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April 2, 2007

Mike Conley, Jr.

Ron Lewis

Thad Matta


THE MODERATOR: I'll ask Coach Matta for an opening statement.
COACH MATTA: Well, I think, as I told the guys, this game came down to making plays. And, you know, Florida, a couple of the plays they made down the stretch were key. We got it to six. We just couldn't overcome it.
You know, the freakish plays that happened, at times I felt like it was their night. Loose balls, pickup, baskets shot from the corner, hits the side of the backboard, gets tipped to Humphrey for a three, which is a credit to them.
I thought we fought about as hard as we could. We just couldn't turn the corner on them, which is what teams like that do to you. Give them the credit.
But, you know, spectacular season for these guys. I could not be prouder. Honestly don't have words to describe my feelings and my emotions for our basketball team right now.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Mike or Ron.

Q. Mike, as far as the way Greg was dominating, do you feel you got the ball to him enough?
MIKE CONLEY, JR.: Definitely, we got him the ball early and often. He did a great job tonight. You know, it hurts to lose any game. It's been a while since we lost a post-season game like this. To make it this far, you know, it was a great run, you know, with seniors and the guys.
I don't know what else to say about the team.

Q. Every time you seemed ready to make a run, would cut it to six, Humphrey or Green would nail a three. How deflating was that?
RON LEWIS: It was real deflating. You try to make a run and they came back every time. It showed how much their veterans and their leaders came ready to play. I tip my hat off to Florida. They played a good basketball game.
MIKE CONLEY, JR.: Definitely, we tried to make runs throughout the game. Their key players stepped up in the big-time situations. That's why they're national champions again. You know, they're a great team. They're deserving of it.

Q. How frustrating was the three-point disparity? They were 10-18, you were 4-23. Is that frustrating?
RON LEWIS: Yeah, it is frustrating. When you're trying to get back in the game, you're out there shooting, thinking and knowing it's about to fall for you, but it's not going in for you. It's real frustrating.
But we had to find ways to score. I mean, Greg was our only option at that point, and Mike driving the basketball. But when the threes weren't going for us, they were just countering it.

Q. Mike, could you talk about how the early foul trouble may have affected you, particularly that last eight or nine minutes the first half.
MIKE CONLEY, JR.: You know, it was a big factor. I couldn't be as aggressive as I wanted to be with two fouls out there. I didn't want to pick up the third foul before going into halftime.
I think that really hurt me mentally going out there trying to be physical and aggressive, but at the same time not foul. I kind of took a backseat for a while. That really affected.

Q. Entering the game a lot of people seemed to think that the key would be keeping Greg on the floor. He logged 38 minutes. Would you have thought that would have been enough for the win? Do you think for those who haven't seen him all year, was that his best performance?
RON LEWIS: Greg played a great game. He fought hard. He did everything he needed to do in his power and his will to do on the offensive end and defensive end.
I think it was one of his best performances, staying out of foul trouble and doing the things he needed to do to help this basketball team.
MIKE CONLEY, JR.: Yeah, we pretty much got every and anything out of Greg tonight. He played a great game. Helped us offensively and defensively. But, you know, our team needed to play as well as he was tonight by the way Florida was playing. You know, that was the key.

Q. Ron, you and Jamar came into the Final Four probably shooting in the 40% from three. Not only tonight but in the Georgetown game, you had a tough time outside of the arc. Can you give any reason why the shots fell the first two weekends and not this weekend?
RON LEWIS: I have no clue. I mean, we still had our same confidence going into this week that we did the prior week. It just wasn't falling for us. It just wasn't our night.

Q. Mike, just wondering, were you at the Final Four in Indianapolis last year? Can you talk about Taurean Green, what you may have learned from him either back then, then going against a guy who has a lot of experience that plays the same position as you?
MIKE CONLEY, JR.: Yeah, I didn't attend it last year. I just watched it on television. Last year watching him play, I could see what kind of guard he is. He's a good guard offensively and can score and get his teammates involved. He's very unselfish.
You know, I tried to do my best against him tonight. He's deserving of the national championship. He played better tonight. You know, he did the little things to make his team win. You know, that's the best thing having a point guard is to get a win, and he did that tonight.
THE MODERATOR: Mike and Ron, thank you very much for joining us. Congratulations on a great season.
Questions for Coach Matta, please.

