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March 11, 2005

John Beilein

Mike Gansey

Joe Herber


THE MODERATOR: Coach Beilein, Mike Gansey, Joe Herber.

COACH JOHN BEILEIN: I think Mike just said he can't even feel himself right now. But they're a very, very good basketball team. They can score in so many ways on you. We were going to have to have one of those nights where, you know, we're shooting threes like we did earlier in the year. Looks like 13-for-25. That's the way we have to shoot in order to play at this level. And when we do things like that, as you saw tonight, we can play with a lot of people. So we got great kids. Villanova had a great game plan. They forced us into 14 turnovers. Seemed like there was 44 turnovers again. But we ended up taking care of the basketball just enough to win the game.

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Standing out there alone, Mike, at the foul-line.

MIKE GANSEY: Yeah, I mean, it's just hard to explain. I mean, when I got the foul, I knew I was going to the line, I just looked up, looked around, the whole Madison Square Garden was standing up. Probably like the whole country was watching me. I just, you know, I told Coach, Coach looked at me and said, "I love you." That was all I needed to make it. It's just an unbelievable feeling. I tend not to smile a lot when I'm on the court. I get down on myself a lot, but Coach picked me up. I can't explain it, it's just unbelievable.

Q. Mike, do you feel like a team of destiny coming in here with a 1-8 record in the BIG EAST tournament? To dispatch Boston College and win like that.

MIKE GANSEY: That's what the conference tournaments are about, Cinderella stories. I would have never imagined this coming into this tournament. We're trying to hopefully win a game or two to get into the NCAA tournament. The way we've been playing, our team chemistry, we played probably the best we ever have all year. It's just unbelievable.

Q. Mike, talk about what happened on the last play. Did you feel somebody push you from behind on that play? What did you feel?

MIKE GANSEY: I saw Pat shoot the three. It looked short. I just went up and grabbed it. You know, I think someone was pulling on my shirt maybe or, you know, maybe hit my, like, back of my side. I just went up for a layup. They called a foul and I missed it. I was like, "Oh, my gosh." I looked up at the clock. There was .2. I'm like, "I can't believe I'm in this situation."

Q. Coach, did rallying from the 10-point deficit in the first half give you confidence?

COACH JOHN BEILEIN: Yeah, when they really got up on us -- I thought it was 8, but they got up by 10, I really sensed at that point that we were starting to give into fatigue a little bit. We made a couple shots. I think we forced one of our few turnovers that we forced. They riddled the three zone, absolutely riddled it. They have such a good passing and shooting team. As a result, we made a couple. All of a sudden I think at that time Villanova might have thought, "Hey, this team isn't going to go away." Then we really got our confidence at that time. I think we at the same time -- I don't know what Villanova thought. I thought we thought, "Hey, we're not going to go away." I think we all had some ghosts from the last time we played them, when it wasn't a ballgame for the last 35 minutes; they just destroyed us. So that was important that we did make that comeback.

Q. Ever been in anything close to that type of situation, Mike?


Q. Thrown into something like that?

MIKE GANSEY: You know, the only time maybe I hit, like, a shot at the buzzer or whatever, my sophomore year at St. Bonaventure. We played Boston College. Not even in high school. Actually I missed a couple of shots to win the game, but that's, you know, this has been the best, you know, experience I've ever had. I can't explain it.

Q. You beat a team that shot 65% with five turnovers. What does that say about the general quality of play in this game?

COACH JOHN BEILEIN: You know, we've been winning a lot of games by -- did we get outrebounded as well? No, we outrebounded them. We have a thing, if we out-rebound, it's something we usually lose. Yeah, if we shoot like that, you can see what the three ball can do. Look at the difference. They shot over 50% from three. But if you can make your threes, you can stay in the game a long time, especially to spread people out. They're a quality, quality team, as we already found out back in January. But we have very unusual stats after games. We care an awful lot about how many assists that we get, you know, how many turnovers that we have, and that we make shots in the perimeter.

