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March 12, 2009
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA
BYU Ã‚â€“ 80
Air Force - 69
THE MODERATOR: We're joined by BYU student-athletes Jonathan Tavernari and Lee Cummard, and Coach Dave Rose. We'll take a general statement from coach first.
COACH ROSE: Well, I thought it was an extremely competitive game. When you consider the last 80 minutes of basketball that we've played, you know, Air Force has been an extremely competitive team. Give a lot of credit to those seniors who made a lot of big plays against us.
But really proud of our players for being able to find a way to win in both those games.
We got a lot of help from a lot of different players, but that's the way our team kind of has been throughout the season. So it was a good win for our team and we're excited to move on.
THE MODERATOR: We'll open it up to questions for the student-athletes.
Q. You were out-rebounded by six in the first half. I think you out-rebounded them by 16 in the second half. Talk about, was that something you talked about at halftime? Why the difference?
LEE CUMMARD: Well, the coaching staff told us at halftime that we needed to play a little bit harder, a little more effort, and with more sense of urgency.
I think that's the difference in the second half in rebounding.
JONATHAN TAVERNARI: Coach always says that if you are playing hard on the other team, you're going to rebound more. In the first half, they outplayed us. Like Lee said, we needed to play with a little more sense of urgency. As soon as the season starts, that's what coach says. If you're playing hard, giving your best shot, you're going to get the loose balls and rebounds. We just buy into the game plan. That's what happened the second half.
Q. Lee, can you talk a little bit about Air Force, how well they played you the last two games.
LEE CUMMARD: Well, the biggest thing with them is how hard they play. They always fight till the end. Like coach said, they got a few seniors that just will their team to play hard from start to finish.
But the toughest thing after that is the stuff they run. It kind of takes a moment to get used to it, all the back doors and the false motion that they run. They get you standing up, then they make a play.
You just got to get used to that and stay in a stance. They're just senior-led. Another good team.
Q. Lee, obviously these opponents are doing a lot of good things. But are you kind of waiting for your team to put together a full game? Is it going to take more to win from this point on?
LEE CUMMARD: Well, I've been saying, we've been playing good enough to win lately. But, I mean, 46% is a good shooting day, but we're capable of shooting better than that.
Then I thought we made a lot of game plan mistakes where we got back-doored or we gave an open three, the three right in my face at the end of the first half. Just stuff like that. When we put it all together, we should be pretty successful.
Q. Lee, you came in knowing you were probably going to be playing in the post-season. Air Force knew this was their last. How much are you guys thinking in terms of beyond this tournament, going back to the NCAAs?
LEE CUMMARD: Well, I think that our coaching staff won't let us. If they sense that we're thinking past the next game, we'll probably find a quick seat right next to them on the bench. We're just trying to stay focused. We're trying to play as if we're out to prove something. We're just taking it a game at a time.
Q. The game seemed to have several possessions, momentum-changing possessions. Looked like you were going to shake them a couple times. They would come back. Can you talk about some of those clutch possessions.
JONATHAN TAVERNARI: You know, certain times in practice we work on certain situations. You're down one or you're down three or you're up five. Even though we do in practice till the very end of the game, at certain points in the game, that's exactly what's going on. We're up two or three, or game is tied. That's what we need to do. We work on those things.
Air Force, like Lee said, they play really hard. We couldn't really put 'em away. They played different than everybody else. They play more of a halfcourt set. They're really good at it, back-dooring us and everything. We had to step up and make big plays. Jimmer did a great job. Chris Miles, Jacks, Lee. Lamont came in and hit a big, big three in the corner. Again, just good players making good plays.
Q. JT, the three-point shooting in the last game was kind of a struggle for you guys. In this game it came at the right time. Do you think you have got that behind you from the last game?
JONATHAN TAVERNARI: Our mindset was different. You know, our mindset was different from the last game. We played completely different than we played them at their place, the way we played them our place, and today. It was three different games.
They're a really good team. But our sense of urgency today I think was probably the best out of those three games because we needed to have a sense of urgency quick and finish the game tonight. When we played them at their place, it was kind of a spread moment throughout the second moment, our game was the last five minutes, today we had to do it in the second half.
You know, I just think that shooters will make a shot. You go through slumps. As long as you keep shooting, I mean, sometime the ball got to go in (smiling).
Q. The run in the beginning of the second half, Chris Miles was a big part of that. He sat down, they made a run. Talk about Chris and the job he did.
LEE CUMMARD: He did a great job in the second half. I think the biggest thing he did was when Anwar was getting in the lane, he would come over and basically put a wall up. I think that's what helped us the most.
He had a few big plays, one nasty dunk. But the biggest thing he did was help defense.
Q. What's the recovery process like now?
LEE CUMMARD: Well, we'll watch this game and then head back to the hotel. Probably get a bunch of ice buckets in the hotel, one of the hotel rooms, just take turns taking an ice bath. Then resting and get some food in you.
JONATHAN TAVERNARI: Amen (smiling).
Q. Lee, can you talk about there's a possibility you could face UNLV, a team that beat you twice, and for the conference championship last year.
LEE CUMMARD: Yeah, I mean, if it happens, it happens. I'll look forward to it. I've been unsuccessful here every time I've been down here. Whoever it is we're playing, plan on playing hard and being successful.
Q. Would you rather face UNLV or San Diego State?
LEE CUMMARD: We'll leave that to the game out there.
THE MODERATOR: At this time we'll dismiss the student-athletes. We'll open it up to questions for Coach Rose.
Q. How much of a security blanket is it for you that your team shoots the ball so well from free-throw line going down the stretch in a game?
COACH ROSE: Well, I think that you have a lot of confidence in the ability to get a three or four, five-point lead and then to have teams foul you. But you still have to be able to go up there and hit those.
I thought tonight we were a little bit sporadic finishing that game off. We left a few on the line. I think that, you know, with the way that we've shot free throws the last probably month or so, I think all our team has confidence in the ability to spread the floor and get the ball to any player, and that they can step up and go make those free throws.
Q. Coach, you started the game in a zone for the first time this season. Talk about that. Also talk about the rebounding turnaround from first to second half.
COACH ROSE: You know, we started the zone the other day, too, against Utah. In this situation tonight, it was a little different. They had changed their starting lineup a little bit. We had wanted in our game plan to zone a little bit, especially in the first half, to kind of see how the flow of the game was going and how they were attacking it. We thought our best opportunity was before they subbed, because when they subbed, they were subbing in their shooters.
So that was kind of our thought process. Players were pretty excited about it. I thought the first three or four minutes we did a really good job in that zone. You know, it's a team that you can't -- I mean, you've got to vary how you guard 'em because they have an answer for about everything, especially when they've got guys playing with the confidence that they're playing with right now. I mean, they're playing extremely confident.
Q. Can you talk about playing specifically your bigs, playing defense against a team like Air Force, all the things that they do.
COACH ROSE: Lee mentioned it. But Chris Miles was just terrific in the second half. We got him involved a little bit offensively, which kind of creates a lot of energy for Chris. Was able to get an early basket. Like Lee said, got a nice finish at the rim with a dunk. It really got him a lot more active on the defensive end, which really helped us.
They were dribbling that thing hard right to that right block, trying to elevate and score. Chris was doing a good job of keeping 'em a little further out than we were in the first half. I think it made a little bit more difficult on them. Then JT did a good job of coming in and rebounding from the weak side.
That was, you know, a big part, I think, of our success in the second half.
Q. Do you agree that kind of a key to this game was Air Force was winning the hustle points in the first half, but in the second half you started getting the rebounds, loose balls? Do you think that's what turned the game around?
COACH ROSE: I think that's a factor. We played pretty hard in the first half. Air Force was pretty efficient in the first half, shooting over 50% from the field, spreading the floor pretty well. Made big shots on big plays. We had opportunities to kind of spread it out a little bit, and they just hung right in there.
But I think, you know, when you look at the game and kind of break it down, you're going to go to -- the games were very similar, both of them. First we were 3 for 22, tonight we were 9 for 22. That's about the difference in the score.
Q. Can you talk about the start of the second half. Jimmer scores nine points in a couple minutes.
COACH ROSE: I think this group does a really good job of kind of rallying together and coming out. We had a few situations earlier in the year where we played great first halves, then kind of let it slip away. I think they've made a real adjustment in their ability to get in there at halftime. I think it shows a lot of maturity of some young players that have come together, real good leadership from our captains and from Lee. But I think that our halftime adjustments with this group has improved, and we've come out and been able to play better second halves.
Q. You've trailed the last five games at halftime and came back to win. Does that worry you or is this how this team is?
COACH ROSE: It worries me to trail, yeah. I'd rather be ahead.
But I got a lot of confidence in our players, a lot of confidence in our coaching staff, that we can make adjustments.
The key is that it's close at halftime, so we're not in a big hole like we were, like San Diego State, some of those places where we really had to come back from.
This is a very good shooting team. We led the country in field goal percentage for a few weeks during the season. But 62% is not realistic. And I think 34, 32% isn't realistic for this team. When you can shoot somewhere between, you know, 45 and 55%, then you've got a pretty good chance to win. So, you know, I think that's realistic for this group.
Q. I know you're concentrating on this tournament. That being said, do you feel like avoiding the first-game upset, that you are absolutely for sure in the tournament now, the Big Dance?
COACH ROSE: This is a very, very big win for our team. I mean, you want to play as consistent as you can to get yourself in the conversation of being invited to that tournament. Then you don't want to, at the end of the year, give them any reason or any excuse not to invite you.
This was a very big win for our team, to be able to get through that.
Q. I understand that obviously the company line is always going to be, We'll just play our next opponent. But knowing the rivalry between yourselves and UNLV, knowing they also beat you twice this year, do you think probably deep down these kids would rather see the Rebels tomorrow even though they may not say so?
COACH ROSE: I would bet that you get a bunch of them that would say that just because of how competitive they are.
But we can't control that. It will be a challenge because on one hand, you're playing a team that you beat twice, that is really good. Then, on the other hand, you're playing a team you're trying to beat for the first time.
We understand that tomorrow will be a big challenge for this group.
Q. Jonathan seemed to hit a really big shot about three and a half minutes left. Can you describe his confidence in those kind of moments, how you try to harness that for your team.
COACH ROSE: Well, I mean, if you follow our team, he's done it all year long for us. He likes that big shot. He was extremely excited about that 'cause in the huddle right before that we had a conversation. I told him he had a couple more in him, let's just get a little closer to that line. You know, play the percentages.
He hit a huge shot the other night, a three-pointer, Saturday night, put us in a situation where we could hold 'em off. You got to let shooters shoot. Hurt their confidence. JT is a guy that can make big shots consistently.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, coach.
End of FastScripts