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March 28, 2008
COACH BARNES: Well, I really thought it was really a terrific team win. Not only the job that the five guys that have been there doing it all year for us, but the minutes that our bench gave us by coming in, putting our bodies on their inside post players, because we know how good they are and how hard they are to defend; but the minutes that you look at our bench gave us by just physically going out and trying to stay attached to them with our bodies when they had the ball, especially in the low post I thought was really important.
And then obviously, at the end, these guys do what they have done for us all year on the offensive end, made the plays they needed to make.
Q. Can you guys talk about the effort of Pittman and what he gave you guys down there at the end, especially against Brook?
A.J. ABRAMS: I think he brought just a big body towards him and Robin Lopez. I think he did a great job running the court on offense and keeping him off the glass.
D.J. AUGUSTIN: Like A.J. said, he did a great job and put his body against him and I don't think Brook could handle that weight on him. Brook is a great player and he made some big shots but Dex came in and gave us a big lift.
Q. What was the plan as far as using your quickness to get past them?
D.J. AUGUSTIN: We wanted to be aggressive on offensive lane. We didn't want to change anything we've been doing all year and change our offense and just running, and that's what we were trying to do tonight.
Q. Can you talk about the crowd, they cut it to one thereafter you guys had a double-digit lead and then you break it open; how about the crowd?
JUSTIN MASON: The crowd, we had a great turnout. We had a feeling that we had a good load of our fans down here, and they really did a good job of getting this place loud and really supporting us. It really helped us out a little bit when they started to come back and the crowd got into it.
Q. Can you talk about after they cut it to one, you just really took over; can you talk about that?
D.J. AUGUSTIN: I just tried to be aggressive and keep driving them and keep my teammates involved and my teammates did a great job of moving out the ball and knocking down shots. We do a great job of playing defense and that's what it came down to. Our defense helped us in the last four minutes.
Q. You had pushed out again to like five points and you came up with a steal at mid-court for a fast break layup, they were trying to save a ball; can you talk about that play, because that really seemed to get that run going.
D.J. AUGUSTIN: Like I said our defense was key tonight. We just tried to be aggressive and pick them up, put pressure on them, especially their guards and it worked out tonight. That's what we want to do and that's our game plan.
Q. You had a run in the first half; I was wondering what you thought the hang time was on that shot you made?
D.J. AUGUSTIN: I don't know if it was hang time but I just had to shoot it up high because they come in to block shots every time. I knew it was coming and like I said my teammate did a great job of getting open and I knew I could kick it to him, and he finished it.
Q. You guys held Lopez without a basket for the last 13 and a half minutes of the game. Talk about that and maybe the run that you had to put the game away at the very end.
A.J. ABRAMS: We just went back to playing our style of defense as far as just pressuring the ball, trying not to let them catch us so easy on the block. I think we just played with good high hands on the bottom, pressuring the ball, and it was just a great team effort from everybody, just playing with a lot of intensity. I think the defense led to our offense and we kind of settled down and started getting good shots.
Q. Can you talk about the way the defense put the game away late for you guys?
JUSTIN MASON: Like A.J. said, we wanted to come out and get back to playing Texas basketball. In the first half, I think we got away from that a little bit worrying about the Lopez twins down there.
We came out in the second half and really started pressuring the ball and it started to change a little bit for us.
Q. It seems like when people talk about the one or two best players in the country, you're not always included in that. Do you think you maybe should be and do you think the way you played tonight will put you in that conversation more?
D.J. AUGUSTIN: I'm not worried about that. I never did worry about that. I just worry about my team and as long as we winning and playing well together and playing defense, that's all that matters to me.
Q. Could you talk about playing in a big building like this with the back drop, and as a shooter, how difficult with the crowd and everything?
A.J. ABRAMS: It was a great atmosphere out there. As far as the basket, we came in and had a shoot around yesterday. We got accustomed to the basket and just after that, it was just going back and playing basketball, and you can't really worry about it. As far as the depth perception, I think everybody got used to it. We shot the ball pretty well tonight?
Q. This team has been a very good defensive team all year. Was there any element heading into this game that you felt maybe people were underestimating your ability to defend a team that was so big like Stanford?
D.J. AUGUSTIN: I think people knew they were bigger than us down low, but they didn't know how good our guards prepared. We were very prepared to come down and help our big men out and that was key tonight. Our big men did a great job of stopping the Lopez brothers, and we just tried to help out as much as we could.
Q. Are you okay? At the very ends of the game you came up limping and you didn't go back in the game. Is there anything seriously wrong with you?
