April 3, 2021
Indianapolis, Indiana, USA
Lucas Oil Stadium - Unity Court (South)
Semi-Final Postgame Media Conference
Baylor - 78, Houston - 59
THE MODERATOR: Coach Drew, an opening statement.
COACH DREW: First, credit to Coach Sampson and Houston for a great season, great run. He's an unbelievable coach. And really blessed that our guys were able to shoot like they did, shared the ball like they did, because you knew you had to beat Houston. They weren't going to give it to you. And just really pleased on how our guys battled on the glass.
Houston coming into the game, I think it was like 62-27, they were up, second-chance points in the tournament. And the guys that don't always get their names in the paper for scoring points did an unbelievable job on the glass. The guards did a great job rebounding on the glass. And really proud of their effort.
Q. Was that about as good a performance you've seen, especially on this stage in the first half?
COACH DREW: Yeah, that first half was similar to how we started against Arkansas. And then it fizzled out, obviously. But it was a great start. And guys really playing with poise, sharing the ball, making extra passes. But the big thing was we really guarded first half, really defended well, rebounded well.
Second half Houston you knew they were going to score. But we were able to hold them far enough at bay to not let them threaten.
Q. The first half you held Houston to .65 points per possession. Looks like they couldn't get the ball from one side to the other. What did you all do defensively so well that first half?
COACH DREW: Coach Brooks did a great job on the scout. I think we were prepared. And really our guys did a great job buying into -- locking in on assignments and tendencies. And Coach Sampson, you know he's going to make adjustments. He's a great coach. And second half we didn't defend nearly as well.
Q. You've had it most of the year but the bench contributions you got today from Jonathan and Matthew in particular, how big was that in a game like this?
COACH DREW: I thought all year long our secret to our success has been our bench. It's a starting rotation. Again, it's not five guys. We got a starting rotation and everybody comes in and provides a lift for us. So I think that's been a big reason why we've been successful all year.
Q. I know there's one left for you. Can you imagine having the ability to empty your bench throughout a lot of these games in this tournament, including a game to get to the championship game?
COACH DREW: Again, you never plan on that. You plan on it going down to the wire. And if you're blessed and play really, really well you get a couple of those special nights. And it was great seeing Paterson get a bucket.
Q. You have your best player come out and have one of the best first halves he's had all season. He doesn't score a single point the second half as you get five, six guys in double figures. How key is your depth for you this season?
COACH DREW: It's a tribute. First half he was rolling. People did a good job finding him. Second half he did a great job not forcing things. And other people got going. And that's kind of what we've done all year long is feed the hot hand and share the ball.
Q. If it is Gonzaga, what are your thoughts on the potential of playing them Monday night, a kind of game everyone's waited for for four months?
COACH DREW: I know whoever it will be, it will be a hard-fought game. Coach Few and I joked when the game got canceled and we went to the arena and we did a press conference saying that the game was canceled and whatnot. And as we were riding back we were, like, you know what, if we end playing this game in the Final Four or the championship game, that sounds like a better idea.
So that was obviously the goal for both of us. And I know we're there. And we'll see if Gonzaga or UCLA, again, whoever you play is going to be a great matchup and both of them are great teams.
Q. When you think back to 2003, taking this job and everything that was on your plate, to where you are now going to the national title game, what are your thoughts on that, on just that journey?
COACH DREW: Well, every day you're grinding. And you really don't look back. You just keep pressing forward. And been so blessed to have unbelievable players that have bought into what we like to do with the program, tremendous assistant coaches that have sacrificed so much time, hard work, sweat to get us here.
And then the Baylor faithful, they've supported us through the lean years and the rebuilding years. And you can't get there without administration that believes in you and supports you -- President Livingstone, Mack Rhoades and his staff, they've been phenomenal for us. And when you have that family atmosphere and everybody pulling for everybody good things can happen. And obviously they've happened for us.
Since 2008 we've won 18 or more. And us and Kansas are the only two Power Fives to do that. We've been consistently good. We just haven't been able to get to a Final Four or national championship.
Q. Now that you guys are officially in the national championship, has it sunk in mentally that you guys are there now, and what's that like?
COACH DREW: No, it's the next game. And that's why we're successful and in the championship game. If you do too much celebrating or thinking, then you're not dialed in for the next opponent and you're getting sent home.
So I'm just excited as our whole travel party, we get to stay in the bubble for a couple more days and have an opportunity to play in the biggest game all year that every team sets out at the beginning of the year wanting to do.
Q. Do you plan to prepare any differently for this championship game than you have in the tournament so far or is it more important to kind of stay consistent to what you've been doing?
COACH DREW: Great question. And definitely stay consistent. It's too late to make drastic changes. And you've got to go with what got you here. And that's what most teams do. And with us, I know we're excited about the opportunity to prepare to play either UCLA or Gonzaga for the championship. We'll do what we do normally scouting-wise, and I know our players will be really excited for an opportunity to play in such a big game. But at the same time it's business as usual and preparation.
Q. Another big day from Davion, a double-double. Was there anything in particular you saw from him and his ability to distribute today?
COACH DREW: No, I thought he made great reads. I thought he really got going at the end of the half and I know everyone was excited with his last 3. But that's what makes him so good is he's a two-way player -- defensive player of the YEAR. But on the offensive end he can score it. And he can create for others. So tremendous effort and outing by him.
Q. Obviously not right now but at any point during the season have you allowed yourself to think back about the possibility that you could be working on two championship games in a row if there had been a tournament a year ago?
COACH DREW: We did talk to our team before we went out and said that Freddie and Devonte and Tristan were all in the stands and how much they wish they had this opportunity but they're here to cheer us on. And moments like that make you reflect and think you feel so bad for the guys that didn't have that opportunity and never will, but at the same time you feel so blessed and fortunate these guys are this year. And again can't thank the NCAA for providing a safe environment where we could have this NCAA Tournament.
Q. Since you guys went on pause, you've been chasing sort of the ghost of what you were. And there have been times you've measured up, sometimes you haven't. Does Jared's performance tonight and the performance you made today make you feel like you're back in that groove you were in in December and January.
COACH DREW: I feel even Wisconsin we played much better. And Villanova, second half we were really good. Arkansas, we were great in spurts and good in other areas. And then tonight, I mean, Houston doesn't give you anything. You have to be really good. And that first half was about as well as any team could play against Houston.
So, I definitely think -- if we're not where we were, I can't see the difference. So credit these guys for really buying in on the practice days we've had to get better and put in the work to get back to what they were. Because prior to the pause we were top three defensive team in the country and then fall all the way to 44. And I know gradually we've been working our way up. Last I saw was 27.
But, I mean, these guys have worked really hard in practice. When at the end of the year a lot of people don't want to practice hard. They want to save their legs for games; they're thinking about what they're doing after the season. And the last thing they want to do is get injured in practice.
Q. I was able to talk to some Baylor fans at halftime. Suffice it to say they were excited. To be able to give them one more game, how gratifying is that?
COACH DREW: Again, a coach is like a parent. And when you see the siblings happy, you're happy. So to see the fans happy, your players happy, Baylor Nation happy, you can't get much better than that. So they were outstanding tonight. The fans that we had, appreciate them making travel arrangements to be here to support us. And thank them for being behind us.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports