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March 20, 2008

Wink Adams

Joe Darger

Lon Kruger

Rene Rougeau


THE MODERATOR: The victorious Running Rebels of UNLV Mountain West conference are with us. Same procedures as the first game. We're going to ask head coach Lon Kruger to start with a statement. Then we'll have questions for just the three student athletes and then we'll dismiss them and stay with Lon.
COACH KRUGER: Thank you. Really, really felt good about the way our guys opened the ball game. I thought defensively really sharp, talking well, making aggressive switches and getting a lot of the loose balls. I thought that was a big key in the first half. Loose balls we got on the floor after and converted some of those into transition points going the other way. Just a really good win over what I think is a really good Kent State club.
Again, proud of the way our guys opened it and especially played in the first half.

Q. Wonder if you could talk about the defensive effort you guys had in the first half and if you could sense some frustration with what Kent was going through when they were out there? I know at one time they were like 3 for 20.
JOE DARGER: I thought our guards and our entire team did a great job of talking and switching and making it easy for us guys on the inside to be able to stay in front, did a great job of just a whole team effort.
WINK ADAMS: I think all season, we've been kind of starting off slow. And tonight we just wanted to come out and kind of just start off pretty fast on the defensive end and let it dictate to the offense.
I think tonight everybody was talking to everybody, was just playing great defense. And we was all helping each other. That's why we was able to play good team defense.
RENÉ ROUGEAU: Like Wink said, everybody was rebounding, I seen guys in there that usually aren't in there. So it made me real proud to see guys come off the bench working hard on those rebounds and loose balls, you know, everyone diving and taking charges and I think everyone just gave a great effort tonight.
We definitely wanted it, you know, Coach has worked so hard with us and he's definitely stayed with us. And we definitely wanted to make a statement tonight to the whole tournament.

Q. Joe, can you talk a little bit about playing out of position and what it was like to be able to go and launch some 3-pointers this afternoon and get back into to your natural role?
JOE DARGER: It's been like that all year. Ever since the beginning, the coaching staff and the team did a great job of putting together a game plan and my teammates did a great job of executing it and finding the open guy.
Curt and Wink and René getting to the middle, helping the big guys help out, leaves me open. So my hat's off to my teammates and my coaches for that.

Q. Do you have a preference where you're playing on the court -- do you have a preference on where you play on the floor, to follow up with that real quick?
JOE DARGER: I like to play outside a little more. Whatever I gotta do to help the team win is what I'm there for.

Q. Wink, you had the flu all week. You looked pretty good out there, how did you feel today?
WINK ADAMS: (Smiling) I felt really good. At practice I kind of sweated it off, ran up and down the court. It felt good. Just drinking a lot of liquids a lot of water, drinking a lot of Gatorade and tonight I felt really good.
I wasn't fatigued like I used to be, and tonight I was just able to get up and down the court with no problem.

Q. René, today on CBS Clark Kellogg and Seth Davis both picked Kent State to win the game, all week the so-called experts were picking Kent State. Did you see that and why do you think nobody -- they didn't expect UNLV to win?
RENÉ ROUGEAU: No, I actually didn't see that. Probably a good thing I was asleep. We try not to watch that too much, try not to get into that too much. We definitely watch other teams and you know follow up on other people. But we like being the underdog. We've been the underdog all year.
So going into the Kansas game we'll definitely be the underdog. I'm sure no one will think we'll win that game also. So we just have to come with it all week.

Q. René, Coach talked in the last few weeks the experience that even people like you didn't have a huge role in the NCAA tournament unless you're around it. These kids who are around it, can you talk about that? When they're going through their struggles in the first half, you have been at the NCAA tournament, did you feel you had the upper hand in terms of getting through any rough patches or anything like that?
RENÉ ROUGEAU: Without a doubt. I just really -- I was sitting on the bench last year I watched Wendell and Joel and Gaston. And I really looked up to those guys.
I knew this year I had to be someone we could look up. Whatever it is, I'm definitely the energy guy. I set that tone. I know if I'm bringing a lot of energy, I know a lot of guys are willing to play tonight.

Q. Can you answer that as well in terms of guys who this year obviously have bigger roles than last year, what did you see from guys like that this time?
WINK ADAMS: I think tonight just guys just came out and wanted to win came out and played with a lot of confidence. I think everybody knew what we had to do to win games. And me, Kurt, Michael Umeh last year, we stressed it. We talked about it, how intense it would be. Anybody can lose. You just leave it on the floor.
I think tonight everybody took it in and did a great job while we were on the floor.

