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March 15, 2012

Will Cherry

Derek Selvig

Art Steward

Wayne Tinkle


Wisconsin – 73
Montana – 49

THE MODERATOR:  Coach Tinkle, an opening statement about this afternoon's game.
COACH TINKLE:  Just got to give a ton of credit to Wisconsin.  They were ready to go, played well, shot lights out.  They were more physical than us.  We pride ourselves on creating doubt in the minds of our opponents, and I thought they really did a good job of that tonight.
Our guys battled back.  We made a nice little run there in the second half and they always had an answer, a lot of dagger plays there in the second half, so proud of my group.  It's been a heck of a year.  We said in the locker room, it's been a while since we tasted defeat.  It was a heck of a run that these guys put together, and I'm awfully proud of that.  Getting to this position is great.
We asked our returning players to use this as a little fuel moving forward as motivation to try to get back here and maybe one day move on a little bit.  But super proud of these guys.  Really proud of my seniors that have meant so much to us.  We were beaten by a better team today.  We congratulate Wisconsin, but I'm still very, very proud of these guys.
THE MODERATOR:  Questions for the Montana student‑athletes.

Q.  Will, can you discuss what they did defensively against you guys, in particular against you, and why they were able to get so many open looks and knock them down?
WILL CHERRY:  Defensively their bigs did a good job of blocking shots at the top.  They got it at the top.  They were waiting for me to go up, and they got it at the top.  Kudos to them.  I think he ended with like seven or eight blocks.  He did a good job getting at the top and not fouling it.  Getting his hands up without fouling.  That was big for them.
They were switching everything with Derek.  They know they did a good job of scouting us and pick‑and‑popping with Derek.  He's one of our best three‑point shooters on the team, so they did a good job of scouting that.
Offensively they did a good job of swinging a ball and finding the mismatches early and exploiting us.  They did a good job of driving and getting to the line in the first half.  In the second half, they just were just relentless on the offensive end.
I think they started the second half with four offensive rebounds that ended up with a basket by Jordan Taylor.  The offensive rebounds are killer.  When we're trying to make a push, you can't give up offensive rebounds because those are daggers.  They were throwing it right back at the shooters for threes, and that's about it.

Q.  Derek, that second half I felt like you guys have been down by double digits before at the half, and you guys really needed to get out to a good start.  But three turnovers, I guess, just talk about that second half getting off to that start?
DEREK SELVIG:  Yeah, we just couldn't get on a roll.  Usually we like to create momentum in transition, and just didn't feel like we could get out and run.  Our offense ended some plays with fouls when they ran some shot clocks down and got some shots, we fouled them.  So we didn't do a good job there.
Credit to the guys that were out there.  They made a little run and knocked down some shots where we weren't able to do that earlier.

Q.  Will, getting that far down to a team that's as deliberate as Wisconsin, is it a frustrating style to play against?
WILL CHERRY:  I wouldn't say so much frustrating.  I mean when you're down at times, it can be frustrating, but Coach Tinkle has been preaching to us poise and character throughout the whole season, so that's what we pride ourselves on being blue collared players, and we kept on fighting for 40.  That's what we can ask for.
We made a run to get it to ten, but like Derek said, we made some plays down the stretch where we couldn't.  So we just tried to keep playing and be relentless.
But like you said, they're blue collar to the tee.  They weren't turning the ball over.  We sped them up at times, but I felt like somehow they always kicked it to an open shooter who made a dagger three, and put a little damper in our comeback.
I wouldn't say it was so much frustrating, but you've got to give it to them.  They were under control for the whole 40 minutes and didn't let us speed them up.

Q.  Art, just talk about what was it about their defense that was so difficult to kind of crack for you guys?
ART STEWARD:  It was mainly they were switching.  They were switching a lot.  We like to roll, we like to set picks and rolls, and that kind of messes up everything.  It kind of spread it out and left the bigs down low and the guards on the wings.  It kind of kept it hard for us to switch on things.  It would be a lot of mismatches on that side, but that's mainly it.

Q.  Will, I know you knew that Jordan Taylor was going to be a challenge.  Was he even better than you maybe expected though?
WILL CHERRY:  Not at all.  I never underestimate anybody.  I gave him credit all week going in.  I knew what I was going up against.  He's one of the better guards in the country.
At the same time, I wasn't taking anything away from my game or my teammates.  We came in this game ready to play and ready to win.  We just came up a little short.
As far as Jordan Taylor, I expected every bit of what he did today.  He was a great leader on the floor.  He got his teammates the ball and really ran their team when we started making a comeback.

Q.  Derek and Art, as seniors, I know this probably wasn't the way you wanted to go out, but can you just reflect on your career and when did you start thinking about that during the game or when the buzzer went off?
DEREK SELVIG:  Just thinking back right now, this year was a heck of a run.  I'm just really thankful for the coaches and my teammates for making it so special.  It's tough to go out this way, but those guys were just ready to play and we just made mistakes when we couldn't, and that's the difference.
ART STEWARD:  I thought about it at the buzzer.  We had a great in‑season run, and we made it to the tourney, but of course we wanted to advance.  We went out pretty big.  I can't complain with that, and I've got to give thanks to the coaches and the players that I played with.

Q.  Art, you kind of kept your team in the game especially in the first half.  Did you feel like you had a mismatch?
ART STEWARD:  Kind of.  They play good defense.  They help, and my game is post‑up, down‑low, and they came out and help.  I've got to find an open play and force it up or something like that.  It's just something that we work on in practice, and I felt like I had to step up a little bit, but my team helped me.  They found me.  They found me with the ball.  They knew where I was comfortable.  We know where we're all comfortable at?

Q.  Will, what will it take for this team to get back here and maybe take the next step next year?
WILL CHERRY:  Same thing, but just a little harder, a little harder, a little more together.  Just take another step.  We can't forget about what got us here in the first place.  We worked hard all year.  We bought into what the coaches were preaching each and every day at practice.  We didn't let any outside deal get into our locker room.  We stayed together as a team 1 through 15 along with the coaching staff.
We'll feel it.  Last year was the same deal.  We ended up losing the game to get here.  We carried that over into spring workouts after two weeks, after we lost, and we worked hard.  If we can keep working hard, keep working hard and never be satisfied, we'll be back here.  No doubt about that, because we're never satisfied.  We're hungry.  We do things the Grizzly way like Coach Tinkle is always preaching.  The Grizzly way is hard and smart together.  If we can keep those things rolling we'll be back here without a doubt.
THE MODERATOR:  Questions for Coach Tinkle.

Q.  Coach, what is it about their defense that's maybe so frustrating to go against?
COACH TINKLE:  Well, they just switched a lot of things, and we've seen other teams do that.  I thought we settled early when we had opportunities to attack their bigs when they switched out jump shots, then when we finally got them to attack.  We took bad angles.  We picked our dribble up too far from the basket and he was able to get his hands on them instead of turning the corner.  We always preach when you attack, go through their chin.  We didn't do that.  End of the half, we were double pumping, you know.  At this stage, you've got to go strong.  We didn't do that.
Second half, I thought we'd rally, and we just didn't have it.  We made a nice little run or two, but then we got a little bit out of character defensively.
Let's face it, there were plenty of opportunities within this game where we had shots at the basket that could have burst a little bit of their momentum and gotten some going, and we missed multiple opportunities at the rim.
They did do a great job defensively switching.  We tried to get mismatches on the post with our bigs on their littles.  We couldn't convert.  We tried to exploit the mismatches of our littles against their bigs.  We didn't finish.  So I give them all the credit in the world for frustrating us.
But, man, if we just make some of those baskets, take advantage of a couple of those mismatches, maybe our guys could get a little more confident.

Q.  Evan's hot start, how big a factor was that?
COACH TINKLE:  It was big, obviously.  We knew we thought that was a key match‑up for us.  He's too good to call an X‑factor, but that one match‑up that you want to try to hold down, we thought it was him.  Man or zone, we were guarding him with our hands down, and that's not how we guard.  So he had little face‑up jumpers to get them going and get them off the schneid.  I mean, you've seen us all year.  We were in zone, and we were leaving shooters wide open.  That's just not us.
So we were a little bit out of character.  Give some of the credit to Wisconsin for their aggression that they started with, but we've got to take some of the blame for not quite having the same sense of purpose and being on edge that we've been on all year to put us in this position.

Q.  You can't take anything away from this season.  I know it's always tough to lose in the first round.  But just talk about the season overall and how you guys have grown from start to finish?
COACH TINKLE:  It was a great season.  We had some shaky games early on.  We knew that if our guys would buy in and stay together that those early losses and some of the adversity we faced wouldn't affect us in March.
We put together a hell of a run, a school record 14 wins in a row, school record 15‑1 in conference.  These guys have accomplished a lot.  We told them that in the locker room.  This stings.  We've got to take them behind the wood shed a little bit.  The guys are coming back, they'll learn from this experience, and hopefully it will fuel their fire in the off‑season.
Like you heard Will say, it happened a year ago, and we need to get tougher so that we can get back here and advance, maybe.  It's a tough deal getting here.  It's not a given.  It's only happened nine times in our school's history, but we don't want to just be a part of the dance.  We want to be able to stay on the dance floor for a little while.

Q.  You talked about Ryan Evans, and Will talked about Jordan Taylor.  But what was your biggest concern facing these guys that it might turn out this way?
COACH TINKLE:  We thought we had to defend the three‑point line.  We thought that was a big key and rebound with them.  They were 6 for 12 at half, ended up 10 for 19.  We led our league in defensive field goal percentage and three‑points.  But we allowed them to get open looks early and they got their confidence going.
In the second half, we were happy with our effort in the first half on the glass.  Second half they just mopped us up.  They made some adjustments, went small.  We tried to go big and take advantage of it.  We couldn't finish.  So then we tried to go small, and we couldn't rebound with them.

Q.  You said in your opening statement how you like to create doubt in the minds of opponents.  How difficult is that against a guy like Taylor running the show over there?
COACH TINKLE:  It's difficult, but I thought we had our opportunities.  If we could have just converted some of those shots at the rim in the first half, and you put a little bit of doubt in their mind.  Then the pressure of that hoop starts to shrink a little.  We've been a second half team.  We came out and did make a run, but then, boy, that Bruesewitz kid hits a couple of big threes at the end of the shot clock.
We had Jordan Taylor trapped in the short corner with 8 seconds on the shot clock.  We let him split us and lay it in.  We had a come silly fouls late in the shot clock.  Those are mistakes we made that we don't normally make.
So now you start to close that gap and the noose, so to speak, gets a little bit tighter.  We just didn't make those runs, and they squashed any time that we tried to.  So obviously they were the ones that created the doubt this afternoon.

Q.  You mentioned defending the three‑point line.  Bruesewitz hadn't hit a three since February 9th.  Were you aware of that in your scouting report?
COACH TINKLE:  There is a reason he takes as many as he does though, because Coach knows he can make them.  But I'm sure in their conference, the opponents know that he can make them, that's why his percentage is a little bit down.
But we absolutely knew that he was a threat, that we couldn't let him get it going.  There were a couple of situations where we dug a little bit too much, too far off in the post.  They flipped it back out, and he drilled one.  Then the other one, he had a touch and it bounced around and dropped in.
So when you play hard and play together, you kind of earn those breaks, and they did today.  Unfortunately, we weren't able to.

Q.  The shot blocking to Berggren, is that something you haven't had to see a whole bunch this season?  Is that maybe why you weren't prepared for that?
COACH TINKLE:  Our guys shoot.  Our guys play with Brian Qualley.  I just thought our approach at attacking the basket wasn't what it needed to be.  Like I explained in my opening statement, he was able to get his hands on them, but it did maybe cause some of our guys to get back on their heels a little bit.  I know some of our bigger wings usually attack the basket a little bit more solidly than they did, and that hurt us.
We had a lot of points in the paint.  26‑16, but just think if we convert some of those lay‑ups and finish, then I think that would have caused us or allowed us to maybe relax and not feel that pressure of each and every possession having to make the perfect play, if that makes sense.

Q.  When Will went out with the two fouls like 3:00 minutes or so in the first half, and they were able to get the double‑digit lead at halftime, the one thing you guys have done in your comebacks is you've cut it to five or so at halftime to give yourself a manageable deficit.  Is that a key stretch there those last three minutes?
COACH TINKLE:  I don't think at all.  I don't think at all.  It was a six‑point game when we picked it up.  It was a ten‑point game at halftime.  So I don't want him to pick up his third, and then we don't have him.
I don't think so.  They ended with a little momentum, but we were more than happy to be in the game with a three‑possession game or whatever, ten‑point game.  So, no, I don't think so.
THE MODERATOR:  Coach, congratulations on a great season.
COACH TINKLE:  Thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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