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March 20, 2009
USC Â– 72
Boston College - 55
MODERATOR: We're joined on the dais by the USC student-athletes Daniel Hackett on my far left, DeMar DeRozan and Taj Gibson in addition to Head Coach Tim Floyd. We will begin with an opening statement.
COACH FLOYD: Well, I thought that we were very good in the second half defensively. And I thought that Taj anchored it underneath. He was great at helping Dwight Lewis and Marcus Simmons in the screen and rolls. I thought that Daniel did a very good job on Sanders, who we were very worried about going into the game. I thought Lewis did a very good job on Trapani, not losing concentration to hit him and his ability to shoot it.
We did a much better job of executing offensively in the second half. We only had four turnovers. We made some plays off the dribble that really led to easy baskets. Taj was terrific offensively in terms of his efficiency. DeMar was, I thought, very, very solid in terms of a help defender all night long and on the boards, both boards, and finished plays for us. He did a nice job on Raji in the second half.
So it was a very good team effort, and we had a lot of respect for Boston College going in. We had watched their tapes of North Carolina and Duke where they had beaten those guys, and I think our guys treated it with great respect. And maybe the loss a year ago to Kansas State helps Taj and Daniel and Dwight that were out there on the floor.
MODERATOR: Questions for the student-athletes.
Q. Taj, two-parter. What seemed to change with about 10, 13 minutes left? Can you tell us what happened on that one missed free throw?
TAJ GIBSON: We just turned it around. We just got stops on the defensive end. That's what we are known for, just stopping the team. Good defensive stops. We rebounded the ball well. DeMar kept rebounding, rebounding.
We were able to turn it around. That's a great team back there. They were relentless. We just had to lock in all ways. On the free throw, I am not too sure about that. It just came out, I guess.
Q. Taj, did you catch your matchup with Josh? Did you feel you had an advantage in the front court? What was your match up on him?
TAJ GIBSON: Early in the game I just noticed my teammates were able to create for me and just dish it off each time and I was able to get easy buckets. And my teammates just kept looking for me. It wasn't just I figured out I could go, we just played together.
It takes five to win and we showed tonight how we just moved the ball, looking for open looks for other guys and we played well tonight.
Q. Taj and Daniel, can you follow up on what Coach Floyd said about the K-State loss last year? Were you guys thinking about that? How did that factor into your determination to not lose quickly this time?
DANIEL HACKETT: Yeah, we talked about that. And we wanted to come out and play a solid game and, you know, give an all-out effort to not let our people down. You know, we came out a little flat, had a couple of mental mistakes in the first half, but still were able to get the ball inside to Taj who had a tremendous game.
And Dwight and DeMar also played tremendously. We did a good job holding them to 32 percent shooting and we shot 50 percent ourselves. So I think that's the key to the game right there.
TAJ GIBSON: We just came out kind of sluggish, like he said. Coach really got into us in the locker room just understanding you how we didn't want the whole Kansas State thing to happen again. We got -- they just out rebounded us real well last year; this year we wanted to make a staple and come out and rebound well against a tough ACC team.
That was the key, guys coming back and rebounding the ball and just playing as a family, because the stand takes five and it showed.
Q. For Daniel and DeMar, what has Taj meant to this team throughout the run that you guys had, and obviously with his effort tonight?
DEMAR DEROZAN: It means a lot. Taj is making a lot of stuff easy for us. Looking for him, he definitely looks for us on the back side.
You know, he made the game easier for us. He helped us on the defensive end, offensive rebounds to get out in transition so we can make plays for others. So, you know, it is a major key for us. It just made the game easier for us.
Q. Daniel, DeMar made a reference to how it kind of makes the game easier when Taj is involved in scoring like that. Can you just follow up on that? How does it affect the game offensively for all you guys?
DANIEL HACKETT: Taj is a guy that draws a lot of attention when we feed him. And, you know, guys dig in on him, you know. He gets double-teamed and he is a great passer from the post. You know, as you can see, had five assists.
We want to keep playing through him. Definitely when the ball comes out, we want to swing it around and get open looks.
Q. I think, Taj, you would say it takes time. But for all of you guys, why was it more cohesive in the second half than the first? How hard is it when you have an assembly of talent to get it all on one page?
TAJ GIBSON: It was tough in the first. Shots weren't going down. Guys really battling on the defensive side, but they were just making a lot of great plays. Players on the other team just stepped up, hit a bunch of big shots.
But the main thing, we turned it around. We talked in the locker room and we just used all that timing that we had and just made a run. We understand that it takes us as a family to win games. And it showed in the second half how guys just moving the ball, swinging it, guys diving on the floor, see Leonard Washington get a split under his eye, but he got up smiling because he knew it was a good play that made a change in the game. He got a split under his eye, a cut. He should be all right.
But small plays like that make the team great and it showed tonight.
Q. For Taj, can you remark on DeMar's development and how he's kind of had this turning point here in recent weeks?
TAJ GIBSON: It is a roller coaster to see how he matures each game and he lets the game come to him. He doesn't just go out and do flip-out crazy shots; he lets the game come to him.
He asked for guidance sometimes and that's amazing. Seeing how well he matured last game, especially the championship game. I told him how proud of him I was. He stepped up big. He is willing to take big-time shots. And he fills in. He rebounds well. He is a team player. And that's what we needed this year and it's been working out great for us.
Q. DeMar, it seemed like every possession you guys were slashing to the basket, drawing fouls and stuff like that. Is that your strategy coming in? Was that an in-game adjustment? Is that what you usually try to do?
DEMAR DEROZAN: That's what Coach tell us always to do, be aggressive, try to get to the free-throw line early in the game. Get up foul shots and get easy plays at the beginning of the game and just stay aggressive. So that's one way we always try to come out and get involved in the game. Have all the perimeter players drive, be aggressive and try to get fouled.
Q. For any of you, can you talk about Dwight's defense on Rice? He never seemed to really get into a rhythm, only two points in the second half. Can you kind of talk about how important that was?
DEMAR DEROZAN: It was tremendous, you know. Dwight always take pride in defending the team's best player. And you know, we really had confidence in Dwight to go out there and stop Rice. You know, he's a great player and Dwight really gave it his all on the defensive end and tried to shut him down.
TAJ GIBSON: I just think he did a great job. He's been playing that way all year. And Coach Floyd keeps digging into him, and he just responds. And each time as a man, just goes out there and does a great job. No complaining out of him.
We have guys on this team that want to step up at any time in the game. And between he and Marcus Simmons, guys that fought hard on the defensive end and they were relentless. Coaches kept digging into them, kept digging into them and they kept responding well, like men.
That's what we told each other coming into this game, and coming into the Pac tournament we need men this time of season, and it has been shown.
Q. Taj, would there have been any time, even if you had missed a shot, would there have been any time that you think you would have remembered doing that when you are in a rhythm like that?
TAJ GIBSON: No, not really. I was more worried about the defensive end, just trying to help my teammates contain Rice and Sanders and those guys. Just great players. And just trying to rebound the ball. My mindset was trying to get defensive rebounds, and just help my team any way I can and not pick up a fifth foul.
We were able to get great looks. My teammates were unselfish. They would dish and find me, but my main goal was to try to get as many rebounds as I could because that's a great rebounding team and do as much things as Coach trusts us to do, and it worked out well tonight.
MODERATOR: Guys, thank you very much. We will excuse the student-athletes back to the locker room.
Questions for Coach Floyd.
Q. Tim, did you really bring up the K-State game in the locker room at halftime here?
COACH FLOYD: I don't know if I did. I don't remember what I said. I really don't.
Q. I thought that's what one of the guys said.
COACH FLOYD: I heard that, I thought maybe. I am 55; I can't remember what I said.
Q. Obviously that loss stayed with you.
COACH FLOYD: Sure it did. Sure it did. I just thought we played through Hackett. Hackett's a real important part of our team, and I thought he was a big difference in the second half. I thought his motor was running, and I thought he rebounded the defensive board. He wasn't turning it over in the second half. Was getting into the lane and creating for others. Had some huge defensive boards and he did a great job on Sanders.
He's the guy we can't play without. And I thought he was a different player in the second half.
Q. Do you worry about wearing him out, Hackett? In another game, 40 minutes, can he keep it up?
COACH FLOYD: No, he played 120 minutes in the Pac-10 tournament. He played every second in the Pac-10 tournament and never game out. It's one thing if he hadn't been doing it all year. He's been doing it all year.
Q. Coach, do you as a team celebrate this win at all? Or is it instantly on to the next game, all business?
COACH FLOYD: No, we don't celebrate it at all. And I liked the maturity in the locker room after it was over. They understood that this is a tournament. It's not a one-game series, you know, winner take all. You've got to go play.
