home jobs contact us
Our Clients:
Browse by Sport
Find us on ASAP sports on Facebook ASAP sports on Twitter
ASAP Sports RSS Subscribe to RSS
Click to go to
ASAP Sports e-Brochure View our


March 19, 2010

Aubrey Coleman

Kelvin Lewis

Zamal Nixon

Tom Penders


Maryland – 89
Houston - 77

THE MODERATOR: We'll go ahead and have an opening statement by Coach Penders and then take questions for the student-athletes.
COACH PENDERS: I thought it was a great exhibition of super athletes playing their hearts out. And really playing with a burning desire to win with nobody being nervous.
Maryland, great team. ACC champs, great coach, and our kids played totally fearlessly and if we shoot a little bit better from the foul line I think we could have maybe hung around and maybe pulled it out. We just had one of those nights from the foul line that when you miss 12, there's 12 easy rebounds for the other team and not saying you're supposed to be perfect. We had to be almost perfect from the line tonight to hang in there with them.
They were well-rested. Sometimes the best thing to do when you know you have a bid is to get knocked out early in your tournament. And they were well-prepared. Gary is as good as there is and I hated coaching against him. We talked about that early in the game.
People have this vision and it's just so far off. He's one of the really great guys in the business who also runs a clean program. He feels the same way I feel about the negative side of college basketball. He runs a clean, clean program. And I have tremendous respect for coaches that do that. So anyway, I couldn't be prouder of these three guys. We got beat by a better team tonight. But not that much difference. Not that much difference in the team. And they're a team that could advance very far in this tournament. Thank you.
THE MODERATOR: Take questions for the student-athletes.

Q. For all three of you guys, you really looked like your confidence built, especially in the first half that this was that you guys could play with them or however you want to look at it and anyway I was wondering if you could talk about how the game was unfolding and just how you put yourselves in that position and what you think happened early in the second half when they made their run.
AUBREY COLEMAN: I feel that we knew they would go on a run and I knew that they probably watched the Tulane tape and I told the guys to just crash and get the rebound. And they caught us off guard with it. But I feel that we made a decent run, but every time we were making a run they would either get a rebound or a call and it just sucked the air out of us. But our goal was to continue to fight to the end because we knew they was going to get calls like that. But we never stopped fighting.
ZAMAL NIXON: Somebody had just asked me about when we got down and one of the best things we have been able to do all year is comeback when we have been down. Even in our conference championship game we were down nine points and we were able to fight back. So we got down -- I think we were down eight or something and we got two baskets and we got pretty close but they just made that run and we couldn't withstand it or make a run of our own to come back into the game.
KELVIN LEWIS: My hat goes off to Maryland. They are a great team. And we were playing fearless out there and having fun and it just so happened that we got behind the eight ball a little early and we tried to recover but they got some second chance points and some second chance tip-ins and they got some calls that went their way and just didn't fall for us tonight.

Q. Aubrey, talk about the matchup with Vasquez. Was it what you expected it to be? As far as going against him and what you were expecting to see tonight?
AUBREY COLEMAN: I really wasn't focused on that. I knew if he played me one-on-one it was going to be a fun game. It was just fun. For him to guard me, he had, I don't know if he was supposed to be going in the first round or what but it gave me a chance to test my skills against a player that they consider as a pro and I was just having fun.
COACH PENDERS: Except from the foul line.

Q. For any of you, how tough was it with their ability to rebound against you guys to not be able to get any second chance points or extra possessions to score?
KELVIN LEWIS: I think Maryland is one of those teams that they don't give that first half but they get that second and third effort and when they did that it made it tough on us. Especially when we run four guards we box out on one guy and then another guy is giving another effort. So I think that they played hard and they really crashed.
ZAMAL NIXON: As far as the rebounding goes, we have been the team, we have got outrebounded a lot of games and we have still been able to beat a lot of teams. They just did a great job on the boards tonight and we still gave as much effort as we could, but they just got the best of us tonight.
AUBREY COLEMAN: No, I played a little bit bigger than my height. I'm 6-11 on the court. So I was able to grab eight.

Q. Can you guys kind of sit back and look at the run you guys made and kind of what you think you accomplished and how you look at this season at this point?
AUBREY COLEMAN: I'm proud of all of the stuff that we went through the whole season, you know, didn't nobody think we would ever make it far or even get back to the tournament. It was a surprise to me. But I never gave up, me Kelvin, Z, we all came together. And we always had things even though some games we might drop the ball on free throws or you know and little things and for to us come together and pull together like we did in the conference tournament, it was big. In order to get here, so we always going to be remembered at the University of Houston, we put University of Houston back on the map because it's a great program, everybody looks over it because we're not going to give you no money to come to University of Houston. That's why we get the scrappy players, and it's like, you know, Coach Penders, he always tells us, you know, to be first class and stuff like that, and we go with what we got. And for to us get this far, nobody ever thought we did, and it surprised me, but I'm just happy about the season that we had and the way that our season finished off, you know, it just shows our younger guys what they have to do in order to be champs and hopefully they can do it over again.
ZAMAL NIXON: In my three years being here I think this is the worst record we had, but this is by far the most memorable team I've been on because my freshman year a couple analysts had us like on the bubble and stuff like that, so people that -- people thought we were pretty good, and then this year, I mean we were getting bashed, people didn't think we were good at all. We had some times we didn't have a great record throughout the year and even the last game of the season we lost to Tulane who was a good team, but their record didn't show that. And a lot of people probably just thought we were going to go to the conference tournament and lay an egg, but the seniors did a great job of pulling everybody together and we knew that we could get into the conference tournament and make a run at things. So I'm going to miss those guys a lot.
KELVIN LEWIS: Even though we didn't start off the year too well, I think this was a special team. We kept the right mindset even though a lot of things went on that a lot of other teams would have gave up. But we stayed with each other and this was a special year, a lot of things was going on, but we blocked it out when it really mattered and it was a tremendous opportunity to come here and play in the tournament. We earned it the hard way. We worked every day, getting up in the morning every day, working extra after practice with each other. I love these guys to death. I love these coaches, I love the university, this was a great three years I came here. I transferred from Auburn, I wouldn't change it for the world.

Q. What did you guys say to each other about the half court shot going into the locker room?
KELVIN LEWIS: We practice that. People might not believe that, but every day we shoot half court shots. So Adam hit it and we were happy, but we have seen him do it before. But it was exciting to see that he actually did it in a game.
AUBREY COLEMAN: Normally it would be Kelvin. So I think that Kelvin is a little angry at Adam. We're going to get him when we get into the locker room because that wasn't supposed to happen for him, it was supposed to happen for Kelvin.
ZAMAL NIXON: I was watching him when he caught the ball and I didn't think it had any chance of going in. Because he tripped. I mean if you look at the replay you would probably say how in the world did he make this shot. He tripped over his feet and just threw it up. It was like a trick shot in the game of horse, I don't think he could have did that again.
THE MODERATOR: Okay. We'll excuse the student-athletes and take questions for coach.
COACH PENDERS: It's 4 a.m. in London.

Q. Seems like have you a good natured kidding around relationship with Aubrey. Is that the case?
COACH PENDERS: All of them. All of them. Not all of them, I mean sometimes they need a pat on the back, sometimes a foot a little lower. But they understand me. And they know the passion I have for the game and coaching and teaching and I always believe that you can get more out of a player and a team by positive reinforcement and focusing on the important things like how basketball ties into life, academics, etcetera. And this team learned so much this year. We had a lot of things to overcome. And we did. Between injuries and sickness -- and Kendrick Washington is going to be a star. But he's got steel rods in both legs. And a lot of kids wouldn't have played this year, would have red shirted. He wanted to be part of this. And Zamal Nixon, who already has to lie down to take a shower before he got mono. He lost 15 pounds and he came back and played. You don't come back and play with something like that unless you really love your teammates and respect or whatever your coaches.
So they're a wonderful bunch of young men. I've never been prouder of a team. I know coaches say that a lot and I've had some great ones. Other -- my first one was special and all that, but this was more rewarding because of all of the things that we had to overcome.
When I came to the U of H everybody said I was out of my mind and no way we were ever going to do anything and we have done it. We set the foundation for the next step. And I really believe it's going to take some time and cooperation to go to that next one, but getting here is huge. It's already, recruiting just is, I mean taking off. I had seven phone calls today from different recruits, guys that couple months ago weren't returning phone calls. So this was big.

Q. From the game standpoint when you watch Aubrey bank in that three where you kind of threw up your palms, you see the half court shot go in at half time, did you start thinking it was one of those nights?
COACH PENDERS: I was waiting for them to call the palming and traveling a little more.
If they would have got a few more of those I think that I would have got rolling. But the refs, you know, they had never seen us play. Part of the NCAA tournament you get in, we cause teams to turn it over because we're so quick. And they turn around and there's a guy there and their feet shuffles or something like that and we put pressure on ball. I mean Greivis is a great player, and we did about as good a job as you can on him. He had 16 points and all that, but no, I don't think that way.
I remember just last week Southern Mississippi throwing one in from half court and another one going off a guy's head and into the basket. To me omens are free throw shooting and all that stuff.

