March 7, 2001
NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK
THE MODERATOR: We can get started.
COACH BEN HOWLAND: We're really excited because I thought we had two very good practices leading into this game. The team was very well prepared. They really executed the defensive game plan. To beat a team like that, as athletic as they are on the boards, by 13, is a huge step for us. I thought Ricardo stepped up and had one of his best games of the year, a double-double, 27-11, he shows why he's one of the best players in this league. We're just excited about our entire performance. I was especially excited that that dunk that Julias threw down, he had a chance to make up for the missed one at Providence at the end there with the windmill. He can actually do it better than that. But that was fun. I thought a key point in the game was when they made their run, it was a 4-point game, Jaron Brown fed Isaac Hawkins for a big basket to put it up six, then he came down again and had another huge dunk and really played big, and we were hurt with Isaac in foul trouble. But our bench was outstanding tonight. I thought Jaron Brown, Chad Johnson, and Toree Morris all gave us great minutes tonight. Donatas had a big game for us at 16 points. That lead really helped us. I was a little bummed out that we only had 11 at half time. We left the ball the last play at a half to give up a three. Overall, it's great win for our program. I'm really excited for this guy in particular.
Q. Ricardo, you had not won a first-round game here in three years. Was that an issue you guys talked about prior to the game?
RICARDO GREER: Yeah, before we left to get on the bus, me and like six of the guys were in my room. We was watching SportsCenter, ESPN, all we kept hearing was Miami and Notre Dame. They wasn't even giving us a chance pretty much. We put it upon ourselves to come in tonight and play great defense and try to get this win to move on.
Q. Is this your first win at the Garden?
RICARDO GREER: Yeah.
Q. You didn't win here in high school?
RICARDO GREER: I lost two years in a row in high school and three years, but this is a great win for us today.
Q. (Inaudible) You came out here in front of everybody, kind of put on a show.
RICARDO GREER: Pretty much I was happy to make the second team. I was hurt most of the season. It was an honor to make second team. I wasn't trying to prove nothing tonight. I was just trying to come out here to tonight to get this win for us. We felt we could win this game. Tomorrow's going to be a big one for us, but we feel like we can handle anybody right now.
Q. You played Miami twice this year. Wire to wire both games. What is it about the Miami team?
COACH BEN HOWLAND: Those are two completely different games. The first game was on our home court, they're a young team, really talented. This is a team to be reckoned with in the future, losing only the one guy, Wimbley, who had a great night tonight. They had that kid Tyler sitting out because of academics. They're going to be a real force in this conference in the next few years. I just feel good to beat a team as good as they are. They won six of their last eight games. The fact that we made that flight at 1:25 on Monday and barely made it into here, where they left at two in the morning, flew into DC, had to bus up from DC. We had an easier travel, fortunately for us, to get in here. That may have played a part, too. We were lucky to get John Jay College here in Manhattan to practice, the Pacers were snowed in in Indiana, so we got their time. We got yesterday's time with Notre Dame because they were snowed in. Everything's been going our way here. I just hope it continues.
Q. Ricardo, is your brother Jeff here? Do you have family here?
RICARDO GREER: My brother couldn't make it because of class. But I had my sister and my nephew and a couple of friends from my neighborhood. It just feels great. I wish my brother's team could have made it also, but I just got to do whatever I have to do to make him proud of me right now.
Q. Ben, how was Brandin's foot?
COACH BEN HOWLAND: Obviously, it's pretty good. He had a great game today with 16 points. A big status, six rebounds, five on the defensive end. After Ricardo he was the second guy for us in defensive rebounds. That was a big thing that we emphasized. I'm assuming it's still okay, right, Brandin?
BRANDIN KNIGHT: Yeah, it's all right.
Q. Talking about Salmons getting in foul trouble early and Rice getting in foul trouble, did you change any strategies at all?
COACH BEN HOWLAND: Not really. It worked out to our advantage. They were very aggressive. They're a very good defensive team, and we were fortunate to have some of their key guys get in foul trouble. Salmons is a great player, history big fouls, he's their best player. He's the guy that concerned me most going in. He leads them in assists, steals, rebounding. I mean, he does everything. So it was fortunate, we didn't try to exploit him in any way. We just kept playing our game. I thought Brandin in particular did a great job of executing our offense and running the show out there and making the key passes. That big lead we got in the first half really helped us, because it's hard to come back being down 16, down 11 to start the second half. They made their run, our guys hung tough. And Isaac made a big shot inside, then Ricardo hit a huge three against the zone there late in the game with four, five minutes to go. They were huge plays for us.
Q. You said coming in here you wanted to stay here for a while. It's a great win for the team, a great win for the program, a lot of fans here who have always been disappointed coming here.
COACH BEN HOWLAND: It's great. This is a tradition for the university of Pittsburgh. We're one of the schools that has been a charter member. They always come, we sell all our tickets to all our fans. We hope to give another great performance for our fans tomorrow against Notre Dame who's a great team, beaten us twice, the second time at home. Ricardo didn't play the first half because of his back. We have our hands full, but we're excited to have the opportunity to play a program that has been so successful this year at Notre Dame.
Q. Could you talk about the free throws in the first half?
COACH BEN HOWLAND: I told the guys the biggest stat, when we just met as a team, was the 15 for 16 in the first half. That just showed really good focus, really good concentration, and it was obviously key for us to give us that lead.
Q. You were 2-12, (inaudible) You didn't play the first half. Is that extra motivation for you for tomorrow night?
RICARDO GREER: Definitely. (Inaudible) My ankle, my toes hurt. Then my luck, my back gives out on me with spasms when they come to Pittsburgh. I'm feeling real healthy right now. I can't wait to play tomorrow.
Q. What do you think of the matchup tomorrow? What do you need to do?
COACH BEN HOWLAND: We've got to do a better job defensively with their other guys. Murphy is really a tough matchup because he's so good. There's a reason why he's a two-time Player-of-the-Year in this conference. We've got to do a better job on Graves and on Carol (phonetic spelling) and on Humphries. And not let those other guys, Ingelsby I think is a very good player. We can't let them run wild against us. One stat here I wanted to point out that I just realized is Jaron Brown's six assists. Jaron Brown has really come on big for us at the end of the year. We've been playing him more, and Brandin together, which helps Brandin because it gives him another ball handler in there. His six assists, he had a number in the first half, were huge plays for us. I want to recognize Jaron Brown for his contribution tonight. He played very well.
Q. When you jumped on them early, did you sense you had Miami out of this game a little bit? Then when you see that, do you kind of attack that?
BRANDIN KNIGHT: We just wanted to come out and play well early. Lately we've been falling behind and having slow starts. Today we jumped up big on them early. We just kept the lead. We didn't do anything different. We had some turnovers inside, and it played in our favor.
End of FastScripts....