And, you know, I think it's advantageous that we were able to play the earlier game and that our guys were able to go back home, get some sleep, watch the second half of this game on TV, and get up and prepare tomorrow.
In the Pac-10, this is how we play. We play Thursday-Saturday which I think is a great preparation for this tournament. We only have one day of preparation between games. We have to do it all year, all of us. And hopefully we'll take advantage of that.
Q. For those of us who haven't seen you play all that much, is this a different team than it was in February when you were losing six or seven or are you a different coach in any way?
COACH FLOYD: No, we are the same team. I was trying to get that across to everybody and they were beating us up when we lost six or seven. And I think our league is 5-1 right now in this tournament. It is who we were playing and where we were playing.
We had one stinker all season and that was at UCLA to start that streak. We were really bad, but they were very, very good. And then we went to Arizona and it was tied with 40 seconds to go. And they made a 3 to beat us. And then to Arizona State, a terrific basketball team and we had it within 3 with 50 seconds to go. Came back and had a great win against Washington State who went on and beat UCLA that weekend on the road, and then lost to Washington, which understandable. They are a great basketball team. And then we went to Cal and got beat in overtime and then got beat at Stanford. And Stanford left that game and went to Arizona State and won.
This league, we have been trying to tell people, it's very difficult because 80 percent of the teams are capable of playing in this tournament. You can't say that about all of these other leagues that they are talking about. There's a bottom third or quadrant that you can count on wins. And in our league, really 80 percent of the teams, well, really 90 because of the great job that Craig Robinson has done at Oregon State, there are just no easy wins. Oregon was down this year.
But we got a tough stretch of the schedule. Sometimes it is who you are playing and where you are playing and what they are made of.
Q. Coach, can you just talk about the psychology of being on a roll and how what you've done especially lately has kind of fed on itself and built?
COACH FLOYD: I think the psychology part of it is important. I think you can learn how to lose and you can learn how to win. So we do like the fact that we are playing with a lot of confidence right now.
I think the one thing that has changed with our team is the health of our team, and the fact that Marcus Simmons is getting us into a defense out front. He is a real pest out front. And really gives us a great presence at the 10-second line or at the head of our defense.
And we have not had that all year long. We've had -- you know, we're a big team. We'll small but we're big. The perimeter guys are all 6-6 and above. But Marcus has by far the best feet of the group and the best energy and motor. And I think he has energized our defense.
Q. The philosophy with Tyrese Rice with a lot of teams is cut off the head and the body will die. Talk about it sounds like it was more important to you to keep the other parts in control. Just talk about kind of the idea that -- controlling Sanders and Trapani.
COACH FLOYD: Well, Sanders the last five games has been really -- looks like all of their plays have been running through Sanders last five games. He had several 20-point games. So we were very concerned with him. And Trapani is a guy you just can't lose vision from because he is so dangerous as a shooter. A play in the second half we ran off and left him and he made us pay with a 3.
But, you know, we felt like we might be able to control Rice with Simmons out front because he was able to do that to Collison last week, another great guard in our league. And we were more concerned with what was going on behind us.
Q. Coach, was attacking the basket, you know, drawing fouls and getting all those points in the paint -- I think almost all of your points came in the paint, is that what you have done all year?
COACH FLOYD: We shoot fewer 3s than 90 percent of the teams in the country. We don't shoot a lot of them. We've made our living getting to the line and making more free throws than the people that we are playing against. We have been an attack-oriented team.
Q. You alluded to the defense early on, and you held them to 23 percent in the second half while you guys shot almost 58 percent. Can you talk about how the defense may have had something to do with the high percentage?
COACH FLOYD: It had everything to do with it. We were able to get stops and defensive boards. And the rebounding numbers of Hackett and Lewis and DeRozan, our three perimeter players, and they were able to key early transition, attack offense coming the other way. They got it out and advanced it quickly. We had a lot of plays at the rim in conversion because of stops.
Q. Again, about the defense, Coach. Is this a case of exceptional execution? Or is this something that you've seen consistently all season?
COACH FLOYD: You know, we've had stretches where we've been very good defensively. Like UCLA in the tournament giving up 27 percent for the game to UCLA. We held teams to under 40 for the most part all year long. There have been some games that haven't been nearly as good. We have given up a bunch. But tonight we were much better in the second half.
MODERATOR: Okay, thank you, Coach.
COACH FLOYD: Thank you.
End of FastScripts