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March 22, 2009
Missouri Â– 83
Marquette - 79
THE MODERATOR: We'll go ahead and have an opening statement by Coach Williams and then take questions for the Marquette student-athletes.
COACH WILLIAMS: Congratulations to Missouri and Coach Anderson. Well deserving of the victory. Played a great game. I think that they're one of the best teams in the country. And I think that they proved that today.
THE MODERATOR: Take questions for the student-athletes.
Q. If you guys can just talk about when you fell behind 16 you couldn't buy a basket, you were able to keep it close somewhat with free throws, just talk about those last 12 minutes of the first half offensively and what was the key to falling behind.
JEREL McNEAL: I think just we went through a spurt there throughout the game where we weren't playing very well defensively and we were turning the ball over a little too much early on in the first half which led to them getting a run doing what they do best, get out in transition and getting easy layups and things like that. But a lot of problems were stemming from our offense just because we weren't getting the looks, we were taking quick bad shots which were leading to easy points for them in transition.
Q. Wesley, talk about the way you guys were able to get to the basket there in the second half and really turn the game around with getting in the lane and getting to the free throw line.
WESLEY MATTHEWS: We know that Missouri, they like to pressure. And we felt confident, we faced presses, we faced pressure the whole year and we felt confident that if we got past that first wave then we were going to be attacking big head on and they play so spread out and we play spread out so when we get into the middle and then in and out we have one of us three attacking one of their four or five men.
So that was our game plan and we were able to execute it a lot in the second half mainly because we were getting stops. Like he said, they were able to a make that run because we were basically giving them the ball and they did what they do best.
Q. Talk a little bit about the confusion and what's been going through your mind at the end of the game the last couple seconds with the conference here and no one really knew what was going on with the clock and all that stuff.
WESLEY MATTHEWS: I don't know. I don't think I had any thoughts. I was just kind of replaying in my head, I guess, how we got down to that point. All the technicalities, I mean that's not our job. That's not what we do. I think Coach Buzz was doing a great job trying to get the ref's attention and to point out that you know whatever he saw and whatever you guys saw, but as far as us players, I don't think we were consumed with that at all. I know I wasn't.
Q. For any of the players, how much did you know about Kim English coming in the game and were you at all surprised at the offense that he was able to provide in the first half?
DOMINIC JAMES: We knew that he was one of the best shooters on the floor. Obviously we didn't want to give him any open looks, but he got it going early. And it gave him a little bit more confidence. That's all in the scouting report and usually we stick to that. And we allowed him to get way too many open shots. And just like any great shooter, they're going to knock them down. He definitely gave them a boost off the bench much and gave them that spark that they needed.
Q. Jerel, you were the guy that fouled Tiller there on that last play. Were you surprised that he needed to come out of the game with that injury and just what were your thoughts on that whole process there?
JEREL McNEAL: I wasn't surprised. I don't think he was -- he's the -- I don't think he's the greatest free throw shooter. That's one of the technicalities about the game, if you, if you are somewhat hurt, faking hurt, or whatever it is, you can lay on the ground and then your trainer could come out and basically get a sub for him. And it's happened on many occasions, I seen it done before, so it wasn't a big surprise to me.
Q. Talk about your decision to play tonight and what the process was like? Did you practice for the first time yesterday or where were you at?
DOMINIC JAMES: The rehabilitation process has been great. We got a great training staff and they have been completely honest with me throughout the process and I've been completely honest with them. That's the great thing about the people that I'm surrounded by. They do a great job, all around the board.
I went to coach to let him know that I felt I could play. And I knew I could help the team. He just asked me if I was ready and if I felt confident that I can go out there and play my game and he told me to, the negative parts that can go, you know and obviously I felt like I could help in the positive. So we went, we discussed it a lot, you know, and at the end of the day we felt that we all came together and thought I should play, so.
Q. Dominic, you mentioned that you thought you could help the team. How do you feel like you played today and how does the foot feel right now?
