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April 1, 2006

Billy Donovan

Tauren Green

Lee Humphrey


THE MODERATOR: Coach Donovan, we'll ask you to make an opening statement, please.
COACH BILLY DONOVAN: Coming into the game against George Mason, one of the things besides a great story that I didn't think that was really talked about a lot with their team was the fact that if you look at their team during the course of the season, they were shooting about 32% from the three-point line. To me, the reason why they skyrocketed so much in this NCAA tournament is because of the three-point line.
Their shooting percentage over a four-game period went from 32, 33% all the way up to 42%. It reminded me a lot of the Indiana team with Mike Davis who had a very similar jump from the three-point line. I've said this, the three-point line is the greatest equalizer in college basketball.
I know against Connecticut, everybody talked about Lewis, they talked about Thomas, whatever it was, 39 points, 29 rebounds, whatever it was. No one talked about the fact that they were 9 for 18 from the three-point line.
We really talked a lot about the three-point line and trying to change and mix up double teams on Lewis and Thomas just to try to keep them off balance.
The big focus for us was the three-point line. I think we were able to hold them without a three-point shot for the first 35 minutes. We shot 34% in the first half, but the fact that we shot 40% from the three-point line in the first half gave us a five-point lead.
I thought in the second half our ball movement offensively, we were able to work inside out. Lee Humphrey shot it well. Taurean did a good job of running our team. We had a little better balance in the second half and we still continued to defend the three. That was a big concern for myself going into this game.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Taurean and Lee first, please.
Q. Lee, can you talk about the coincidence of meeting Peyton just a few days ago, if that motivated you, the timing of that?
LEE HUMPHREY: It was very exciting for me to meet Peyton. I don't know how much that translated into the game today. I was very excited to meet him. But I think teammates did a great job of finding me. They got me good looks. I think just shot the ball well today.
Q. Lee, I understand the coach told you at halftime to keep shooting. When you hit the first three in the second half, did the basket get really big in your eyes?
LEE HUMPHREY: I felt good the whole night shooting the ball. Coach always does a great job of telling me of instilling confidence in me, showing that the team has confidence in me as well.
I did feel good shooting the ball the second half. I definitely felt like my shot felt good.
Q. Lee, some people say it's hard to shoot in domes, especially threes. Was it not a problem for you?
LEE HUMPHREY: I think you just have to try to get used to it. You try to get as many shots up in warm-ups and shoot around the day before. When the game starts, you don't really think about the background; you focus on the basket, what you need to do to help your team win.
I think the shooting background is at the back of your mind. You don't really think about it during the game.
Q. Taurean, the three threes that Lee hit in the first two minutes of the second half, that gave you a big cushion. Was that kind of where the game really turned in your mind?
TAUREAN GREEN: Those three threes that he hit were big. Just opened up the game. They did a good job of responding. They hit a couple threes late in the second half. I mean, those three threes were big, just opened the game up.
Q. Taurean, do you see something in Lee's eyes when he's on?
TAUREAN GREEN: You know, every time Lee shoots it, I think it's going in. He's just that good of a shooter. When he gets it going, you can just tell by the way he releases it 'cause every time he shoots it, he knows it's going in. In his head, he's like, "That's good."
Q. Lee, do you think maybe Peyton Manning could take some tips at how to perform in a big game?
LEE HUMPHREY: I don't know about that (laughter). Peyton, he's performed well in some big games in his time, too. I don't know if he can take any tips from me. We play two different sports.
Q. Lee, I wonder if playing last week in a dome might have helped you deal with the background and perspective and things like that this time around.
LEE HUMPHREY: I think it definitely couldn't have hurt because both of these gyms are really similar. Any time you play in a similar environment, it can't hurt. It might have paid off some.
Q. Can you take us back to the bicycle accident, what you were thinking, how long it took you to get back to the way you were playing.
LEE HUMPHREY: When I first had the bicycle accident, I know -- I got up and I was just thinking -- I didn't think I was really hurt that bad. I jumped back on the bike, was riding back to the dorm. My shoulder started hurting. I looked down at it. I said, "Wow, that can't be good." We were about to go eat at Amato's (ph). That's one of the team's favorite places to eat. Duke, our trainer, and I had to miss that meal. That was kind of disappointing.
The staff did a great job of taking care of me and getting me back quickly. They just did a great job. It wasn't too long of a recovery, which was good.
Q. You're in the national title game. How does it feel?
TAUREAN GREEN: It's a great feeling. We're just happy we get the opportunity to play for a national championship.
LEE HUMPHREY: It's very exciting. As a college basketball player, this is what you want a chance to have the opportunity to do. We do. It's been an exciting, exciting week for us.
Q. Lee, was there something that you guys maybe saw from the first half that was kind of open for you in the second half in terms of the threes?
LEE HUMPHREY: We wanted to go inside out. We took quite a few threes the first half. We shot at a pretty good percentage, but we still took quite a bit of threes.
Our big guys did a great job of kicking back out. Then we got some in transition. We also thought that we could take advantage of pick-and-rolls. I think we did a better job in the second half of using pick-and-rolls and paying attention of what coach told us during halftime.
THE MODERATOR: Lee and Taurean, congratulations. We'll let you go back to the locker room. We'll take questions now for Coach Donovan.
Q. Billy, obviously Lee's threes were big, but talk about his perimeter defense.
COACH BILLY DONOVAN: Well, I think the one thing with George Mason's team that's so impressive is their balance. They've got two very, very good scorers in the low post. Then they have very good balance on the perimeter. I thought in the game, our ability to be able to guard them, not only from the three-point line, but off the dribble, was going to be important.
They did hurt us with some dribble penetration there when they made a run at us in the second half. But I've said this all along, Lee is one of our better perimeter defenders in terms of just accountability, reliability, knowing exactly what we need. He's got the ability to guard the ball and he's got the ability to get around screens.
Q. Six years ago you played for the national championship. How are you a different coach from that day to this day?
COACH BILLY DONOVAN: Well, I look at coaching, you know, a little bit differently. I think one of the things in an event like this or just over the years, to me the coaching part of it is these guys in terms of helping them understand what it is to work, what it is to get better, what it is to be part of a team. Because once they leave here, those are all the things they're going to have to carry with them in life.
I would say that one of the things that I derive a great deal of pleasure from is having an opportunity to see these kids go through something like this. I've been very, very blessed and fortunate. This is the fourth time I've had a chance in my lifetime to be at the Final Four. I'm very, very thankful. There's a lot of great players, great teams, coaches, people that never get a chance to deal with it.
One of the things I would say for me is I get a lot of pleasure watching other people, you know, happy. How I've changed as a coach? Hopefully every day you try to get better, you try to improve. I don't know if there's any drastic change. I've often said this. The NCAA tournament to me, what's the lottery motto? You got to be in it to win it. It is what it is. If you get in enough, you're going to have a chance to make something happen.
This is a totally different entity from the season. It really is completely different. It's got nothing to do with the regular season. I think once you get in, anything can happen.
Q. In addition to your defense on the perimeter, it looked like you felt Thomas couldn't necessarily hurt Joakim. It looked like you really freed him up. Is that accurate? How do you think he responded defensively?
COACH BILLY DONOVAN: I don't know. I was very, very impressed with both Lewis and Thomas in the front court, what they've done in this tournament. But I also think the thing that has made them so effective is they've had balance from the perimeter with Skinn, Butler and Campbell. Sometimes we double-teamed, other teams we didn't double. Really what we tried to do is we told our guys if they could get close. The thing to me that Lewis and Thomas do a great job of is, if you come late on double teams on them, they're terrific passers and they find people. There was times, you know, that we were just caught one-on-one. It wasn't really that we felt Joakim could guard him, we just didn't want to give up a layup or a wide-open three. We talked a lot about having to be there on the catch. Sometimes we were there on the catch and other times we weren't.
Q. Was there any awkwardness at all in going against a George Mason team that had obviously been such a big national story?
COACH BILLY DONOVAN: No. You know, not really. I've said this before. What they've been able to do this year has been great for college basketball. I think for someone like Jim Larranaga who is a Providence College grad, I have great respect and admiration for, heard his name so much while I was at Providence, and to see their kids enjoy.
I said it earlier, a lot of kids and good players, good coaches, good teams don't get a chance to experience what they've experienced. I think in this tournament, they've been able to inspire a lot of different people, people that maybe are really, really in need.
I heard Jim talk about some stories of some people and letters he's gotten. To me that's what this team has been all about, George Mason. There's no resentment on our team, our team feeling like they got all the attention, slighted. To us, it's been the same thing all year long. Whether it said across their jersey Cinderella, George Mason or another team, for us our basketball team, it's just a matter of going out there playing.
Our kids were feeling the same thing that George Mason kids were feeling. The feeling was not any different between teams. But because of Super Tuesday, all this ESPN, national TV stuff, the conferences that get the most exposure are the major conferences. Nobody in the United States of America had a chance to watch this team play. Maybe on a BracketBuster game, maybe in their conference semifinals, you had a chance to watch them play.
I enjoyed watching them play on tape just because they were a team. They played together, they played passionately and hard. But in terms of our team, there was no awkwardness against it. I said this, when the ball goes up at 6:00, all the stuff that's been written and talked about is out the window. It's two teams that I think are very well balanced going against each other. We happened and were fortunate to maybe come out on top.
But I'm happy for their kids. I'm happy for Coach Larranaga. I'm happy for them because what a great experience.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, coach.

End of FastScripts...

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