Q. John, you don't have to say it, but I think a lot of us will, you're probably in the tournament at this point. Can you give us some sort of sense of what a long, hard climb it's been since you came there. The last team was in '98. It's been a while.

COACH JOHN BEILEIN: Yeah, for me, that was my last team, Richmond was there in '98 as well. Richmond, we got it back to the point where we were close again before we left to go to West Virginia. And then when we came in here, the other leagues I've been in are very cyclical, you can build a program in three or four years and get to the top. It's tough here to build a program in three or four years and to get rid of the Connecticuts and Syracuses that never go away. So I think last year, started in a sense, this is going to be really difficult to get to sixth or seventh place.

Q. Did you realize that at the time, how tough it would be?

COACH JOHN BEILEIN: What I wanted was the opportunity to coach at this level and the opportunity to build another program, and see what we could do and try to do it with kids like we recruited right here. And if it didn't work, it didn't work, to get to the NCAA tournament. But I was hell-bent on doing it the way I had done it in the other program. My staff had done it, not just me. There's a lot of people involved in this whole deal, from the secretary to the strength coach to everybody. They do what they're trying to do the right way

Q. You beat two opponents in a row. This game was closer than the BC game, but what does that say about this team? How have you been able to overcome the nerves playing in the league?

JOE HERBER: Yeah, as we saw yesterday, it's pretty difficult for us to play with a large lead. We weren't really used to that this season; we had a lot of close games. I think it shows our maturity level. I think we have a lot of juniors -- not a lot of seniors, but a lot of juniors. We've been playing together for three years, our core, and I think that's the key.

Q. (Inaudible)?

COACH JOHN BEILEIN: To get some backdoors. Yeah, although Kevin and D'or, you know, have gotten much better in their time with us at scoring inside, not too many people are going to score on Fraser. You know, even Sumpter when he guards down low. They switched a lot of screens on us today, and as they did all those things we had to make very important reads. So, you know, we have to -- we don't have that traditional team that just attacks you inside, attacks you inside, very much like UCONN would do. We have to play from the outside in. The way we get it inside is drive it or backdoor it.

Q. Can you just talk about at the end there, Joe makes that big three, the confidence these guys are playing with right now, no hesitation to take the big shots?

COACH JOHN BEILEIN: It's so much like we were playing earlier in the year when we had some big wins both at home and on the road, that we -- shooters, you got to keep telling them to keep shooting it, keep shooting it, and you can't turn down an open shot. Joe does not shoot enough, right? The only guy that probably shoots it too much is my son, he's the one that shoots it more than anybody out there, but we still love him doing it. That's a joke. Joe, I got to get him to try to look at the basket as much as Patrick does. He's just as good a shooter.

Q. Does it take a special player not to hesitate in that situation, with so much on the line?

COACH JOHN BEILEIN: Yeah, I think that -- they're not thinking about it. I don't think, Joe, why don't you ask him?

Q. Do you even think about the situation there?

JOE HERBER: No, not really. I think I hit two shots before -- two threes in the game before, and it felt really good. I was open, I just let it go.

Q. John, when did you (inaudible)?

COACH JOHN BEILEIN: Actually before he shot. As a player-coach situation now here, too. (Inaudible) he's Patrick's roommate, all these guys, I love them, without question. But Mike, since his transfer, has become very close to our family because he's Patrick's roommate, so we see him a little bit more, even though we do split the bills and everything so I don't have any violations. He's a wonderful young man, and I do love him.

Q. Mike, would you explain that reverse layup in the first half.

MIKE GANSEY: You know, Joe dribbled, I think I shirted on him. It was kind of a back door, we just read it. I got it and went up. I was going to go up and lay it up, I saw Fraser, big arms, big body coming at me. That's I guess my patented move - I have one move - my reverse layup. A lot of times I do reverse layup when I have a wide open layup. It just happened so I did that, and it luckily went in.