DOMINIC JAMES: The main thing Maurice Acker, he's done an excellent job of running the ball club. If could I just get in there for couple minutes and just allow him to get a little bit of rest, I felt like I could do that. And it came down to him at the end game and he deserved to be in the game at the end of the game. He did an excellent job in that run when we got back in.
I felt like I played decent. Obviously I couldn't be as aggressive as I wanted to be, but I think I played solid defensively, but the game was never about me. It was about us, just like it's always been.
Q. Jerel, talk about the way you guys came back in the second half, was it frustrating not to have a real chance any time in the last 19 to 25 seconds there because Missouri kind of held the ball and then you had the turnover with the five seconds left on the baseline there. Not to really have a chance on the offensive end to win it.
JEREL McNEAL: Yeah, I mean, yeah. In a way it is. It was tough just never being able to get the ball back in our possession actually get a shot to either tie or go up on the game. But at the same time in the situation where we were in where the game was tied, all we needed was a stop and we didn't, we didn't do a good enough job at to get that stop and get the ball back in that situation.
Q. Can you walk us through the traveling call and what your job was on that play and just sort of what you saw from your vantage point.
WESLEY MATTHEWS: When Zar was taking the ball out?
WESLEY MATTHEWS: Is that what he called?
COACH WILLIAMS: It wasn't a travel.
Q. They said he stepped over the line.
WESLEY MATTHEWS: It definitely didn't look, it really didn't look like that to me. I was actually, before you asked me that question trying to replay what the possession was. And we just had cutters, we knew that they were going to try to switch and Lazar was able to run the baseline and my job was to come down the wing. And I mean I was fairly open, but he made the play to Jerel and I guess he stepped over the line or shuffled his feet or whatever, whatever the official called. And that's what I saw from my point. I didn't see any, any, any bad play there, but I'm not the one with the whistle.
THE MODERATOR: All right. Thank you, gentlemen. We'll take questions for Coach Williams.
Q. Can you take us through that last series there with Tiller and the free throws and everything. What was being explained to you and what did you see from your advantage point?
COACH WILLIAMS: Nothing was ever explained to me. I had to call timeout to get an explanation. The thing that I was asking for was for them to check the clock because I thought that the clock ran some, just a little, after the whistle. And so I used a timeout after failing to get their attention so that they could review the play and assess the clock situation.
Q. Can you just talk a little bit about the comeback you guys made and what it took to get back in this game.
COACH WILLIAMS: I thought we were much more in character in the second half offensively and defensively than we were in the first half. We didn't get -- we started the game the right way, I thought that the first two media timeouts we did a pretty good job defensively. And I thought we flowed well offensively.
And then over the last 12 minutes as you asked earlier, we were completely out of sorts on both ends. And then in the second half we out scored them every media timeout, except for the last one. And that gave us a chance. But I thought that how we played in the second half in regards to defensively and offensively we were much more in character.
Q. Tell us what you were trying to get on the inbounds play and how it looked to you?
COACH WILLIAMS: The one with five seconds left?
COACH WILLIAMS: Well, it was 79-79, their ball. They called timeout. Ran the clock down. We fouled them. I called timeout to officially get the officials' attention to check the clock. And then once he made the second shot, did he make the second one? Was it 81, it was 81-79, is that correct? They sub English in for Tiller and English made two free throws, so it was 71-79, five and a half seconds left. They adjusted the clock 1.1 seconds. We didn't have to have a three, and five and a half seconds, relatively speaking, is not a complete potential bad shot, and I thought that what we had designed would have given us our best chance.
And then they said that Lazar stepped on the line. Obviously I didn't have the perspective to be able to see that, so then it became their ball. We had to foul immediately. And so that changed the game. That changed the game. But five and a half seconds is, you can potentially get a decent shot attempt.
Q. Coach Williams, talk about Jerel's big game tonight, how much he played into that comeback.
COACH WILLIAMS: I think Jerel and Wes in the second half were out standing. It was good to see him back, to be honest with you. They haven't played their absolute best over the last few days or over the last few games, not because of their effort, their effort has always been there, but I thought that both of them today were hitting on all cylinders, particularly in the second half. And that's what gave us a chance in the end was their ability to score baskets and/or get fouled and capitalize at the free throw line. So that gave us a chance in the second half.
