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March 19, 2011
Richmond Â– 65
Morehead State - 48
THE MODERATOR: We're joined now by the University of Richmond. Coach, we'll let you begin with general comments on the game.
COACH MOONEY: Well, number one, of course we are thrilled to be advancing to the Sweet 16. I couldn't be more proud of our players and our program. These seniors have just won their 91st game, which is a school record. They came to school after an eight-win season. It wasn't like they were boarding a moving train.
They've built this program into something very special. I thought today we were outstanding. We committed very few turnovers. I thought our defense was great. Good formula for success for us.
THE MODERATOR: We'll take questions for the student-athletes.
Q. Justin, you're from Richmond. I don't know how much you paid attention to Richmond basketball growing up. Did you pay attention and what is it like to sort of do this for your hometown?
JUSTIN HARPER: I didn't know all the history of my school until I got here. Just to be a part of a program that's making it back to the Sweet 16 for the second time in school history is just an honor. I'm just glad to be a part of it.
Q. Kevin and Dan, just looking at the celebration that you had, it was pretty muted. Is that because you expected to win this game?
KEVIN ANDERSON: It wasn't that we expected. I mean, we were playing well. I mean, defense was good, offense was good. We're in this tournament to win it all. That's our goal.
I mean, we just came out focused. I think that's what it was. We're happy to be in the Sweet 16. Like Justin said, we're honored to be there. I mean, we're just not going to lay down for the Sweet 16 game. We're looking to go as far as possible. I think that's where our focus is.
DAN GERIOT: Yeah, definitely a businesslike approach to the game. Defensively we played really, really well. We have been playing really well for the past couple weeks here.
So it wasn't a surprise I think at the end when we won the game. I think that's why the celebration was not as big as you would expect.
Q. Was it a little different to come in this as a favorite? Did it change your mindset at all?
JUSTIN HARPER: No, not at all. We approach every game with the same mindset: that we have to come out focused and just play our game. Everything else will take care of itself if we come out and really play hard.
DAN GERIOT: I don't really thought we were the favorite either. We know Morehead State is a really good team. Faried is a great player. They have Harper and Hill on the perimeter.
Coming in, we knew we had to play well to win. It wasn't like they were going to lay down for us. We were both in the round of 32, and we were excited to play.
Q. You obviously knew coming in that Faried could be an intimidating presence in the middle. Justin, you took one pretty good tumble. How well do you think you did not allowing him to intimidate you and throw you out of your offense?
JUSTIN HARPER: I think we did a good job on Faried. He's such a beast on the glass, just a force down low. We just tried our best to make it hard for him and not give him any easy looks early.
He was able to still get a couple good looks at the basket down low and make some good plays. Overall, I think we did a good job.
DAN GERIOT: Our game plan was to double him on his touches, try to limit his offensive rebounds. Early on we got the one steal, then he got the dunk. We realized we needed to get more steals, let him get a couple lobs in there.
We kept him off the glass early, which was I think big. It kind of messed him up in his mind a little bit to kind of know nothing's going to be easy down there.
Q. The Morehead players talked about how difficult it was to figure out your defense. Were you doing anything differently tonight or was it the usual matchup zone, sagging? Could you sense they were frustrated with that?
JUSTIN HARPER: Yeah, I mean, we didn't necessarily approach it any other way than we approach any other game defensively. But, you know, we just had more focus on Faried 'cause, you know, you really have to focus in on him. We were able to double him, as well as contain their outside shooters.
KEVIN ANDERSON: Yeah, there was no different approach in our defense, but to double Faried when he caught the ball. Make some decisions out of the post. The coach did a good job of scouting the players. We played our regular matchup zone. The only difference was doubling Faried in the post.
Q. When play ends tonight there will be 24 teams left in this tournament. You'll be one of them of course. VCU will be another one. Talk about that rivalry. Will you be cheering for them tomorrow or not?
JUSTIN HARPER: I mean, our rivalry with us and VCU is always just a tough, gritty game for us. But, you know, we're just really focused on what we have to do. If we meet them down the line, so be it. But we're just really focused on advancing ourselves.
KEVIN ANDERSON: The rivalry with VCU, that's on the court, not so much really off the court to me. If I watch their game, they're playing hard, I'm going to root for them. I root for the team that fights, that's playing hard and putting it all on the line.
They did that last night against Georgetown. I was rooting for them because they were playing real hard. That's it with the rivalry.
Q. To get to this point you had to go through two big men. Usually those give you trouble. How much sweeter is it to go through those two and get the wins? What have you done differently to contain them?
JUSTIN HARPER: I think as a team we just really did a good job on keying in on these big guys that we faced so far, just trying to make it hard for them 'cause they're such great players that, you know, if you give them anything, any edge or anything, they're going to be able to, you know, finish in tough situations.
So we just wanted to make it as hard as possible both for Ezeli and Faried. We was able to execute a lot as a team down the stretch in both of these games.
DAN GERIOT: Yeah, I mean, it feels good obviously when you go through these high-caliber teams. They're all really good. Ezeli kind of got his a little bit, scoring some baskets in the post. I think we kind of wore him down.
Against Faried, that was our focus. We were able to kind of limit him as much as we could. With him being probably the greatest rebounder in the history of college basketball, it took a lot, but we were able to double him and it put some indecisiveness in him.
Q. Dan, would you talk about your offensive game tonight, what you were able to do.
DAN GERIOT: Yeah, I think tonight attacking their zone, they switch it up a lot depending on how things are going. From the beginning we kind of thought they were going to attack KA because obviously his performance against Vanderbilt. They tried to cut him out and tried to make us beat them. I had to step up in that situation.
Against Vanderbilt, I didn't have any points but I was able to screen the right guys, run the offense through that way.
