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March 22, 2009

Byron Eaton

Travis Ford

Terrel Harris


Pittsburgh – 84
Oklahoma State - 76

THE MODERATOR: Joining us are student-athletes Byron Eaton, Terrell Harris and Obi Muonelo. Coach, an opening statement.
TRAVIS FORD: I want to first congratulate Pittsburgh for a good -- I thought it was a hard-fought game, obviously a lot of lead changes. Our kids played extremely hard. I just thought we were a couple of rebounds shy of getting to where we wanted to be.
When you look at the stat sheet, the stats are what we wanted when a team outrebounds you by 14 -- has 14 more offensive rebounds more than you have but only shoots only three more shots than you do, it's not hard to tell what really hurt us tonight.
We knew coming into the game they were a big, physical basketball team. I thought our kids did everything they could to rebound the basketball. We blocked out. We did some good things, but Blair and Young seemed to come up with good plays when they needed them. Our kids played hard. They were very big on the glass.
We got them to take a lot of the first shots that we wanted. It's just in the first half, again, they missed 12 shots and had 10 offensive rebounds. So it's going to take its toll on your basketball team after a while.
But our kids fought back, got down 10, 11, 12, and followed all the way back to take the lead with a little over three minutes to go. Gave ourselves an opportunity. But Pittsburgh made a few plays down the stretch. Proud of our guys and the effort they gave and the season that they had, and just excited for these guys to be a part of this.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for the student-athletes only.

Q. Byron, getting to this point in your career and it taking so long to actually get to play in the tournament, what's your mindset now knowing that you made it? It was so close actually overcoming this Pittsburgh team.
BYRON EATON: Like you said, it was a long time coming. And I had to wait until my senior year before I was able to experience the tournament. But we was right there in the game. We was never out of it. And Pittsburgh is a good team. You can't take nothing from them guys. We had a great game plan, but we just wasn't able to accomplish what we wanted to do today.
They had a lot of second shots. That's what hurt us. I just want to just be thankful for making the tournament and able to play two games into the tournament my senior year.
Some guys go all four years and not be able to make it at all. So I think me and Terrel, we're thankful for making it, but we definitely wanted it to go a lot deeper than what we did.

Q. That collision with DeJuan, one, what happened with your shoulder, and two, how much pain were you playing with the rest of the way?
BYRON EATON: I think I hit his knee, it brought back an old injury I've been battling with since I got here. And a little thing like that, I can't let it stop me. It was hurting. I couldn't feel it for a minute, but I'm playing with a toe injury and I let that stop me. So I can't let a little nag in the shoulder injury stop me, either. I have to get back up, take a few seconds off, and get back in and help my team to fight. A little thing like that, like coach told us, you've got April and May to get -- to rest and get well.
So now I'm just kind of mad that I have to nurse it a little earlier than what I wanted to.

Q. Terrel, same question for you, coming so close and it taking so long to actually get to this point with the NCAA Tournament, what's your mindset looking forward?
TERREL HARRIS: I'm just glad we made it. I thought we had a good chance, had a good run this season. It didn't happen earlier, but that's just how it goes sometimes. I can't look at what didn't happen, I can just look at what has happened in my past and look forward to the future.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks, guys. Questions for Coach.

Q. Travis, did you have the kind of game in the first half, did you have it going the way you wanted it? Was that the way you wanted to play?
TRAVIS FORD: No question. We actually wanted to get out on the break as much as possible and get the game going as fast as possible. I wish we could have stopped them a few more times, but I think both teams were making a lot of shots, we were making 3s and they were making 3s.
But the pace of the game was exactly the way we wanted to play in the first half. No question it changed in the second half and it became more of a half court game for both teams.
But when we were able to make our run in the second half to take the lead, late in the game, it was off some transition baskets, getting the pace back the way we wanted. We knew in a half court game we wouldn't be able to survive against a bigger, stronger, deeper team like Pittsburgh.
But it was going the way we wanted it.

Q. Was it discouraging at all that you shot so well in the first half but you only were tied at halftime?
TRAVIS FORD: Oh, no. We have a great amount of respect for Pittsburgh. So we knew we shot well. We knew they played well. But when you're going up against the No. 1 seed and you're tied at halftime, you know you've got a shot the second half, sure, we'd like to have been up more. We could have had some opportunities to be up a few points if we had rebounded the basketball. We just couldn't -- I thought our guys were fighting. It wasn't something you could sit back and say we weren't blocking out or guys weren't playing hard.
It wasn't that at all. They were in there scrapping and clawing and doing everything possible they could to rebound. It was just we would go up 10 feet and Blair and Young would go up maybe 11 feet.
So you just gotta give Pittsburgh a lot of credit. They're a great team. They're going to obviously do very well in this tournament. But our kids played hard. They played hard. We were just, again, a few rebounds shy of being, of having the success that we wanted.

Q. Travis, compared to like Oklahoma and some other teams you played this year, seemed like Pitt just had, they just kept bringing guys in with bodies.
TRAVIS FORD: The more guys, bigger guys, all their guys are rebounders. Again, watch the tape. And we talked to our team as much as we could talking to them about, hey, you've played Michigan State, Gonzaga, Oklahoma three times.
Watching film we knew these guys were probably the biggest most physical team we played against because of the numbers they have that are big and physical and they keep running them at you. When you block off Blair, Young gets it. When you block off Young, Blair's going to get it. And Biggs and other guys who are just great rebounders and physical players.
You can go back, Pittsburgh's done a great job the past four, five, six, seven years. It's all about rebounding with them. They're just a great rebounding program, much less a rebounding team. Their numbers are about rebounding every single year, and they do a great job of getting second shots.
We kept telling our team they are taking the first shots we want. Even when we took the lead with three minutes to go, they came down and missed. They got the rebound, though. And we just couldn't get -- we couldn't get those percentages on our side.

Q. Working on a story about Louisville and what Pitino has done. You obviously know him very well. What are your thoughts on what he's done, and do you see similarities between where Louisville is now and where he got Kentucky when you were there?
TRAVIS FORD: Obviously I think Coach Pitino's the greatest college coach in America, just somebody who I look up as a mentor of mine and somebody who I rely on tremendously. No question he's built this Louisville basketball team up to one of the elite programs in America.
He's already taken them to one Final Four already. And he's just -- he's doing the job he's done everywhere he's been in college basketball. He gets his players to believe in themselves. He makes every player better than they ever thought they could be. He's a great motivator, great X and O coach.
But he knows always how to push the right buttons when they need to be pushed. And, again, I wish him a lot of success. I went in the locker room and spoke to him a couple minutes ago and wished him the best of luck. He's obviously someone who has meant a lot to me and meant a lot to my career.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach.

End of FastScripts

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