A.J. ABRAMS: No, I'm good. (Smiling) Just go home and get our trainer to look at it and ice it up and I'll be ready.
Q. Exactly what happened?
A.J. ABRAMS: I really don't know. It was a loose ball situation.
COACH BARNES: Missed a wide-open shot. (Laughter).
A.J. ABRAMS: It was a loose ball situation and the guy slipped and I guess I stepped on his foot, I'm not sure, but I'll be fine.
Q. First of all, the 23-3 run in the second half, can you talk about that and what happened in that time-out before that run?
D.J. AUGUSTIN: Coach just told us to go back to how we play defense, Texas basketball and that's what we did. Our big men did a great job of rebounding and kicking it out on fast break. It was all the defense; put a lot of credit on our defense tonight.
Q. Would you make a case for D.J. for national Player of the Year?
A.J. ABRAMS: I would. He's pretty much the best point guard in the country. He sees the floor well. He shoots the ball as well as anybody in the country, so I would have to put him up there.
Q. On the inside, D.J. mentioned how you were helping out the big guys, but between Dexter and Connor and all those guys, did you feel like it frustrated them throughout the game and as the game went on?
A.J. ABRAMS: I think just throwing a lot of bodies at him just frustrated him a little bit. We had a good game plan going into the game as far as what our posts were going to do and our guards coming down to help. I think it did frustrate him a little bit, just a lot of bodies on him.
Q. You held them without a field goal for over nine minutes. During that stretch, can you talk about what you did differently to really shut them down?
COACH BARNES: Well, coming in, we had talked about a number of different things that we wanted to do. You know, we have used some different zones. From this time of year, obviously you can look at a lot of tape and get a lot of information, and we had a plan not to back off -- I mean to, back off certain guys and really try to help.
The biggest thing we talked about really and truly was we knew we could not keep them from catching the ball in the post, we knew that going in, so we tried it to get the ball off the block a little bit and when we went in there, we wanted to get to the low side, just inches, to try to take away the baseline turn. And they are so good, they are going to score some of those and they are too big and it really affected us early in the game, was the second shot.
Up to this point, we had been looking over to make blocks and be aggressive and the biggest adjustment we made is saying we are going to stay home on the back side and finally -- and sometimes coaches get in the players way, and with that last time-out, we said, "Hey, look, we'll do what's got us here." We weren't doing what we felt like we needed to do on the defensive ends and we were a little, whatever, and we finally said, we're going to get aggressive. Don't care if you catch it, we are going to go make plays and rebound it. That's the biggest thing we said we had to do on that end.
And a big part what have we tried to do offensively was run, push tempo, hoping that in the last few minutes was that would help us on the defensive end, making their post guys come out and handle ball screens and make them have to worry about transition and we just hoped in the last eight minutes, with our bench leaning on them a little bit, we could break it open. Some good things happened when we got back to being aggressive.
And Justin mentioned it with our ball pressure and getting over to help and doing those things. You.
Q. Can you talk about the combination of bigs you used on the Lopez twins tonight?
COACH BARNES: Again, we tried to play post defense the best we could, and he's very hard to defend. He's long and he does a tremendous job of getting the ball above his head and keeping it there and getting off the ground with it. They do a very good job -- not a very good job, a great job of knowing what they are looking for.
We felt like ball pressure was really important coming into the game. We felt like if you just allowed him to set outside, because they will throw it from 25 feet, and I'm not sure how much we got out of it. But we just -- that's what we do and we didn't want to -- early in the game we weren't pressuring the ball the way we probably have up to this point.
Again I think a big part what we did to help us in the end was our offense because we really wanted to run. We really wanted to get them into multiple ball screens, and they are random and we wanted to really get both of them up there and open up the basket so we could get some dribble penetration, and they do a great job of blocking shots and altering shots and thinking we could get second chance opportunities. And what happened in the end is probably as much a reflection of our offense and pushing the base as anything we did defensively.
Q. Wonder if you can talk about the lift that you got from D.J. tonight. Seemed like he was really into it.
COACH BARNES: Well, he's been great all year. You know, D.J., A.J., those guys, when we needed something to happen, both of those guys would make some plays. But it amazes me sometimes that people don't ever want to talk about Justin Mason. Look at his line tonight, between our point guards tonight, they ended up with 13 assists and four turnovers. D.J. is terrific. All year long, he's a guy that when we give it to him, we know he's going to make something happen. But there's so many other things out there that's happening for him to do that, and the screens, when you step up there, the fact that people know that Connor actually can make a 3-point shot; the concern about Damion James and A.J. Abrams. We started out the year staying our post game is going to be spreading the floor, letting him go in there and do some things and letting him by our post guy by driving it, drawing somebody, kicking it, or driving it, getting on the glass and somebody coming to get a second shot.
