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March 19, 2010
SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA
ROGER ROSS: Hello, everyone. We have the University of Washington now. We'll open it up for questions. We would welcome Quincy Pondexter, Venoy Overton and Matthew Bryan-Amaning.
Q. Quincy, obviously you want to move on to this next game, but with everything that happened yesterday how hard has it been to be able to move on from the euphoria?
QUINCY PONDEXTER: It hasn't been that hard. Probably an hour after that game we started thinking about the next game. With all the excitement that happened yesterday it is the NCAA Tournament, you can be gone tomorrow and I don't think we want to go home with a losing game. We have to get ready for New Mexico. It's going to be a tough game and we're all up for it.
Q. Venoy, all season long people have been talking about the East, teams on the East Coast, and obviously there is going to be one of you two west coast teams going to the Sweet 16, is that chip still there, that there are good teams out West that have been overlooked?
VENOY OVERTON: Definitely, it's always been doubters, only way you can quiet that is by handling business on the court. We've been thinking about that all season. We're not worried about the West Coast. We're worried about the University of Washington, and we're playing for our city.
Q. Quincy, there is a lot made about the Mountain West as far as a rivalry between the Mountain West and the Pac 10 and the Mountain West feels like it's just as good, but they don't get the publicity. Do you guys feel that rivalry?
QUINCY PONDEXTER: That's the first time I've ever heard that. I know they're a great conference. The Pac 10 is a great conference. The WCC is an emerging conference. I wouldn't say it's much of a rivalry. I'm glad to see other teams on the West Coast playing so well like they are. The Mountain West Conference has been really great this year, and I'm proud of 'em.
Q. What do you think is the biggest difference in your game compared to three, four months ago? What do you think about the match-up in the post tomorrow?
MATTHEW BRYAN-AMANING: I'm just trying to stay aggressive, that's the main thing, guys like Quincy and Isaiah do a lot of scoring for us and I try to complement those guys, and with the match-up tomorrow, I haven't heard a lot about the mountain west teams before, we did film on them and it looks like they have a couple of real good big bodies inside that like to play you a lot 1 on one so I'm going to try and stay aggressive.
Q. Did you see some of the game yesterday with New Mexico and Montana? How much success Montana's big guy had, did that give you any extra inspiration going into this thing tomorrow?
MATTHEW BRYAN-AMANING: Nothing like that. We played Montana, and their big guy is really good, really skilled. Just how aggressive he was on the floor yesterday was a big chunk of how well he did and to be able to do that I feel I could have the same kind of game if I play aggressive and as hard as I can while I'm out there.
Q. New Mexico features one of the most versatile players in the country in Darington Hobson. Just wondering, what has coached talked to you guys about as far as that match-up goes?
QUINCY PONDEXTER: We've all seen him play. We know that he is a tremendous player. He's a very versatile scorer. He ads so much to that team. He defends, he rebounds, he does a lot of little things. He's similar to an Evan Turner-type player and they can do everything on the court. We know we're going to have our hands full with them tomorrow, and it's going to be a team effort to try and stop him.
Q. I wonder if the emphasis you guys placed on stopping the three-point shot yesterday is going to help you in this next game. It was a focus with Marquette and still they got off double digit three's. I'm curious how that will help you guys this time around?
VENOY OVERTON: We have to do a way better job than we did against Marquette. We're going from stopping a great three-pointing team to a good three-point shooting team, and I don't think they're as good as Marquette. But we're going to have to take 'em off the three and make some guys feel uncomfortable and try and drive the ball.
Q. Either one of you guys, Quincy, talk about the way y'all are playing right now, would you say you guys are piqued at the right time?
QUINCY PONDEXTER: It's great to be piquing in March. We've had some up and downs in the season, our backs were against the wall and we have that mindset that our backs are still up against the wall and that's what's propelling us to get these wins. We're playing really well. Everyone has emerged and is playing their role really well, and I think that's what's helped us do so well.
Q. All three of you guys played in the second round game against Purdue last year, is there anything that you can take from that game that will help you get over the hump this time?
