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March 16, 2013
BROOKLYN, NEW YORK
VCU Â– 71
MASSACHUSETTS Â– 62
THE MODERATOR:Â Statement from Coach and then questions for players.Â From VCU, Head Coach Shaka Smart, players Briante Weber and Troy Daniels.
COACH SMART:Â It was a hard‑fought game, and I'm proud of our guys that we were able to come out ahead, especially on a day where we did not shoot the ball particularly well.Â Some of our guys that typically shoot it in at a pretty good rate struggled, especially from outside, and even from around the basket.
We found a way to get it done.Â I thought we got enough stops in the second half, holding them to 28 points.Â That was good enough to win, and that's what we need to do this time of year.
I'm proud of our guys, but we're not satisfied.Â We've got another game tomorrow in less than 24 hours.Â Excited about that challenge.
Q.Â Troy, can you just talk about how you matured as a shooter and a player this year and maybe over the last two years.
TROY DANIELS:Â Credit goes to my coaching staff and my teammates.Â I get in the gym a lot during the off‑season, and they want me to shoot the ball.Â That's what I do.Â Shot discipline and stay with it, and the results will follow.
Q.Â Troy, when you went on that stretch and hit those three threes in the first half, is it just a matter of getting into a rhythm and just was it automatic almost for you?
TROY DANIELS:Â It's a confidence thing.Â When guys go out on the court and have VCU across their chest, we feel like we can do anything.Â That's what it was.Â It wasn't a matter of thinking it's automatic, every time I shoot, I think it's going in, but it's just a confidence factor that I have.
Q.Â Briante, you guys are almost always a smaller team.Â You seem to always be outweighed.Â Yet you seem to still be able to grind people down, still rebound well.Â You outrebounded by 14 today.Â What goes into the efforts you guys put out to get things done like that?
BRIANTE WEBER:Â It's a mindset, and it's just that coaching staff is telling us that we're always going to be smaller.Â We've just got to tough it out and be more scrappy than the other team.Â That's what we go into with our mindset, we've got to be a scrappier team.Â We've got to scrap out everything.Â Every loose ball, every rebound, everything.
Got to get to the 50‑50s, and everything else will fall.
Q.Â Troy, did it feel like for you guys, when they cut it all the way to two, and then they missed the two shots inside to tie it, and then you had the three and Briante had the three‑point play‑‑ did it feel like that was a pretty big turning point in the game?
TROY DANIELS:Â Definitely.Â We knew Massachusetts was going to make a run, and they did.Â We just stayed with it.Â Coach Smart said they're going to make a run.Â So we just had to get stops, and we did.
Q.Â There were two turnovers, and the rest of the game they committed 22.Â Could you sense it speeding up at all or was there an initiative to started causing some trouble there?
TROY DANIELS:Â Oh, yeah.Â This guy with the head band on is Mr. Havoc.Â He speeds a lot of guys up.Â That's our motto going into the game, our mindset going into the game, and I felt like we did that towards the second half.Â We did that a little bit in the first half, but really did it in the second half.
Q.Â Briante, when the game got down to two, take me through the two plays that you turned in, first the three‑point play and then the steal that led to that.
BRIANTE WEBER:Â Basically, it was just being in the right spot at the right time.Â Pushing it after the rebound was just something we always do.Â We just attack the rim and go easy rim is what Coach said.Â So I just seen it was one‑on‑one and the big man was in front of me.Â So I was backpedaling, and he just attacked and fouled me.
Q.Â For both players, what do you recall about St. Louis that seemed to be the one team that really gave you guys the most trouble, and what do you think about tomorrow's game?
TROY DANIELS:Â It's going to be a hard‑fought game.Â Last time we went out to St. Louis, and we just weren't playing VCU basketball.Â It's a testament to Coach.Â He has us ready.Â So we'll be ready to go out on championship Sunday and play VCU basketball.
Q.Â Briante, take us through the steal after the three‑point play.
BRIANTE WEBER:Â Basically, they were trying to push it and do something that we basically sped them up to them doing something they didn't do.Â I was being in the right place at the right time once again and seeing if my shooter on the left wing.
Thanks to Juvonte running the rim, which made the defense commit and hit the buzz wide open.
Q.Â Bri, can you talk about the three threes that Troy hit on the 11‑0 run in the first half and how important that was in terms of momentum.
BRIANTE WEBER:Â That was a big momentum swinger and knowing that, once he hit the first one, we were coming back to him, and he hit another one.Â First call was buzz, which is his play.Â And we went back to him, and he hit another one.
That really turned the tide for VCU.Â So we rode him.
Q.Â How difficult is it to guard a player like Chaz Williams, who's so quick and can crash to the rim so effectively?
BRIANTE WEBER:Â It's pretty tough seeing that he's smaller and quicker than everybody, and he's low to the ground.Â So he pretty much plays lower than everybody else.Â It's just tough, but I mean, he did what he did, and we did what we had to do to get a "W."
THE MODERATOR:Â Troy, anything to add?
TROY DANIELS:Â He said it.
THE MODERATOR:Â Any more questions for the players?Â Thank you.Â All right.Â Questions for Coach Smart.
Q.Â Did it seem like the three‑pointer that Brandenberg hit so deep in the shot block that he had to put up and kind of not really in rhythm.Â Seemed like when he hit that, that was the knockout blow.
COACH SMART:Â That was the dagger.Â We chart shot quality on our team after every game.Â We look at whether on each possession we got a great shot, a good shot, a decent shot, a bad shot, or a no shot, and that was one of our worst quality shots of the game, but he had to take it.Â He had to take it, and he made a big play, jumped up and shot it over Chaz Williams.
It's a little ironic because we missed a lot of wide open, easy shots throughout the game, and then that was the play that, I guess, kind of put it out of reach, making a tough one from the corner there.
Q.Â Coach, can you talk a little bit about Troy's maturation as a shooter.Â I know early in his career you tried to get him to be able to go from practice to the game, and now he's done it.Â He's hitting big shots in games.Â Can you just touch on that.
COACH SMART:Â Yeah, he's just a great shooter.Â He's the best shooter I've ever coached.Â He's always been terrific, as you mentioned, in practice, but his first couple of years, he had a hard time playing with the confidence to go out and shoot the ball in.
Today he did, and all year he has, and that's why he's one of the top single‑season three‑point shooters in Atlantic 10 history.Â We need him to make threes because it's a big part of what we do.Â I think it fits well with our style of play.
And our guys, as Bri mentioned, our guys do a nice job finding him.
Q.Â Coach, you got off to a strong start in the second half against them.Â Did it feel like you were going to run them out of the building again, or what was different this time?
COACH SMART:Â No.Â You're playing a good team that's got their back against the wall.Â It's tough to run those teams out of the building, particularly when you shoot 35 percent, 36 percent from the field.Â I think, if we'd had made more shots and the scoreboard starts moving and you hold them to 28 points in the half like you did, you could maybe win by more.Â But I'll certainly take a nine‑point win now.
Q.Â St. Louis only committed eight turnovers in a 56‑possession game.Â Granted, that was at their place, but tomorrow how can you increase that number?Â How can you get the Billikens to cough the ball up?
COACH SMART:Â Play better.Â We've just got to play better.Â There's all kinds of strategic things that we'll talk to with our team, but the bottom line is St. Louis was better than us in every aspect of the game on that night.Â Now we get another opportunity to play them on a neutral floor, and we're going to have to play better to win.
But I think our guys understand that.Â We're comfortable with that.Â Now it's a matter of going out and doing it.
Q.Â Shaka, I'm sure, if you could, you'd recruit 6'10" guys who run like gazelles and have power rebounders, but you tend not to get those guys.Â What do you go‑‑ what's your mindset for recruiting?Â You always seem smaller.Â How do you overcome that so efficiently?
COACH SMART:Â That's a good question.Â The way we play, it's speed and quickness and energy.Â Smaller guys tend to have more of that.Â As you mentioned, if we could find a 6'10" guy that has speed, quickness, energy, and can shoot threes, I will take him.Â If you've seen one, let me know.
The problem is Kentucky and North Carolina want those guys too.Â But, yeah, you've got to make a decision in recruiting and what's most important to you.
We recruited some big guys or some young guys that are, I think, getting better.Â They gave us good contributions tonight with Jarred and Justin.Â Juvonte obviously has developed into a really good player for us.Â It's just that we've had more perimeter guys that have blossomed into the type of players we want them to be.
In our recruiting, ideal team with 13 scholarships, our ideal team would have 8 perimeter players and then one guy that you can kind of shuttle back and forth between the perimeter and inside and then four big guys.
Especially by the time you get to this time of year, there's very few ideal teams out there.Â You got to work towards getting better the next year.
Q.Â Coach, you've obviously gone up‑‑ you guys have had great success in the NCAA Tournament and gone up against a lot of tourney teams.Â In this game, would you say that you have passed the eye test for the NCAA Tournament?
COACH SMART:Â I think they did.Â I think that they‑‑ they've been extremely competitive in our league.Â You look at their games, they've been within an eyelash of being a team that had a bye in this tournament and maybe finishing top two or three.Â So if I had a vote on the selection committee, I would certainly include them in the field.
Everyone has a bias.Â I'm biassed towards the Atlantic 10.Â I think it's a phenomenal league.Â I think the top six or seven teams in this league all deserve extreme consideration.Â But I understand the Selection Committee only has a certain amount of at large bids to give out.
Q.Â Shaka, when you were shooting and having such a hard time making baskets, did you call those three plays in a row for Troy, one?Â And then two, I have a second question after that.
COACH SMART:Â Trying to think.Â The one that Bri passed to them, I definitely didn't call that.Â That was in transition.Â I think his teammates just found him.Â There was one we called for around that time, but UMass did a good job defending it, and he didn't get one off there.
We call a lot of plays for him throughout the game.Â Sometimes he gets open.Â Sometimes he doesn't.Â But what's much more effective for him to get open looks is when he gets out on transition and our guys get in the lane and force the guys to converge, and then we find him at the top of the key.
Q.Â Why does Briante always seem to be in the right spot at the right time?
COACH SMART:Â Energy.Â He's the most energetic person I've ever been around in my life, basketball or otherwise, and that's his gift.Â It's a terrific gift.
If a player is able to receive a scholarship at this level, then there's obviously something that they do well, and for Bri, he's energy, enthusiasm, anticipation, and that's why he's one of the best steal guys and one of the best deflection guys that I've ever seen.
Q.Â You had mentioned there's really no ideal team out there from what you've seen and with the parity across the country.Â Do you feel like a 16 is any closer to being a 1?
COACH SMART:Â I don't know.Â I think‑‑ it all depends on the game.Â It almost happened a couple of years ago.Â Maybe it was last year, and there was a really close one that we were watching.
But those 1 seeds are really good. Â Last year you had a 15 beat a 2.Â So it's never happened with 16 beating 1, but if you think about it, it's really not that big of a difference.Â 16 versus 1, 15 versus 2.Â That will happen at some point.Â We won't be a 1 or a 16, so it really doesn't matter to me.
Q.Â Shaka, you mentioned a moment ago about Troy getting a good shot in transition.Â You guys get a lot of good shots in transition, and that's not anything you can really plan.Â Your guys make good decisions in transition.Â Talk about how much you work on defense in practice.Â What do you do to get them to make such good decisions in transition?Â And where do you think you should be seeded?
COACH SMART:Â Let me answer your first question.Â We work on what we call transition cycles in practice, which is just five on oh getting up and down.Â We'll do a lot of times down, back, down, back, down, so five different trips and we take advantage of different options.Â Five on zero.Â That's good for conditioning.Â It's good for working on tempo.
Sometimes we'll play style of play games, which is you never stop.Â So we get up and down, and we're pushing the tempo.Â When there's a foul or something, we quickly get the ball out and keep playing.Â We don't stop at all.Â Again, that's great for conditioning and also pushing the pace.
I thought today at the start of the game we were a little sluggish with pushing the ball and attacking.Â I really thought our second‑team guys came in and gave us a lift there and gave us more spirit and energy.Â And then in the second half Darius and the starters did a better job.
In terms of seed, I have no idea.Â A very, very poor frame of reference right now in terms of the other teams that are out there and what their resume is and even their RPI.Â I have no idea.Â I'll take a 1 seed if they want to give it to us.Â Whatever we're seeded, it's not‑‑ everybody makes such a big deal out of the seeding.Â To me it's more about matchups.Â You can get a great seed, but you can be matched up with a team that is a really tough opponent for the way you play.Â Or if you look at us last couple years, we've so‑called been an upset team, but those were good matchups for us, and that's why they worked out.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports