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NCAA MEN'S 2ND & 3RD ROUNDS: CHARLOTTE


March 18, 2011


Matthew Bryan-Amaning

Justin Holiday

Lorenzo Romar

Isaiah Thomas


CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA

Washington 68
Georgia - 65


COACH LORENZO ROMAR: We're fortunate we're able to come out with a victory tonight and advance. We were concerned about Georgia's inside play and Trey Thompkins had a good game. He's a really good basketball player. We also knew that they do a good job at defending. We had some good looks at the rim at the rim in the first half. We weren't able to convert, but we came back in the second half, the guys did a good job, beared down, we were able to get the win.
They're a good basketball team. We came out and played hard, played aggressive. We were able to get the win.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for the student-athletes.

Q. To Justin, what has made this team such a good post-season team the last two seasons?
JUSTIN HOLIDAY: I think we understand we have to play defense to win games. Maybe, you know, throughout the season, sometimes some guys might not be focusing on defense, but now towards the end, that's what we make sure we do. We play defense, we feel we have a good chance to win games.

Q. For Isaiah. You three guys aren't the only ones. There's so much post-season experience on this team. You guys seemed pretty calm and pretty relaxed out there.
ISAIAH THOMAS: It helped a lot because I know teams are going to go on runs in the NCAA Tournament. We feel like we have a lot of experience that we can stop them runs, and our guys did a great job, because Georgia made a couple runs but we settled down and just got some stops and squirted a few buckets.

Q. For Matt, you if you can spin forward to Sunday, Georgia obviously had a lot of size. You guys handled yourselves inside against them, but Carolina's longer and taller. How do you match up in trying to compete in the backcourt against them?
MATTHEW BRYAN-AMANING: We've got a lot of guys that gang rebound today. Guys 6-5, -4. So it's a whole team effort. Once everybody comes down and aggressive on the boards, we have a good chance. We're always going to crash hard, myself, Aziz, Darnell, we're trying to be aggressive. As long as these guys block out and get long rebounds, we'll be fine.

Q. Isaiah, could you talk a little bit about the period about halfway through the second half when you seemed to really figure out that you could make some moves and get yourself some space. Seemed also maybe that you celebrated a little bit by looking at your dad, how important it was to have him there, and then finally the last play when you got the finger on that inbound ball.
ISAIAH THOMAS: I just started seeing what their defense was doing. I told guys, "Once you make a couple passes and we rush the ball, it's wide open." I felt like we did that a couple times, and I had one-on-one matchups and I took advantage of it. My teammates did a great job of finding me. I look at my dad a lot in the game. I don't know why. Just always have.
And the last play I just wanted to get a hand on the ball and I did. I almost hurt myself a little bit, but I just wanted to get a piece of the ball so they couldn't get a good look at it.

Q. You know, Conference Tournaments sometimes take some criticism. When you win one in the style that did you, can that carry over to this tournament in terms of confidence? Could you feel that when you were taking the court tonight?
ISAIAH THOMAS: Definitely. I mean, today -- how we won that Conference Tournament was pretty cool. We rode into this game with a lot of confidence. Guys weren't making shots early. I kept telling them, "Keep shooting. You're getting wide open shots." Guys made some big plays in the second half and we got the win.

Q. This is for all three players. Throughout the year, everyone has sort of said you guys don't play well in these kind of low scoring, slower-paced games, but you guys had gotten better throughout the season in doing that. Do you think that maybe you silenced that criticism tonight by winning on this stage in this way?
JUSTIN HOLIDAY: I don't know -- I think we came out and played the way we know how. I mean, we've gone through the season ups and downs, and maybe it could have been the games we have lost, the close games, that we learned. I think it finally hit us that we're able to win close games and not always be able to score.
Once again, that falls back on defense. When we stop worrying about what we're doing offensively and playing dense, that helped us in winning these close games. Realistically, it's not going to be a whole bunch of games we're going to come out flat shooting, hitting, and just blow by everything everybody. You have to be able to play in both atmospheres.
As far as the criticism goes, people say what they want. They can still think that now, but it doesn't matter to us.
MATTHEW BRYAN-AMANING: Yeah. I just think that it was a long game, and we've been through this type of game and been on both ends of the game. And I think our team kind of knows how it feels to be on the wrong end. Obviously, we had some early and later on in the season and just a learning curve. Everybody on the team has got to learn how to do it and have the strong will power to win the game, and I think that now we've been on both ends. Guys are kind of more composed and understand what they have to do to win these type of games.
ISAIAH THOMAS: We just -- we're getting better at things like that throughout the whole season. We've had games we felt like we should have won but we didn't execute down the stretch, and when it comes down to these type of games, you -- like Holiday and Matt said, you got to play defense. Tough play defense, rebound, and execute on offensive end even though shots might not be falling. It comes back to playing defense.

Q. For Justin, about a double-digit lead, with about three and a half minutes left. That's a fair amount of points. How did Georgia come back? Do you think you guys took your mind off the matter at all? And if not that, how did it happen?
JUSTIN HOLIDAY: They're in the Tournament to try to win the game, so just because we're up with that amount of points, you know, it's not going to be easy to keep a team from coming back. Also we didn't make free throws down the stretch like we should have. At the end C.J. did, Isaiah did, which helped us out. I think that's what helped them coming back.
THE MODERATOR: One more question.

