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March 12, 2009
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA
Wyoming Ã‚â€“ 75
New Mexico - 67
COACH NEAL: Coach Alford is not here. We had an unfortunate loss in our family with the coach's mother-in-law passed away a few days ago.
A few comments about the game. Got to give Wyoming and Heath Schroyer a great -- they did a great job. It was a good game. They were well prepared, and they played well. You've got to give them a lot of credit.
Feel very, very unfortunate for our senior players on our team. At this time, you have to win to advance. This is the time of March, and you have to -- if you want to keep playing in March, you have to win games.
We've talked about it for a while. So it's a sad ending to a season that we had a lot of success. And I really feel unfortunate for our team. And Steve did a great job with our team.
That's my opening comments.
THE MODERATOR: Our student-athletes are Dairese Gary and Roman Martinez. At this time, we'll open up for questions for the student-athletes.
Q. Roman, could you talk about the three-point shooting a little bit tonight. It seemed like you guys couldn't get anything to drop.
ROMAN MARTINEZ: Early in the game, me and Top had some open looks. I think we got frustrated at missing the open looks we had.
I think, you know, I feel that me and Top need to get more aggressive and take it to the rack. You know, we couldn't get in a rhythm. It was frustrating.
We tried to set the tone defensively, but when you miss so many open shots, it's tough. And I think they -- they just out-toughed us on the defensive end and inside and with screening.
I think we had the scouting report ready, and we just didn't take advantage.
Q. Diarese, you had 20 points. The game got physical towards the end. Can you just talk about what they did different in the second half.
DAIRESE GARY: Really nothing. They played physical the whole game.
Coach talked about before the game, at pregame and stuff, that it was going to be a physical game. I mean, that's what we're made of. We're a physical team. So I guess they wanted to be physical. They were a little bit more physical than us.
I mean, fouls got called. The ref's saying stuff. What can you say? That's how the games go.
Q. Ro, can you talk about Dairese's performance? Can you also talk about the physical play, what you thought of it?
ROMAN MARTINEZ: I think he's our toughness. He shows at the end of the game we want the ball in his hands. When shots aren't falling, he's the one to go to because he's a brute. When he drives the ball, he's not afraid to finish with the bigs.
I think he's important defensive aspect for us, especially toughness. And I think we need him in the game.
Q. Dairese, how much did you think it affected you guys when Daniel and Tony were both in foul trouble and it seemed like it slowed down your inside game a little bit?
DAIRESE GARY: It did affect us a little bit, even knowing that they're our senior players. They're our leaders. We look to them for leadership. When they got in foul trouble, I mean, heads kind of dropped.
Tony, Faris, they're our scorers too. So we look for them to score a lot. When they're not in the game, it's hard for us to score.
I mean, we have other scorers, but that's our main two. Tony doing what he doing. Faris has a post presence. When they went out, it hurt us a lot.
Q. Did taking all those three-point shots get away from what you guys wanted to do as a team?
DAIRESE GARY: Not necessarily taking three-point shots. It's just the quick shots. I mean, we wanted to make Roman guard. And we took a lot of quick shots, a lot of quick threes. We are a three-point shooting team. I wouldn't say taking the threes hurt us. I would just say taking them quicker than we normally do hurt us.
THE MODERATOR: At this time, we'll dismiss the student-athletes. Coach, if you could hold on for one second. This is coach Craig Neal, associate head coach for New Mexico.
Q. Coach, can you talk about what they did to Chad in the last two games. He didn't make any threes. Did you see anything different?
COACH NEAL: I think Chad had some open looks. Chad's had a great year. He's one of the top shooters in the country. They did a good job contesting the shots and guarding him staying attached to him - a basketball term. They did a good job of that.
He just couldn't get in a rhythm, and that happens sometimes. He had a great year, but, you know, when you shoot 3 for 23 from the three-point line, it doesn't matter who's shooting them, you have a hard time winning games.
