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March 21, 2008

Rob Ferguson

Phil Martelli

Ahmad Nivins


THE MODERATOR: We'll go ahead and get started with an opening statement from Coach Martelli and then take questions for the student-athletes.
COACH MARTELLI: Well, we offer our congratulations to Oklahoma, wish them well going forward. And the beauty of the tournament is the young guy getting 25 points, comes in averaging eight, those things kind of happen.
Technically, it got away from us in the last 8:07 of the first half. We had 13 possessions, six turnovers, one for five from the field and one for four from the foul line and then you're working your way back uphill.
We kind of felt sorry for ourselves at half time. I didn't think we came out with the proper frame of mind in the second half and they made us pay. And then we spent the rest of the game trying to get a game feel to it. Put a little game pressure on them.
Unfortunately, for all the excitement that goes into being in the tournament, this is the reality. 32 teams go home and we're one of those teams.

Q. For either of you guys, of all the Oklahoma guys to kind of go off did you expect it would be David Godbold?
ROB FERGUSON: Well, the way we prepared, we prepared for like to guard everybody. And it was unexpected, but we were also prepared for it. And it just kind of got out of hand.

Q. For both of you, can you talk about the difference of running into a front line like Oklahoma has where you don't really run into something like that in the Atlantic 10, with that size and strength down on the blocks and they seemed to really kind of take advantage of having that size like you guys talked about leading up to today.
AHMAD NIVINS: Oklahoma has a really talented front court. And the fact that they have been, they have seen every kind of double team and every kind of trap in the post helped them a lot in this game. But we just wanted to attack them and try to keep them off balance. But they it seemed as if they were more relaxed and we just had to fight uphill for the rest of the game and we didn't come home with a win.
ROB FERGUSON: Well, we played against many different types of front courts, but that was obviously the biggest and the strongest that we played against. And it was a challenge. I think for the most part that we stepped up to it. But like Ahmad said, we, at the end, we lost the game.

Q. Rob, can you talk about your offensive performance tonight, you came out hot right from the start and led through the day. Were you just feeling good or what was that a product of?
ROB FERGUSON: Well that was just the fact that I just didn't want to go home today. The way we practiced the past couple of days, I felt like that we couldn't lose and like my confidence was high and I just felt like my whole team had my back. And that's it.

Q. For either of you guys, what happened, what were they doing at the end of the first half to kind of clamp down on you guys defensively?
ROB FERGUSON: Well I don't feel like it was they were clamping down on us, towards the end we kind of gave the game away. Like we had unforced turnovers, dropping passes, throwing the ball away, and like that was kind of -- that was for the most part that was on us.
AHMAD NIVINS: I think we kind of dug a hole for ourselves offensively. And just plays that we normally can execute, we didn't execute. I think that was a huge momentum swing. Especially at the end of the half. And I think that's why it got as ugly as it did.

Q. Guys, at points in the second half did they start to seem like the hole was too deep, the 19 point deficit in the second half, I mean storming back you got to within four, but did it just get too large there in the second half?
ROB FERGUSON: I don't think so, because we have been in holes before and we fought our way back into it and we won games like that. And we also lost games. But we never once felt like we were out of it. We just kept fighting and fighting, because that's what we do.

Q. For both guys, there's a stretch there, especially Ahmad, you had a, you were doing pretty well on defense without drawing fouls, you got unlucky in a couple of minutes and had a couple guys foul out at the end. What impact did that have on your continuity just trying to make this comeback?
AHMAD NIVINS: Well you're going to have troubles like that. Especially in a tournament like this. You are going to, you're not going to get some calls, things aren't going to go your way, shots aren't going to fall. But it's just a matter of staying together and keeping fighting. And we had it, but we let it out of our grasp and now we're on the losing end.
THE MODERATOR: Okay. Thank you guys, you can head back to your locker room, if you would like. Take questions for coach.

Q. In that last eight minutes of the first half, how much of it was their defense or do you feel your team may have lost its poise for awhile?
COACH MARTELLI: I think we played faster than would normally be a positive situation for us. I just think we started to go just a tad faster. And we're not a team that should play fast, we should play quick.
I think there was a little bit of a cushion that we gave them a mental cushion, in that we had it and were comfortable the way the game was being played and then when they really turned it up a notch, I don't think that we turned up our thought process as high as it should have been.

