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March 20, 2011

Jim Larranaga

Cam Long

Ryan Pearson


Ohio State – 98
George Mason - 66

THE MODERATOR: We're joined by George Mason head coach Jim Larranaga and student-athletes Cam Long and Ryan Pearson. Questions for Coach Larranaga.
COACH LARRANAGA: Well, we'd first of all like to congratulate Ohio State. I thought they played great. They shot the ball extremely well from the perimeter, from 3-point range. And they have outstanding skilled players who really know how to distribute the ball and share the ball, and with Sullinger inside and that many weapons outside, it seemed like everything we tried to do defensively, they had an answer for.
And then at the other end of the floor, we were kind of expecting we were going to be able to score the ball better than we did, but their defense was very, very good.
They put a lot of pressure on us, and we were not able to get the quality shots that we're used to getting. So the end result was after a quick start, where we scored the ball pretty good early, they were able to shut our offense down and ended up with a big lead at halftime. We were never able to cut into that.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for the student-athletes.

Q. Cam, can you just talk about the factor of Luke not being with you guys, the emotional toll that took, and just the atmosphere leading up and to the game?
CAM LONG: Actually caught us by surprise. We really wasn't aware of what was going on.
We definitely could have used him tonight, don't get me wrong. He's a great player. And we actually tried to use that as motivation. I mean, we tried to do it for him. I mean, we came out very strong. But our Coach always said that was a great team. And, I mean, it wasn't about the first help -- or second help, which we were able to do, it was just -- I mean, they had a great team that was able to share the ball.
So it wasn't really the first and second, it was the third or fourth help that wasn't there.

Q. Can you discuss in your scouting report David Lighty and where he might have been in terms of priority covering him?
CAM LONG: Well, I mean, he's nine for ten, seven for seven from the 3-point line. And we had him as a likely shooter, but, I mean, sometimes when you just have that night, you have that night. And tonight was his.

Q. Cam and Ryan, like you said, when the third and fourth options are clicking like they are, are they the toughest team in the country to stop when they have all four of those guys going at the same time?
CAM LONG: Yeah, definitely. I mean, if you've got four players that's scoring 18 and above and they're able to move the ball that well to get open shots, I mean, it's just very hard to guard. You've got great shooters outside and you've also got power post men sitting in the block. So when you're trying to shut down one thing, they've got other things that open up. And if you try to shut down the block, they've got the 3s that open up. So it's definitely a hard thing to guard.
RYAN PEARSON: Oh, yeah, like Cam said, I just think that they are the toughest team especially that we faced this far, and I can't speak for every team that said they're the toughest team in the country because we haven't played every team, but by far on our schedule they're the toughest squad that we faced.
And when they got guys that's just hitting on all cylinders, all night long, and they're sharing the ball and they're just going out there and just having fun, it's kind of tough for the opponent to stop.
And that's what they did all night long. They just made shots. And even when we tried to cut the lead and come out, they just came right back at us, just firing on all cylinders.
They're a great program, they're a tough team to beat, and I think they're going to go real far in this tournament.

Q. Ryan, it seemed the first ten minutes of the game you hung with them and when you had the fast start at the start of the second half, it seemed like you guys were able to score on the interior, some second-chance points also. What was the reason for that?
RYAN PEARSON: When you're down, you've got nothing to lose. You just gotta go out there and give it your all. We came out of the half and we said to each other we basically have to go out there and give it everything we had.
In the beginning we were all fired up, and we were doing the things that we need to do necessary. Granted, Lighty was on fire. He just didn't miss.
When they moved him over -- when they moved him to the 4 position and they went kind of small, they kind of spread us out, and we wanted to help, give as much help with Mike on Sullinger as possible, and he just found the open guy and they just kicked it out and made shots all night.
Like I say, when we tried to cut the lead, they're a great club, and they just got themselves together and they came out and scored right along with us.
We were down, and you can't trade baskets with a team when you're down.

Q. Cam or Ryan, they not only were making shots, it seemed like there would be a loose ball scramble and they'd get it, they got it to Diebler for a four-point play, and balls all over the place, they end up with a layup. It seemed like it was an accumulation of them making shots and maybe the balls just bouncing their way. Did you get the feeling sometimes no matter what you did it was going to roll right for the other team?
RYAN PEARSON: A night like this, yeah, kind of, because it was like no matter what we tried to do out there, you know, they just -- they would just execute. And they were well prepared for this game. And they executed all the Xs and Os on offense, and pressured us and got us out of our comfort zone a little bit on defense, and they just played -- and they controlled the game the whole way.
The beginning of the first ten minutes when we were in the ballgame it was going back and forth, but the whole -- ever since when that time span ended, TV timeout, they just controlled the basketball game. They just controlled. They just did whatever they wanted to do. We just didn't respond as a team, I think.
CAM LONG: I can say the same thing Ryan's saying. We basically just dug ourselves in a hole, and once we was in that hole, like he said earlier, I mean, there's baskets we can get all day, but if the team is just trading baskets with us, we're never going to diminish the point lead that was in there.
And, like he said, the basketball was just bouncing all over the place and always ending up in their hand. It goes to what I said earlier: It was just one of their nights, and when you're on fire it just seems like everything goes your way.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you. Questions for Coach.