Q. Do you think that maybe some of the guys might have overlooked Wyoming coming into this game?
COACH NEAL: We didn't because our tough game we had there. In our last regular-season game. They definitely didn't overlook him. They have a great player in Brandon Ewing, and Ogirri's had a great senior year. Those two senior guards stepped up and played real well.
I don't think our guys overlooked them. I just think it was one of those situations where we couldn't get a good rhythm. We had a chance, it was 46-41, to push the lead ahead in the second half, and we threw the ball away.
We had chances. They did a great job. They executed what they wanted to do. And I don't think our kids overlooked them. I don't think they overlooked them because they just know Heath did a great job, and they got good players.
Q. I know someone asked the question of the students. Same question to you. Was it something they did in the second half differently? Did they come out with a different game plan?
COACH NEAL: I don't think they came out with a different game plan. I just think we missed some shots and they made some shots.
It's one of those things where they played hard. They pushed the issue. They went inside. Johnson got 12 free throws and made 10 of them. That's one of those things, he hasn't been that effective in our two other games. I think we held them to six points both games. When Ogirri's bank shot goes in from three, you know some things are going well.
They played well. You've got to give them a lot of credit. Like I said earlier, I just feel really bad for our teams, especially bad for our seniors. But they played really well.
Q. Why do you think you guys have had trouble in the conference tournament in recent years?
COACH NEAL: 'In recent years,' are you saying in recent years as far as the school or Steve and our teams that we've had? We've only been here two years.
Q. Well both. You guys and as a school?
COACH NEAL: I can't answer that for the past. I think we've had really tough match-ups the last two years. I think Wyoming's an outstanding team. Last year it was Utah. Basically with the same team back that they tied for the conference championship.
So you look at our team, and everybody says we have three seniors and they're very good seniors. But we play ten guys, so seven underclassmen are playing.
We're there to build a program. We're very excited to be at New Mexico. This is a start, and hopefully we'll learn from this and go forward.
Q. You guys looked tight in the second half when they made the run. What do you think that was from? I mean, what do you do? How do you try to kick that out of them?
COACH NEAL: We just tried to get them back to where we do our rhythm. We tried to run some plays and get some shots.
You've seen us play a lot. I think we had a lot of good looks, a lot of good shots. Daniel playing 17 minutes and getting foul trouble really hurts because he had ten points the first half, and we just couldn't get him going.
One of the key points was in the second half, when I mentioned earlier we were up 46-41 and we get a turnover and don't get it going, and they come down and make some shots.
Maybe they were a little tight. Our kids have played -- they've played well all year. They've played hard. They've given us everything they have. And it's one of those things, like I said earlier, you advance, you play to advance, and you've got to keep win to go advance.
Unfortunately, we didn't do that tonight.
Q. I hate to bring up the word 'physical'. I asked Dairese that again. But it just seems like all year he was in the midst of getting hit, pounded.
COACH NEAL: He's a big-time player. We've been recruiting him since he was a freshman in high school. He's been our heart and soul. He's going to give you everything he's got. He's going to lay it on the line. You know, usually the next day he can hardly practice.
He's just a fierce, fierce competitor. You know, he didn't play football until his senior year in high school, and he ends up going to the state championship in football.
He loves to compete, loves to win. You know, you can't ask any more from him. He gave us everything he had tonight.
He is a physical player, and he'll continue to be. He's going to be a very, very, very good player in this conference. He already is. So I mean, he's got two more years left, and we're excited he's going to be around for two more years.
Q. Danridge, 29 points past two games. Tonight had to sit a lot in foul trouble. How big was that?
COACH NEAL: It was huge. You know, he's First Team All Mountain West. He had two points at half. He's kind of always makes us go.
When we needed a basket, when we made our run late in the season, we were 7-4 and then went on to go 12-4, he was the guy we went to. Averaged 23 points a game, for ten games.
He makes us go offensively. You know, when he gets two points in the first half and he's in foul trouble, that hurts us. Then you got to try to find other ways to score.
That was definitely a factor. I think he came back and played really hard the second half. Like I said earlier, I think losing Daniel and having him only play 17 minutes hurt.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you for filling in, Coach Neal.
End of FastScripts