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March 30, 2008
THE MODERATOR: We'd like to start off by having Coach McKillop make an opening statement.
COACH McKILLOP: Congratulations to the University of Kansas. This was a great basketball game in front of a great audience, both live here in the stadium as well as I'm sure across the national media market.
The challenge of having not the opportunity to celebrate the greatness of what this team has accomplished this year in the current disappointment of our loss today teaches us some great lessons. And our guys are very good learners.
The lessons that they learned throughout this year, and of course in this very difficult defeat, far transcend the basketball court. I'm sure they're going to capitalize upon them as they build very successful futures.
I couldn't be prouder of a group of men. I think they represented Davidson College with the greatest poise, with the greatest commitment of self, and with a remarkable run in this very, very compelling sporting event.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach.
We'll open it up for questions for the student-athletes.
Q. Seemed like your defensive strategy really kept you in this game. You played Duke, North Carolina, UCLA. Gave them all games early in the season. Was it kind of a similar strategy you used then compared to this game? How would you grade the defense you played today?
STEPHEN CURRY: No matter who we play, we take pride in our defense. And, I mean, we like to score. But we definitely take pride in getting stops and being aggressive on the defensive end.
We held them to 30 points below their average this year. We played great defense. Just down the stretch we missed a lot of shots, didn't make plays that we needed to to get ahead.
Our defense was there. Rebounding, we struggled a little bit. But our defense was definitely solid the whole game.
Q. Steph, could you describe the last play from your point of view, and especially when Brandon fell down, whether you thought you had a look. Jason, could you describe your last shot, whether it was a good look, your emotions when it missed.
STEPHEN CURRY: It was designed to be a flat ball screen at the top of the key to get penetration. But they had four guards out there and they just switched. Kind of defeated the purpose of the play. I gave them a pump fake to try to get a look, but I was off balance when he fell down. So I saw Jay open at the top of the key, so I swung it to him. He put it up. I wished it went in, but it didn't.
JASON RICHARDS: Yeah, Steph did a great job getting two guys on him. He found me. I was open at the top of the key. The guy ran me. I thought it was a good look. Felt like it was in. Unfortunately, it missed.
Emotions through my body, I don't know. It's tough to describe 'em. I mean, it's not the greatest feeling ever.
Q. Steph, four players took a chance to play defense. How did you deal with that? You had Michael Flowers Friday, then a whole tandem of Kansas players today.
STEPHEN CURRY: Just sticking to our system. Everybody I faced this weekend were great defenders. They used their athleticism to fight through screens to get a hand up. I just stuck to what I've been doing all year: feeding off my screens from big guys, allowing Jason to make plays and feed me the ball.
So I was really comfortable in my role just coming off screens and finding shots. Regardless of who was defending me, I was going to stick to the same game plan, the same system.
Q. In the final timeout in the final huddle, what happened? It looked like you were kind of holding the clipboard at one point and pointing to something.
STEPHEN CURRY: I don't remember touching the clipboard. We had a group talk about what kind of play we wanted to run. Just throwing ideas out. We came up with a solid game plan to attack the last 17 seconds.
We just didn't execute in the right way, so...
I don't know what you saw in the timeout. But we just tried to come up with a solid play to get a shot up.
BRYANT BARR: I mean, like Steph said, coach was throwing some ideas out there, and Steph and Jay are two of our team leaders. Everyone on the team respects them a whole bunch and trusts them. When they're talking, the rest of the team's listening.
Q. Steph, how successful was Kansas in making you uncomfortable out there?
STEPHEN CURRY: They had a lot of bodies and a lot of athletic guys who could chase me the whole game. Towards the end there, I got some good looks. They just didn't fall like they were the whole tournament.
I mean, credit to them. They did make me work hard and make me just fight off screens, get the shot up quicker than normal 'cause they had a great length to get hands in my face.
But I got good shots. We all had a chance to make plays on the stretch. They just didn't fall for us. We can't hang our heads on that. We had opportunities; we just didn't execute.
Q. Jason, the margin between winning and losing in this game, obviously, was very small. You missed a couple free throws. How frustrating is that when you know you're that close?
JASON RICHARDS: You can play the "what if" game in your head as many times as you want. But, I mean, we played a great game against a great Kansas team. Unfortunately we came out on the losing end of it.
You can't look at any significant play. It was a full game, an intense 40 minutes by both teams. We had the opportunity to win at the end. Unfortunately the shot didn't fall.
Q. Steph, where does this leave you? Has it sunk in how remarkable these past two weeks have been for you? Where do you go from here as a sophomore?
STEPHEN CURRY: I'm definitely proud of our team. I mean, we made history for our school. We proved a lot of people wrong, what they expected out of us this year. I mean, it hurts a lot to get this far, be so close to get to the Final Four, just succeed more as a team.
But, I mean, looking back, I'm definitely proud of what we've accomplished and what we're about and what we've just proven all year. I mean, I'm not really looking into the future right now. I mean, just looking back on this tournament, this team we have now, realizing that we've done great things this year. I mean, we're gonna -- it's gonna hurt. This game's gonna hurt a lot for the next however long. But I'm just happy to be a part of this team and be a part of what we accomplished.
Q. How tired were you in the second half?
JASON RICHARDS: Exhausted. I mean, Kansas does a great job defensively. Steph said, they rotated defenders on all of us. Good job of pressuring the ball full court. They're a very good team. They're deserving of the No. 1 seed. They deserve to be in the Final Four.
But towards the end of the game, even though we were tired, I mean, we still had the energy to try to finish it out and try to get a win.
STEPHEN CURRY: Same thing. I mean, their four-guard rotation where they could throw kind of the same defender at you, same style, it really took a toll towards the end.
Regardless of that, we had an opportunity to win. So fatigue is a factor, but we fought through to the best of our abilities and still had a shot to win it at the end.
Q. Jason, as a guy who really directs this team and has shown a lot of poise throughout the season to get this team together, can you talk about your front court guys. A lot of those guys really played physical and surprised a lot of Kansas players with how they played, the trapping in the paint. Talk about the intensity they showed today.
JASON RICHARDS: Our front court is amazing. No one ever gave us a chance in this tournament because they said our front court wasn't strong enough. But we've proved so many people wrong. I'm so proud of our big guys. Going up against bigger guys every game, physical guys every game, they battle for 40 minutes.
They did a tremendous job on Kansas' frontline, which is probably one of the better ones in the country. I'm so proud of them, I can't say anything more about them.
But, I mean, I love to have them as teammates. They've done so much for us - not just this game, not just this tournament, but the entire year.
Q. Jason, despite the last play not coming out as you planned it, did you like the look you had, your spot on the floor, the ball in your hands at that moment when you let it go?
JASON RICHARDS: Yeah, you dream about that type of stuff when you're a little kid, having the opportunity to win the game, take your team to the Final Four. I had a great look. Steph saw me open at the top of the key. We had a chance to win the game, beat Kansas, the No. 1 seed. Maybe you could say we could have got a better shot. At that point it seemed the best shot for us. I felt comfortable taking the shot. You have to have confidence as a basketball player to take that shot. My team had confidence in me. Unfortunately, I just missed the shot and fell short.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, student-athletes.
COACH McKILLOP: I'd like to follow up on a couple questions. You asked about the toughness of our front court. I don't know if this is an excuse at all, but I offer this as a statement about toughness.
Thomas Sander broke his thumb in the Gonzaga game in the first half. Has had a broken thumb since then, has not practiced since then, gets shot up before every game. You want to talk about toughness. My goodness.
Question about Jason taking that last shot. We go through dress rehearsals. We go through live situations in practice. And the number of times he's made a shot like that as the buzzer goes off in his four years, not just this year, not just last year, but in four years, he's a guy that you want with the ball in his hands in that situation.
THE MODERATOR: Questions.
Q. Your team showed so much poise and didn't seem fazed by the situation at all. Have they been like that all year or is this something that developed?
COACH McKILLOP: We expected to win. We didn't come here content or satisfied. We expected to win. This has been a 12-month mission. It came down to one final play. That's the beauty of this game that we play.
Q. Could you describe how you diagrammed the final play. Was it your intention to have Steph take it in after bringing it up?
