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May 26, 2012

Niko Amato

Joe Cummings

Drew Snider

John Tillman


Maryland – 16
Duke – 10

THE MODERATOR:  Welcome.  We have Maryland head coach John Tillman, and we have Joe Cummings, Niko Amato and Drew Snider.  We'll take an opening statement from the head coach.
COACH TILLMAN:  It goes without saying I'm really proud of our guys.  I'm just so pleased with their effort and just their focus the last week the first game and the way they executed on offense and defense and not only their hustle on the field all game, but just the energy that everybody brought all week.
The way we handled the travel.  It was a long journey up here, and I think everybody was really, really focused.  They had fun.  We've been keeping them loose, but when the time has come to practice, they've done a great job.  To be a great program like Duke who we have so much respect for who was the ACC champion, it takes a big game like that because we have so much respect for them and what they've been able to accomplish.
I'm excited for our players.  I'm excited for our school, our state, and our alums.

Q.  Drew and Joe, can you talk about 16 goals on 29 shots?  What was working so effectively for you guys on offense?
STUDENT‑ATHLETE:  I just think we were finding each other on good spots on the field.  We all felt really comfortable with our offensive game plan.  I thought we were very organized.  We feed from the defense, honestly.
Niko played great.  Got me going, got us all going.  He was giving a pregame pump up speech that was pretty good.

Q.  Coach Tillman, your second year in the final game.  You could tell the players were a lot more serious than they were last year after they won.  What do you change in your preparation in the two days versus last year or do you?
COACH TILLMAN:  Well, it's really about management right now.  I think you have a fatigued group.  They spend a lot of energy and they play with a lot of heart.  So we have a tired group.
We have to be sensitive to that.  We told them to get off their feet, go spend some time with their family.  Give them a big hug and appreciate their family's support coming up here.  Enjoy that time with them, and then the coaches would break down the film.  Get some sleep tonight.  Make sure they stretch and get the treatment they needed.  We have some guys banged up.  So get some rest, and then Monday we need to do a good job with our focus.
We have to play an opponent we've not yet seen before.  It's going to take a lot of mental focus and mental energy just to stay dialed in.  We can't give them the typical week's preparation, so we're going to have to have certain keys and simple points to hit home.  They're the No. 1 seed for a reason, and they're a terrific team.  There are some things that having watched last week that they do very, very well if we don't take away from them, they can get you.

Q.  Were any of you guys offered by Loyola?
STUDENT‑ATHLETE:  No, I don't think so.

Q.  You guys have friends on that team?  Guys you know?  Any of you?
STUDENT‑ATHLETE:  I know Kevin Moriarty and Eric Lusby through mutual friends.  Good guys.
STUDENT‑ATHLETE:  I know Patrick Fanshaw from playing against him in high school.

Q.  Coach, I wanted to go back to the shooting.  You talked yesterday about you'll play whatever tempo the game dictates as long as you take quality shots.  16 for 29, you have to be pretty happy with that effort today.
COACH TILLMAN:  No doubt about it.  Again, we've kind of been ticked on the last few weeks about being a stall team.  We've never used that terminology and said, hey, we have to stall to win or you guys can't win unless we hold it.  I just think we'd be sending the wrong message.  We've had moments this year where we've had sure possessions.  You'd probably look and say whoever is coaching Maryland is the worst coach in the country because those guys, every shot is a good shot.  That falls back on me for not doing a good job there.
I think in the moment, what we saw was we had no problem with anybody going to the goal.  But you just have to be smart and be accountable to your teammates.
So if you decide to go and turn it over quickly and play a lot of defense, you're hurting your teammates.  It's not about me.  It's about the guy to your left, and the guy to your right.  Be accountable for them.  If you feel like you have an opportunity go.  Because we can't win if guys are worried about me yanking them or yelling at them.
So I think players need to play and give them good guidance all week.  I don't think it's often on the sideline that guys get yelled at too much.  Certainly our bench is high fiving each other and punching each other and all that other stuff they do.  But they're so excited for each.  It's a lot of fun, and these guys feed off of our energy.

Q.  What does it mean to you guys to come out at this time of the season and what did you do to produce this offensive effort and shut that reputation a little bit?
JOE CUMMINGS:  As an offense, we've been preaching all year that we want to get better.  Every day we go out to practice and want to get better as a team.  With a relatively new offense and guys in new spots, early on there were guys with different chemistry issues.  We didn't know where people were going to be and spots they were going to be in, and now we're gaining chemistry.  We've been playing together now for almost nine months, and I think that Drew would agree that we feel like we have some chemistry on offense, and we know the spots that people are going to be in now, and it's good.
It's a testament of guys practicing hard and everybody buying into what we want to do as a team and as on offense.

Q.  Niko, can you talk about chemistry on the defensive end?  You guys have a very young group in front of you in the close defense and seems to be peaking at this time.  What is the assessment of the group guy of guys in front of you and the work they've been doing in this tournament run?
NIKO AMATO:  I say every week that our coaches do a good job of giving us a game plan that puts us in a position to succeed.  We're fortunate to have a deep roster with a bunch of great players that we're able to have a scout team to mimic the oppositions offense throughout the week.
So we've been fortunate enough to get some good looks from players and challenge our defense through the weeks.  So that on game day it's not a surprise or a shock.  We've already seen some of the looks that the opponent's offense likes to do.  So I give a lot of credit to the guys that played throughout the year on defense.  They're pretty young, but they've been mentally tough.  They've been hungry and willing to work hard and correct their mistakes.
So I'm really proud of those guys that I love playing with them enough.  I just don't want it to end any time soon.

Q.  John, you guys lost to Colgate less than a month ago.  Did anything change after that?  Did you do anything differently that you reflect on?
COACH TILLMAN:  Yeah, we did a lot differently.  But I think one thing, because I hear that a lot.  The one thing that you've got to look at is we lost to a really good Colgate team.  That is the team that made the final eight.  So the last week or two, people asked me, hey, you lost to Colgate.
But they're a quarterfinal team with arguably the best offensive players in the country.  It's not like we lost to a bad team.  We played to a really good team that played better than us that day.
In terms of what you're asking, knowing that the end of the year was there, I think everybody had to kind of take a look at themselves in the mirror and figure out what can I do better?  Can I be more accountable?  Can I step up my focus, my effort in practice?  The coaches, the same thing.
We talk to the captains a lot, and they were great.  We wanted honest feedback from them, and they felt like their practices might be getting a little more routine.  They wanted to change up the flow.  Change up, do some different drills, change the tempo, and do more and be the best guys versus the best guys as starters.  Sometimes during the season you get so caught up and ready for the other team that you're doing a lot of Duke's offense and defense to get them ready.  Sometimes you do.
You get them ready and say, okay, we're going to play scrimmage within the team and do what you do as hard as you can to play at a faster speed.  And just some drills that they love to compete, and when they're flying around they have more fun.  These guys are smart guys.  We know they want to win.  So their feedback was great.  They want to win, and I don't think they're looking for shortcuts.
Just the ability for us to work together as a team has helped us along a lot.

Q.  Niko, pregame speech, what do you got?
NIKO AMATO:  To be honest, most of it just comes from the heart.  Our team is so tight.  We're basically a family.  It could be anyone.  Anything that anyone says we all respect and want to hear.  Basically I just wanted to remind these guys, we know we're talented, but I don't want anyone to forget that we're an unseeded team, and we definitely want to play with a chip on our shoulder.
All respect to Duke, they're a great team, but deep down we knew we could beat them and play with them.  So I just wanted to bring the intensity for all 60 minutes and have a lot of passion and energy out there.
It wasn't just me who said a pregame speech.  A lot of guys say their things.  I'm not going to take all the credit for that one.

Q.  Joe, when guys in the second midfield like Kevin Cooper and Jay Carlson are producing, how much more dangerous does that make the offense?
JOE CUMMINGS:  I think you can add another guy in there in Kevin Forster.  You know, Kevin came in today and stepped up big.  He had a big goal there in the first quarter for us.  When guys are stepping up and making plays and not only just big plays, but making smart plays, that is huge for our offense.  Not only that, it's huge for our team.
That goes to show that this is not a one‑man show on this team.  It's a full team effort.  Everyone is for everyone, and it takes everyone's contributions in order for Maryland to have success.
So I was really excited for a guy like Kevin Forster who has had a tough year.  He went through some injuries, but for him in the semifinals as a freshman to score a goal, he might have had three points.  That's awesome.  That goes to show what Maryland is about, and that's fun.

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