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March 17, 2023

John Becker

Dylan Penn

Robin Duncan

Columbus, Ohio, USA

Nationwide Arena

Vermont Catamounts

Media Conference

Marquette- 78, Vermont - 61

COACH BECKER: Obviously not the result we wanted tonight and it stinks right now. You have to give Marquette a lot of credit. That's a really good team that I thought was underrated all year defensively and really put a lot of pressure on you and speed you up. And there's some things we can look back on from an execution standpoint from a game-plan point that we didn't do as well as we all hope we did tomorrow.

But it does not take away from the incredible season we had this year. And I'm really, really proud of my team and I'm really, really sad about our four seniors' season coming to an end, four great Catamount players. These two guys here and Finn Sullivan and Kam Gibson. This will hurt a little while but it won't take away from the great year we had.

Q. Robin, when you picked up your third foul, you ended up staying in the game and were able to play pretty physical defense without putting up fourth, fifth fouls. Just wondering about your focus in the second half, especially when you guys had cut the deficit to just five points at the under-16?

ROBIN DUNCAN: I felt like we had a nice stretch there starting out in the second half. I'm probably thinking about my turnover there that led to the Kam Jones 3. I feel like we rolling a bit and they were kind of feeling a little bit of pressure.

And for a 15 seed to win that game, you have to have those possessions. You can't slip up and you've got to really execute. And so it sucks we weren't able to do that tonight.

But, like Coach said, we've been through a lot this year and a lot of ups and down, and we were able to get here. And it's unbelievable and I'm just really proud of the guys.

Q. This is the final game of your careers. Can you share your initial thoughts on your careers and what it was like to wrap up an unexpected run to the NCAA Tournament?

DYLAN PENN: I'm just thankful that Coach Becker and Robin did what they could do to get me here to Vermont and let me play out my last year and give me an opportunity to get to the tournament. Although the result wasn't what we wanted it was still a blessing to get here.

And I'm just thankful for all the memories and connections I made. College is one of the most special times of your life. And I'm glad I was able to play basketball at a high level and do it with great friends and make some lifelong bonds.

ROBIN DUNCAN: I honestly couldn't have picked a better place than Vermont. It's a very special place for me and my entire family. And Vermont is one of our new homes now. I couldn't thank Coach Becker enough.

I can't even describe how much love I have for Vermont. And my whole five years here has just been an unbelievable experience. Starting, to not starting, to role player, to leader. And I'm just so thankful for Coach Becker and the staff, and they did such a great job this year dealing with us and seven new guys. Coach Becker is just an unbelievable coach. We're so lucky to have him here in Vermont.

Q. Talk a little bit the experience of playing close-ish to home in the Midwest. Finally the moment came where you've got family, friends in the stands in Vermont, fans having a good showing tonight. What was that experience like, not necessarily having it end like you guys wanted it to, but getting to go out in front of really good support?

DYLAN PENN: You know, anytime you can play in front of family or friends or just anybody that supports you, it definitely just gives you a little boost, a little more confidence, just to know that people out there that love you are watching. So the fact that we were able to get to this tournament and play in front of loved ones, it was really special.

ROBIN DUNCAN: Same, it was special to play in front of them. Saw a lot of familiar faces in the crowd tonight. You don't really get that a lot playing in Vermont. But it was awesome.

Q. Coach, hearing Robin talk about what this university has meant to not only him but the entire Duncan family, it's the end of an era. When you hear that what's going through your head what they've done for the program?

COACH BECKER: Just how proud I am of him and his brothers and what they've meant to me and this program. Hard to believe it's over. But, yeah, I love those boys. I learned a lot more from them than they ever learned from me.

Q. Even in the first half and in the second when you cut it to 50-45, seemed like Marquette always had an answer. Is that the way you saw it, whenever you mounted a charge they seemed to supply an answer?

COACH BECKER: Yeah, and that's what good teams do. We cut it to five and we'll go back and watch that tape and be frustrated by some of the mistakes we made. And we got it to five. Kam's trail 3 there, and then make a couple of mistakes.

And Kam Jones really killed us in the second half. We did a good job on Kolek and didn't do a good enough job on Kam Jones. Credit to them, they're really good players. It's not like we weren't trying.

And then Joplin off the bench, we were concerned about him coming into the game and he makes a couple of 3s.

But they're a good team. That's what good teams do. And unfortunately we just didn't execute well enough to beat a team like that. Didn't shoot well enough to beat a team like that. And it wasn't for lack of effort. And they're a good team and they made the plays they had to.

Q. You touched on it with Robin, but in terms of the Duncans over the 10 years, now it's over after this decade for the wider audience, can you speak how those three changed the program?

COACH BECKER: I mean, those three guys embody what I want all of our players to be, and it started with Ernie. And then Everett came a couple of years later, a year later. And then I met Robin, he was in seventh grade, I think.

And then to see what he's done this year throughout his career, but this year he had one of the most special seasons of any player with the situation we had with so many new players and such a tough schedule. And a guy that really understood what we were trying to get to. And he just never relented in his leadership and in his demands. And it's just what we ended up being was essentially a reflection of Robin Duncan this year. And that's incredible.

But the family, those three boys are incredible leaders, incredible basketball players, all about the right stuff, just care about winning, whatever you need from them.

And one of the best compliments you can give a person is if they're incredibly consistent. They're the same people every day. They love basketball. They showed up. They led. They never had bad days. They're the same people. They were in the Burlington community, and they are Vermont basketball. If you ask how you guys have been successful, it's the Duncan boys. It's a lot of guys like that. It's going to be interesting moving forward. How do you replace that?

Q. In a lot of ways, the season was unlike a lot of them that you've had here in Vermont, between the rocky starts and picking things up at towards the end, the complete roster overhaul. Now that it's over, what's the biggest thing you feel like you learned going into an offseason where you guys graduate four starters?

COACH BECKER: I mean, this year we were tested more than ever. Like with our culture, with how we do things, and it was put to the test this year. And we're still all about the right stuff. And I'd be remiss if I didn't thank my staff. I mean, I know I'm sitting up here and I get the credit when we win. But those guys are the ones that make me look good that my staff was incredible. I've got a great staff.

We've got a lot of good pieces returning. We've got to go find some new players. And I thought last year, in the portal, we kind of didn't know how that worked, necessarily. Maybe shot for kids too high that weren't going to come here. Like I said, the portal is like speed dating; you've got to identify the right ones, otherwise you're chasing the wrong one and you end up back at square one.

So I think we have a better understanding about that and who might be attracted to us. We're not as pretty as we thought, I guess.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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