So, you know, however the matchup kind of presents itself, I'm going to do whatever it takes to keep us winning.
Q. There's a lot of talk about your Princeton offense. You have a modified Princeton offense. Was this more closer to a pure Princeton offense than you've run lately? Dan, you had an injury that cost you a season. That had to have been frustrating. How does it feel now to have missed that season and be part of this?
DAN GERIOT: Well, with the Princeton offense question, I think, you know, it showed up tonight that we have like a Princeton style. We like to dribble, pass and shoot. We have five guys out there that can do that. When they double certain guys, that gives us the opportunity to do certain cuts, kind of just have a basketball mind.
It showed tonight. I think there wasn't as many plays called, but it was more just us playing a Princeton style of everybody being able to drill, pass and shoot.
With the injury, I mean, when it happened, I was pretty devastated. But, to be honest, I would do it again honestly. This feeling, to be in the Sweet 16, be here and get two wins in Denver, be a part of this team, this family that we have at Richmond, I mean, this is the best time of my life.
THE MODERATOR: We'll dismiss the student-athletes and continue with questions for Coach Mooney.
Q. How much bigger does Kevin play than he is? What do you think is the biggest reason for Justin's breakout season?
COACH MOONEY: Well, Kevin, I mean, he's truly a great player. You know, there are not many great players in the country. Even guys who go on to play in the NBA, they don't necessarily have great college careers as they're kind of developing. Kevin is a great player.
Tonight's game was incredible. We had six turnovers in the game against a team that pressed every possession. The whole game plan really is to get the ball inbounds to Kevin. To be able to control a game like he did tonight, you know, coming off a game where he was the hero against Vanderbilt is just amazing.
He plays his best when the game's on the line and when it's most important. His size is such a non-factor in anything we do. You know, he's just a tremendous college basketball player.
As for Justin, I think this has been the breakout season, but if you watch film or look at his stats, he really has gotten better and better each year. While he took a big jump this year, he improved dramatically between each season, between his freshman and sophomore year definitely, then having this big year.
I think the big man camp really helped him. I think his teammates have really helped him. His nickname is True, which they gave him as a freshman because that's the way he played. Shot looked so true. Everything is so right there for you to see how good he is.
He has worked very, very hard to become the player that he is. Sometimes that might be lost on fans because of how fluid and how easy it looks for him. But he's worked very hard to be in this position.
Q. Justin, that was a battle of NBA prospects. One has been a little more heralded than your guy. Just what you thought of that and how he performed against Faried.
COACH MOONEY: I thought he did great. Justin, their games are obviously very different. Faried I think is going to be a long-time NBA player. I think Justin has that ability, too.
Justin is such an outstanding shooter. You saw tonight his midrange game and his ability to dribble. He's very versatile. He rebounded, had some big rebounds for us tonight. I thought it was a great matchup. I think it was good for him to be in that competition.
I'm sure they'll see each other a lot over the next couple of months as far as like the predraft stuff. I'm so impressed with Kenneth Faried. But I think they're just different. I think Justin's versatility is incredible.
Q. In terms of celebration, was the modest celebration something you told your team to do to help keep their focus or was that something that the players decided?
COACH MOONEY: That was just from the players.
I think more than anything, if we had won on a buzzer-beater, we would have been flying around the court. I think because the margin was so large by the end of the game, that would have seemed a little trite. I'm proud how we won both games and how we went about our business. But I think the margin had more to do with it than anything.
Q. Talk about the importance of your senior leadership. Is it kind of refreshing for America maybe to see in the Sweet 16 a senior-ladened outfit in this era of so many one-and-done type players?
COACH MOONEY: I think it's great. It just goes to show you how important experience is. Obviously these guys are talented, all the teams in this field are very talented. For us to have experience at almost every position, every spot. We've been through so many experiences together, I think it is.
I think it's good to see how valuable it is, to have guys being able to play a lot of college basketball games, win a lot of college basketball games, and do it on the biggest stage this week.
Q. The matchup zone is not easy to learn. How long did it take you to get the principles established? How well did you think it played tonight?
COACH MOONEY: Well, I thought tonight we were outstanding defensively. This is a team that is capable of scoring a lot of points, and we were able to really make it difficult for them to score just about every possession.
You know, while it is fairly sophisticated for a defense, you know, it's just the simple things done over and/or and over, kind of similar to how we teach our defense. Simple principles repeated over and over and over, continually at a faster pace.
Our guys have picked it up very well. Of course, they have a very good feel for it right now.
Q. Kevin seems very determined that each game is just one step along the way. It gets tougher as you go along. How determined do you see your team? How far do you think these guys can go?
COACH MOONEY: Well, I see a very determined team. I think, you know, again, that goes back to us having experienced players, guys who have been in the NCAA tournament, have won a lot of games against good teams. I think they're very determined.
The way we've practiced all season really, but for the last month as we've come down the stretch, has been great. I think the guys are determined to keep playing as well as we possibly can.
You know, who knows. This is the NCAA tournament. This is what it's all about. Hopefully we can enjoy this for a little bit before we get ready for the next one.
Q. The fact that you came in favored, did that have an effect on your mindset? Do you have to put that out of your mind in a game like this?
COACH MOONEY: Well, I think you can't worry about it too much. I think, you know, for the most part everybody pays too much attention to the seed that you have, you know, the team that you're playing against.
College basketball, you know, Kenneth Faried was the best player on the court in the game against Louisville, and they beat Louisville. We were just looking forward to playing. It wasn't like there was that much time for us to say, Hey, we're not playing Louisville, we're playing Morehead State, for us to have any thoughts about it. We had a quick turnaround. We had to get ourselves ready. Had to just go out and play.
I don't think in the NCAA tournament you're gonna see too many teams be overlooked.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, coach.
COACH MOONEY: Thank you.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports