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March 27, 2007

John Beilein

Darris Nichols

Frank Young


COACH JOHN BEILEIN: Now, if anybody ever would be disappointed to play in the NIT, they are absolutely crazy. That was a great basketball game and a great atmosphere, and I'm so proud of these two guys and all of our team for how we hung in there. Very, very similar to our Louisville game where the ball didn't bounce our way late and this time it certainly did.
Mississippi State had a great year. They have a tremendous coach and great players, and either team, you know, was certainly capable of winning that game.

Q. After the Texas game in the NCAA Tournament last year, was it a little dejavu?
FRANK YOUNG: No, I actually didn't even think about that. Only part of my mind was I was happy that Darris hit that shot. I was really excited. Darris almost made me cry, that he extended my career for one more game. I was just excited. That didn't even come to my mind.

Q. Did you intentionally step back? It looked like you did?
DARRIS NICHOLS: Yeah, I stepped back, I didn't know where he was on the floor but I knew we needed a three to win it, so just stepped back into it.

Q. Did you know for sure that was a three or were you a little bit in doubt?
DARRIS NICHOLS: I was a little in doubt because I didn't know where I was on the floor.

Q. Were you going for the three, was there a specific call?
COACH JOHN BEILEIN: Yeah, we said we were not going to take a two but we would win the game. Now, if it's not there, if you don't have the three -- but if you have the three and obviously put our two best, we're running those, a play, by the way, that I got from Danny Nate this fall, and I thanked him several times on ESPN. Probably thanked him twice with the emotions, three times but he was a coach at Nebraska and gave me a couple of ideas.

Q. Was the option Darris?
COACH JOHN BEILEIN: The first option was Darris and the second would have been Frank. If they guard one -- you know, we felt good about either one and Alex, you have to give him credit for the pass there.
I didn't dream up that play. That was given to me in a little bit of a coaching sit-down and it's worked twice now; not to win a game, but it's worked twice.

Q. It seemed like after they had got the big lead early in the second half, it seemed like your rebounding actually started getting you guys back in the game, that's kind of unusual for your bunch.
COACH JOHN BEILEIN: Yeah, I thought we competed. We had several breaks not go our way at the end of the first half. We had a terrific point guard in foul trouble. We had three freshmen in the lineup and so does Mississippi State. We lost a little bit of that consistency we had at the midpoint the first half and then second half we just came out and either had a couple tough breaks, had open shots, missed them, and they buried a few.
I really did not doubt that we would hang in there. I didn't know if we would come back and win it though.

Q. On top of that, it seemed like all of the offense was penetration -- after Frank hit a three, and then everything after that was off penetration; was that kind of the plan?
COACH JOHN BEILEIN: No, the way they were guarding us, we ended up getting into -- when they are up in you, you are not going to be able to shoot a lot of 3s. People play us one way, we're going to counter another way. Part of the plan was penetration -- when you have a guy like him and a shooter like him on the wing, you don't have to be smart to know that's a great option.

Q. When did Danny give that you play?
COACH JOHN BEILEIN: At my coaching clinic. We had him come in and speak at my coaching clinic in November, and he was talking with some coaches, and then we ended up putting it in after he -- actually, we had it, we had a scrimmage at the end of our clinic with a couple hundred coaches there. It ended up being in a tie with like two seconds to go, and he had talked about in his clinic. I had Danny huddle with my team, it was part of the clinic -- we didn't make it did we?
COACH JOHN BEILEIN: But I'm glad we made it in there and not in the coaching clinic.

Q. How confident were you that it was going in?
DARRIS NICHOLS: I really could not see because I was contested very well. He had a hand in my face and I saw in go in. You know, it was a great screen and a great pass.

Q. Were they contesting time on the score board?
COACH JOHN BEILEIN: I don't know. I was just hoping the officials would walk into the locker room, that's all I wanted. We were preparing our team for .01 on the clock, a tap in, I never thought the 3 was in question. He had a habit in his first year, he always stepped on the line. We would still be playing now if he was a freshman, he's got great ring.
And you know what, his dad and mom were sitting right there, just to the left, they were sitting there watching the whole thing, not more than 20 feet away. What a great thing for parents to come up from Radford and see that.

Q. Defensively they were getting great penetration, you slowed them down during your run; how did you slow that down?
COACH JOHN BEILEIN: I don't know that we did. They are good. They have terrific quickness and the ability to just create for themselves. They have young kids, we have young kids. Whoever got the ball bounced their way at the end is going to be a difference.
I don't know that we would have kept them from getting to the rim as much as would I have liked to.

Q. Playing for an NIT championship, has it hit yet?
COACH JOHN BEILEIN: No, I think tomorrow when we get out here and practice a little bit. These two have played for the BIG EAST championship before and as good as it was, I'm sure they are going to want a different ending. Looking at these two teams out here, we are going to have our hands full.

Q. What did you do to stop Charles Rhodes?
COACH JOHN BEILEIN: He's a very, very talented player. Just try and give him as much team attention as we could give him.

Q. Could you compare this feeling with the NIT, as opposed to BIG EAST championship, NCAA Tournaments you've been in, what does this feel like compared to those?
FRANK YOUNG: I would definitely compare it to the runs we made in the NCAA, because all of the emotion is still there. Some people might contest that it's not as much emotion because it's the NIT and not the NCAA. When you get a run and the crowd and you get into and see Darris hit a shot like that, it's just the same as the great run we made two years ago and that comeback we made against Wake Forest. All the emotion is still the same, and it's fun to play another day.

Q. You mentioned late in games a couple of times, you said to some guys in the huddle, I don't want this to be the last time; did that happen at all tonight?
FRANK YOUNG: Yeah, I said that a couple of times in the huddles and it really transferred to how hard we started to play defense in the second half. We clammed down and they penetrated but we really made them take tough contested layups instead of some of the easy layups that they were getting early in the second half.

Q. Darris, when you hear that in the huddle from Frank, what does that mean to you?
DARRIS NICHOLS: When I hear that from a guy like Frank who means so much to the program, it makes me buckle down and play harder, and same for the rest of the guys.

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