Q. Who are you rooting for now?

COACH JOHN BEILEIN: (Laughing) that's what people ask. Neither of them. I mean, they're both -- talk about being winless or having a bad record here, I played against both - all my teams, Canisius, Wright, Richmond, here, played against both these guys, got a big goose egg against both of them. It's going to be very difficult. They have great teams. We're going to enjoy this one. Less prep maybe than we even did today. We just got to play ball right now because we're playing four games in four days. Just do our best.

Q. What about you guys?

MIKE GANSEY: Seems like at this time it doesn't matter who we play. You know, it's BIG EAST basketball, the tournament. It doesn't really matter, I guess.

Q. Coach, you're a game away from being the first BIG EAST team to go in four days. Has that been on your mind?

COACH JOHN BEILEIN: No, not one -- a gentleman just said to me a second ago -- no. But I tell you what, when we practice four days in a row, we practice pretty darn hard. That's one of our problems, when I say "dive on the floor," these guys dive on the floor. We're not as athletic as some teams, so we wear down. So they've been through this all year long. Four of our practices are hopefully - you have to ask them - are as tough as four games. But at the same time, we're playing against our scout team. We're not playing against Hakim and Charlie Villanueva and all those guys out there.

Q. Can you give me the Reader's Digest version of transferring.

COACH JOHN BEILEIN: When he transferred? It's really unique. When I was at Richmond, we played St. Bonaventure two times - once in the tournament and then once at Olean, where I had some experience getting my butt kicked in Olean before. We're watching film. He's from Cleveland, Ohio. In Richmond, I said, "We got to get guys like Mike Gansey. Mike Gansey belongs at places like Richmond." When we came to West Virginia, you know, we've had success having a transfer almost every year. When we heard that Mike was going to transfer, we went after him like he was the top recruit in the country, and like he was LeBron James to us at that time. He was the No. 1 guy that we wanted, because he fits how we play and the personality of our team.

Q. Can you talk about overcoming adversity, Sally gets sick, Frank Young steps in. Earlier in the year, Pittsnogle steps in.

COACH JOHN BEILEIN: I think we really pride in these kids of not being kids that have excuses or finger-point for others and blame their problems on other people, take ownership of your life and take ownership of this team. They did that. Adversity always seems to do this. Tyrone was not in a good zone out there today still. He'll be back tomorrow because we're going to need his -- he should be fresh tomorrow. But these kids, Frank Young has been waiting all year, all year, all year, and we just tell him stay with it, stay with it, stay with it, and now it comes, now it happens. So I think it's a great lesson in life for them right now about whether your job, your marriage, whatever's going on, stick with things and make them work, take responsibility, don't point fingers.

Q. Coach, in this league you have to execute the lead in the second half. You've been able to do that more in this month than in February, than you were in January. What's the difference?

COACH JOHN BEILEIN: I don't think we had the lead a whole lot in January. We ran into that span of Villanova and Notre Dame. We're better when we have the lead. I mean, there's no question about it, because we're not a great comeback team. We start pressing with this team, it's probably not a good game plan. So we need to have the lead. Once we got the lead, we're pretty good at shortening the game and trying to find opportunities to score while we defend. But like I say, Villanova played, you look at the stats, we didn't defend them as well as we would have liked to, but we were able to win the game.

Q. John, does this team have enough left in the tank?

COACH JOHN BEILEIN: Oh, yeah. Knowing these guys right now, and because we are -- have gotten deeper with Frank's emergence, Luke Bonner coming in today, we'll play tomorrow, probably a 10-man rotation. So everybody's just got to give us enough. We got some rest for some people today, and we'll try and do that again tomorrow. I don't think that will be -- I hope that's not an issue. The issue is gonna be the talent, once again, that we're going to face. We're going to have to do another 13-for-25 to have a chance.

THE MODERATOR: West Virginia, thank you.

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