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March 20, 2010

Matthew Bryan-Amaning

Quincy Pondexter

Lorenzo Romar

Isaiah Thomas


Washington – 82
New Mexico - 64

ROGER ROSS: We are joined at the table by Isaiah Thomas and Quincy Pondexter and Matthew Bryan-Amaning. We'll open it up for questions.

Q. Did you guys run 'em out of the gym in the first half?
QUINCY PONDEXTER: We did a great job of forcing our tempo on them. We knew they were a transition team going into this game, and we wanted to show that we have another level of fast break and defensive intensity. That's what really wore them down and helped us get the win.

Q. Did you see them gasping in the first half?
QUINCY PONDEXTER: Yeah, you could see their heads go down a little bit, start to see them get tired and beat up, and it came from great team, help defense. We did a great job of helping each other out, closing out on shooters and containing Darington Hobson.

Q. Matthew, I happened to glance over with about seven minutes left and I saw you playing air drums to the pep band, at the scorer's table, and then you checked in got a block shot and then a big dunk. How much fun were you having in the second half?
MATTHEW BRYAN-AMANING: This time of year every moment in the game is fun for me playing at such a high level and being able to be out there and relaxed at game time is just real fun.

Q. Quincy, the Pac-10 was knocked a little bit because teams had been in and people said you were fortunate by beating Cal to get in, now Cal won and you've won two games, does this say something about the conference?
QUINCY PONDEXTER: I think a lot of people had bad judgments about our conference and the nonconference season, but once we got to Pac-10, a lot of players that were young and they started to play tough basketball, it was tough, not a pushover league and we had to battle every game.
For us to be in the position that we are in now is a testament to how well this team came together and fought through adversity, got some wins.

Q. Quincy, I know when the team was struggling you thought it was better than it was, say, in mid-January. Did you see the team being this good and now moving on to the Sweet 16? Are you curious to see how good this team might really be?
QUINCY PONDEXTER: I'm really curious to see how the season ends up. Hopefully, we continue to do well and play Husky basketball. Once I kept saying in January, you know what? Don't panic, it was for a reason. We still had a lot of time to come together and make a push like we are right now. That's something that stuck with us, our backs against the wall mentality to help us keep fighting through these games.

Q. Quincy, can you talk about how gratifying this is for you as a four-year senior and sticking through everything just to be in this position and the fact that other people might have left the program aren't experiencing something like this?
QUINCY PONDEXTER: It's truly a senior's dream. It's a blessing to be in this position I am right now. This season sums up my four years altogether, it was up's and down's, and we force-out through adversity as a team. It's really a blessing to be in this position right now.
I wish those other guys sometimes were here with me but they chose their own routes, and I'm proud of each and every one of them. But I'm glad I'm in the position I am right now.

Q. Isaiah, the object was basically to get the ball and get it to the other end as fast as possible?
ISAIAH THOMAS: You could say that. First off, it started on the defensive end. We got stops and that's what made it so easy and look so easy for our push. Venoy and others did a great job of getting the rebound and get it on to the outlet. We knew they only had seven players, and so we pushed the tempo so they would get tired.

Q. You talked about your help defense and a lot of guys love playing offense. What do you guys enjoy most about playing defense, because that was such a big part of the day. What's your favorite part?
QUINCY PONDEXTER: It leads to our offense. Once we really realized that once we force our defensive pressure on these teams and it really helps them get really tired guardin' us, they can't get back as fast. It starts with our defensive pressure. You know? Once we did that it turned around the whole season.

Q. Any other guys?
ROGER ROSS: Thank you student athletes. Questions for Coach?

Q. Lorenzo, this victory, is this a victory -- of course it's a victory for Washington. Does it reflect on the Pac-10, or is it strictly about Washington?
COACH ROMAR: I think both, you know? We've been talking about this for a while. The Pac-10 was a victim of much criticism all year, and I think a couple of out of conference losses early is something that was placed on people's minds and then we were labeled as a bad conference or a down conference, because of some losses early and in not having a full complement of players on each team.
Guys were ineligible or hurt and the league is young, league lost 21 pros in the last couple of years and it took a while for this league to get better. We played in this league, and we didn't go undefeated and we're going to the Sweet 16. The team that finished 9th and 10th is capable of beating and did beat the top teams in our league.
So the league was stronger than people gave it credit for but once those nonconference games happened, those losses happened, people made a decision and a judgment and decided let's not even pay attention to that conference anymore.
Fortunately we're still playin' and we hope that Cal will still be playing as well.

Q. Coach, I thought early on New Mexico looked like it was running it's offense pretty well and gettin' some open looks. After the first couple shots they knocked down then they were missing a lot of open shots. Did you guys make an adjustment or it was a matter of the guys being able to loosen back -- tighten back or however you want to phrase it after they couldn't hit?
COACH ROMAR: Gary, wow, he's a bull with that basketball, and he's got great quickness and we had not played against him before, we watched him on film and in person the other night but until you're in front of him you don't understand how quick and strong he is.
He hurt us single-handedly. All the shots they were getting were directed by him, early. We noticed that he was controlling everything and we adjusted the way we were defending the ball screen. At halftime we looked at the score sheet and they were shooting 39% and he had 15 points, but the rest of the team didn't have a whole lot so we felt like if he continued to score and he was making 2 pointers and we were applying pressure and we tweaked what we were doing on the ball screen then we kept him off the three-point line.
Those guys can get goin' from the 3 and really, really hurt you, and they weren't able to do that as much and we took our lumps by him scoring 25. But we picked our poison at that point.

Q. I'm curious in some of the game film you watched I know Coach Steve Alford linked you guys to their troubles with San Diego State throughout the season 2 of their 4 losses coming into today. How much of the San Diego State game did you watch?
COACH ROMAR: We watched it for sure, and watchin' it the thing to me was that San Diego State is pretty good. That's what first hit me. They play a good brand of basketball. We were aware of that but what you're aware of doesn't matter once you step on the floor you have to be able to execute.
I thought our guys did a good job of executing defensively and we committed 5 turnovers in forty minutes and that's with us pushing the ball the entire game, and I thought our guys did a good job and I thought our quickness had something to do with that.

Q. Lorenzo you went almost a calendar year without winning a game on the road and --
COACH ROMAR: Was it that long?

Q. Pretty close.
COACH ROMAR: Goodness gracious.

Q. I think now it's maybe 8 in a row that you've won either neutral sites or road games. How do you explain that turn-around?
COACH ROMAR: I think it reflects a little bit on our league. We have one senior on this team and I look at New Mexico's roster, they have a young team. Steve Alford and his staff did an amazing job with that team then only having 10 players available and they play 7, an amazing job and seemed like they matured a lot faster than we did. I think we grew up. I think we grew up sometime at the beginning of February.
In spite of still -- in spite of still losing, we were growing up during that process, and it finally kicked in. We started winning. Sometimes -- you know, I believe that when you grow up and you're more of a veteran team you can win on the road in most cases.

Q. Lorenzo, same question that I asked Quincy, that was a 30-win team y'all just beat. Even when you knew your team was under achieving did you see their up side as being this high?
COACH ROMAR: Always, always! We talked to our team about this early. We can go one of two ways, we can be mediocre, or we can be a special team. We talked about those things. But, again, it took a while for us to come to the realization that if we bought in and know one cared who got the credit we could get some things accomplished.

Q. You probably heard Kansas lost. Coaches continually harp on the fact that you get out there you have to play the game. Is this something you can persuade the team, hey, anything can happen?
COACH ROMAR: I think that's why we had the confidence to get this done. It's March Madness. You come out and need to be only concerned with what you can do.
As John Wooden, says if you play to your best you are successful! Win or lose. That's all we can concentrate on. With the parity the way it is today in the college game, anyone can beat anyone and we have been witnesses of that. In the last couple of days here with March Madness.

Q. I asked you guys about the defensive stuff. How do you get kids to buy into that? You know, when you're recruiting them out of high school a lot of it is they love to shoot. How do you get them to play defense?
COACH ROMAR: It's interesting, most, not all, but most kids like to play up and down. They like to go uptempo, and what I found out is kids want to go uptempo. So they can shoot whenever they want to shoot. That's why they want to do it. When they understand what you have to do to be an up-tempo team then it's like, wow, I don't know if I want to buy into all this.
It requires defense. If you want to play up-tempo you have to be able to force turnovers, contest shots, rotate what you get beat. You've got to be able to run and be in condition. You take the defense away and we're not an up-tempo team. We're just a team that gets the ball up the floor and shooting contested shots over hand, but you've got to be able to defend and that's the message that we want to get across to the guys, you really want to run? Are you sure? Then we've got to get down and guard.
I think this year our guys plan to figure it out and we became a much better defensive team which has led to us being able to continue to play right now.

Q. Kind of among some of the satisfactions of your job, how much fun is it to be able to send a player like Clarence Trent or Brendan Sherrer into an NCAA Tournament game?
COACH ROMAR: It's awesome. There are guys ahead of Brendan, but he works hard in practice every day, and in spite of not getting as many minutes as he would like he gets an opportunity on the big stage to come in and play.
Brendan was another matter he was in the dog pack cheering us on when we were in the NCAA Tournament, and now he gets out there and kinda had a sweet move when he got the ball down there. It's tremendous. You can just see the joy on their faces, they get an opportunity, too.

Q. How would you compare this team to your other NCAA Tournament teams?
COACH ROMAR: I would say with the exception of the 2005 team this is probably as quick of a team as we've had since that team. I think this team has moved more in the direction of some of the other -- the Sweet 16 teams in the past where there were multiple guys that could make baskets, early on, Quincy Pondexter and Isaiah Thomas, if those guys had off nights we weren't able to score that much.
Now we have Matthew Bryan-Amaning stepping in. Elston Turner has been playing out of his mind in the Tournament. Venoy scores in his own way and he puts points on the board. It's been a little different that way, but I think we're pretty close to those other teams.
ROGER ROSS: Thank you for your time, Coach.

End of FastScripts

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