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March 17, 2011

Stew Morrill

Tai Wesley

Pooh Williams


Kansas State – 73
Utah State - 68

THE MODERATOR: Coach, if you can open with a few remarks.
COACH MORRILL: It's always tough when it ends. It's especially tough for six seniors, you know, that had marvelous careers at Utah State. I congratulated them on a great job they did this season and a great job they did throughout their careers.
You know, it goes so fast. Something we talk about all the time is your career flies by. Better try and enjoy it. And I think they did enjoy it. And I think they obviously got a lot of good things done.
We had just a really tough stretch against K-State in the first half where we just didn't function very well. They took us out of everything we were trying to do with the pressure and their athleticism. It was something that we were concerned about. Other than about a 6- or 7-minute stretch in that first half, it was a pretty competitive game, you know.
Really pleased with how hard our guys played. You know, they never gave in. Even though we were fighting an uphill battle most of the game, never gave in, just kept competing, kept trying. And that's what you got to do in those situations. Kind of what they've been all about is trying to find a way to win.
Congratulations to K-State. You know, awfully good basketball team. Awfully hard to score against with their pressure. Great rebounders. You know, they run really good stuff. Obviously, well coached. So we wish them the best of luck.

Q. Tai, can you just talk about how difficult it was to overcome the size and athleticism they bring at you with four, five guys.
TAI WESLEY: Yeah. I mean, we were expecting that. They're a big, strong, physical team. And we knew we had our hands full coming in. We just wanted to match their physicality and play harder than them. And, you know, we were able to do that for most of the game.

Q. Tai, talk about the first half, got into foul trouble. Was it on the wrong side or was the K-State bigs giving you some troubles?
TAI WESLEY: You know, I started off bad. I had a couple of turnovers and I got my first shot blocked. And, you know, they were giving me a little bit of trouble in the post. Then I picked up a couple of dumb fouls. And I was really frustrated, I think, and flustered. And, you know, second half was a little different. I came out and wanted to be aggressive and play better, because I didn't play well.

Q. Pooh, can you just talk about the difficulty crawling back from the hole you guys were in in the first half and how hard it was in the second half.
POOH WILLIAMS: It was tough. Any time you get down against a good team it's going to be tough to try to get back in it and win the game. But, you know, ever since our freshman year, we've been in a lot of games where we've been down 10 at half-time, 15 at half-time, and there's not one point in the game where we think we're going to lose. Even when there's 30 seconds on the clock and we're down 7, 8 points, we still think we're going to win, you know.
One thing coach kept telling us, we got to keep fighting, keep fighting. We're just a team that is never going to give up no matter what the situation is, no matter what the score is. We just kept fighting and that's how we got ourselves back in it.

Q. Pooh, K-State, their size and athleticism, does it remind you of any team that you play?
POOH WILLIAMS: Well, we got a team in our conference, New Mexico State actually, and the shortest guy on their team, they got 6'3", then everybody else is 6'8", 6'9", so we played against size like that before. But, I mean, their pressure, like coach said, was really good and it gave us fits at the beginning of the game. Just took us awhile to get used to how they were going to play us.

Q. Pooh, there was a stretch in the second half when you really got aggressive and even started yelling at -- seemed like you were yelling at the guys. You don't usually show that much emotion out there. Is there a reason? Just because you knew it was your last game?
POOH WILLIAMS: NCAA tournament, it's win or go home. Everybody knows that. So, I mean, you just got to do things you normally don't do. I mean, to get your team going. You know, whatever it took to get the team going I was willing to do. Whether it was taking charge or, you know, trying to get the players hyped up, I just wanted to do it. Just wanted to win this game.
THE MODERATOR: We'll open it up for questions for the coach.

Q. Stew, how confident maybe were you when you got that intentional foul call and got the four-point possession, momentum seemed to be going in your favor there?
COACH MORRILL: Well, it was a bad play. I mean, the rebound was coming off to us, and, you know, our guy obviously, they went and looked at the monitor, I don't know exactly what he did, but he obviously did something he shouldn't have. Not a smart play. That killed a little momentum.
And, you know, then we -- Brockeith brought it across when we were down six, I think, and we turned it over. Run into a double-team, which is not what you want to do. We were spread out enough. If we would have turned it, we wouldn't have been in that situation.
Just an error that was costly. You know, you have such a small margin of error when you are in those situations when you are playing a team of that caliber and trying to dig yourselves out of a hole. Those things get magnified greatly. And those two plays definitely hurt us.

Q. Coach, what did you say to your seniors in the locker room?
COACH MORRILL: You know, I mean, that's kind of stuff that's team stuff in terms of, you know, little things you appreciate and all the things they've done. I mean, I'm not going to say exactly what I said, but it's too hard to start repeating that stuff. It's a very emotional time.
What I will say is I'm extremely proud of that group and what they accomplished and how they handled themselves and how they represented the university and, you know, how they've taken care of their academics.
You are talking about a lot of guys that are going to go out in the world and be successful and very solid citizens. And, you know, you take great pride in that as a program and as a university, and certainly as a coach.

Q. Coach, three years you guys have really gotten off to tough starts. Marquette, Texas A & M, and now tonight and you haven't been able to overcome. Why have you guys started so slowly in those three seasons?
COACH MORRILL: Opponents have done a really good job. We played really good opponents. Texas A & M is a extremely -- they were extremely good defensively. K-State's extremely good defensively. The level of quickness and the level of athleticism we don't see -- we see good athletes in our league, but we don't see the same size and quickness. It takes you a little while to adjust.
I mean, that isn't going to change if you played three or four more teams in the preseason or whatever, because in league play, you are in league play for 16 games. And, you know, you get to the NCAA tournament and we -- as much as we worked on it, you know, it's a little startling when they're denied every pass. We broke off a lot of plays, you know, when we needed to stick with them. And just didn't react very well. Then we came back and competed really, really hard and made a game of it and all that.
But that stretch in the first half was the difference in the game for sure.

Q. Coach, did it seem like Pullen was affected by any kind of illness and is that what you expected from him?
COACH MORRILL: I didn't think he was affected. He is a really special guard. Holy smokes. I mean, when you do things that you often do to a good player, when you double him in a sense, when you are helping, he is coming off screens, he immediately senses that. He's got a great feel for the game. You know, makes plays for his teammates. He's just special.
You know, we tried to contain him off of handoffs and ball screens and he still got by us because he is so quick. You know, he can do it all. He can make plays. He can shoot it. He's smart. You know, just as good a guard as we've seen all year for sure.
We've seen a lot of good guards this year. I mean, just for whatever reason the kids at Georgetown, Fredette at BYU, Pullen, one of those years where we've seen some of the best guards in the country. And, you know, he holds his own against any of them, that's for sure.

Q. Stew, Frank Martin said on TV after the game, and I'm quoting him here: It's a joke. We were lucky to win that one. Do you agree with that sentiment at all; were they lucky?
COACH MORRILL: You know, they're good. I mean, you know, I'm sure he was a little frustrated some of the things that happened down at the end. But, you know, that's a high- caliber team in terms of their personnel and in terms of the things they run and the things they do and how they play defense.
You know, no, I think they earned the win. You know, I think they did a great job.

Q. I asked about the seniors. Now for the guys you have coming back, how do you summarize this experience and use that as a positive for those guys that you got coming back?
COACH MORRILL: Well, you know, you hope -- we're kind of starting over. I've warned our fans that, you know, we get a little used to some conference championships and kind of expecting to get to the NCAA tournament. And we all wanted to win more in the NCAA tournament, that kind of thing. But we're kind of rebuilding and starting over. We've reloaded a few times during my time at Utah State and hopefully we can do that again and have a good basketball tem.
But a lot of new faces. Lost a ton of experience. That's the thing with seniors, they eventually go, you know. And these guys are now leaving us. And that will be a big loss.
But you know, I am looking forward to it. When you have the challenge of a new group, you know, I think from a coach's perspective that's a fun thing. So, you know, that is why you do this stuff, to try to develop teams.
THE MODERATOR: Coach, thank you very much.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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