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March 20, 2009
Q. Justin, if you would, you and Purdue have a similar situation in that each of you had a freshman point guard come in. They have Lewis Jackson and Isaiah came in for you guys. How has he transitioned in and was it very easy to accept his style of play and what he brought to the table?
JUSTIN DENTMON: It was very easy. We knew he had scoring ability when he came in. We just needed him to come in and dial in and focus on running our teams and getting the guys involved as well as getting him involved. I think putting him to our team is like a missing piece that we have found and now we've got it.
Q. Quincy, you mentioned yesterday that your offseason workouts were starting to pay off for you and your overall work ethic was paying off. Can you talk about what it was like before and what changes have you made and how are you seeing it pay off?
QUINCY PONDEXTER: My work ethic has always been there, since high school. During the season it's hard to stay consistent with it. I was just trying to add a lot of what I do in the offseason to the in-season and it just really helps a lot.
Q. Matt Painter said he recruited you when he was at Purdue. I just wonder what you remember of him and also were you close at all to actually going to Purdue?
JUSTIN DENTMON: No, I was not close to going to Purdue, because I had Illinois on my mind at that time. So it was just a weird situation, because both Bruce Weber and Matt Painter were together, they were both recruiting at the same time.
I think he's a good coach, a good person off the court. And it would be a good match-up for somebody to know.
Q. Any of you guys can answer this. I'm assuming you've had a chance, obviously, to watch a little bit of tape on Purdue, what struck you as maybe some of their strengths?
ELSTON TURNER: Well, from what we've seen they are very fundamental and they don't beat themselves, so we're going to have to play real fundamentally sound for us, because we can't make that many mistakes, because they'll create off our turnovers, also. So just that and -- they average 11 turnovers a game. We've just got to play strong defensively and not try to force any steals, just play fundamentally sound defense.
Q. You have a little bit of an advantage in that this is essentially a home game for you. How important is it for you to have your fans here? How important was it yesterday and will it be tomorrow?
QUINCY PONDEXTER: It's important to have that support, have the fans, for them to travel and come see us play is an honor for us. We really want to play well for them, because we wouldn't want to drive far to see someone play and they don't do well or play their hardest. So it's just really like we're all thankful that they all come to see us play.
Q. Justin, are you expecting them -- they're kind of a slow down team, you guys are a high scoring team, do you expect them to pull the Washington State and control the pace and keep things low scoring?
JUSTIN DENTMON: We are expecting that. Like the coach said, they're like a Washington State last year. They've got a lot of talented guys and what we're going to do is play our game, create turnovers and try to get them in a little bit of a running game.
Q. Quincy, what is the perception out here of Big Ten basketball?
QUINCY PONDEXTER: Very physical. We see their games on TV and it's always really physical. We know one of their players, Kramer, has been a defensive player three years in a row, and he's really a tough, hard-nosed guy. And they're going to physically try to impose their will on us, and we have to play as best we can.
Q. Quincy, speaking of very physical, can you talk about what it's like to play and practice with Brockman and what sort of damage he's done over the years?
QUINCY PONDEXTER: You just better hope you're on the same team as him in practice. Even though you're on the same team, he throws an elbow and might hit you in the face. He plays as hard as he can every possession. And it's just -- it's great to learn from someone like that, because there's not many guys around the country that play as hard as he does.
Q. I heard this from one of the Washington reporters, did you guys sing Happy Birthday to Jon Brockman in the locker room back there? What did you guys get him for his birthday?
QUINCY PONDEXTER: We got a little surprise coming for him tonight, I can't really tell what it is. We're going to get him pretty good (laughter.)
Q. Doesn't sound like a gift.
QUINCY PONDEXTER: It's a gift. It's some of both.
Q. Just kind of describe how you're able to score so many points? Is it a balance kind of thing? Obviously you kind of want to push the tempo. Is that basically where the points come from?
JUSTIN DENTMON: Our points come off our defense. A good offense starts with good defense. And we try to emphasize that through practices and really when we get a stop we want to finish it with a rebound. We start inside, out. If anything else creates for the guards and then the bigs.
Q. For any of you guys, yesterday became apparent at least before the game and during the game it sounds like some of the Mississippi State players were saying how they felt Washington was soft and obviously you guys did something, but is that something where you continue to kind of maybe fight against some of these perceptions that some of these teams from other parts of the country have?
QUINCY PONDEXTER: I think that's just something that they think. They don't really get to see us play as much, because we come on late at night. And a lot of us are from California, so they think we surf all day or something. I don't see why they think that. After the game I don't think they were saying the same thing?
For me, personally, I just think that a lot of people don't respect the PAC-10 in general because of the talent that they had last year. And people are starting to realize that the Pac-10 is just as talented as it was last year, from the perspective where all the teams still play hard and still come up with wins. We have six teams in the NCAA tournament. And people are just starting to realize that we're actually for real and we're not just a joke.
Q. Justin, have you watched Kramer much and what are your impressions? He looks like the kind of guy that can give a guard a lot of problems if you can sort of lock a guy up.
JUSTIN DENTMON: He is a big guy. He's like Venoy Overton, but a little stronger. He gets into the guys with the ball. And to me it's a challenge to guard a guy like that, because you don't get too many guys that play defense like that, where you come against a great team. All I can say is it's going to be a challenge going against him.
Q. What do you see as the keys to the game tomorrow?
QUINCY PONDEXTER: Staying focused on the defensive end and rebounding shots and matching their competitiveness to win this game and playing as physical as they are. It's going to be an exciting game for both teams. We don't want our season to end and I know they don't want their season to end tomorrow. It's going to be an all out war.
Q. Justin, you know the answer to this question, so I won't ask you. For the other two guys, you both grew up in this part of the country. Do you know where Purdue is located?
QUINCY PONDEXTER: I Googled it this morning. I know their school enrollment and everything, now.
Q. Before you Googled it, where did you think they might be located?
QUINCY PONDEXTER: I knew it was in Indiana, but I didn't know exactly where. But we know now.
Q. You know the top majors and the engineering school, you know it all now?
QUINCY PONDEXTER: Yep, know it all. I was starting to Google their fight song, but I didn't want to do all that (laughter.)
ELSTON TURNER: I actually knew where Purdue was, because I'm good friends with Brad Miller who is on the Sacramento Kings and Carl Landry went to Purdue and he's on the Houston Rockets. I'm good friends with both of them, so I kind of knew where it was.
Q. Coach, I want to ask you about Jon Brockman and we see how hard he plays in the games. I wonder what he's like in practice and do you ever have to tone it down a little bit so you don't get all your guys hurt?
COACH ROMAR: He's the same in practice. He's the same in the airport. He's the same everywhere he goes. He's the same at the bowling alley. I don't even think he tries to hit the pins, I think he just tries to break the backstop behind the pins. He does everything one way. I tell this story quite a bit. When he just graduated from high school, right before he graduated from high school he had already signed to come to the University of Washington and he was on our campus. We were on the upper concourse in our gym. And I was messing around with the basketball, and kind of dribbled it off my foot. And it was about to go down the stairs down to the floor. And I had to make a decision how I was going to get it. And John just yells out without even thinking, to me, "dive"! He wanted me to dive on the ball. So you're asking me how is he in practice, is he the same that way -- he's always like that.
Q. Does he ever hurt anybody or how do the other guys react?
COACH ROMAR: He gets hurt and others have been hurt. There are several victims within our program that have encountered Jon Brockman's body one way another. He's had his nose broken half a dozen times. He's broken others half a dozen times. They kind of pass this mask around for broken noses. Just bring them the mask, we've got another one.
Q. Can you talk a little bit about the development of Isaiah Thomas's game this season. And speak a little bit about what you know about Lewis Jackson and maybe compare and contrast a little bit?
COACH ROMAR: They're both very quick and very fierce competitors. Isaiah began the year feeling very confident that he could go out and score whenever he wanted and defenses began basically suggesting to him that that wasn't going to be the case, because you'd get an occasional charge and get caught in the air. And then he backed it off a little bit and he's really, really adjusted his game to where he's now picking his spots more to where he's going to go to the basket. I give him a lot of credit for that. He's made a big adjustment that way.
Q. Can you speak a little bit about what you know about Lewis Jackson?
COACH ROMAR: Fierce competitor, extremely fast. Kind of is like Venoy Overton in defending the basketball. Can really create havoc in guarding the dribble. You have to protect the ball around him. He's a good penetrator in his own right.
Q. Is it an oversimplification to reduce this game to a match-up of a team that likes to play up tempo and score the ball versus a typical Big Ten team that is more plodding and defensive-oriented?
COACH ROMAR: If you compare the two of us you may say that they're a little more -- you used the word plodding, I'd say a little more conservative than we are. But if you watch that Purdue team closely, if they have an opportunity to get it and run it down your throat, they will.
Michigan State is a little bit like that. If they have an opportunity to run, they won't run a half court offense, they'll run and get baskets in transition. They slow the game down and play like a plodding pace, as you said, they really get down and pressure the ball and try to take away your entry passes.
A lot of teams that slow the ball down, they just kind of sit back and play a conservative packed man-to-man. Purdue is not like that, I think they're versatile. They can push the ball at you, but when they run the half court, they will not take bad shots, they take their time and reverse the basketball. And I think we're more on the attack mode offensively and defensively.
Q. It seemed like against Mississippi State there was a very unique dynamic in the terms of they have the great shot blocker and four-guard. Does Purdue's makeup feel more like a standard PAC-10 team, a little more like what you would see during the season?
COACH ROMAR: Not really, because I don't think there's a PAC-10 team that uses all five guys out on the floor like Purdue does. Their bigs step out on the floor and can knock the perimeter shot down, everyone on that floor can do that. And with their motion your bigs, which will be our bigs tomorrow, placed in positions all over the floor and sometimes guys just aren't comfortable defending out there. So they're a little different than any of the PAC-10 teams that we faced this year in that regard.
Q. Their guard, Kramer, is the kind of guy who can lock up a guy, it seems like. I wonder what you think about his presence and what that will mean for your guards?
COACH ROMAR: Well, he definitely has a presence. He told our guys he reminds me of a guy that is a student athlete at University of Washington named Jake Locker. He's a quarterback and he's huge. You look at Kramer, that's what he looks like. He's tough. He's around that basketball. He's got a nose for the ball. You have to be careful when he's around anywhere because he'll steal you blind. Very strong, very strong, physical.
Q. How will Isaiah and Justin do against him?
COACH ROMAR: How will Isaiah and Justin do? We'll see. Those guys are pretty quick, so I'm sure it will be a strong battle, because Kramer is quick, as well, but he's also strong.
Q. Does Brockman currently have a broken nose? We heard something maybe from yesterday.
COACH ROMAR: He says he does. I haven't totally figured it out yet (laughter.) He's got a broken nose, he says he has a broken nose, but he doesn't have a mask. And I think he's just so used to having them he's just going to finish it out. Yeah, I broke my nose again, let's play. That's just kind of how he is. He says he thinks he broke it.
Q. But doesn't anticipate wearing a mask as far as you know?
COACH ROMAR: No. He didn't wear one last night and he got hit in the nose last night. And he just said, I got hit in the nose, and that was it.
Q. You guys led the PAC-10 in scoring, can you talk about why you're able to have offensive success, at least in putting points on the board?
COACH ROMAR: Our team is very unique in that we don't really have a three point shooting attack unless Justin Dentmon or Elston Turner is really on a roll on that particular night. What we've been able to do is really attack the basket in terms of offensive rebounding, penetration and then just throwing the ball inside. That has allowed us to get to the free three throw line quite a bit.
We've compensated for a lack of three point shooting with being able to get to the foul line. We also like to get out in transition. But even in games when we weren't able to score a lot of baskets in transition, we were still able to get to the foul line more than our opponents, and that's helped us with our scoring.
Q. It seems like Venoy is really starting to get a bigger and bigger reputation nationally as being a great on-ball defender. Coach Painter said he's probably going to be the best on-ball defender that Purdue has seen all year long. How do you straddle that fine line between letting him do what he does and also the things that come along with that?
COACH ROMAR: Last year, I remember specifically talking to Venoy about being too conservative and not being just more of a tough guy at times. And this year, I think -- I don't think I've had to talk to him about that. There is a fine line. I think there is a game within a game when you're out there playing. There's the game being played and within that game you and your opponent are trying to develop an edge of some kind.
And the play that was made when he got hit by that screen last night and was clocked when he didn't see it coming, I thought showed a lot of what Venoy Overton was about. He got right back up, he goes coast to coast for a layup and goes back on the defensive end and draws a charge, due to Venoy's ball pressure. You tell him to tone it down, I think you take away from his aggressiveness a bit. We're not into getting flagrant fouls and taunting, that we do not encourage. But at the same time I think there are some players that you let them have their space within reason.
Q. Are there certain perceptions that people out here have about Big Ten basketball? Are there certain perceptions that people in the midwest have of PAC-10 basketball?
COACH ROMAR: Well, typically I think the reputation for both is that the Big Ten is -- you used the word again, of more a plodder's conference. And they're very physical and everything is just kind of in the paint. It's maybe a slow-downed, conservative-type of basketball. Where the PAC-10 is more a finesse, wide open conference. I can tell you the PAC-10 has changed a little bit in that we have some teams in our league, probably half the teams in our league that play more of a conservative, slow down pace and very physical pace.
Q. Coach, when Quincy gets himself going like he did yesterday, how does that affect what you guys can do and how other teams have to set up for you?
COACH ROMAR: It gives us another option that makes it a little more difficult for our opponents to scout and defend. I don't think you can take away four guys. When we prepare for teams it's very difficult for us to take away four guys in terms of their productivity. You've got to pick your poison. And there have been games where you can see the game plan was to just stop Jon Brockman and Justin Dentmon and Isaiah Thomas have gone off.
I think here as of late the plan has been these two guards here were All-Conference guards. They're first and second leading scorers on the team. We've got to shut them down. And then Quincy Pondexter goes out and by halftime, maybe the scout has changed a little bit. Now we've got to stop Quincy. So it just makes it a little more difficult for teams to prepare for us, I would think.
I think the ideal situation is to have five guys in double figures, whether that be 10.0 to 11.5, if they were all this that number. But five guys on the floor that are capable of scoring that you can't leave off alone by themselves, that they are a scoring threat. I think that's when we are at our best. And Quincy Pondexter provides a lot of that.
Q. What will you emphasize to your team tomorrow in your pregame remarks?
COACH ROMAR: Well, they're going to be a very tough team. They're going to be physically tough. We can't get out-competed. And we have to be fundamentally sound.
Tomorrow's game is not a game where you experiment and try to make high risk plays, because Purdue will make you pay for it every time you make a mistake.
Q. Coach, have you heard from Brandon Roy or any of the guys from that era this week, and also do you consider, if you take that run and this run, do you consider them in your career two separate runs or all part of your Washington career?
COACH ROMAR: Boy, that's an interesting question. First of all, during the week that we won the PAC-10 championship one way or another we heard from a lot of those guys. We've been in touch even this week back and forth with some of those guys. Some of them have even come -- some of them even came to the game yesterday.
I think this is all one run. I think that the three years that we went in executive years to the NCAA tournament was a team that grew together. That team was broken up due to graduation and a couple of transfers, maybe. And we kind of had to rebuild. And during that rebuilding process we did it with a very, very young team that wasn't quite ready to have great leadership. We went through two years of that and I think the third year here is kind of the connecting team to those first three years to continue what was going on.
Q. You talked a little earlier about how sometimes teams are defending certain ways so that some of the other players in the team go off. Given the fact that Isaiah and Justin were 4 for 20 yesterday, are you seeing that, as a factor of defenses trying to take them out of the game now or has there been something else that accounted for something like that?
COACH ROMAR: I don't think there was any question, Justin and Isaiah were not getting the looks they got before. When Isaiah Thomas gets the ball right now, teams are loading up in the paint. Not unlike we do when we played against James Harden from Arizona State, Darren Collison, guys like that. Teams are just not giving him open lanes and then if you notice Justin Dentmon has a great shot fake and he has to use it a lot because teams are closing out on him.
Last night there was a situation on an out-of-bounds play where Justin Dentmon went to shoot and the guy's hand was there, he gave him a shot fake, the guy was done, and before Justin could regroup to shoot again, another guy was jumping at him. That has been typical the last part of the season. You can see that teams are gearing to stop those guys.
Q. Of the guys who have not been in the tournament before yesterday what impressed you most about how they handled all the other off the court or the atmosphere and everything that goes with this event?
COACH ROMAR: It comes from our leadership. If we were talking next year, maybe I could answer this question better. But right now our leadership is so good that the younger players are playing off of the lead of the older players. John and Justin Dentmon have been in the NCAA tournament as freshmen, and they learned a lot from the seniors when they were here. They are turning it around and being an example to our younger players. I've been impressed with the leadership. If I'm impressed with anything about our younger players, is them being able to put their egos aside and look to the leadership to kind of point the way.
Q. With Gonzaga also in this building do you see them as a chief recruiting rival, and also will you pick that series up with them again, playing them every year?
COACH ROMAR: No. 1, we've been here seven years and I would say conservatively two or three times we've gone down to the wire with someone where it was Washington and gone an as their last two schools. So I would say, no. We're not recruiting rivals with them, either we don't recruit the same players or when we do the decision is made before the guys really narrow it down, it's made pretty early.
Secondly, at some point the series will resume.
Q. Will that be soon, coach?
COACH ROMAR: Don't know. Don't know. But I can leave you with it will be resumed, just pry that door and just trying to keep -- (laughter.)
Q. With Turner, obviously it seems like he slowly built up his game over the course of the year. The last few games he's had, is that something you've seen coming?
COACH ROMAR: Way back in November in Kansas City, Elston Turner had a couple of good games, one good game in particular where he shot the ball well. And we saw in preseason how he just -- he was mature beyond his years. Then he hurt his ankle against Morgan State right before conference started. And he was out. He wasn't able to practice a couple of weeks. I think he missed about three weeks. And that set him back a little bit and it took him a while to get his conditioning back. And he was a freshman. It took him some games to just get better and get acclimated to college basketball.
It is now I think starting to kick in. It started I'd say a couple of weeks ago. And it's something if he wouldn't have been hurt we probably would have seen this type of play earlier in the year.
End of FastScripts