COACH McKILLOP: We have trust between our players and our coaches. I always try to get a response, a reaction, a feel from them as to what their confidence level is.
We broached the topic of the flat ball screen with Steph at the end. Wanted to make sure he was confident. And he was so confident that he also offered sort of a secondary option in which we were gonna screen for Bryant Barr, if Steph did get no look at all.
Every player and me will beat ourselves up about what we or did not do because every play counts. We believe that. That's the way we coach. That's the way we play.
I made the mistake of not realizing to tell our guys, set the ball screen with the big rather than with Chalmers guarding. In the aftermath, the immediacy of that, that did not come out in the huddle. That's the mistakes I made.
But, yet if Jason Richards makes that shot, we're geniuses and we're in the Final Four. So I'd take that shot again. I'd put it in Jason's hand again. And it was a great shot.
Q. Could you talk about Bryant's game. Seemed like when Kansas picked up their intensity midway through the second half, he sort of held the fort down with those threes.
COACH McKILLOP: There's so much attention paid to Steph that somehow, somewhere, somebody's gonna get open. Jason's gonna find 'em or Steph's gonna find 'em. That's what happened. We've expected Bryant to perform that way. That's not a surprise for us. We expect that Bryant will make that kind of statement for us next year.
Q. In the last huddle, into the final possession, to what degree was there any consideration of going for two rather than three?
COACH McKILLOP: Well, with the flat ball screen, it's not a guaranteed three. It gives a lane for penetration or it gives a step back for the three. So we never discussed two or three. It's a play that evolves into Steph Curry being able to make a play. Part of making a play is getting a shot for a jumper, getting a lane to the basket to drive, or delivering the ball as the alternative option, Bryant Barr coming off a screen.
Q. You talked about every play counts. Certain possessions where things maybe didn't go y'all's way. Missed a few throws, a couple shots roll off. Is that what's kind of agonizing about games like this, you can look back and say a couple things go differently, it's different?
COACH McKILLOP: Well, the agony of this is that we've come so far, smelled and touched and seen our dream, but haven't fully embraced it because of one possession at the end there.
But it wasn't one possession at the end; it was one possession here, one possession there. There will be so many opportunities to reflect upon which was that possession.
Q. You've talked about the perfect game. Do you feel like this whole run, you got a perfect effort? How will this change Davidson basketball? You may have guys contacting you who didn't sweep floors or weren't Mr. Main Basketball, but maybe more prestigious places.
COACH McKILLOP: We came two points away from advancing to the Final Four. For a school with 1700 students, with the academic rigor that we have, playing in the Southern Conference, which is not one of the BCS conferences, is a remarkable statement about effort.
We can talk all we want about our effort. But I think anyone that saw the game and watched it on TV saw a magnificent, magnificent effort upon the part of this team - not just today, but throughout the season.
The sadness of this whole situation is that we can't celebrate the four months of greatness because now we'll reflect upon what finished the season. My father was a New York City cop. He used to always tell me to polish the backs of your shoes because that's the last thing people see of you.
Q. Can you talk about the game plan going into this game against a well-known athletic team compared to what you had to face against Duke, UCLA, North Carolina, all games that it seemed like you were really competitive in? Was there much of a difference or a similar approach?
COACH McKILLOP: Attack the attacker. We will not back down from anybody. We see ourselves sometimes in the middle of the boxing ring and we always want to fight stepping forward, and we always want to be in the middle.
We understand we're going to get knocked to the mat. We understand we may get knocked to the ropes. But we also understand that we may have to fight it outside the ring and get into the street, and maybe even go house to house, and we're gonna do that.
Q. The second part about what this will do for Davidson College and do you want it to change?
COACH McKILLOP: I clearly believe that Davidson College has become somewhat of a darling in the country. If ever you'd want a face to be the darling of the country, it's this group of young men who represent us.
I'd be remiss if I didn't say thanks to the media for how clearly, how candidly, how professionally they have presented us, and the integrity with which they've presented us. That's a pretty good marriage.
So I'm expecting that we'll capitalize on it.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much, Coach.
End of FastScripts