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March 12, 2011

Sean Miller

Derrick Williams



THE MODERATOR: Coach, an opening statement and then questions.
COACH MILLER: I thought it was just a great basketball game. Two teams that were playing their hearts out. I thought at times we were the more aggressive, better team. Certainly at times they were the more aggressive better team.
I think there's really two parts to us in terms of this game. One, give up 16 second shots, and especially late. Some of the possessions that we were on defense it seemed like an eternity because they were getting two and three shots.
They outhustled us to a couple balls. Couple may have bounced their way. But it's tough to win against Washington when they get 16 second shots.
The second part is, and I'll talk a lot of responsibility, about four years ago I lost a game to Ohio State. We were up three very late. We always look to foul so they can't make a three and tie.
But in this situation there were 14.5 seconds left. Sometimes if you do that with too much time you outsmart yourself because you have to inbound the ball and you have to make free throws. We could have found ourselves in a situation where eight seconds left they have the ball and we're up two. We're up one now instead of a three tie, and a three wins, a two ties and all the things that go with that.
But if I had to do it all over again, and it's the hardest part of losing a game like this, we would have at least called the timeout and made sure our guys didn't run in. If you leave the three-point line when you're winning by three and it's about under 10, that's the worst way of losing, and we've left. We ran from the corner in for no reason and gave them a wide open three to tie.
Derrick will tell you one of the things we've talked a lot about with our team is the maturity at the end of games, and it's easier to take when you blow a 15-point lead and it becomes a 9-point win.
But we're always trying to prepare for this moment, and that concentration, that intelligence, that finishing. We did not do that. In spite of a lot of things, that game was just about over and we didn't finish.
So that's the disheartening part. The good news for us is we obviously played very hard, and we're playing well and we look forward to the NCAA Tournament.

Q. Besides the game winner that Isaiah hit, can you talk about the effect he had on the game?
COACH MILLER: He's just a heck of a player. We've struggled with him in all three games. The last shot is what everybody will focus on. The toll that he takes on our team throughout the game, creating shots for his teammates. There were times when I thought we did a great job on him.
But you look at that stat sheet, 28.7 assists, 45 minutes on the third game in three days. Physically to play 45 minutes, three games, in three days is almost impossible.
He made a step back three, third game in three days in the 45th minute that he played. So give credit where credit's due. It's one of the reasons Washington is such an outstanding team.

Q. I was going to ask you about the three-point decision, so thanks for clarifying that. There's losing and then there's losing a significant game like this at the buzzer. You've been through these before. What is going to be your mental approach with the team as you lead into the NCAA Tournament and getting over this type of an ending?
COACH MILLER: It's nothing but a positive. The fact that we were here in the championship and won two games in this tournament in addition to the 14 that we won in our conference, it is a great achievement to be still playing today.
For us, I think it will be easy for us to leave this game and move towards something bigger and special like the tournament. I also think that it's good for our team, and whether it's Derrick to my right or guys in the locker room, to recognize the importance in March of not only playing hard or playing together, but there is a certain level of concentration and intelligence that's also required.
Those that don't concentrate have that basketball intelligence as a team, coaches, players. You just can't advance. I've been there before. I think the painful lesson whether I should have called a timeout or fouled or whatever, you can't run in on a drive under 10 seconds when you're up three. That's a mistake that we've learned the hard way.

Q. What was going through your mind the last few seconds as he moved the ball up the court and ends up shooting the ball? Were you expecting it to go in?
COACH MILLER: I was hoping it wasn't going to go in. He's a terrific player. On our end I don't think Derrick's performance can be overlooked. Derrick's 8 for 14 from the field. Got to the line 13 times, 11 rebounds, 24 points. Played 40 minutes himself, three games in three days.
It was Isaiah Thomas on their end, outstanding, Derrick Williams on our end, outstanding as usual.
We have a lot of great guys and players on our team that step up and make good plays, hard plays. This loss isn't any one individual -- really not even any one play.
I think winning the game by 3, under 15, 10 seconds, whatever strategy we had we want to do it well. We didn't do any strategy well, and we paid the price.
DERRICK WILLIAMS: It was just a great shot. You could see it in his eyes when the person I was guarding was going to go set a pick, he called it off. He was just looking for that last shot. The best player on the team, that's what he wants to do. He wants to take the last shot.
He made a great move, and on top of that it was a step back. So give him all the credit. Great players make big shots like that. That's going to go down as one of the best shots in Pac-10 Tournament history, so he deserves it.

Q. Was there any particular reason why when Derrick Williams was going to the basket and seeming like he was starting to have success, was there a reason you got away from that?
COACH MILLER: How many points did you want him to score, 40?

Q. 45, I think.
COACH MILLER: He had 24 points and 11 rebounds. You can ask Derrick, it's not always easy to catch it on Washington and drive. We tried to get him the ball in scoring position. If you do the math, 14 field goal attempts, 13 free throw attempts. To me, I thought Derrick and our team did a good job of getting him the ball.
I also want you to understand, if you watch the game, they played a lot of zone. Really hard to get a guy to drive the basket when they're playing zone.

Q. Wondered if you could assess what kind of threat that Washington is in the NCAA Tournament?
COACH MILLER: They're an outstanding team, and Lorenzo and his team and staff, they have weathered so many things. I mean, everybody forgets that Abdul Gaddy got hurt a long time ago. I know he was off to a good start. And they've had Suggs who was missing time, Venoy Overton, they played this tournament without him. They just are a tough-minded, deep team. They have a real identity about them.
Their identity outworked our identity, when you think about it. 43 rebounds to 32. 16 second shots, and we had them. They kept fighting. It's one thing for us to blame ourselves, but you have to make the big shots too and they made quite a few of them down the stretch.
They're an outstanding team. They've been in the winner's circle before, and I would not want to play them in the first round of the tournament at all.

Q. A lot of you guys have never even been on a stage like this in a championship game. Can you talk about the big game experience and how that might help moving on to another big game, tournament game?
DERRICK WILLIAMS: You never want to go into the tournament with a loss like that; and you know, it's always going to be in the back of our mind. But at the same time we accomplished a lot so far. We were up six with 15 seconds left, I believe, or up 3. So just little things we just need to work on.
Coach always stresses every day we go through these series like that up four points with 10 seconds, just I little series like that. It's just concentration. We can't look back on this too much. We've just got to get back on Sunday, see who we play, and get back to practice on Monday. Just go through it.

Q. I know you addressed this foul thing ad nauseam. But can you take us inside how that kind of comes about? I know you're not having a lot of time to make that decision. Are you discussing it as a staff or saying this is what we're doing?
COACH MILLER: If you're winning by three points and if you foul on purpose with too much time left, you take a pretty high percentage win and let's go through it.
Say you foul on purpose. It happens at around 10 seconds. The one thing you have to do is foul because as the ball approaches the three-point line, it's tough to reach in. You could foul them in the act of shooting. So you foul them, you're up three and now there are 10 seconds left.
He makes both free throws. So now you're up 1. Ten seconds to go, 9 seconds to go, you now have to inbound the ball. You do inbound the ball. They don't steal it. They foul you.
So now real quickly you're winning by 1 point with 8 seconds to go. You miss one. They get the ball and now you put that same team in a position with 8 seconds, and we're only up two. A three beats you, a two ties. It's a different game. Our marker is more 11 seconds.
Once in a while you can say I'm not losing that way. I lost the game against Ohio State, and when you lose it that way, you never want to do it again. I'm telling you, since we started to foul we probably won six games in a row like that.
The regret I have isn't necessarily fouling, because I still think there's too much time. It would be to use our one timeout and make sure that we're organized so that we don't run in. We remind our guys not to run in. Again, if you do that, the danger that you have is I have no timeouts.
So if they score, two once again now we have to inbound the ball with no timeouts. So there are a lot of things that go through your mind. The biggest thing is doing the math. Don't ever leave the three-point lineup three under 10 seconds left. A two only puts they will down one.
So it's a hard lesson to learn, and I think from my perspective it really falls on the coach. You want to see your team execute in that situation, and we did not do that.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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