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March 20, 2009

Stew Morrill

Jared Quayle

Tai Wesley

Gary Wilkinson


Marquette - 58
Utah State - 57

THE MODERATOR: We'll go ahead and take a brief opening statement from Coach Morrill and then go right to questions for the student-athletes.
COACH MORRILL: Well, that was obviously an extremely tough loss. We gave ourself a chance. We got up six and we missed some open shots, we turned it over, we don't rebound a ball, all of those kind of things that can happen to you. But we battled back in the second half and really gave ourselves a chance to win. And as I told these guys, I can't be any prouder of a basketball team than I am of this group, whether we would have lost or would have won that game or the fact that we lost it.
We made some adjustments at half and they came out and competed. I thought Marquette really did a great job of getting to the free throw line and that was probably the difference. We had a really hard time guarding their quickness and strength. Even though our field goal percentage was pretty good, you look at the free throws and that was probably the big stat. But we did have a lot of chances. We had open shots and good looks and they didn't go down.
THE MODERATOR: Take questions for the student-athletes.

Q. Is it tough when you lose like this to not look at one shot or one play or one moment that kind of a what if? Is it difficult not to do that?
GARY WILKINSON: I think so. I think there's, as athletes and competitors, I know for myself I look at things that I could have done differently. I don't know if any of us hang it all upon ourselves and say, Oh, it is my fault this happened or this or that and I hope none of us do. But there's obviously things that you think back on and if I would have made this play or would have been able to get to that ball or boxed out better on this, you think about those things and I think that's part of being an athlete and part of being a competitor. It just goes along with that.

Q. If you could just talk about the last three you took, how did it feel, was it a designed play, how did it set up? It could have tied it at that point.
GARY WILKINSON: It's a play that we have at the end of, you know, to get a shot like that. It felt good coming off and it was right on. It was just short. That's just the way the ball bounces, I suppose.

Q. Jared, this is probably your first game fouling out for the year. Talk about how you viewed the game after you fouled out. How big of a difference that made.
JARED QUAYLE: It was difficult. It was the first time I fouled out all year long and I didn't even mean to foul him at the end. We just ran into each other. I was just trying to get back to my man. Sitting on the bench and watching the game it was hard because I wanted to be out there and I wanted to be bringing the ball up the court and having that opportunity to win the game or dishing it to somebody and having them hit the shot. It was difficult. I can't do anything about it now, you know, I got to hope for another chance.

Q. Talk about the first half, it seemed like you guys really struggled to get any kind of rhythm going.
TAI WESLEY: Yeah, we weren't really ready for their pressure, they were kind of taking us out of offense. I think our defense was real good. It was right where it needed to be. We kind of just needed to find our rhythm on offense and we did that in the second half. So kind of just came out slow in the first half offensively.

Q. More detail please on the offense of the second half. You guys were really able to get the ball deep in the post, you especially seemed to have your way with their bigs in the second half. What were you doing differently to get the ball inside?
TAI WESLEY: We were running our plays that were designed to get touches in the paint and that's what Coach talked to us about at half time. That we really needed to, since they were pressuring us out so much that we needed to attack inside. We needed to get paint touches from our post and that's what we really focused on at half time and it worked for us.

Q. Jared, as one of the smaller players on the court you actually led the team in rebounding, what do you attribute your rebounding prowess to?
JARED QUAYLE: I don't know. I just love going after the ball. I try to watch where it's going to hit off the rim and then I just try to get myself into position to be there and for me I'm fortunate the ball usually bounces my way and I just jump up and grab it.

Q. Gary, when Coach Williams was talking about when you guys took a six-point lead with about five minutes to go that they tried to pick up the pace and make the pace a bit faster. Could you sense that and what was your mindset when you have a six-point lead with five minutes to go?
GARY WILKINSON: I think our mindset was exactly the opposite. The tempo was a huge part of this game. I think that when in the second half we controlled tempo. When we got the six-point lead I thought we needed to stay consistent. Do what we were doing. We did get sped up a little bit and we didn't, like Coach said, we had a couple turnovers or whatever, didn't grab some loose balls, some rebounds and that kind of changed the direction the game was headed, but up to that point we did a great job of controlling the tempo and that's the way it goes.

Q. Talk about being down trying to stay patient when you guys were down 14 and working back into the game.
TAI WESLEY: We knew we could play with Marquette, so we just needed to really settle down. It really hurt us that we got down so much in the first half. We wanted to come out and jump on them like we did against Nevada. But it didn't really work out that way.
We knew we could get back into the game. We battled back from deficits like that before. So we just needed to be patient and grind it out.

Q. Would you talk about how you think this experience today will help you personally in the future and the team next year?
TAI WESLEY: Yeah, the NCAA tournament is a big deal. It's our dream, it's our goal starting off as little guys. And now I don't think I'm going to be so big-eyed, so deer in the headlight kind of attitude. We got police driving in front of us to come to the game. I mean, all the hype won't be there. I'll know what I'm getting into and I think as a young team we all know what we're getting into. So hopefully we can get back here next year.
THE MODERATOR: All right. We'll excuse these gentlemen and we'll take questions to Coach Morrill.

Q. Are you a stat guy? Coach Williams was up here and he was reeling off all kinds of stats. How much do you pay attention to statistics and use it in preparation?
COACH MORRILL: Not like I've heard he does. I've been doing this a long time. I pretty much coach with instinct and what -- you're always going to look at some stats, but I think you can get overly wound up in statistics.
You look at this game, it doesn't take a genius to figure out them getting to the free throw line was huge and that we were stunned by their athleticism and pressure initially in the game. We had a really hard time executing because they were -- their quickness and strength and those kind of things.
But once we kind of settled in and we just stayed on course and talked at half time about that we were going to go out and have a chance to make this a really good basketball game and that's what happened. It's really disappointing that we get up six and don't capitalize. We had, gosh, we had some great shots that didn't go down. And give them all the credit in the world, we got to the free throw line, they shoot basically an air ball, might have grazed the rim and rebound it. If we come up with that rebound, we come down and turn it over. I mean, there's just a number of plays you can look at that if they have a couple of those open threes go down, it's probably our game.
But they have got an experienced group, they got a group that's been through a whole lot together, and they weren't going to fold under the pressure, they were going to keep playing and they did a good job.

Q. Tai's last statement and what you said initially that you guys may have been stunned by them at first, do you think that was the story of the first half?
COACH MORRILL: Well, I think they did a great job. Their pressure and we were having a hard time getting the ball into the areas that we normally get it into and they were really bodying us out of the post. My experience in the NCAA's is it's going to be physical. There's not oftentimes a game is called very tight. And this game was not called very tight. It was, you were allowed to be physical out there and, yeah, they're a good Big East team and I think initially we haven't seen that kind of pressure in our league necessarily.
But we adjusted and we got the game at a decent tempo and got right back in it in the second half and there you go. It was a really good basketball game from there on out.

Q. Can you talk just a little bit about the play of Jared Quayle. Seemed like he gave you guys the spark towards the end of the first half there and then in the second half when you guys needed momentum he hit some big shots.
COACH MORRILL: For a while he was the only one that could score. At half time we had three guys who had scored and not near enough points, obviously. Jared's a kind of a sneaky athlete. He's very vertical, he can go by you better than you think he should. He has just has had a phenomenal year out of junior college and obviously he's been a big part of the year we have had and fortunately tonight he played very well.

Q. Coach Morrill, you guys, like you said, you only had three guys score at half time, you had three bench points in the game and that was on a last second three-pointer by Jackson. How big a factor did the bench play in this game, not being able to give you guys a real offensive lift off the bench?
COACH MORRILL: I don't think they got much time. Stavon got some time, and the nature of post season and tournament play and conference and then when you get to the post season a lot of times your comfort level is with your guys who have played the most minutes. And Stavon got some really good looks and got more minutes under the circumstances, no one else got a lot of minutes, so I don't think in fairness to them I can criticize our bench play at all.
You know, for one thing, the time outs last about 10 to 15 minutes, so the guys can rest. So you're going to keep your players out there longer. I don't think Marquette had a lot of guys playing minutes either off their bench.

Q. Along those lines, how badly did you need someone else besides those three guys to score, whether it was a starter or off the bench that really just opened things up? It seemed like they were able to key on those three because no one else could hit the basket?
COACH MORRILL: We just needed a couple baskets is all we needed. It wasn't like we were down 20 and needed all this stuff, we just needed to make a couple open shots when we were up. And they didn't go down. That's basketball. So, yeah, it would have been nice had we made those, but we didn't.

Q. Can you talk a little bit about your plan of attack, how you guys were able to get back from down 14 and take the lead?
COACH MORRILL: Well, our whole year has been based around playing through our posts. The only way we were going to have a chance to get back in the game was to do just that. And it was either, you know, it was at least you knew that, okay, we didn't start doing things that we can't do, we went with what got us here. That was the whole plan of attack in the second half is to play through Gary and Tai. And obviously Tai had a big second half and things started going our way there for a while and we were in good shape with five minutes to go. Just couldn't close it out. And that again is a credit to Marquette.

Q. With 19, 20 seconds left you guys got the rebound on the missed free throw. What was the play called, the defensive matchups that were you hoping to take advantage of and it ended up with Gary's 3-pointer. Just in your words.
COACH MORRILL: We just run what we call a quick in that situation. You don't have a lot of time, we're trying to get the ball up the floor and run a high wheel option ball screen where Gary is the roll-up man and he got a decent look, not a great look, but he got a decent look. And any time you're down to the towards the end of the game, you have to -- I'm not a big believer in letting them set their defense and all of that. We tried to fly the ball up the court and got a decent look and it didn't go down.

Q. When the game changed the first four or five minutes of the second half, you came out, it seemed like, just wanting to move the ball much quicker, way more aggressive than you had been. Specifically did you talk about that in the locker room?
COACH MORRILL: You know, it was all positive in the locker room. There was no point, our guys knew that it had been a struggle and my whole point with them was we were going to make it a game, we were going to have a chance to win going down the stretch. We have had a lot of times like this this year that we have rallied back and found a way to win games then.
So yeah, I think the kids came out feeling like that they hadn't played as well as they could and played much, much better. We shoot a high percentage. Just too many fouls. Too many fouls and they kept scoring from the line. That was the frustrating part.

Q. Coach Morrill, with this post season and previous post seasons in the past, what experience or new experiences will this team, this nucleus be able to draw from this experience and bring it back next year?
COACH MORRILL: Well, you know, there's no guarantees. I mean, what everybody would like to say is that, Hey, okay, now we'll be back next year. And, you know, but we're not a league that's getting five or six or seven bids. It's very, very difficult to get here.
We hope to have a good basketball team again next year, we have had a lot of good basketball teams. But the last thing I want to do is act like we're automatically going to be back in the NCAA tournament. That's crazy. That's absurd.
We'll start up again in October and see what we can do. But certainly post season experience is positive and we have had a number of years where we have went back to back, you know. And gosh, that will be our goal. We'll go see if we can get that done. But the last thing I'm going to do is put too much pressure on our kids. The nature of our ten years of post season and all of that, they feel enough, they feel enough pressure without me applying pressure.

Q. Coach, you said something about being stunned by their athleticism and their quickness at the beginning of the game. In the regular season you probably didn't get to play very many teams with athletes like Marquette has. I realize scheduling for the Utah's of the world isn't just call whoever you want, but are you going to try and get maybe teams like Marquette one or two on your regular season schedule so that you're not surprised when you see in the NCAA tournament?
COACH MORRILL: Yeah, and they're going to come back to Logan, right? (Laughter.) Why are you laughing?
Absolutely, we're going to try like hell. We're going to try like hell to get those teams on our schedule. But it's got to be fair. It's got to be fair. I mean, we'll play them on a neutral or play them on a TV game, but, you know, what you're talking about is us going to their place and playing and that ain't fair. So you know, we'll -- I would love to get more of those games on our schedule. That would be great. We'll try.
THE MODERATOR: All right, thank you, Coach.

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