Q. Wink and Joe, can you both talk about how many times you had seen Kansas play this year and what type of game do you expect on Saturday?
JOE DARGER: I've seen them play a couple times. I know they like to get out and run. They're a bigger team. We just gotta try to get up and take things away and play the way we've been playing all year.
WINK ADAMS: I've been watching Kansas play all season. Every time you turn on the TV, they're on playing. But as a team, I enjoy watching them play. They're a team that plays together. That's what makes them so effective.
And they've got great athleticism, they can shoot it. They have a great in-style presence, a great all-around team. We'll go out tomorrow and play our game and hopefully we can come out with a win.

Q. Joe, can you talk about the 3-pointers you hit in the second half and the one you banked in?
JOE DARGER: My teammates did a great job of looking for me and finding me when I was open. I was able to knock those down, and the bank shot, I felt it slipping out of my hand a little bit, so I shot it a little harder, it went in for me. I was happy it went in.
THE MODERATOR: Gentlemen, thank you very much for your time. Congratulations.

Q. Back late November and December, could you have envisioned this team preparing for not just the tournament, for a second round game in the tournament, having won a game in the tournament, getting ready to play a No. 1 seed?
COACH KRUGER: Back in October, November, there were a ton of questions about this team, about who was going to step forward, who was going to play what role, especially given the loss of the five seniors from last year.
Yet, this group, from day one, just lined up like they expected good things to happen. They worked awfully hard. They very definitely -- they're a close group. They are very unselfish on the court. Everyone knew Wink was going to be at the core of everything that was happening out there. They were very comfortable with that.
Then just different guys rallied around him and stepped up at different times and the confidence grew with each week of good play and good results, and they've consistently made progress from start to today.
So, again, their attitude is such that they expected good things to happen and no one ever kept them from it.

Q. What did you want to do right out of the gate against them defensively? Looked like you really went after Fisher early in particular. Was that the case? Or just kind of break it down for us.
COACH KRUGER: Fisher is such a good player. They've got a lot of good players. But I think it starts with Fisher. And we recognized that he was kind of their key guy. And didn't do anything really differently on him. We always tried to pressure the ball on the perimeter and tried to keep them from getting into their activity on the offensive end.
And the perimeter guys do a good job, hopefully keep him from looking inside comfortably, and that helps out our inside guys who are working hard to overcome some lack of size.
But generally, like the guys mentioned, a lot of good communication, a lot of good, aggressive switching, kept them from getting into their offense in the first half.

Q. You touched on it as far as your lack of size goes. What is it about Joe that makes him so special as being able to switch from being a natural guard to what he's been able to do this year?
COACH KRUGER: Joe's great. His attitude about whatever he has to do about the team. He's lined up against big guys all year and taken some blows. He's lost some battles, but he's won the majority of them. Really, Joe's -- he's a smart guy that knows how to play and knows how to kind of subtly get people doing things they don't normally do and maybe just a little stride farther out on the floor than normal.
He's got a real good feel for how to subtly make a difference in there defensively. And loves to compete.

Q. When you see a team struggling the way they were in the first half, what do you tell your guys to try to keep that going? Obviously they looked like they just couldn't get comfortable at all.
COACH KRUGER: Exactly that, because you know Kent's a good ball club. When they just don't quite have it going it's important to widen the lead as much as you possibly can during that time. Because once they turned it around obviously showed in the second half that the two clubs were pretty even. I think we played 10 times, it probably would be five-five, as eight, nines normally are, but the ability to widen the lead in the first half was obviously the difference in the ball game.

Q. Lon, have you coached against Kansas since leaving Kansas State?
COACH KRUGER: Yeah, when we were in Florida, came back up. Had a home and home with KU during our time down there, but I don't think any other time. It wasn't a good experience either time.

Q. Really seemed like in the first half on both offense and defense you tried to keep them out of the paint and forced them to be around the perimeter. Do you think that was the key to the reason why you guys got the big lead?
COACH KRUGER: I think our perimeter guys did a good job of not letting them start their offense where they would typically want to. I thought we had them out a little farther on the floor, made passes a little longer changes the timing a little bit of what they want to do. Again helps our inside guys overcome the lack of size with their positioning inside.
Guys did a pretty good job of helping each other that way all year.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach.

End of FastScripts
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