Q. This is for Isaiah. That stretch you were talking about, you hit that one shot and kind of chuckled at the guy guarding you and looked over towards the fans. Was kind of going on with you? Is that just a confidence thing?
ISAIAH THOMAS: Yeah, shots was falling. I was feeling it a little bit. My teammates got me the ball in a great spots to score and I knocked down the shot, so I was just doing whatever it takes to get my team a win.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks guys. We'll see you later today.
Questions for Coach.

Q. Coach, you were able to deny the entry passes better and make them start their offense out top and force them to run some clock with your trap and stuff. Can you talk about how you probably did that better in the second half than the first and what effect that had for you?
COACH LORENZO ROMAR: I think in the second half we just kind of adjusted to how they were playing against us and it's what we wanted to do. They were very set oriented. They're the type of team if they get in a rhythm by running their sets, they can be pretty good offensively. So we tried to keep them off balance the best we could.

Q. Coach, is it gratifying that you won in the style that everyone says that you can't win, like if they had a scouting report they followed it to a T and they still won?
COACH LORENZO ROMAR: It's gratifying we won. For me, as a coach, you better have some thick skin. You can't get caught up in the criticisms all the time. I'm excited that we did a good job tonight. That's a good team. They executed very well, and if we wouldn't have executed, we wouldn't have won the ballgame. So I'm excited that we've made progress that way as far as our own team is concerned. I thought we made progress that way in the PAC-10 Tournament.

Q. Can you talk a little bit about Isaiah Thomas's demeanor on the court. I can't recall seeing a player smile literally for 40 minutes through an entire game.
COACH LORENZO ROMAR: Isaiah is one of those players. It's a game within the game. He's not just playing the game, but in his mind he's having fun. At times he's entertaining himself. But it's not -- it's not a case where he's just going out there as an individual worried about himself. He is a true winner. And I've said it a thousand times, maybe 999, but this is his third championship in three years. PAC-10 Championship, two Conference Tournament Championships, been to the Sweet 16. He's a winner. He loves to play. We have to make sure that there's a balance there when he gets out there, but he's having fun when he's playing out there.

Q. Can you talk about that balance between having a good time, but also don't forget we're actually playing a game and you have a role?
COACH LORENZO ROMAR: It's a balance that he has become much better as recognizing. A lot of times kids watch television and see certain things that are going on on television and they try to emulate them. I think as he's grown up and matured, I think it's more the good side of that balance.
Magic Johnson -- and I've told this to our team -- Magic Johnson celebrated as much as anyone. He always celebrated ed with his team. He's always was lifting his team up. He wasn't trying to put the other team down. He wasn't taunting anyone. He just loved to play, and that excitement came out.
And I think Isaiah, the excitement comes out at times. I think he does a pretty good job now keeping it on an even keel.

Q. Coach, down the stretch, you know, you're missing some foul shots, you're turning the ball over, probably making your skin crawl. What's going through your head in the final four seconds there where they've got a chance to tie it up?
COACH LORENZO ROMAR: We got to get through this. We have got to get through this. We turned the ball over down the stretch. We missed free throws. And those were two things that we always talk about down the stretch. You have to get stops, make your free throws, and take care of the basketball. Two of those we didn't get. So it wasn't a lot of the fun down the stretch there, but we're fortunate. We came out with a victory and we're advancing.

Q. Do you feel like you guys are playing your best ball right now, and are you at a level where you feel like you could make a run here?
COACH LORENZO ROMAR: Was I sitting next to you during the North Carolina game? Yeah. We have to take it one game at a time. I'm sorry to be so basic in my response, but I think in our situation, if we're fortunate enough to do so, we look up and all of a sudden we realize we've made a run. I don't think we can go beyond North Carolina and we couldn't go beyond Georgia tonight. I think we're playing pretty good basketball, and I think we're playing it at the right time. We'll see what happens Sunday.

Q. That's what I wanted to follow up on. Get you to talk about playing UNC on Sunday and particularly in this state.
COACH LORENZO ROMAR: They have great size. There was a lot of Carolina blue at that game. We all know they're well coached. They have three guys I guess scored over 20 tonight. They can be a pretty imposing basketball team. So we have a lot of respect for North Carolina, but we like our team as well. So we're going to prepare, see what happens.

Q. Tonight a lot of the North Carolina players actually played their first tournament game, but your guys have played a lot of Tournament games and have that experience. Do you think that's going to be a big advantage for you or how big of an advantage?
COACH LORENZO ROMAR: Well, our guys I thought were pretty confident out there playing tonight. Sometimes you can see the stress on your team's face. Sometimes -- we've been in situation where we came out and didn't play with a level of comfort out there and we were playing too fast early. I thought we did tonight. Now, I think it helps us. That's for sure.
Now, North Carolina, I think they're a really good basketball team. I think they went through the ACC and played some pretty good basketball. So experienced or not, they're a pretty good team.

Q. This is two years in a row where you guys kind of had that mid season swoon and then you're peaking at the right time. What is it about this group of players that this time of year they're really kind of playing their best ball?
COACH LORENZO ROMAR: One thing about this group is when its backs are against the wall, usually excels. And that's happened two years in a row, our backs have been against the wall and our guys have responded. And if I knew how to make sure we didn't have our backs against the wall the entire time, then I could help a lot of other coaches, I'm sure.
THE MODERATOR: Any other questions?

Q. Why Darnell tonight?
COACH LORENZO ROMAR: They were bigger. We had to go with a bigger lineup in there. Today Darnell is one of our best, if not our best, post defender. We wanted to make sure we started the game off being able to attempt to guard those guys. They're a load down low.
THE MODERATOR: Any other questions? Thanks coach.
COACH LORENZO ROMAR: Thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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