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March 17, 2013

Treveon Graham

Shaka Smart

Darius Theus


Saint Louis テや 62
VCU ‑ 56

SHAKA SMART:テつ Congratulations to Saint Louis.テつ I thought they played great.テつ They were the best team in the league in the regular season, and they were the best team in the league in the tournament.テつ And I thought our guys fought hard, battled, almost overcame a terrible shooting day but didn't quite overcome it.

Q.テつ Can you talk about that second half run that got you guys back in it?テつ What kind of got you guys going?
DARIUS THEUS:テつ Just a little bit of spirit that coach has been talking about.テつ He wanted us to bring that spirit, and we got it going a little bit when I started to play, and it helped us to cut down to the lead, started with Briante.テつ He brought an energy that he always brings.テつ We just used our spirit and our style of play, kind of helped us just to cut down the lead.

Q.テつ Can you talk about what it was that Saint Louis did defensively to frustrate you guys and cause such a rough shooting night for the team?
TREVEON GRAHAM:テつ Definitely they backed up a lot, forced us to shoot a lot of threes.テつ They weren't really falling for us tonight.テつ The shoots that we normally make weren't falling for us.

Q.テつ Do you take any consolation in the fact that despite the loss tonight that you guys can still look ahead to the selection show in a few hours and the NCAA Tournament?
DARIUS THEUS:テつ Yeah, that's what Coach said.テつ That's about the positive thing that you can bring out of the situation.テつ We did battle through all season, so already had that bid and stuff for us to be in the tournament.テつ But we really wanted this one bad.テつ But still, that's a positive out of the situation.

Q.テつ Darius, can you talk about, it's two games you've had a really hard time against their defense.テつ What is it that doesn't allow you to get into your style?
DARIUS THEUS:テつ You know, they play aggressive defense, try to push you out, denied the wings, just pack in a wall right there so you can't get in the lane too much.テつ They try to speed you up a little bit.テつ But like I said, they're aggressive and they're denying the wings.

Q.テつ Can you talk for a second about what it's like to try to guard Dwyane Evans?テつ He's a pretty formidable guy down low.
TREVEON GRAHAM:テつ Real physical.テつ I mean, when he posts up it's hard to get around him, so you've got to fight hard to get in front, do the work early, and then when he gets it try to square up as best you can because he's real physical with the right hand, jumping up and going to the rim.

Q.テつ The same question:テつ Why was it so difficult to get your style going against their defense?
SHAKA SMART:テつ We had our style going for parts of the game.テつ We just didn't have it going for enough of the game.テつ To be honest with you, we missed some shots that‑‑ had pretty good looks that we normally would knock down.テつ We shot a lower percentage.テつ I think Saint Louis certainly deserves some credit for that.テつ I think all year they've been the best half court defensive team in the league, not just against us but against a lot of people.
But you know what, with the way the game went and the way that we defended them, particularly from the field, they got a lot of free throws, but particularly from the field and turning them over, I'll take the shots that we got, and I think on most nights we'd give ourselves a really good chance to win with those shots.

Q.テつ You came into Brooklyn on a relatively strong streak.テつ How much of a wake‑up call is losing in this championship and what do you think it's going to do for the team heading into the NCAA Tournament?
SHAKA SMART:テつ I don't think our team needs a wake‑up call.テつ Our team played well.テつ I mean, I don't know what game you were watching, but somebody had to lose tonight, today, and Saint Louis didn't want to lose, our guys didn't want to lose, and the guys did a terrific job fighting when we got down by 13 points.テつ I thought probably the shot of the game was Kwamain Mitchell's deep three with the shot clock winding down, and that's a tough shot to make over Juvonte Reddic.テつ But that's what good players do:テつ They step up and make shots.
I don't really know what you're getting at, but we're going to the NCAA Tournament next week, and if you're not motivated for that, then you shouldn't be playing.

Q.テつ This league had at least 10 good, competitive teams.テつ How much do you think that will help you in preparation for this tournament?
SHAKA SMART:テつ Quite a bit, yeah.テつ I think that's a good point.テつ I thought going into the season that this was as deep as any league in the country, and I was wrong; it's deeper.テつ It's deeper than any league in the country.
You know, if you just look at the teams that were fighting to get into the tournament, the Atlantic 10 tournament on the last day of the regular season, those are really good basketball teams.テつ Yeah, I agree with you.テつ There's so many different styles of play with there being 16 teams that the preparation, playing against teams like Saint Louis, teams like Xavier, teams like Butler, LaSalle, that'll really help us going into the tournament.

Q.テつ You guys were down 45‑32 and then you really hit them in the mouth, you got it back to 46‑45.テつ Can you talk about what makes that Saint Louis team so resilient in those situations?
SHAKA SMART:テつ Good players, and I think led by their coaching staff.テつ They don't get rattled.
Our whole style of play is to get the other team rattled, and I think for a stretch there we had it going the way we wanted.テつ They were having trouble even getting the ball inbounds.テつ But then, they've got some older guys that stepped up, that made big shots, the three by Mitchell, Ellis made a couple really big‑‑ he hit that three in the corner, that was a huge one.テつ Evans was terrific all night.テつ He's a tough match‑up.テつ I thought our guys did a good job on him but not good enough.テつ I don't think it was so much our defense, it was more he's really good.
But yeah, I think we came at them.テつ They took a punch from us, and they responded, and that's why they're the champions.テつ I think the bigger key for us is that we can't dig ourselves into a 13‑point hole against a team that good.

Q.テつ Just touching upon your overall impressions of your first year in this league, your league may get six teams in with LaSalle and UMass on the bubble.
SHAKA SMART:テつ I think it's a terrific league, and it's a shame that it can't stay the same.テつ But that stuff's out of my hands as a coach.テつ You know, I'll tell you what, I'm really proud of our guys for the way that we stepped into this league and competed both in the regular season and in the conference tournament.
You know, I think sometimes the media likes to question people and question players and coaches and teams, but then when they do things, when they do find success, it's almost like you should have done it, and I think if everyone stops for a second and realize what our guys have done, went from a league that was I think this year the 25th best league in the RPI to a league that's in the top six or seven conferences in the country and we finished in the top two, came very close today to winning the tournament championship, that's a testament to our guys.
We didn't know we were in this league until last summer, and our guys never turned away from the challenge.テつ They stepped up, they battled.テつ They're in that locker room crying right now, but they have nothing to feel sorry about because they battled and fought, and honestly, we're one or two plays away from not only at least sharing the lead, the title in the regular season, but also winning today.
But Saint Louis gets credit.テつ They did what they needed to do.テつ They have a veteran team.テつ They're very well coached.テつ I think Jim Cruz did a phenomenal job stepping into obviously a difficult situation, and they're going to be a very, very tough team for someone to play in the NCAA Tournament.

Q.テつ Brad Stevens has called Saint Louis a Final Four team.テつ Is this a team that kind of has that potential?
SHAKA SMART:テつ Well, I think that first of all our guys set a goal at the beginning of the year‑‑ we set several goals but one of the goals was to win today, and the guys did a great job of getting to the point of having a chance to win this game today, but we came up short.テつ And when you come up short of your goals and they really, really matter to you, it hurts.テつ It hurts the coaches, it hurts the players, it hurts our fans, it hurts the families, it hurts everyone that's invested.
But the reality is the season is not done.テつ There's teams that lost in this tournament, and it was their last game.テつ We're not one of them.テつ So I told our guys, hey, we're going to use this to motivate us and we're going to use this to provide fuel for what we want to do going into the NCAA Tournament.
In terms of Saint Louis being an NCAA Final Four team, sure, they could do it.テつ They definitely could do it.テつ I think it all depends on match‑ups.テつ I mean, you're talking about being one of the last four teams playing in the NCAA Tournament.テつ That's a very tall order.テつ But it's definitely not out of the realm for those guys.テつ They have all the ingredients of a team that can make a run in the NCAA Tournament.テつ They're very well coached.テつ They've got older guys that don't get rattled.テつ They're good inside, they're good outside, and they defend.
Like I said, they're going to be a very, very tough team for someone to deal with in the NCAA Tournament.テつ Now that this tournament is over with, I'll be pulling for them.テつ I'll be pulling for all the Atlantic 10 teams, and there's enough of us that are going to make it, so who knows, maybe we'll get a chance to play each other again if we advance.

Q.テつ Daniels picks up a couple‑‑ the foul early in the second half.テつ How much of a factor and challenge was that for you guys?
SHAKA SMART:テつ Yeah, it was tough.テつ You know, he obviously did not have the type of game that he nor our coaching staff envisioned him having.テつ He was terrific yesterday shooting the ball.テつ Today he never really was able to get going, and that's a key, a key part of what we do.テつ If you look at the stat sheet it tells the whole story for us, at least offensively.テつ We had Reddic and Graham score like they normally do, but when we've been at our best we've had a third or fourth scorer emerge, usually Daniels or Rob Brandenberg, and they tried, but it just wasn't their day, and Saint Louis had a lot to do with that.
In terms of the foul trouble, hey, it is what it is.テつ I tell the guys to control what we can control, and we just need to do a better job of defending without fouling.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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