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March 22, 2013

Ramon Galloway

John Giannini

Jerrell Wright


LaSalle – 63
Kansas State – 61

JOE DALFONSO:  We're joined by LaSalle head coach John Giannini and student‑athletes.  We'll have coach start off with a statement and then we'll follow with questions.
COACH GIANNINI:  Well, as good as we were in the first half, Kansas State was that good in the second half.  We didn't turn it over.  We got some decent shots.  Their big man blocked a lot of them.  It was tough to get a good look, but at least we didn't turn it over.  But they were terrific in the second half.
The other thing that was huge at the end was Jerrell Wright.  He got us over the hump a number of times, made gigantic free throws.  And Sam Mills, an outstanding defender, got the last stop man‑on‑man against Rodriguez, was able to close the game out.
That's what I thought the keys were.  Sometimes our quickness takes people a little bit by surprise in the first half because we're quick.  It was certainly a game of two halves.  We had Jerrell step it up and Sam get a big stop to win the game.
JOE DALFONSO:  Questions, please.

Q.  Jerrell, could you talk about the foul shooting.  Any butterflies?
JERRELL WRIGHT:  There was no butterflies.  Coach just tell me every time I shoot a free throw, have the same form, keep my focus when I shoot my free throw.  Today I just thought about 'in.'
COACH GIANNINI:  We were talking about it because he struggled about it in the last game.  Just focus on the word 'in,' because if you focus on a word like that, you're not focusing on somebody else.
You're right.  That's a lot of pressure.  I think his poise, focus, his mental routine carried the day.

Q.  John, as the lead was diminishing in the second half, crowd is getting louder, you're calling a series of timeouts.  What were those huddles like?
COACH GIANNINI:  We're no different than a lot of teams.  We think you win with defense.  We kept challenging our guys defensively.  Just telling them, We'll be all right.  If we get some stops, we'll be all right.  That was the message.
We challenged our guys pretty firmly.  Told them they were not defending.  We would single out plays we didn't like.  But we focused positively.  If we could just get our defense back, we'll win this game.

Q.  Ramon, you had 15 in the first half, only 4 in the second half.  What adjustments did they make on you and the rest of the team?
RAMON GALLOWAY:  Just crowding the paint.  Every time I was ready to drop, there was more than one person there.  It was kind of tough to get down there.
The big guy, he was blocking shots.  He played his heart out.  It was kind of hard getting down there.
With Jerrell and my teammates, they kept telling me to keep playing my game.  I just told them to believe that we was gonna win.
COACH GIANNINI:  Ramon made huge free throws, as well.

Q.  Ramon, talk about your teammate here Jerrell, how big he was down the stretch.
RAMON GALLOWAY:  Can't explain how much he had his hand on this game.  He was 6‑6 field goal percentage, so he was confident.  He was 9‑for‑10 from the free‑throw line.  Knowing we have Zack out, he really stepped up.
We always know that, always have confidence in Jerrell, always know he can play this way.  It's not really a shocker, but we just glad that he really stepped up big‑time for us.

Q.  Jerrell, their No.21 Henriquez had one of his better games.  What was it like to play against him?
JERRELL WRIGHT:  It was very difficult.  Just him being in the game, he changed a lot of the shots.  Offensive he was very well, very good.  Basically I just had to try to maintain him.  Just try to go up on him a little bit because he wasn't really a shooter.  He didn't shoot the ball today.  That was basically it.
COACH GIANNINI:  A lot of his points were off pick'n rolls.  Jerrell was in a situation where he had to help, they throw the lob up to him.  A really athletic guy taking advantage of some really well‑designed plays that hurt us.

Q.  You didn't bring your guys in after pregame warmups.
COACH GIANNINI:  What about it?

Q.  You didn't go back in the locker room after the pregame warmup.
COACH GIANNINI:  No.  We don't feel a need to.

Q.  Do you usually do that?
COACH GIANNINI:  It depends.  With the second part of these games, we only have 27 minutes to warm up.  Usually we have much longer than that.  If we only have 27 minutes, we're not going to go back to the locker room and tell them the same thing we've been telling them the last 48 hours.
We want to use the 27 minutes to warm up, not to talk.  If we had a whole hour, then we would come back in.

Q.  You played the play‑in game, which I don't know if that's an insult to teams or you're happy to play in it.  Did it take the pressure off that you played in your first tournament game and won it so you were playing with some house money?
COACH GIANNINI:  No, we're not playing with house money.  That's not at all the way we would ever think.  No, we want to win every game we play.  We never think, Okay, we don't have to win that game.  That would be a ridiculous way for any coach or player to think.

Q.  I thought it might take the pressure off?
COACH GIANNINI:  In hindsight, I don't know.  We played really well against Boise State and we didn't have the advantage of a game before.  So maybe we're just playing well.

Q.  Is this kind of the beauty of the tournament, Wisconsin comes in and win, you're the 13 seed, win, Harvard pulls off one last night?
COACH GIANNINI:  We did want to be one of those teams that do well, yes.
The other part is the reason you see these scores is everyone takes basketball seriously.  People have made great commitments.  You look across the country, whether it's salaries, budgets, facilities, people want to be here where we are right now, and people are willing to invest to do that.
I'm telling you, everyone is good.  If you took a lot of the teams in the NIT, in our league, Dayton could come here and win two games in the NCAA tournament and have a chance to win.  Xavier could certainly do that.  There's good teams all over the place, not just in the NCAA tournament.

Q.  Guys, how tired are you through the last 48 hours?
JERRELL WRIGHT:  I'm good.  I'm excited.  I'm ready to play the next game.  We play Ole Miss.  There's nothing wrong with me.
RAMON GALLOWAY:  Same here.  I'm excited to be here.  We only have time to be tired and sore, so we just living in the moment, taking every chance.
COACH GIANNINI:  He's never tired unless he hears we're going to have a hard practice, then he needs a little ice or something.
RAMON GALLOWAY:  I love practice (smiling).

Q.  Kansas State did not score in the final 4:54.  What changed?  What did you do to change it?
RAMON GALLOWAY:  Like coach said, every timeout, every time we came in, he was riding us on offense, telling us we had to get defensive stops.  I don't know how much we was up, but we had a good margin.  They came back and actually took the lead.  We had to stick together and dig down deep to get stops.
So Coach G always preaching defense.  For me, I got his back, so I'm telling my teammates that we got to get stops, we got to stop 22, we got to stop 13, we got to stop 21 because he was getting on a roll a little bit.  Just talking about defense, we went out there and performed.
COACH GIANNINI:  We changed the way we were guarding the ball screen.  If you look at what was really hurting us was the pick'n roll.  It sounds really simple, but everyone does it.  If you have good guards and a good big guy, it's hard to guard.  We changed the way we guarded that.
At that point, if you're switching, guard their ball screen, now it comes down to one‑on‑one battles.  Our guys stepped it up and got individual stops and big rebounds.
But the only thing did change is we had to change the way we guarded those ball screens because they were really hurting us on the hard hedge.

Q.  John, the nation is getting a good look at the A‑10.  Can you talk about your pride and how well your league is doing?
COACH GIANNINI:  I'll actually let Ramon start with that, what I told you guys when we were on Selection Sunday.
RAMON GALLOWAY:  He told us that any team in the Atlantic‑10 could possibly get picked.  He always told us since day one that one game can separate the 15 team to the 12 team in our conference.
He explained to us that it's really great teams in our conference.  When I transferred from South Carolina, I didn't know how good Atlantic‑10 was.  Playing in there for two years, it's a game every day.  You got to fight every day, every second, every moment.
COACH GIANNINI:  The other thing I told them, because they felt bad about losing to Butler, St.Louis, I told them, You're far better prepared for this tournament than you realize.  You just lost to two potential Final Four teams.  You're not going to play against anyone in this tournament that's tougher than St.Louis or Butler.
The Atlantic‑10 is 6‑0, I can't help but grandstand a little bit.  I don't understand why these great leagues end up splitting.  What a great league.  The Big East, what a great league.  I thought college sports was supposed to be about tradition and about things that made sense.  Certainly when you have a great league, I would think that would make sense.
I'm just disappointed at the nation and some of these things happening because you look on the East Coast, the Atlantic‑10 is an incredible league, second to none certainly in the non‑football conferences.
It doesn't surprise us.  We're really proud of the A‑10.  We knew that we were well‑prepared because of playing against the level of team we did.  Like I said, if Xavier, Dayton, Charlotte, a bunch of other teams were in this tournament, they could be winning, too.

Q.  Talk about some quality means with Rohan Brown with Jerrell being in foul trouble.
COACH GIANNINI:  A team is exactly that.  You can't rely on any one person.  With Steve hurt, Rohan is going to have to play some more.  He made plays that helped us.  When you're talking about a one‑possession game, if Rohan doesn't catch and finish some of those baskets, if he doesn't work his butt off on defense, if he doesn't get a couple of those rebounds, we don't win.
So he was a huge part of us winning the game.

Q.  Ramon was talking about digging down after the lead disappeared.  How difficult is that when that momentum switches completely against you?
COACH GIANNINI:  You don't make it this far without three things:  being talented, without a little bit of luck, everyone in the country has to have that, whether it's staying injury‑free, making close baskets, getting a key recruit.  The third thing is you ought to be mentally tough.
Sometimes when I think I list all the things you have to do, stay healthy, recruit well, win close games, be mentally tough, it's amazing that you do make it so far because so many things have to go right.
To our guys' credit, the mental toughness part, they've developed, especially over the last year.

Q.  Kansas State pretty much covered the crowd 95%.  Talk about playing in that kind of atmosphere, a road game in the NCAA tournament when it's supposed to be a neutral court.
JERRELL WRIGHT:  I don't think it was that bad.  Kansas State, all the fans in the crowd and everything.  I guess like the last two minutes, when it was a tough game, you had the crowd, all the noise and everything like that, kind of rattled the team, I guess.
RAMON GALLOWAY:  I think it was tremendous, one of the best‑‑ by far the best arena I ever played in.  Crowd was great.  Like Jerrell said, they was quiet in the first half because we had a little lead.  But when the game got tough, when they was making they run, they made sure we heard 'em.
It was tremendous.  We had to fight.  They fought back to get the lead.  We had to fight to keep the lead.  Actually, we knew it was going to be a home game for them so we knew we was going to have to fight against the crowd.

Q.  Ramon, you talked about stopping 13.  What did you feel were the keys to stopping Angel Rodriguez?
RAMON GALLOWAY:  Just keeping him out of the paint.  We knew he was a fast guard, he was crafty.  For me, I was just thinking to keep him out the paint.  If he shoot a three, make sure all the shots was contested.
Our main goal is to dig down and stay tough and fight through.  Through the whole time I was just telling myself, me and Sam was sticking, we switched up, Sam might be sticking Rodriguez, I might be sticking McGruder.  Every shot, contest it.

Q.  Ramon, you held them to one field goal out of their last 13 shots.  They were taking it to the basket every time.  Is that more satisfying, man‑on‑man kind of stuff?
RAMON GALLOWAY:  We knew that it was going to be individual battles.  We knew 'cause our switching give teams problems.  We knew at the end of the day when we switch, they offense can't run as fluent as they want, it's going to be individual battles.
We knew the guys that was going to take the shots was No.22 and 13.  We knew if we could contain them, take contested shots, we'd be fine.  I didn't know they didn't score in the last four minutes.  But we didn't score either.  We only had three field goals in the second half ourselves.
Like I said, at the end of the day, it's whoever get the stops win the game.
JOE DALFONSO:  Congratulations, everyone.  Thank you.

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