But he's been great all year. He's as good as any basketball player out there, and the minutes he's played -- tonight is the least amount of minutes, I would say he's played, since January, the start of January Conference-play, because he's been averaging 39 minutes a game throughout the conference-play but we did want to get him out tonight and we said he's going to have to push tempo early and he did that.
Q. Did the setup prevent you guys from communicating at all with your assistants? I saw them earlier tugging on your pant legs.
COACH BARNES: We can't hear. It was different, it was. As the crowd got going, I felt like I'm screaming; I can't hear you, I can't hear you.
That's probably the biggest difference in the game is where it probably affects the bench being down below and the coaching, because you know, I have a great staff and I really count on those guys. We were talking and I know one time I turned around and said, I can't hear you. They all were trying to relay the message and I yelled back and I said, I can't hear you. That was probably the one big thing from it.
Q. What were they trying to tell you?
COACH BARNES: Yeah, we were talking about substitutions. That was at the point in time where Connor picked up a third foul or Damion and we were talking about what we wanted to get done right there. That's what was going on right there at that point in time.
Q. When D.J. made the steal and went coast to coast, you yelled, "Yeah, baby" there was a fist-pump there, did you sense that that was a key moment? That's an uncharacteristic emotion from you at that point.
COACH BARNES: I thought it was, because they were making a push right there and we felt at that point in time we had to -- I thought Trent did a great job, too, and his guys made some hustle plays and at that point in time, obviously the emotions there are for a lot of people. When your players make the effort and come up with it and it pays big dividends, yeah, we all got excited. At that point in time we needed a play like that. And it goes back to talking about D.J. and Justin, at times those people come up with plays that people don't talk about.
But that was a huge play at that point in time.
Q. You've been talking a lot about A.J. and a lot about D.J. and Justin. But what about Pittman's numbers? In just ten minutes of play, seemed like he did an incredible job on the boards.
COACH BARNES: I thought he was great in terms of making his weight a factor. I told him, I don't know if I would ever say that to you up to this point, but tonight your weight was a factor.
I think when a guy leans on you and keeps doing what he did, and he was able to get deep post-up, and we told him, get it deep and try to catch it underneath the rim. You know, he was able to put some fouls on him.
I thought he was huge. I thought the minutes -- Clint Chapman was really good tonight. Lexie (ph) was really good. Gary Johnson, too. All those guys, those minutes that those guys gave us is a big part of the reason why we were able to win tonight and just being able to go in. It's hard when a guy is leaning on you consistently. We felt like if we could keep a body on them and not elevate quite as much during the course of the game, we felt like it would be like throwing body punches in boxing; you just try to wear them down that way.
Q. Could you talk more about Dexter's contribution, particularly defensively, because Brook had hurt you for 30 minutes there and he shut him down at the end.
COACH BARNES: We took him out because he asked to come out. You could tell he was a factor. Our team was so excited because of the fact we knew what he's done at his time in Texas and with how hard he's worked to lose the weight he's lost, and with that, coming to practice, doing everything he can, it's just really -- you're excited when a guy has a night like this where he's able to do it. But Dexter is important, he has great hands and is very athletic, and he's a guy that when he can give us what he gave us tonight, it obviously adds to what we do.
And throughout the game, because of Dexter and some of those guys, we're able to change. We can go from a team that can open the floor up or go from a post presence, which we didn't have early in the year. Those post guys, I'm happy for them because they are young and they continue to work, and we obviously needed them tonight and they came through for us.
Q. Can you just give your general impressions of Brook Lopez and did you figure if nobody else hurt you badly, you would be okay?
COACH BARNES: You know what, as we were talking as a staff about Stanford, I said it's almost like what I remember as a kid growing up with the Green Bay Packers and that sweep they ran; you knew it was coming but there is just not a whole lot you can do with it.
Again, Trent does a great job coaching this team. They play high-percentage, fundamental basketball. He's got great hands. He catches it. You get the wrong angle with him, he really can destroy you because he's just got great presence in terms of how he works the post, the pivot area.
Then again, their perimeter players know what they are looking for. You look at them and say, well, they don't do a lot of movement or this or that; they are as hard as any team we have had to guard up to this point because of the fact they know exactly what they are looking for, and they get to it.
End of FastScripts