Q. Second half, there was a about a seven-minute stretch I charted where it looked like I don't think Greg got a shot. Did you get him the ball as much as you wanted to? Could you have gotten more out of him maybe?

Q. Obviously this is a great team you lost to. Could you put them in a little bit of historical perspective for us? Do you think that Florida team will be remembered as one of the all-time greats?
COACH MATTA: I think so. I mean, they've got really everything, you know. Like I said, we made some major, major mistakes defensively, and great teams make you pay.
But for the most part I thought our defense was pretty sound. You know, where they got us in the first half, I think they scored seven straight points off fouls and we fouled a three-point shooter. I can't remember, but we take away Green off the ball screen, Al Horford drives and shoots a sweeping hook off the glass, it goes in. They pick and pop. Richard shoots a 12-footer. That's what they do. That's what makes 'em so hard to guard.
So I would put them in a category of probably one of the best teams to win. You're going to see those guys playing a lot of basketball down the stretch, for many years ahead I should say.

Q. In the first half especially, it looked on a lot of their three-point shots off that high screen that Greg was hanging back in the lane. Was that because you got burned in the first game by their guard penetration, or you were afraid of giving up second-chance points or what?
COACH MATTA: Yeah, both, all three that you mentioned there (smiling). You know, when Green came off there late and hit that one from 24 feet, it was like, you know, My gosh, what do we do next? The one that Humphrey hit in the corner, Michael, I mean, I thought he was there and challenged.
You know, they just did an incredible job of making threes. That was one of the things that we wanted to hone in on and really try to limit and take away their threes. I thought our post guys, you know, fought like crazy and for the most part did a heck of a job there.
But they just, you know, a couple of them sort of freakish type threes that, you know, just were daggers for us.

Q. Can you reflect on Greg and Mike's game tonight.
COACH MATTA: Well, I think that, you know, both guys played exceptionally well. You know, I think Michael got a little bit, as he said, limited with the two fouls there in the first half. You know, Greg was -- really did a tremendous job of scoring the ball, finishing the ball. They chose to go with the single coverage. When teams do that, really the difference in the game, we need to make a couple more shots from the outside.
You know, it just didn't happen for us.

Q. Following up on what I was asking about the point guard play earlier, Mike and Taurean, can you talk about the play of those two players?
COACH MATTA: I've said, you know, when you have a point guard that's won a national championship and he's back, his supporting cast around him, you know, their chemistry is tremendous. Taurean, he just seems to know when. Honestly, very similar to Michael, I think.
I couldn't be more pleased with Michael Conley as a freshman in front of 51,000 people, the job that he did tonight, and quite honestly the job he's done all year.

Q. When Mike Conley gets in foul trouble, he's the catalyst that gets this offense going. I don't want to say that's why you shot poorly from the three-point line. Did you have trouble getting in an offensive rhythm when he's a little bit limited?
COACH MATTA: Yeah, I think we did. But, you know, I thought we got some pretty decent looks that just didn't go down for us. You know, we've been in this situation before. We've had to play with Michael out. But, you know, I chose to go back with him 'cause I was looking for the flow and for him to make some plays for us.

Q. If this was Greg's last game, he gave everybody watching something to remember. What is your gut feeling on whether he's going to be back?
COACH MATTA: I have no idea. My gut, I really don't know. I think Gregory and I will sit down when we get back and kind of talk. The great thing about him, I know he hasn't thought about it. You know, everybody kind of stuck to what we said we were going to do, and that was going to be to compete for the national championship. We got here.
And now I think, you know, sit down when we get back, take a look at everything and see what he wants to do. But honestly I couldn't even give you a percentage right now because we've never discussed it.
THE MODERATOR: Coach Matta, thank you very much for joining us.
COACH MATTA: Thank you.

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