Q. Obviously everybody in the stands was really upset after the sub English in and especially when they tried to put Tiller right back into the game. What was your perspective of all that?
COACH WILLIAMS: I really wasn't paying attention, I was just trying to make sure that our team knew what was going on from in relation to time and score and what we needed to do. I just, I'm paid to coach our team and that's all I really try to worry about, try to be accountable for that. So I don't know.
Q. What was your assessment of Nic's play today, he played I think four minutes in the second half did you feel like you were flowing better without him in there?
COACH WILLIAMS: Well, you know, in some regards I thought that we flowed better. Just because over the last seven games he hasn't been playing. And I wanted him, as I told you last night, above all else, I wanted him to finish his career in a uniform. Regardless of the result of today's game, I wanted him to have closure in regards to his basketball career at Marquette. And so for him to be able to play the 13 minutes that he played, I do agree with what Nic said, I think that him being able to spell Mo in a pace of a game that's as quick as that one was, I think that it was very beneficial and I thought he did a good job.
Q. In this being the seniors' final game, if you could comment on all of their careers at this point and especially if you could comment on Dwight's performance today as well.
COACH WILLIAMS: I don't know that there's a whole lot of things that you can talk about after a game such as this. And so we spent however long the NCAA allows, we just prayed. And I think that the thing that we prayed most about or that I prayed most about was the blessing that they have been to our institution and that they have been to our program. And not just specifically as players, but what they have meant to our program as people.
And one of the things that I said about Dwight, nobody ever mentioned Dwight Burke for four straight years. They mentioned Rel, Wes, and Nic. And for him to carry on and be the teammate and the friend that he is to those other three guys, I think speaks absolute volumes about him. And I thought how he played in the 24 minutes he had 10 rebounds, five offensive, five defensive. That was particularly in the second half, we were able to get some second shot opportunities, didn't necessarily always make them, but that was in part to Dwight. And I don't know that, I think that we'll always be able to recruit guy that is can dribble, pass, and shoot, but I don't know that collectively the class that these four guys have meant, on the floor, off the floor, academically, they have been arguably as a group the best ambassadors of our institution over the last four years, whether they were players of our team or not.
Q. Coach Williams, you were obviously upset at the end of the game was most of that about the clock or was there some other things going on there?
COACH WILLIAMS: No, I don't know if I was upset. I had lost my voice and that typically happens. And I thought that going eight feet out on the court would potentially get somebody's attention and when it didn't I called timeout. And then there on the, when Maurice shot his three, and it went out of bounds, they immediately checked the clock then. So they didn't have to, nobody had to use a timeout. And so the thing I was trying to get those, the officials to explain to me was was the clock exactly where it needed to be. When it went from 4.4 I call a timeout it goes to 5.5. Maurice shoots, and then they have a, they check the monitor again and it goes from .9 to I think it was 1.2.
So I was just wanting to make sure, because, again, I think that time and score is most important in those situations as it relates to your team knowing what they need to do. Do we need to foul, do we need a three, do we need a two, so that was all I was trying to do and I had lost my voice and they weren't able to hear me.
Q. I don't know that you guys got other than the one long three there I think that was the only shot you guys were able to get off in the last couple minutes, disheartening that you weren't able to get a couple more shots up over those last few possessions?
COACH WILLIAMS: I can back track a little bit, I know that the last possession we scored was when Rel was fouled. And I know three possessions before that is when Rel hit the three. So the possessions in between I'm not exactly sure what happened. I haven't gotten a box or a whatever, a game score, so I don't, did we turn it over?
Q. There was a shot clock violation in there. There was the not being able to get the ball inbounds.
COACH WILLIAMS: Yeah, shot clock violation, I remember that.
Q. Not being able to get the ball inbounded with five seconds.
COACH WILLIAMS: Yeah, yeah, that's tough. That's part of it. That's part of it.
THE MODERATOR: All right. Thank you, coach.
End of FastScripts