Q. Kind of like I asked the players, of all the guys on the on your scouting or whatever, where is Godbold on the list and how surprised were you when he kind of went off like that?
COACH MARTELLI: Well the guy that we had as the wild card to be honest with you was Crocker. If you study their numbers, and their wins, their third scorer has always been Crocker. We studied it enough to know that it was Crocker, we actually started the game with our post double team being off of Godbold. We didn't know that Godbold would start until 20 minutes before the game.
I wouldn't change it. I would not change it. And in the second half, when he got going a little bit, I think that to be honest with you, again, we were feeling sorry for ourselves at the offensive end of the floor, and not really executing defensively.
We obviously changed our post defense trap after he made a couple of shots, even in the first half. But he's not, I'm not saying that he's sixth, but he might have been fourth, but certainly Crocker was the guy that we had labeled as the wild card.

Q. You mentioned that you thought they felt sorry for themself at half time in the locker room?
COACH MARTELLI: No, no, no. I think that going into half time there was a point where you feel sorry for yourself because the ball's not going in. Now we're in there down 12 and the response offensively was okay, but we gave up 15 points in the first five minutes. And got ourselves down 19. And it was the same thing. It was just that little bit of woe is me because my ball's not going in, and not really covering everybody defensively, conference each other defensively the way that we have to to be successful.

Q. Do you think Pat struggled because of Godbold's physical play?
COACH MARTELLI: Sure. If you look at and I go back to our St. Louis game and I said to our team, the blueprint was out there now. That, bump us off, take us out of comfortable rotations of the ball, and you could get us to freeze and hold the ball. And I certainly thought that that happened. And I think that with Pat offensively it is a confidence even with all the success that he had, he was 1-7 on twos. And he's the biggest wing in the game. So it's unfortunate that he had a wonderful, wonderful year, he just didn't have a great game today.

Q. Godbold was in here talking about, as a senior he didn't want to go home. Rob said almost word for word the same thing. He also had a great game offensively, talk about what Rob has meant to the program and what he's done this year.
COACH MARTELLI: Rob Ferguson is a very interesting guy. Because he has those kind of gifts. And he's somewhat reluctant to put those gifts out there. I think sometimes when you play this game and you strive to play it at a high level you have to be willing to fail. And Rob Ferguson for three years probably wasn't willing to fail. He wanted to be safe. And he didn't want to let anybody down.
This year he was asked to come outside of himself to play a different role defensively, which he did. And by the way, I thought Ahmad and Rob Ferguson did a fine job on Longar and Blake. They had 26 points, but that's not the problem. But Rob Ferguson was asked to be more vocal, when he's not vocal. And it sounds odd, but you kind of fill up with pride when you see him with tears in his eyes, because it meant that much to him. And you hope that that message is passed on to the younger players.
Because it's really hard. You're taking off that uniform for the last time, but I do think that his performance tonight. And all year long, Rob Ferguson emptied himself, he came outside of himself, and then he emptied himself and that's all you can ask a young guy to do, really.

Q. Would you say this was one of your more unpredictable teams?
COACH MARTELLI: No, I don't think so. I know, like I know what my team is and I've known all year what my team was. So I didn't really find it to be unpredictable. The one thing they did is they came every day, no matter what happened the game before, they always came every day. They wanted to be coached.
So I didn't see it as being unpredictable, I think that for a team that had success we were 15-5 at one point, we had some great wins. There was a self confidence issue all year long. And I think that by staying calm with them as much as I could, I didn't want to add, I never added to that uncertainty that they had.
But certainly you could see it on their faces and their body language the second half against Temple, tonight in that run from the end of the first half to the beginning of the second half. And it was a confidence and a self confidence, because it was not like the coaches were down or it was a harsh atmosphere, it was just plain and simple not confident enough about the next play and always wondering and probably in a lot of ways worrying.

Q. To kind of build on that, you said many times during the year that the team just wasn't quite getting that level of play that you thought they were capable of. Is that now going to be something that is going to kind of bother you that they didn't hit that level and then sustain it and kind of fell short?
COACH MARTELLI: More the sustain than anything else. Look, plain and simple, that team, my team, had a great year. We got one of six non-BCS bids, we were in, we were out, we were in, we were out. They had to deal with all that energy, that whether I talked about it or didn't, they were on the Internet, you know, that was a great year. That was a great year. To be one of the 65 teams selected for this tournament, really is a terrific year.
What I will study is why was it not sustained. Was it lack of depth, was it lack of foot speed. You know, do you need to get better guard play, do you need to be stronger, do you need to play more zone. So all of those kind of things enter into it. But more sustained than any sleep less nights over why was it, why did we fluctuate.
THE MODERATOR: All right. Thank you, coach.
COACH MARTELLI: Thank you very much.

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