Q. Jim, you've coached this game for a long time. Have you had a team do this to you before?
COACH LARRANAGA: Yep (laughter). I think it was Ohio State in 1986. We went to St. John Arena with my Bowling Green team, and they had us at halftime 53-17. Hack, do you remember that? Were you there? I think it was 53-17.
Anyway, but here's the thing: A game like tonight, we have to play almost a perfect game. We have to play at the highest level of our capability, and we've got to find a way to try to make them play below their capability.
Now, in some respects, you can try to take away Sullinger. Double-team him. Front him, getting a lot of help from the back side. But the moment you do that, what you do is create other opportunities for somebody else on the team.
And when our players are asked about, you know, what priority did we give Lighty, it was -- first was Sullinger, we began with how we're going to defend in the post. The second was Diebler, because of his ability to stretch the defense with his 3-point shooting ability. And then it was let's pray that Buford and Lighty don't go off. But you're hoping. You're not planning on that. You don't think that will happen, but you do hope that at least one or two of them will have an off night shooting.
But instead they were on fire. And once Craft entered the game, they had the way of finding that right guy, of him distributing the ball, whether it would be over the top to Sullinger when we couldn't help, whether it was to Lighty. One of the things is Lighty is such a hard guy to guard for a 4-man, our 4-man is an undersized guy, Ryan Pearson, but he's normally guarding guys more like Lauderdale than he is a Lighty.
So when he goes out to the 3-point line and we've been preparing by saying to our 4-man, Look it, you probably got the best chance of helping Mike Morrison guard Sullinger. So for sure off of Lauderdale, but when Lighty comes into the game you've got to adjust. That's not an easy task. Especially when David has a night like he did tonight.
But they don't have one or two players with good skills; they've got an entire team with offensive skill sets that are very impressive. But what I think makes them so good -- and I was a little bit surprised, their defensive pressure was outstanding in the first half. They made it very difficult for us to get into the best shots we like. And we ended up backing up and shooting long 3s, not good choices at all.

Q. Can you just describe the situation with Luke, whether it was last night or this morning, and what you had to go through before deciding he wasn't going to join you?
COACH LARRANAGA: Well, the first I heard about it was early this morning. Luke got sick to his stomach and was throwing up during the night. Then at 8:00 this morning he sought out our trainer. We have two doctors with us, so they addressed the situation and tried to calm his stomach down, but he couldn't hold anything down. And eventually they put him on IV fluids to see if he would respond to that, and never did.
So whatever he ate or whatever made him sick, it was with him for the whole day. We left him back at the hotel and he slept.

Q. When you look at the stat sheet, what's more impressive, the 16 3s, the 15 assists by Craft, the overall shooting percentage? What jumps out the most?
COACH LARRANAGA: Probably the halftime score. You can play well for a half, but to have that kind of separation in the NCAA Tournament, kind of surprising, to me.
I thought we'd be able to score the ball more. I didn't know if we could stop them, because they have so many different weapons. But I thought we would score more. And when they held us to 26 points in the first half and they had 52, like, wow, very, very impressive.
And it's a combination of those other things, whether it was Lighty's 3s or Craft's assists with very few turnovers, 15 to 2. I wish we did that.

Q. Jim, not to belabor it, but with Luke, didn't he eat with the team? Did you all have different meals or something, if he had a stomach virus?
COACH LARRANAGA: We ate together, and we all ate the same meal. But, now, maybe he bought something or got something to bring back to his room late at night to just snack on. I don't know. I haven't talked to him.
He was in bed all day. He did get to the arena. As soon as he did he got very dizzy. They laid him down in the training room. I haven't spoken to him yet.

Q. When a team is almost that ruthless and efficient and effective, is there another team in this tournament that can beat them when they're like that?
COACH LARRANAGA: Well, if they play like they did today, it makes them a tough out. But you don't play the same way every day. And the way people defend and the way people attack are different, too.
One of the things we wanted to do was try to take their big guys away from the basket and use ball screens trying to create opportunities to get to the hole. If there's a team that they face, maybe they'd be able to execute that better than our guys did.
But every game is different. Every opponent is different. They've beaten us and San Antonio. In the next round they'll probably play a team with a little bit more size and a better matchup physicality-wise.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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