VENOY OVERTON: We want to get a good start to the game. Last year we didn't get a good start. We had to come from behind, even though we did well last night, in this Tournament, second round it's not going to happen like that. It's all about staying close to the last 3 minutes, and then we've got to go from there.
Q. In terms of the last couple of games you guys played, the Championship Game against Cal and yesterday, seems like there is a run that the other team makes and you guys have to overcome that. Is that a signature thing now, that you guys have been able to overcome the obstacles in order to make it happen?
MATTHEW BRYAN-AMANING: It's nothing that we've planned. It's just basketball. Basketball is a game full of runs, and they're going to throw their punch and we've got to throw one straight back. Obviously, yesterday they hit us real hard, us being down 45-60 at one point and then we just knew we had to pick it up and stay together as a team to bring it back.
Q. Talked about Darington Hobson, I'm curious who you guys saw in the game last night or what you know about Dairese Gary their point guard and what you need to do to stop him on offense?
VENOY OVERTON: We looked at the film. He's a strong aggressive driver, so we're going to want to pick him up full court and myself and Isaiah are going to try to slow him down and not let him come off on balls and feel comfortable. We would rather him shoot a contest the shot than gettin' all the way to the cup.
Q. Guys, have you been paying attention to any of the other parts of this Tournament, one of the greatest first days of the Tournament ever and all the double digit seeds that have won? Have you had a chance to see that at all?
QUINCY PONDEXTER: We've seen it on Sports Center, but we haven't paid too much attention to it. We've focused on our own games. It's good to be a part of a historic day like that people are going to remember for a long time but at the same time it can change the next day.
We have to focus on our team being a double digit seed and advancing in this Tournament.
ROGER ROSS: Gentlemen, thank you for your time. We appreciate it. We would like to welcome Coach Romar, and we'll open it up for questions.
Q. Coach, kind of curious about the last couple of games in terms of the runs the team has been able to overcome, the 14-0 run at Cal and the 60-45 when you were down yesterday. Talking to Venoy last week he said that earlier in the year you may not have been able to overcome those deficits and now it's remarkable. What's allowed this team to come together and really stay with it and keep the faith and the be able to overcome the obstacles?
COACH ROMAR: I would say the number one thing is maturity, I have seen it from day one, when we were having our struggles, veteran teams win on the road, young teams have a difficult time on the road. We were a younger-minded team earlier in the year, but I think as the season progressed, we grew up.
You know, you realize you're playing a certain way, a team goes on a run, those things are going to happen, it's important that you stay -- remain steady at that point, do the things that got you there and I think our guys last night showed a great example as in the Cal game of when we got down. Did we begin to go one-on-one? No, we didn't. We put the clamps down on the defensive end, we began to create more turnovers and that led to offense, and we were able to fortunately come out with the victory.
But it took a while to mature and grow up and learn those lessons.
Q. I imagine you'll be answering a lot of questions about Darington Hobson. What do you know about Darington before this week and how would he compare in the Pac 10 to the swing men there that has a history of producing guys similar to him?
COACH ROMAR: We recruited him when he was younger so we were aware of him and watched him play in high school, was always impressed with his ability when he was younger and obviously are impressed right now. He's worked on his body. He looks very good, very strong. He's a tough cover because he's got great size, he's long. But yet he can put the ball on the floor and knock the shot down, one of the more underrated assets of his game is his ability to pass.
He's averaging 10 rebounds a game. I mean, anyone that averages 10 rebounds a game on any level is usually a really good basketball player. It's strange if you see a -- if you've never seen a guy play before and you look and he's averaging 10 backgrounds a game he's probably a really good basketball player. That's not the only thing he does. He passes. He scores. He's a really good basketball player.
He could play on any team in the Pac 10 and be an impact player in the Pac 10, there is no doubt about that, and I don't see why he couldn't do that for any team in the country.
Q. You recruited him so does the versatility surprise you or did you see him more as a scorer or a one-stat kind of guy?
COACH ROMAR: Again, we watched him so we saw him and that was one of the things you liked about him, he was so versatile, he could get a lot done. There was never a question about his talent level and his versatile it.
