping, because he plays one speed and that's full.
Q. Since Oral Roberts is currently tied, I figured I should ask you. One, are you and Paul Mills the closest coaches left in this tournament? And two, would it be a dream or nightmare to face them on Monday?
COACH DREW: Good question. First of all, I hope that game goes to about eight overtimes. After eight overtimes -- Coach Mills is family, you always want family to win and be successful. Now it's not going to be fun if they win and we have to play them. But the beauty is one of us is going to go to a Final Four. And at that point, if you're going to lose, you want someone, and family member, to go.
And so much respect for Oral Roberts and the job Coach Mills, Sam Patterson, the guys that have been on our staff to help build our program and what they've done there.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports