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March 8, 2012

Kyle Green

Michael Lyons

Dave Pilipovich


New Mexico – 79
Air Force – 64

THE MODERATOR:  We're ready to begin with Air Force.
Coach, if we could start with you.  Just some general remarks on tonight's game.
COACH PILIPOVICH:  Sure.  Couldn't be more prouder of our young men.  What an effort.  I mean, the effort that we gave against an outstanding basketball club this evening, you can't fault that for anything.
Really proud of our guys.  Our execution obviously at times wasn't what we like.  But the efforts, the competitiveness, the leadership they showed.  We're excited about tonight and to move forward with this group.
THE MODERATOR:  We'll open it up for questions for the student‑athletes.

Q.  What is your overall thought of the game?
MICHAEL LYONS:  My thoughts?  Uhm, I'm glad we battled the whole game.  We never really gave in.  And, uhm, we just got to work on defense.  I think we'll be better in the future at that.  We're gonna work all spring and all summer on it.  And that's all I can say, we're just going to get better.

Q.  Kyle, I wanted to ask you about your eye.  You took stitches on Tuesday.  How did you feel?
KYLE GREEN:  It was fine.  I mean, I got hit on Tuesday towards the end of practice.  It didn't really bother me at all.  Stitched it up.  I didn't really feel anything.  So that's fine.

Q.  Mike, you touched on the future of this team.  Looking forward, almost everybody is back.  When you come back here next year, do you think you can be a lot different team?
MICHAEL LYONS:  Yeah, I'm real excited about next year.  We got a lot of young guys that's done real good things this season so far.  I mean, we just gonna work every day.
And me being a senior next year, I'm going to make sure they work, I'm going to make sure I work, and I'm going to make sure I'm a better leader and lead by example.  I'm proud of who we got coming back.
I thank the seniors for what they did for us this year and next year is going to be even better because we're planning on winning games, not just competing in games.  Honestly, I'm tired of hearing we competed, we competed.  We want to win and we got the talent to win.  So that's what we gonna do.

Q.  Kyle, there were 50 fouls called in the game.  Do you think any team got into a flow?
KYLE GREEN:  I mean, I think offensively we did really good things.  Offensively we got in a flow.  But on the defensive end we fouled way too much.  I mean, I think they shot 37 free throws, 23 in the first half.  So we fouled way too much.
But I still think we got into a flow offensively.

Q.  Coach, can you talk about the difficulty their depth presents you with?
COACH PILIPOVICH:  They're obviously very talented.  What a great basketball club they have.  Their depth, size, length.  As a staff, we looked at film of the first game we played against them.  It was a good game for them.  We came up with some things today to do differently.  We took them out of rhythm a little bit.  We changed up defensively how we guarded some action inside and on the perimeter.  It helped us tremendously.
These guys did a great job within three days to change our defensive schemes and do some things offensively better.
But when you can go 10, 11 deep with the caliber of players they have, they wear you, they wear you, they wear you.  Again, the effort from our guys, outstanding.

Q.  Mike, you fell behind by 18 in the first half.  How did you keep from avoiding it really getting away from you there?
MICHAEL LYONS:  We just kept playing the way we know how.  The first two games we didn't play like us.  That wasn't us that were playing out there.
We just kept being a little bit confident.  We just wanted to keep going hard.  I mean, it wasn't the result that we wanted, but it wasn't the result that it was in the past either.

Q.  Michael, did coach and the rest of the staff prepare you for the environment you might be face?
MICHAEL LYONS:  We all knew that the Lobos travel in packs, I guess.  I mean, so it really wasn't anything new to us.  We played in their place before.  We know how their fans get.  We know they like to travel and they support their team to the fullest.
It really wasn't a big deal for us to play in front of all them.

Q.  Kyle, how much confidence are you going to take into the off‑season?
KYLE GREEN:  I have a lot of confidence right now.  I'm happy with the way‑‑ I'm not happy with the way the season ends, but I'm happy with the progress we're making.
We were down by 18 and, you know, one thing that's different, Coach P never got down.  Coach P was there.  He never got flustered.  That helped us come back.
I think everybody is just positive and it just helps, uhm, us all.  It helped me a lot with my confidence, too.  So I plan on taking a lot of this into the off‑season.
We're going to win games next season.  That's our goal.
THE MODERATOR:  At this time we'll dismiss our student‑athletes.  Thank you.  We'll continue with questions for coach.

Q.  Opponents against you this year averaged 18 free throws per game.  You had 37.  Did you foul that much or...
COACH PILIPOVICH:  You know, we fouled at times.  We doubled in the post.  We ran at shooters.  We trapped some ball screens.  Anytime you're that aggressive defensively your hands are going to be a little bit more active.  So I guess we did foul a little bit more.  I guess we did.

Q.  Now that the season is over, this group coming back, how much different do you think this team is going to be?
COACH PILIPOVICH:  I think we'll have a full season to prepare.  I've had a lot of friends that tell me when they became head coaches what to expect, but all those guys became head coaches in the off‑season.  You have a transition period.
When we took over, we were trying to do things a little bit differently, right, wrong or indifferent.  It was hard because of the limited times we had and games coming right upon us.  But the great group of guys we have, these young men, they're unbelievable.  They're willing to learn, to listen.  It's amazing when you believe in what you can do, what you can accomplish.  We've got the greatest character kids and leadership kids you can ask for.
So we're going to take a little bit of time off because we all need to take a deep breath.  It's been a little bit of a long haul here the last couple weeks.  But after we take some time off, we're gonna work in the spring.  With the new NCAA rules we'll work a little bit in the summer.  We'll be excited, the challenges ahead of us next basketball season.
You couldn't ask for a better group to come back.  We have some great juniors who will turn into seniors and our freshmen turn into sophomores, because we only have one sophomore.  Our three seniors, Scott Stucky was hurt a couple times for us, torn ACLs.  What a great young man he is and what he's going to do for us and the Air Force.  Taylor Stewart is going off to flight pilot training school.  Then Shawn Hempsey, who is crying his eyes out in the locker room.  He's gone through so much in four years.  He started games as a freshman, up and down.  What a character kid.
That's the joy right there.  The hurt right now in the locker room with those young men because it's over and you can't put that uniform on again.  They'll always be Air Force.  They'll always be us.  We'll move on.  We want them to be a part of the program forever.

Q.  I know you battled back in the second half, but what happened in the stretch when you were up one and then down 18?
COACH PILIPOVICH:  During that stretch we were impatient offensively.  They went to their strength, got a few scores inside, beat us in transition.  Instead of us letting that 18‑point margin go to 25, 27, we came back and we battled back.  We had it to 9 in the second half.  Got it to 10, then got it to 9.  We kept coming back, coming back.
Our margin of error was limited because of the depths we were in.  The effort, again, I keep repeating myself, but I can't be more proud of the guys for the effort.  They're going to play for a couple more weeks; that team is talented.
THE MODERATOR:  Thank you very much, coach.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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