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November 26, 2010

Jamie Skeen

Shaka Smart


VCU – 89
UCLA – 85

THE MODERATOR: Coach will make an opening statement, and then he'll take questions.
SHAKA SMART : I'm proud of our guys. I thought UCLA did a great job of making shots and rebounding and usually if we give up that many points it's going to be a lightning night for us. We hung in there. We made just enough free-throws to win the game. Those are good free-throw shooters in there at the end. But really proud of the way our guys battled. I thought being able to throw the ball to Jamie Skeen on the block and get positive production from there was a big key for us.

Q. Coach, there seemed to be a real emphasis on getting the ball down inside in the game. Can you talk about the game plan heading in?
SHAKA SMART: Skeen told the team a few days ago, actually before the Tennessee game, that he wanted the ball more. So we said okay. We'll give you the ball more. To whom much is given, much is expected. And he produced tonight.

Q. Seemed like every time they drew a little bit closer, you always had a response. Whether it was a big three or even late in the game a couple of turnovers to turn them into baskets.
SHAKA SMART: When we press it's a values risk-reward situation. I thought staying in the press late in the game, it helped us turn them over a couple of times and slow them down. So I'm glad we stayed with it.

Q. Coach, when you recruited Jamie, did you envision this type of role for him; end of game against a high-level opponent?
SHAKA SMART: He's one of the guys I didn't recruit. I'm in my second year. He was sitting out as a transfer the year before I got there. A guy we knew as a high-level player, could be very successful against teams at any level of college basketball. And he showed it -- he's shown it these last couple of games.

Q. Coach, you guys got some key shots and some key free-throws heading down the stretch. What does it say about your team moving forward?
SHAKA SMART: Like I said, we hit just enough free-throws. I would have liked to have made more. Joey missed a couple. Brad missed one. Jamie missed one late. Darius Theus' two free-throws at the end were huge. I believe it was either a one-point game or a two-point game when he went to the line. So I'm proud of our guys. They stepped up. Showed a lot of fight. Put David Hinton, our walk-on, in the game with about a minute left and he was out there playing against -- one of the top power forwards in the country in Reeves Nelson.
Really, everyone that came in the game gave us positive production.

Q. Coach, how valuable can this tournament be for the experience you got heading into the rest of the season?
SHAKA SMART: You are talking about three of the top ten programs in the country with Tennessee, Villanova and UCLA. So getting a chance to be here and be around those coaches and those players and see what those teams do and being highly competitive in the first game, coming up a little bit short, learning some things about our team and being able to win the second game against UCLA, I think that's really going to pay dividends for us down the road both in terms of the experience for our guys but also with our resume.

Q. Seemed like you guys refused to lose towards the end. Can you talk a bit how you were able to hold off the huge swing and momentum?
JAMIE SKEEN: We knew it was coming. I mean, we all just -- our coach he prepared us for it at halftime. He told us it was going to be a huge run coming. We were prepared and we went for it. We were prepared for it.

Q. How important was it for you to get at least one win playing at Madison Square Garden?
JAMIE SKEEN: It was very important, because for one, we had a seven, eight-hour drive up here. We didn't want to go back down the road on two losses. We wanted to win the first one too. But we came short. So this was our last game. We were definitely concentrating on winning this last one.

Q. Jamie, you scored double digits within the first five minutes. How were you able to search yourself so early?
JAMIE SKEEN: I was in the right place at the right time. I was very aggressive on the back boards. Whenever I seen one of my teammates missing a shot, I was just on it. I was trying to get it.

Q. Were you vocal with the coach and the team prior to the Tennessee game? Your coach mentioned you were hungry and wanted more opportunities. Can you take us through how you approached the team asking to see the rock a little more frequently?
JAMIE SKEEN: We were at dinner. I just made a joke about it at first. I said I would love to get the ball more. My coach took it seriously. He said, okay, we're going to get you the ball for real. I said, all right, that will be nice. They actually -- he ran down the stretch, he ran a play for me, I would say probably 10, 12 times in a row. The same play over and over and over again. I wasn't complaining. So I'm glad they gave me the ball. Because my whole life I've been playing inside-out basketball. You play inside-out and then the threes start coming. Because they start clamping down and they started double-teaming. So it opened it up for everything else.

Q. You're saying the funnier you get the better team will be?
JAMIE SKEEN: I'm not saying that. I'm saying I feel like the inside-out works better than starting out firing up threes.

Q. Their freshman center has been having foul problems. Did you guys know that and was that part of the game plan to go at him?
JAMIE SKEEN: We didn't know about the foul problems or nothing like that. We did know he looks a little slower on ball screens, so we were going to try to play him a whole lot of ball screen action. That was our goal, to have him out there on the perimeter and trying to guard -- one of our guards trying to help out his guards on hedging on ball screens.

Q. How valuable can this game be playing in this tournament?
JAMIE SKEEN: It's a great experience for us. We're playing great teams, like I believe UCLA is one of the most winningest teams in the world, in the United States. So this is a great team to beat.
THE MODERATOR: Anything else? Okay.

End of FastScripts

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