Q. Coach Tinkle before yesterday's game called Darington Hobson a match-up nightmare and wondering if you share that same feeling and what exactly you're doing to prepare for that?
COACH ROMAR: You've got to guard him as a team and as I mentioned earlier he is a match-up nightmare. He's one of those type of wing players like a Penny Hardaway who is just versatile. Guys that can put the ball on the floor, see the floor, make plays for himself and make plays for others with size, those guys are usually pretty good ball players.
Q. Coach, you talk about Darington's length, but it's the overall length of the team that they can cover a lot of ground defensively, last night watching them against Montana they were able to move around the court where they made it difficult for them to get shots.
COACH ROMAR: They are deceptive defensively because they don't go way out on the floor and pressure you and try to create a lot of havoc, but they wait back and say you guys can do whatever you want out there but when you come in here we gotcha and that's how they set is up their defense and they're effective because of their length as you mentioned.
Q. Coach, could you talk about what you saw against Montana? When you saw their big man having his way did you think, oh, yeah, I found something.
COACH ROMAR: That same big man had his way with us earlier in the year, I got to start with that. When he's playing he does that to anyone. They're a good basketball team it's no fluke that they've won 30 games. They don't have a whole lot of holes. I think that had last night more to do with how goofed a basketball player the opponent was last night.
I don't know if it had a whole lot to do with New Mexico's lack of interior defense or whatever. I just think that guy is a really good basketball player. He does that to everybody, I can see that, that's what I thought.
Q. Coach, can you talk about Abdul Gaddy, he's been starting but typically you've been inserting Venoy Overton fairly quickly into the first half and the second half, why does it make sense to keep him in the lineup and talk about his role.
COACH ROMAR: We've won 13 out of 15, I think, and we have a good rhythm. I think Venoy Overton comes into the game and give us a real lift. I also think that this is valuable experience for Abdul Gaddy. Abdul Gaddy in the future won't have to say I've never been through this before. He's playing in the NCAA Tournament and the Pac 10 Tournament as a starter and in the big picture it will be good for him, and in the small picture, right now the immediate picture, I don't think it has hurt us in that, again, we've been pretty successful in the last half of the season with him in there starting.
Q. And how is this team better prepared to win this game compared to the team that you had in Portland before the Purdue game?
COACH ROMAR: I think we have more guys that can step up and make plays. Last year Jon Brockman and Quincy Pondexter, Isaiah and Justin Dentmon were probably the four guys that would make plays for us.
Usually teams would double Jon Brockman, they can take him out of the game and if we couldn't go inside a lot of times, we weren't able to be very successful.
A great example of this is, as I've mentioned before, against Cal, in the Pac 10 Championship Game out of our last 16 points, Quincy and Isaiah combined for 2. Venoy Overton scored 5, Elston Turner scored 5, Tyreese Breshers makes two free-throws. Justin Holiday makes a bucket and other guys were stepping up.
I don't know if we had that last year, Elston Turner came in last night and hit some big, big shots for us, so hopefully that would be why we're a little more prepared this time but that's why you play the game, to see.
Q. A lot of the players were saying that your calm demeanor in the second half of the season helped them get through the mid-season funks. Was there an exterior thing or on the inside were you able to stay calm even though it looks like this team might have been playing its way out of the NCAA Tournament?
COACH ROMAR: That's a good question. I think my M.O. in those circumstances is when we're playing well I may get on the guys more. When we're trying, but we're just not doing well, I think at that point sometimes it needs to be more teaching than yelling. And that's kind of what I've tried to do.
I remember a few years ago when we were 0-5 I talk about it all the time, we were 0-5 and we had a shoot around at Oregon State and I remember asking our team just to have a shooting contest from half-court. Now we were about to be 0-6. If we lose and we weren't playing well and certain people were looking at me like "What are you doing? You're 0-5 and you're going to have a shooting contest? Come on!"
I thought at the time that the last thing the guys needed was a beat down. We needed enthusiasm and to feel better about ourselves somehow and that game we were able to get into the NCAA Tournament and get on the a winning streak.
