home jobs contact us
Our Clients:
Browse by Sport
Find us on ASAP sports on Facebook ASAP sports on Twitter
ASAP Sports RSS Subscribe to RSS
Click to go to
ASAP Sports e-Brochure View our


March 15, 2012

Mike Caffey

James Ennis

Dan Monson


New Mexico – 75
Long Beach State - 68

COACH MONSON:  Well, I thought it was a hard played, good college basketball game, that they made more plays, more free throws, did the little things down the stretch just a little bit better than we did.
But when your season ends, the biggest thing is you want it to be that you just got beat and you didn't play well enough.  You don't want it to be because of things you could control like how hard you played or your attitudes or any of those kind of things.  I feel that we can end this season feeling pretty good and have our heads held high.
Early in the game we were really good defensively and couldn't settle down and get into an offensive flow.  Had so many unforced turnovers early, just excited turnovers, trying to do too much.  And then when we got settled down offensively in the second half, we couldn't ‑‑ we didn't have a solution defensively.
You can't play one half on one end of the floor and one half on the other and think you're going to advance in the NCAA tournament, and unfortunately, that happened to us tonight.

Q.  You had a breakaway dunk to put you guys up by 2 points, 61‑59 with 4:55 to play.  What were your thoughts at that time, did you think you guys had a good chance to pull it out?
JAMES ENNIS:  Yeah, I thought we had a good chance to win the game after that.  But I guess they just came ‑‑ they just beat us at the end.  The free throws caught up with us at the end, so we didn't get it done.

Q.  As the game progressed, you guys started winning over the fans throughout the Rose Garden.  Did you start to feel that and sense that you had started to win over a lot of this crowd?
MIKE CAFFEY:  Yeah, as we got our run going our crowd showed.  And they're a big part of how we play.  And they really helped out a lot throughout the whole year.  And we like to feed off the crowd, and they really helped us out a lot this game.

Q.  Down 8 midway through the second half you had a timeout, you came out and Edis, I think, was exhorting you guys, talking to you guys.  What was he saying?  You went on a bit of a run after that.  Did he say anything in particular?
JAMES ENNIS:  He just told us to stay together.  We just have to keep on playing hard.

Q.  Coming in as newcomers to such a senior‑laden team with a lot of expectations and you guys being such a big part of what got done this year and in this game as well, what have you learned from those guys, playing alongside such a great senior class?
MIKE CAFFEY:  Just basically bring it every day.  They're a great senior group.  They helped me out, helped me and James out throughout the year.  Just basically getting me ready to help them out throughout the year and they did that.  And I felt like I helped out a lot.
JAMES ENNIS:  And also it takes a lot of hard work to get here.  They worked very hard throughout the years and I'm just upset that we didn't go far in the tournament.

Q.  Obviously you guys came in, you were ranked below New Mexico.  What kind of confidence and belief did you have in this team coming into this game?
MIKE CAFFEY:  Our preseason, I felt like we've been through basically every team, every type of team.  I felt like it helped us out getting ready for this game.  And basically our preseason, it got us ready for the tournament.

Q.  Next season this is probably going to be more your team and perhaps Mike's team.  How badly do you feel for the four seniors that are leaving this team, the four starting seniors?
JAMES ENNIS:  I feel bad because they should have had a chance to go farther in the tournament and get the experience.  But coming in next year, we just have to keep working hard every day so we get the opportunity to come back here.

Q.  Did it seem like Casper was having to labor more to get his shots off and execute his offense than he has in previous games?
MIKE CAFFEY:  No.  That's basically how he played every game.  They kind of defended him well.  But he didn't really make shots that he usually makes.  No, I don't think he worked harder for his shots, just aggressive D that they had.  They played pretty good on him.

Q.  You made a lot of clutch jumpers, as you've had throughout the season.  Just a cool customer out there on the floor.  Where do you get your confidence from, obviously in your first NCAA tournament game to just go out there and knock down some huge jump shots without any fear?
MIKE CAFFEY:  Basically I grew up playing against my older guys, my brother.  My high school coach, he helped me out a lot on that.  And just let the game come to you, don't try to force stuff, and that's it.

Q.  Can you talk about some of the emotions you're feeling right now with your four starting seniors leaving?
COACH MONSON:  Well, you have the one emotion that 67 teams in the tournament are going to have, you just hate to lose.  It doesn't matter if you have seniors or what, to know your season is over, when you feel like you're a team that can make some plays in the tournament and go deeper than this is disappointing.  And that's one of the huge emotions that's overriding right now.  Maybe I'm masking the fact that saying good‑bye to those guys.
I felt good about saying good‑bye to them in the fact that I did it here in the NCAA tournament, and in a manner in which they played their tails off and just didn't play quite good enough.  I think it was indicative that Larry ended up playing and at least out there.  Because I think it's something that he'll remember the rest of his life and maybe would have regretted if he wouldn't have tried.  Even though he wasn't the Larry Anderson we all know.  It was great that he was able to at least function enough to try to play.
I think the emotion of leaving those guys, as I told them, I don't know where this program is going, but they're the foundation of it and they always will be, as long as I'm the coach.

Q.  After you guys went up 61‑59, what were they able to do to reclaim the lead and finish out on top?
COACH MONSON:  I'm not sure if it was when it was 61‑59, but when they hit back‑to‑back three's and had back‑to‑back offensive rebounds, which was a dagger.  And I can't remember if that was it.  But that flow there was huge.
And the other flow was when they had ‑‑ we had 90 percent free throw shooters shoot one and one to tie it up or go up or whatever, and Cas misses the front end and then Kendall goes down and makes the front end.  I thought that was a huge swing.
I think it went from down two, that would have tied it, instead we're down four.  And they call a hold down on the baseline on Casper.

Q.  The second half you guys came out and looked like you really were trying to take it inside.  Was that something that you saw in the first half that you'd be able to expose by just pounding it inside and you were getting a lot of success in seeing the second half?
COACH MONSON:  Well, we tried the first half, but we traveled every time we did it.  We had 12 turnovers at the half and 8 of them were from our bigs.  And a couple of the shots they took in the first half might as well have been turnovers.  The second half our bigs just settled down a little bit and were able to finish.
And then we finally got Cas into a little bit of an offensive rhythm.  But they did a great job on him.  As somebody said, did you feel like ‑‑ I thought he had to work very hard for his shots.  Then when he had his open ones, when you have to work like that, they're not quite as rhythm jumpers as they would be in different circumstances.  He missed a wide open one up top.  And then we had the set play that we call Iowa, because I stole it from Steve when we was at Iowa, where you penetrated the baseline and then look to the opposite corner.  And the pass was just a little low from Mike.  He didn't do many things wrong, but that pass made him turn his hands over and that wasn't quite the rhythm jumper for that three in the corner.

Q.  I know Casper's won a lot of games for you, made a lot of big shots.  And down the stretch took a lot of tough shots, runners and fall‑aways, and they did a nice job of defending him.  But he had to take some tough shots.  Is that the way you want to go down is Casper having the ball?
COACH MONSON:  Well, you don't want to go down and he did, but we're here because of Casper Ware, and so when we leave it's going to be because of him.  He carried us.  I didn't give him a blow the second half.  I told him we kind of wore him out.
I think the early start of that game when we couldn't settle down, we had opportunities to get a lead and get up 6 or 8 and play from ahead is totally different.  You can get guys blows.  You can play a little bit different.  And I think we ‑‑ Casper is our team and how he played at the end was indicative of us.  We just didn't have enough gas to finish.  It was so much energy playing from behind for so many minutes that we couldn't make the plays that we needed to at the end.

Q.  They ran off 8 straight, got an 8‑point lead on you, you turned it immediately back around.  Did you fine‑tune something from over there or did they just respond?
COACH MONSON:  I think we maybe changed defenses was one thing.  They got into a rhythm and we went to a defense that we hadn't used much since the preseason.  We were mainly, for the last two months, a man‑to‑man team in our league, we'd just line it up and guarded people.  And we had originally thought all week we were going to start man, as we have today.
But as Larry wanted to try it, I wanted to start zone a little bit on makes or when we could get into it so Larry wouldn't have to chase guys with that leg, and just let him get some confidence and be a little bit comfortable.
The Mountain West, every film we saw, it's a predominantly man‑to‑man league, except one game with Air Force when they blew them out.  They hadn't seen zone for a couple of months.  And we hadn't played it really for a couple of months.  So I just thought it would be maybe something they hadn't gotten comfortable and a rhythm in.  It worked early.  Then we couldn't stop them.
So then we went to a different zone that we hadn't hardly used at all since early in the preseason, the 1‑3‑1, and that, I think, in the 8‑0 run when we went to that got them a little bit out of rhythm at that point.  Then they got into rhythm.

Q.  Even though Casper had an off day shooting, still had 17 points and 6 assists, T.J. Robinson, another senior, had 12 points and 14 rebounds.  I ask you this with all due respect, how come neither one of them are not out here to talk to us, being this is their last game?
COACH MONSON:  I have no idea.  I'm not the media guy.  I think it's who they request, isn't it?

Q.  A slightly lighter note, if there is a possibility to do that, 39 seconds to go, you run a play, kind of a critical three‑pointer that you don't make.  And I did not quite catch the interplay between you and Coach Alford, but you actually said something to coach along the sideline.  And that's kind of incredible, sir, in an NCAA tournament that you thought to make a comment to Coach Alford to tell him about the play you just ran, I thought that was rather interesting and actually kind of fun.
COACH MONSON:  Well, you know, again, this is my business.  This is really serious.  And nobody but ‑‑ friends are forever.  And Steve and I will be close forever.  He gave me that look like, What are you doing?  And I said, We call it Iowa, because I stole it from him.
You know, as soon as we ran it ‑‑ I don't think we ran it all year, because we hadn't needed to.  Maybe we ran it once in the preseason or something, but ‑‑ again, it was a great time for it, down four when you're not ‑‑ they've got a guard everywhere, because it's a two possession game, they're not expecting it.
Again, I don't think there's ‑‑ I always try to tell myself after a loss, my family is healthy, I've got a great job.  I've been fired, so I've got a pretty good perspective on what I'm doing.  I was here to enjoy the day.  And certainly there's more enjoyable days to do it, but you work too hard to get here not to be able to talk to a friend with 20 seconds left.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

About ASAP SportsFastScripts ArchiveRecent InterviewsCaptioningUpcoming EventsContact Us
FastScripts | Events Covered | Our Clients | Other Services | ASAP in the News | Site Map | Job Opportunities | Links
ASAP Sports, Inc. | T: 1.212 385 0297