Q. I wonder if you could sort of amplify a little bit on what you think when you look over the season as the big picture. What you think this program has accomplished in terms of obviously you did something that hadn't been done for a long time. But what does mean moving forward now?
COACH PENDERS: Yeah, my first year when I came we were picked for last out of 14 teams. That's when we had Louisville and Marquette and Cincinnati and etcetera, we finished tied for fourth.
And we didn't have too many great players, but we had a, but we had some kids that were willing to scrap and set the foundation. Andre Owens in particular comes to mind. And so we became relevant or at least developed some excitement right away. And then we won 21 games the next year. And we were on the bubble. We were in the Top-25. We knocked off Arizona at home and LSU in the Top-25 who went to the Final Four at home. And we were on the bubble. I think a lot of it has to do with our conference and the respect that or lack thereof that we have been getting. It's a good conference and it's getting better. The coaches are outstanding, the better players are coming in now, not quite where it was before, but now everybody's saying, well, boy, Penders, you have turned the program around, you changed the culture and all that, but when the hell are we going to a tournament? We're not going to buy tickets until you go to the tournament, etcetera.
Well, we won into the tournament the hard way this year. Attendance is down. Well we didn't play anybody like Arizona and Kentucky who we beat the whatever out of a couple of years ago. As soon as you beat those kind of teams they drop you. But we're working hard to build up a great schedule non-league and we got to promote our own league. We have got to get rivalries in our own league. And the great teams like UTEP and Memphis and Marshall and Tulsa, I mean great traditions, we have got to do something so people buy tickets to watch those games. I'll play anybody, anywhere, any time. I've always been that way. There are two guys that have a reputation of doing that and it's John Chaney, who at Temple, and me. I forgot what magazine hit it right on the head. I spent ten years at Texas without having one guaranteed game. We played home and home with state schools, etcetera.
Now take the next step, the recruiting should sky rocket. It's hard to replace Kelvin and Aubrey when they're still here. Guys don't want to play behind guys like that. But we have something to sell.
And we have got a big guy, a 7-3 guy that we signed early. An athlete. Shot blocker. I think he's averaging like eight and a half shots blocked per game. He was recruited by some real big time schools in the SEC. And now we got a fill-in and we have got some great young players back. We have an outstanding freshman class.
So a lot was accomplished this year. And we decided to play the toughest schedule in Conference USA. We said we're going to go out and play everybody who is at least a top 200 team last year and we could have a glossy record right now. We could be 24-6 or something perhaps. My math isn't that sharp tonight. But we decided to play tough teams. There were no, I don't want to offend anybody, but there were no Drano Techs on the schedule this year. Some of our league teams schedule themselves right out of the tournament or the possibility of being in a tournament. And we have got to work hard, I know we as coaches and I know our athletic director, which gives me the greatest amount of optimism about our leadership that we have there now. And it didn't make any of the papers, but not only is he a sharp AD, but he doesn't e-mail me every day so I can focus on coaching. Thank you.

Q. My apologies if you addressed this already, but you had seen a Gary Williams big guy in the past that had done quite a number on you. How did Jordan Williams compare to that game 15 years or so ago?
COACH PENDERS: You mean Joe White?

Q. Joe Smith.
COACH PENDERS: Or Joe Smith. Well, actually he's a different kind of guy. Big wide body. More like Lonnie Baxter, who is really 6-9, because my George Washington team beat them the year before they won the national championship with Juan Dixon, Stevie Blake, Lonnie Baxter, etcetera. And it was the same kind of game as this out here. It was just we, we out lasted them. This kid's more like a big Lonnie Baxter and there's another guy playing in the NBA right now, that he remind me of I can't think of his name, he went to North Carolina, I believe.

Q. May?
COACH PENDERS: May. There you go.
THE MODERATOR: All right. Thank you.

End of FastScripts

About ASAP SportsFastScripts ArchiveRecent InterviewsCaptioningUpcoming EventsContact Us
FastScripts | Events Covered | Our Clients | Other Services | ASAP in the News | Site Map | Job Opportunities | Links
ASAP Sports, Inc. | T: 1.212 385 0297