I watched Lenny Wilkens when he was with the Seattle Sonics when I was at the University of Washington. I rarely saw him really berate a guy. So there's just different ways to do it. You know how that works. If we were still losing, then that would be the worst thing I could have ever done.
Q. Lorenzo, yesterday in the locker room after the game there were three or four players that I talked to that talked about the notion that there are people around the country that believe the team is "soft." They brought it up, they weren't asked about it, they just brought it up on their own. It sounds like you use that as a motivational tool during the week for this team because it was talked about a lot in the locker room yesterday.
COACH ROMAR: It's one of those situations where we can, as a coaching staff we can get on our players and talk about 'em. But we don't want anyone else to talk about em. I think our team is a physical team. I think our team goes out and plays a tough brand of basketball. I think there was a time earlier in the year that you talked about earlier where we weren't mentally tough as we needed to be, but I don't think we're a soft basketball team.
You know, we just talked about those things that more of a complement to Marquette that -- I mean, we know they are a tough basketball team, but it wasn't like the tough guys were going to come in and play against the little soft guys, we're a tough basketball team as well. We just wanted to make sure that we knew that was our identity.
Q. I got a text from Will Conroy last night. He watched the game on the plane. It looks like Brandon and Nate were talking, Spencer and John were here last night. How much influence do those guys have on these guys here, and did they call you last night as well?
COACH ROMAR: You know, it's interesting, our guys really respect the guys that played here, and those guys come back in the summer and play with our guys, and throughout the year they're constantly texting back and forth.
Our players will talk to Brandon Roy or Nate Robinson, Jon Brockman and say, "Man, I'm going through this ," and those guys laugh because they went through the same things.
Brandon and those guys are successful now, and sometimes you lose site that they were in college and went through the same struggles that you're going through so they're insightful in those situations, and yes, I did get a call from Nate Robinson and he told me him and Brandon were talking back and forth throughout the entire game cheering the Huskies on. So it's good to see that. We've a lot of support from those guys.
Q. You talked about the and the '04 team and the shootaround, what's the identity of these guys, when they were on the floor Wednesday with their work out, do you take a business-like approach with these guys like it is a business trip or do you try to insert playfulness into it? I know you have some characters on the team, Quincy seems like a business oriented guy, how do you balance all that?
COACH ROMAR: A lot of it to me, for me, I'm more of a feel guy, and you know, are we a little full of ourselves? Well, then we're going to have a tough practice. Are we in a zone in terms of if we're going to do what's right well then we have -- I think over a period of time we've done a good job on the basketball floor.
So today there was not a -- it was pretty much a lighter practice. We went over some things, but today we even let the guys that had played much get up and down and play full court with the guys playing the most minutes stood on the side and watched.
Sometimes we'll go out and it was obvious that we didn't pay attention to some did he tail that we talked about and it didn't seem like we cared to, then we may spend the entire hour working on that. What is your team's make-up? You've got to look at all that stuff and try to bring that out of 'em.
Q. Coach, when we talked to Coach Steve Alford last night he had some nice things to say about you. Did you guys ever cross paths while you were coaching at months?
COACH ROMAR: I don't believe Coach Alford said anything nice about me at all, knowing him for a long time, his wife and my wife are friends. He was a basketball player in college. I followed his career, and then he went on the with the Mavericks in the NBA, and over time and he I have gotten to know each other and we played against his team when I was it the St. Louis and he was in Iowa.
I've always had the utmost respect for Steve and he's really, really a comedian, I don't know if you have seen that side of him, but he routinely makes me laugh. He's hard-nose and had he's a fantastic basketball coach, and he can still shoot, too.
Q. Looking back, maybe at your teams, the ones that are recalled as the special teams were the two that made it to the Sweet 16, even with the Pac 10 regular season title, I think there was a feeling of unfinished business or disappointment when y'all didn't get to the second round. Can you talk about the stair step of the NCAA Tournament, how much of an accomplishment it is to make it from this round on to the Sweet 16 and would that put this as one of the memorable teams in UW's recent history?
COACH ROMAR: Yeah, I would think so, if we can come out and do well and advance, it would, I think, right now, the way we've played in the last six weeks I think it's made it special.
But the further you advance the more special the year gets. I'm sure New Mexico is thinking the same thing, their year will get even more special if they were able to advance, so both teams are trying to do the same thing.
Q. Can you talk about Isaiah? He seems to have slowed down his game and he told me last night that his game seems to have slowed down. He seems to be getting more by doing less. His game seems to have matured over the last couple of weeks.
COACH ROMAR: Less is more right now. I think that's really accurate. Isaiah, he just doesn't force a whole lot of shots these days. He's going to score. He has a knack for scoring, but he goes out and gets 8 assists without committing a turnover last night, played with a good rhythm. He's been knocking his shot down more consistently what has made him much more of a threat, now you got to close out on him and now he's playing to his strength when he's driving to the basket and now the part that he's evolved to now is when you collapse on him like they did last night. He flips it back to Elston Turner for a wide-open three. Makes it tough.
But what people really don't understand other than the ones that are close to our team is Isaiah at 5-9 rebounds. There are games he's had 8 rebounds for us, he goes out, 5, 6 rebounds is nothing for him to go out and get those.
He has become a really good defender. When we have a guy that we're playing against that's doing really well, you put Isaiah on him, he usually does a good job. He asked if he could defend Odom last night when he got on him.
I think there were 12 or thirteen minutes left and Odom scored one more basket the rest of the game, and Isaiah took on the challenge of defending him and what I've just covered is someone who has become a well-rounded guard.
He kinda does it all, and most people just get fixated on his ability to score and that's it. He does a lot of things for this team right now.
Q. Coach, can you talk about Elston Turner and the player he's become? I thought he had his best game as a Husky yesterday and not just offensively but on the defensive side of the basketball as well and you can't get out of here without answering a question about Isaiah Thomas' hand, how is he doing?
COACH ROMAR: First with Elston, that's the second consecutive game where the stakes were extremely high, as high as they've been all year and he plays like he's a fifth year senior. Does a good job offensively, he was involved in the play at the end of the game with Randall in the Pac 10 Tournament where he knocks the ball away defensively. Last night he made shots, pulled down rebounds, got deflexes, got steals on the ball. He's doing a really good job for us and he has such a high basketball IQ and say such a gamer it's good to see this happening for him because it's certainly helping our team and having an impact.
As far as Isaiah's hand, remember he injured his hand at Cal, long time ago. No one really knew about it. It was made mention about how he's been playing well, lately, the hand has been like that for a while now.
Once in a while when he falls on it, it's kind of like -- I asked him about this, you're playing ball and you get hit in the nose the pain is unbearable for 10 seconds, then it goes away and you're all right. That's how it is with his hand. He's been playing through it and has done a remarkable job of playing through it.
Q. Coach, speaking of hand injuries, Darington Hobson had quite a spill, x-rays were negative today, but they're not sure of the extent of the injury. How effective is he with so many things he does even with a hand injury? Is he going to be someone you've got to worry about stopping?
COACH ROMAR: It's been my experience players like him that are that talented and that competitive, it won't be a problem with -- his hand won't affect him tomorrow. There may be a problem with his hand, it may be injured, but that won't affect his play.
I've seen it too many times, guys that -- unless there is something broken or something extremely bad that requires immediate, immediate help guys come in and they step up. So I'm sure he'll be -- even though he may not be 100% physically, he's talented enough and competitive enough as I said to come out and he'll be fine.
Q. What does he do to their team by being on the floor?
COACH ROMAR: A little like Brandon Roy did for us, we used to call him "the provider" you need a bucket? All right, he can do that. You going to double him, pay too much attention to him, somebody is going to have a layup or a wide-open three somewhere. He's going to do that, need a big rebound, he's going to do that. Against BYU in the Tournament or earlier in the year they drive to the rim and make a great come-back he blocks the shot.
So we talk about versatility. He can do whatever is needed, whatever is required to impact that game to impact winning he has the ability to go out and do that. When you have a guy like that I would say that's pretty substantial contribution by that guy.
ROGER ROSS: Thank you for your time, Coach. We appreciate it.
End of FastScripts