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NCAA MEN'S 2ND & 3RD ROUNDS: PORTLAND


March 17, 2012


Rob Brandenberg

Shaka Smart

Darius Theus


PORTLAND, OREGON

Indiana テや 63
Virginia Commonwealth テや 61


COACH SMART:テつ Proud of our guys.テつ Really battled, played hard.テつ I thought we did a much better job defensively in the second half.テつ But then again, so did Indiana.テつ You've got to give Indiana a ton of credit for the way they battled.
We took a lead, I think we were up as much as 8 and they really fought back.テつ Cody Zeller, some huge, huge plays down the stretch, which was a big difference.
The shots that we got late in the game, I feel good about those looks.テつ I feel good about the guys that were taking them, they just didn't go in.テつ And that's basketball, sometimes that happens.
But, again, I'm proud of our team.テつ I really believe that not so much relative to what we thought, but relative to everyone else's expectations, this team had an unbelievable year, and really overachieved in a lot of ways.
Really, right now I feel for Bradford Burgess, our only senior, as this is obviously the last game of his career.テつ And it sucks to end it this way.テつ But you're talking about one of the best players ever at VCU and a guy who, even though his career is done with us, has a very bright future in the game of basketball.

Q.テつ Could each of you talk about your part in the last possession and what you were looking for and then what you ended up with?
DARIUS THEUS:テつ Well, came off the drag, Zeller had switched out to me.テつ And we worked on it every day just to attack the big.テつ When I attacked him, Rob stepped in and Rob had a wide open shot.テつ We take that shot any day, it just didn't fall tonight.
ROB BRANDENBERG:テつ Yeah, basically what Darius said.テつ Darius did a good job attacking the switch.テつ And Darius put a lot of pressure on defense, and my man sagged off of me.テつ Darius made the right play, we work on it every day, hit me for a wide open three, it just didn't go in.

Q.テつ Can you pinpoint what Indiana might have changed in the second half to slow you guys down?
DARIUS THEUS:テつ I wouldn't say too much slowing us down, but they just made big plays down the stretch towards the end of the game.
And I give credit to Zeller.テつ He made a lot of big plays down the stretch, down the stretch towards the game.テつ We had a good run going, but we just couldn't sustain it and they just made big plays.

Q.テつ Did it catch you off guard at all that Sheehey was actually going to shoot and that he wasn't going to pull back and hold for the last possession?
DARIUS THEUS:テつ Yeah, it was surprising that he shot it.テつ But he's a great shooter and he was wide open, so why not take the shot.テつ But that was a big play for him.テつ And credit to him knocking down a big shot.

Q.テつ I know it's a little difficult right now, but how long do you think it will take you before you appreciate where you guys were as a team in November and where you are standing today?
ROB BRANDENBERG:テつ It's tough to talk about right now just because this loss, this really stings.テつ We were right there, but we didn't make enough plays.テつ But once time goes on, we'll be able to look back and appreciate each other and appreciate the season we had.テつ I'm not sure when that time will be, but it's going to take some time.

Q.テつ What made Indiana such a good team tonight?テつ What qualities did they have that present a lot of challenges to teams?
COACH SMART:テつ Well, first of all, they're very well coached.テつ I think their game plan is very well conceived.テつ They ran some good stuff.
And then I thought they had a lot of guys that stepped up and made big plays; Christian Watford with the four 3's he hit, I think it was three in the first half and then one early in the second half, those were daggers.テつ We were playing really good defense and we were there, just not there enough.テつ And he stepped up.
When you combine a good system, a good attack with very good players, that's how you get a dangerous team.テつ That's what Indiana is.テつ I thought late in the game, the last four or five minutes, Cody Zeller, he said, I'm going to make plays.テつ And he really did a good job, first of all, catching the ball where he wanted it and then making plays and getting to the basket and either getting to the line or finishing.

Q.テつ You just talked about it with Cody Zeller, I think he had ten points in the first like 13 minutes and you guys held him to 6 points the rest of the way.テつ Is it just like bearing down, is that how things changed there in those final minutes with him?
COACH SMART:テつ I thought he was terrific at the end, actually.テつ We tried to do everything we could.テつ He's a good player, you're not going to hold a guy like that scoreless.
I think the key for him at the end of the game was he was able to catch the ball right off the elbow.テつ And that's not something we typically allow big guys to do.テつ We've got to do a better job denying that.テつ When he caught it, he made some great plays, he put our defense in a tough spot and got to the rim and that put us at a disadvantage.テつ He's a good player.

Q.テつ Obviously you turned down an open three for the win, but was the goal to go for the win instead of trying to force overtime?
COACH SMART:テつ No, not necessarily.テつ We just wanted to get a good shot.テつ That's a play that we run in those clock down situations all the time.
I told the guys in the locker room they did a phenomenal job of executing.テつ But it's not surprising.テつ This team all year long has ‑‑ more than any team I've ever been around, has done a phenomenal job of trying to do what we asked them to do as coaches.テつ We're not perfect, but the guys really executed the plan in that play.
Rob got a wide open shot in front of our bench.テつ I'll take that shot again every day of the week, it just didn't go.テつ And Troy's three‑point shot the possession before that just didn't go.テつ We were 9 for 30 tonight from three, which is more 3s than we normally take.テつ But most of them were very, very good looks.テつ And we just didn't make enough.

Q.テつ If somebody had told you before the game that you would force them into 22 turnovers for 23 points would you have bet the farm that you would have won that game?
COACH SMART:テつ Yeah, it depends on the other factors in the game.テつ They shot 67 percent from the field in the first half.テつ So even though we turned them over ten times, they made two‑thirds of their shot attempts if we didn't turn them over.
Yeah, definitely if we knew we were going to force them into 22 ‑‑ I thought we could turn Indiana over, I thought it was something we could have success with.テつ But that's not the only element of the game.テつ You've got to sustain your half court defense, which we did not do very well in the first half.テつ We did a better job the second half.テつ And then you've got to put the ball in the basket.テつ We only scored 19 points in the second half and obviously that wasn't quite enough.

Q.テつ The players are usually resilient, they bounce back fairly quickly.テつ How long will it take you to get over this game, not just thinking about this was the game that sort of got away, one that you could have had that got away?
COACH SMART:テつ I don't know.テつ A long time.テつ I don't deal very well with losing.テつ But it's part of life.テつ I told the guys in the locker room afterward that we're not going to feel sorry for ourselves.テつ We're not going to say woe is me.
For everyone on our team, except for one guy, this is an opportunity to learn and improve.テつ Like you mentioned, we had our chances in this game.
I'm not so sure ‑‑ I guess you could say it's one that got away.テつ I wouldn't characterize it that way, I would say Indiana made some big plays down the stretch and we weren't able to make some shots.
But as far as how long it will take me, forever.テつ I don't get over games like this.テつ I didn't get over the Butler game last year.テつ You've just got to move on though.テつ What's done is done, just like the other day we won and move on.

Q.テつ Did you and Tom have kind of a heated exchange during the long delay, and at the end it looked like you guys had a warm exchange?テつ Could you tell me what was going on there?
COACH SMART:テつ No, we didn't have a heated exchange at all.テつ It was nothing.
As far as after the game, I just congratulated him and told him that I think he's got a great team and he does an unbelievable job.テつ He's someone that ‑‑ I think his head coaching career kind of coincided with me getting into coaching or the other way around.テつ So when I first got into coaching he was a new head coach at Marquette.テつ He's someone that I've always followed and admired.
And this is the first time, obviously, that I've got the chance to coach against him as a head coach.テつ I just wished him luck.
I think Indiana deserves a lot of credit for the guts they showed at the end of this game.テつ They could have quit, but they really, really battled.テつ They fought through some adversity.テつ And they won the game.テつ And that's what you have to do to advance this time of year.テつ And I think that's a testament to the players, but also Coach Crean and his coaching staff.

Q.テつ You guys scored four points in the final 12:30.テつ Other than just missing good looks, was there something you did or they did that sort of helped the offense dry up there?
COACH SMART:テつ I'm sure we'll watch the tape and see certain things that we could have done better.テつ It comes down to being able to put the ball in the basket when you get certain opportunities.テつ I think we got some good looks ‑‑ I know we got some good looks that I certainly would take again.
There were a few possessions that we ‑‑ where we didn't execute particularly well, where I think there was one shot clock violation, there was a couple other ones where we didn't get great looks at the end of possession.テつ Yes, a lot of that has to do with Indiana and their defense.テつ I thought they really bear down.
But we're a good offensive team.テつ We're not a great offensive team.テつ We haven't been all year.テつ We've gone through stretches where we have lulls.テつ It's not for lack of effort.テつ It's a combination of two things:テつ No. 1, the ball maybe not going down as much for us; and then No. 2, the other team putting together some really good defensive efforts.

Q.テつ I can't imagine there's anyone else who would have won at the foul line with just under a minute left than Bradford and those shots didn't go down.テつ Will you say anything to him to comfort him?テつ What will your words be to him?
COACH SMART:テつ You know, words are hollow after a game like this.テつ There's not a lot you can say.テつ But I told him, I told the team in the locker room how proud I am of Brad.テつ He's one of the best players ever to play at VCU.テつ He's had a record‑breaking career.テつ And I also told him his future is very, very bright.テつ Even though his days playing at VCU are over, he's got a lot of basketball left to play and he's somebody that we're never going to forget.
He really held our ship together all year long.テつ And he's reason No. 1 why our team got better and better and better all year long.

Q.テつ Given where this team started at the beginning of the year with so much turnover from last year, losing four players ‑‑ five players with Toby Veal, how much of a success do you consider this season, given where you started and how much promise you think this group has moving forward?
COACH SMART:テつ It's hard to call anything a success after a loss.テつ So I think that's probably a question that's better answered a week from now.
We're 29‑7.テつ We beat a terrific Wichita State team, we won our league tournament.テつ Relative to other people's expectations, not mine or the team's, but what other people thought I think we overachieved.テつ We go into every single game expecting to win and expecting to advance and we didn't do that today.テつ So it stings.テつ It hurts.
But I do think, yes, overall the season, it was a good one and it's one that we'll look back at and feel good about the progress we made as a team, that's probably the biggest thing.
As far as the guys coming back for next year, this should be an unbelievable motivator for them.テつ They should be ‑‑ they should have a picture in their room, maybe I'll give it to them, of the scoreboard or maybe of one of the last‑second plays in this game to motivate them, to help them understand all offseason long, we want to get back to this place, but we want to advance.テつ We want to go further.
After tomorrow there's only 16 teams left in the whole country.テつ So you're talking about pretty rare air.テつ But I think if we continue getting better and we improve and we make progress we'll have the opportunity to be successful once again.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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