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March 19, 2011
San Diego State - 71 (Dbl OT)
Temple - 64
THE MODERATOR: For San Diego State we've got Billy White, D.J. Gay, Chase Tapley, Malcolm Thomas and head coach Steve Fisher.
Coach, if you can give us some opening remarks, then we'll open it up to questions for the student-athletes.
COACH FISHER: When you play a game like this and lose, it's so disastrous for awhile mentally that you can't comprehend it unless you are there. So I know what Fran is going through, along with his team.
This was a really -- two really good teams that played today. It was not perfect basketball, but it was two teams that the fight and the toughness and the will to win was there for both teams.
We're obviously thrilled that we're here and advancing. But Fran and his squad have had a great season and we spoke about that afterwards, and I told him that. These are games that are hard. They're hard for both sides. We ran off the floor all smiles and they ran off the floor with tears in their eyes and that's the nature of what we do.
We've got a good team. We find different ways to win. We did that again tonight. And collectively we've won 34 games. So we feel we belong. We're excited to be playing next week. And I do think that we will come out excited and charged and hopefully with a lot of fans and play well.
Q. Billy, you have really stepped up the last four, five games. What have you been doing different, if anything at all, and how have you maintained that consistency?
BILLY WHITE: I just been trying to rebound, you know. I talked to Coach Fisher and talked to my teammates and they just wanted me to just step up a little bit more and I just took it to myself to, you know, I just thought I needed to rebound a little better and go after every board. That's what I been doing.
Q. Malcolm, would you call that block on Lavoy Allen the biggest play of your basketball career?
MALCOLM THOMAS: Definitely. When he got the rebound it was, like, I was thinking to myself I should have boxed out harder. When the shot went up, you know, my natural reaction was to try to block it and I got it. I'm just excited that I blocked it.
Q. Billy, can you talk about that block from your perspective?
BILLY WHITE: It was an amazing block. You know, we've been trying to block their shots all game, you know. And we haven't got one. And at the end when it really counted, you know, that's what we do. We try to change people's shots. And Malcolm just jumped up and blocked it, I was so proud of him. Like I just said, it was an amazing block.
Q. Malcolm and Billy, you guys as a team made so many athletic plays there in the last couple minutes. Were you as tired as they were? Or was this just adrenaline or just a couple of good plays?
BILLY WHITE: I think we were tired. But, you know, we knew that, you know, we had to win this game. You know, it was -- we just wanted a little bit more. We just sucked it up. That's what we do in practice, you know, we keep going even though we're tired. We just, like I said, just used our body and strength and tried to block every shot and just play defense like we been doing all game.
Q. Chase, as the final seconds ticked you looked like you looked up to the rafters and kind of collapsed on the court a little bit. Can you just describe what was going through your mind at that point.
CHASE TAPLEY: I was just excited. It was a hard-fought game for both teams. I mean, double overtimes. It was just a great game to remember for a memory. I just had to sit on the floor. I was exhausted. Just playing my heart out.
My team picked me up like they always do.
Q. D.J., I just want to know how does it feel to reach the Sweet 16?
D.J. GAY: Like a dream come true. I mean, this is something that we talked about in the summertime and preseason and even during the season. To finally achieve this goal, it feels special. Not just for this team, but, you know, for the city of San Diego. This is a place that we haven't been before. But to finally reach it, feels amazing.
Q. Chase, did your jersey get yanked at the end of the game or not?
CHASE TAPLEY: No, it didn't. It was just a hard play for both teams. I mean, I got -- did a little pump fake, try to get to though rim and just was a little off, and I kind of slipped on my shoe.
Q. Billy, you picked up your third foul about 2 minutes into the second half, then didn't commit another one. How did you still play effective defense without getting in more foul trouble?
BILLY WHITE: You know, coach just told me not to foul no more, just play smart and aggressive. And, you know, my teammates just helped me out. They just helped me out a little more. I just tried to stay aggressive. I really didn't think about that, committing another foul. I just knew I had to just keep playing and don't let the fouls get to my head.
Q. D.J., you guys had a burst of kind of classic San Diego State basketball early that got you that big lead. You scored 18 points in the second half. What were they able to do to get your offense down?
D.J. GAY: Well, we came out in the second half and we missed a lot of shots right off the bat that we normally make. They did a good job of pressuring me and trying to take us out of our offense. They went to a 2-3 zone and even saw a 1-2-2. Something that, you know, the 1-2-2 we're unfamiliar with. They tried a variety of things defensively. We tried to adjust.
At times we looked kind of out of whack, but at the end of the day we came out with the win.
Q. Can you guys talk about Ramone Moore's effort on both the offensive end and the defensive end.
MALCOLM THOMAS: He is a tough player. When we scouted we saw that he crashed the boards hard, kind of like Kawhi does. And, you know, he didn't want to lose. And it showed on the court. He didn't give up. He's a really good player.
Q. Malcolm, can you describe what was going on in your mind, emotions between the turnover and conversed with the block at the end. How did you go from down to up?
MALCOLM THOMAS: Tried not to get frustrated when I turned it over. I made a lot of plays that could have cost us the game. But, you know, being an Aztec we know we can make it up defensively or try to make it up defensively. That was my mindset after the turnover.
Q. Malcolm, at one point with about 2 minutes left in the first overtime you guys are down 3 and you posted up Allen and got a very big three-point play. Could you talk us through that, if you can remember it in all this.
MALCOLM THOMAS: I just wanted to be aggressive. Try to get really close to the basket and I got close and shot it and it went in eventually. Fortunately for me. And I made the free throw. Luckily we won the game.
Q. Malcolm, along those same lines, you are a San Diego guy. You have the skyline tattooed on your bicep. How gratifying is this for you as a local dude to win this and move on?
MALCOLM THOMAS: It's great. You know, to be from San Diego, to leave, come back and, you know, do something like this it just means a lot to my family and I. And, you know, if we keep it going, it would just be an even better feeling.
Q. D.J., Kawhi had trouble getting going offensively, had some turnovers and missed some shots. When you see that, that he's sort of in a funk, is there any distress among you guys that you guys got to try to get him going?
D.J. GAY: No, not at all. Kawhi is a guy that can always get himself going, and that is by rebounding. He does a good job of rebounding our misses and even his own misses. And, you know, when things aren't going his way he does a good job of not showing frustration.
I might pull him aside and say, Hey, the ball is coming back to you, knock the shot down. But the thing about Kawhi is that it's about winning. It's not about his stats or anything like that. He just wants to win. And whatever it takes to win, he's going to do.
Q. D.J., you said you guys were kind of out of whack and you made a lot of uncharacteristic mistakes in overtimes it might not normally make. Can you just talk about the will to win and just refusal to lose at this point in the tournament.
D.J. GAY: We didn't want to go home. We did make some mistakes. But we did a good job, you know, fighting back through it.
This team has one goal and that is to, you know, win each game. And we went into this game knowing no matter what happened we had to stick together. There's going to be things that happen to make us frustrated, but we had to fight through it as a team. Everybody had each other's back. And that's why we were able to come out successful.
Q. Billy, again, when the final buzzer sounded today, what was the feeling going through you? Was it elation? Was it relief? What was going through your mind after two overtimes?
BILLY WHITE: I was just excited, you know, that we came home with the victory. You know, we played hard. You know, we've been working all year for this. And I was just excited. I know my team was. And we know that this is just the beginning. You know, if we keep playing hard like this, you know, it's going to show in each game.
Q. D.J., teams to win championships seem to have to have a game like this along the way. Where is this going to help as you go forward? How is a game like this going to help?
D.J. GAY: We're a team that has been there before, these kind of grind-out games. We know we can win a fast-paced game. We know we can find a way in a slow-paced way. When the score is tied and the last two minutes the game can go either way, this is a team that's been in that situation before. And we're going to find a way to win, whether if it's, you know, in the offensive end, defensive end. And, you know, if we get a shot up, you know, odds are we're going to -- if we miss it we're going to get it again.
Q. D.J., it's weird to throw words around like this, but when you have games like this, and even going back to finally conquering BYU or the game against Colorado State, the word "destiny" gets thrown around. But does it almost feel like a destiny atmosphere to this? How does this keep happening to us, the strokes of luck and everything?
D.J. GAY: I don't think throwing around "destiny" just yet. It's kind of like, you know, hard work is paying off. You know, a team -- fruit of its labor, you know.
But this is a team that's worked hard and prepared for this situation. And we're finally getting a chance to show the world what we're capable of.
Q. Chase, I want you to be honest with me now, when you went for your third and fourth threes you guys up seven, it finally looks like you were going to maybe wear these guys out. What was your feeling right then, they had to call time?
CHASE TAPLEY: My feeling was man, we got the lead that we wanted and I wanted us to sustain it. But, unfortunately, made some key turnovers and they got back in the game. I was a little frustrated. But, hey, we fought back. We kept our composure. And then we just grinded it out for two more overtimes and got the win. And that's all that matters is that we got the win.
THE MODERATOR: Okay, guys, appreciate it. Thank you very much. Congratulations.
Q. You were telling Kawhi just about as he was about to land into you, Don't go after the ball. You are still okay him after this game is over right, everything's okay?
COACH FISHER: I wasn't telling Kawhi anything. I was fearful for my life as he came flying over by our bench. (Laughter.) I had no idea that he would save the ball right to one of the Temple players for a lay-up. No, I was only worried about my own safety on that play.
Q. Coach, you touched on it earlier, and it's something Dunphy talked about a while ago, and that is how hard these things are. Do you think a lot of people don't really realize everything that goes into these tournament games?
COACH FISHER: I think that's absolutely correct. Unless you're there in the trenches on a daily basis as a player or as a coach or as a family member for a player or coach, you can't comprehend how stressful it is, how hard it is, how all-consuming it is. And how gratifying when you win and how disappointing it is when you don't win. And it's a profession of choice for the coaches. And it's profession of love for both coaches and players.
So it's a situation where in today's game -- and there will be more games like this with other teams. And there already has been. The losers who go home -- and we went home last year feeling that with a little bit of good fortune and a little better play we could have gone on. And this year we're going on and then it feels great to be in our shoes.
Q. When Billy picked up his third foul really early in the second half you didn't take him out of the game right away. Can you walk through that decision.
COACH FISHER: He played 13 first-half minutes and got the second foul we took him out, he was playing really good basketball. So I did not want to take him out, sit him for a length of time, have him kind of get out of the flow.
We told him, you have to be smart, you cannot be afraid to play. And he made that statement. He wasn't thinking about, you know, I got to be careful and not get a foul. But you have to play with a measure of veteran senior play and he was able to do that.
Q. Coach, you guys scored 12 fast-break points in the first half and only four for the rest of the game, including the two overtimes. Cab you talk about what Temple did defensively to tighten up and stop the fast-break.
COACH FISHER: Temple did a good job of controlling tempo. That's what they've done all season. They made us guard. They made us guard for long stretches. And they made us collectively have to hold fast to rebound.
They had a lot of shots off the bounce going to the rim and when you have eight or nine people inside that key area, hard to run. This is a good team we played.
You make half-time adjustments, you come out and say we have to make sure this doesn't happen, and they did that. So I would say more of them than us in terms of why it happened.
Q. Coach, you've been to the Sweet 16 before, but maybe talk a little bit about is this more gratifying getting there because you have built this program from the ground up.
COACH FISHER: I told our team after the game, when I walked in they gave me a pin. I thought the pin I had on my shoulder from yesterday from the Thursday game was one I would wear for the full duration. That's how long it's been since I've been past the first round. It's been 17 years. Been 17 years since I've been part of a team that hasn't gone home, if they've gone, after game one. I said, so I'm proud to have this pin. And I'm looking forward to getting another one.
So, you know, this -- doing what we've done, it makes everybody proud, myself included. This is -- but this is a team that, they don't care about the -- what happened ten days ago much less ten years ago. They're proud of what they're doing and determined that they're going to do everything that they can to stay in the hunt to continue to play. And we find ways. You know that.
I mean, D.J. touched on it. We've had -- our league has prepared us for this. We had two games in Vegas. They had the lead with the ball under two to play without a way to win. Colorado State we have to make a stop, we score at the buzzer and on and on and on in Vegas in the tournament.
So I think the collective experiences this team has had, that has allowed us to -- when we got here tonight, we made some plays -- Temple surprised us one time with a press and, you know, we turned it over, then we turned another one over a little bit uncharacteristically. We took a time-out. They were a bit frustrated, but they were able to get themselves back in the game mentally. And you have to do that, and our kids have been able to do that.
Q. Coach, what were they doing against Kawhi that was so effective? Seemed like most of his points were from the line.
COACH FISHER: I think he's probably the number one guy on their board when they talk about what we have to do defensively. It's a good team. They gave up 62 points a game. They play in a good league and against a lot of good people and they said, keep a body in front of him, a big body. When he penetrates give a little help. And they did that.
Kawhi, again, found ways to make a couple of important plays when we had to make some things happen to win. I thought he did a really, really good job on Moore defensively to make it hard for him. He was wearing himself out at the defensive end also.
Q. Kind of a two-part question with the same theme. You guys had 13 blocked shots. Fernandez goes 1 of 10 inside three-point range, I think. Can you talk about the athletic defense you guys can just throw at people who try to drive the lane.
COACH FISHER: We didn't have 13 blocked shots. We had 13 turnovers. So we had six blocked shots, as I'm looking here.
We are a team that led our league in field goal defense and three-point field goal defense. So we get out and guard you and when you drive and get by us -- and we knew Temple was going to do that some.
Fernandez is good. He is hard to guard. So is Moore. They have a system and offense where they're going to get you on angles.
I thought we did a good job of helping most of the time. Then Malcolm is a great instinctive shot blocker. He has a feel for coming over. He had four today and he probably changed the angle and arc on another four and five.
So we were able to take what looks like might be a relatively easy shot and either block it or make it a very difficult shot. We've done that all season. Then a lot of that is God given. We got some good, long athletes that are able to do that.
Q. Take me through the last, say, 30, 35 seconds, that breakaway dunk, a couple of big blocks. Seemed like the athleticism really shone through there at the end.
COACH FISHER: It did. I looked at the stat sheet, they had two guys play 50 minutes and 1 guy play 49 minutes. We had D.J. at 50 and 3 others in the 40s. They were working on fumes, both teams. But you get a burst of adrenaline when something good happens.
And we had enough good things happen where we got a basket, then get a blocked shot or get the possession back and you feel like now, you know, you get a little rejuvenation. We had some good fortune.
They had some balls at the rim that looked like they might go in and Malcolm came away and swatted them away. So, you know, when it happens you've -- you feel a lit lucky, but you feel really excited and happy and feel like you could play another overtime if you have to.
Q. Coach, you just touched on it a bit, but you talk about it all the time. You talk about getting lucky. Being part of this thing. And, I mean, we just looked at Pitt lose. Pitt just got beat. So, I mean, were you guys lucky tonight?
COACH FISHER: I told our team just what I said up here the other day. I've said this on radio. I've said it in the media. To continue on in this event, you have to be good. We're good. We know we're good. But you also have to have a bit of good fortune. And I said to them after the game, we probably had a little bit of that tonight.
But to your credit, if I'm talking to you as our team, you kind of made a little bit of that luck for yourself. You didn't allow when we got sloppy and we had some turnovers and they had a three-point lead, we didn't panic and have that turn into a two-possession game. We didn't do that.
Again, I do think there's good fortune and we had a little bit of that tonight. But we bowed our back and flexed our muscle and stayed with it and found a way to -- with a little bit of good fortune, to get a victory.
Q. Coach, Billy said that before in the Mountain West Conference tournament you came up and said, Hey, you need to pick it up, and he said okay. I am assuming it's not quite that easy. What's changed with Billy in these last five games? Obviously, he's shown flashes of this all season, but hasn't had this consistent run like this.
COACH FISHER: You followed us all season. And Billy has had a career where -- I said this before -- some spectacular moment and had some other games where you look at the stat sheet and say what happened. He's had back to back to back double-doubles. He's had three double-doubles in a row through three years and 33 games, he had had three all total.
So I think it's a lot of Billy saying I need to do a little bit more. We did -- but we've done this repeatedly. We showed Billy, I sat with Billy and David Velasquez ran -- he gave me a cut of Billy standing and watching when shots would go up. And we said, How can you get a rebound if you don't go after a rebound?
And if you watch Billy, you get a highlight of the last three games, he's pursuing the ball like Kawhi pursues the ball. He is going after every ball. And I think more than anything else he has motivated himself to say, I got to find a way to get my hands on more balls, and I'm good enough to do it. And he really has done a great job. He's been our best offensive rebounder the last three or four games.
Q. Coach, it's interesting you chose not to substitute after regulation. Any particular reason? Just wanted to go with what you had?
COACH FISHER: We talk every time-out, they're so long, you know, you don't know what -- you got too much time to talk to your team. And I asked all of them: What do you think? Any subs? And they all said: Go with what we got. Go with what we got.
Rahon was spectacular for us in that first game. And probably should have been playing for somebody, but I'm saying, Who for? And I just thought Billy sat 7 minutes in the first half. Malcolm is a guy that can go all day, all day, all day, that we were just going to stay with it and go with what we had. You know, Temple did that too. But we've got more depth probably than Temple does.
But it was -- if somebody on our staff had said, What about, I probably would have substituted. But in my own mind I'm thinking, you know, let's keep it going. But if there is a collective voice of other coaches, I would have made a substitute. But worked out okay.
THE MODERATOR: Okay, coach, thank you very much. Congratulations.
COACH FISHER: Thank you.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports