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NCAA MEN'S REGIONALS SEMIFINALS & FINALS: LOS ANGELES


March 30, 2013


Aaron Craft

Thad Matta

Deshaun Thomas


LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA

Wichita State テや 70
Ohio State テや 66


THE MODERATOR:テつ Coach, Matta, if you could give us an opening comment?
COACH MATTA:テつ Well, as we talked about in there in the locker room, we played so well for such an extended period of time, and we weren't very good to start the game.テつ Give Wichita State credit.テつ Tremendous, unbelievable basketball team, and they're playing as well as any team we've played this year.
We weren't able in the first half to draw the line and get the stops, get the bucket when we needed, 24%, you're not going to win in the Elite Eight shooting 24% in the first half.
Proud of the way our guys came back, dug down.テつ We put ourselves in a position to have a chance to win the basketball game.テつ But, as I told these guys, you get so close to going to your second straight Final Four.テつ Everybody remembers the last game.テつ I'm not going to.テつ I'm going to remember this season, because I'm very, very proud of what these guys have accomplished this year.
THE MODERATOR:テつ We have Deshaun Thomas and Aaron Craft.テつ Questions for the student‑athletes?

Q.テつ First half especially they just seemed to pack the defense in and dare you guys to beat them from the perimeter.テつ Was there, other than not making outside shots to loosen them up, was there anything that you guys were trying to stretch that defense out so you could exploit the gaps?
AARON CRAFT:テつ We tried.テつ You know, they did a phenomenal job.テつ They got a shot blocker down there that blocked quite a few shots in the first half, and that really kind of had us on our heels.
We didn't score in transition at all today, and that's been our calling card throughout this run, getting stops and scoring in transition.テつ We didn't score at all.テつ We really didn't get very many easy buckets tonight and it shows.

Q.テつ Just during that first half, it seemed like the offense was completely off kilter and just a lot of quick shots and maybe not the shots you were looking for.テつ Just what were the discussions like in the huddles and then the different things like that to try to get some kind of a flow going offensively?
DESHAUN THOMAS:テつ Yeah, man, the way we shot the ball coming into the Elite Eight and Sweet Sixteen, man, everything was falling.テつ But just today wasn't our night.テつ Nothing was falling.テつ But in the huddle, we tried to keep our spirits up.テつ We were believing in ourselves, trying to believe in ourselves.
Coach said, they're going to fall.テつ They're going to fall.テつ Just be patient.テつ We had to get our feet into them, and we had great looks, some of them, but they just weren't falling.

Q.テつ You mentioned the lack of points in transition from studying these guys on tape.テつ Did you think you could turn them over?
AARON CRAFT:テつ I mean, they're a very disciplined team on offense, had a lot of sets; and they do a pretty good job of taking care of the ball.テつ We got in transition some and didn't really finish.テつ Had some lay‑ups that we didn't make, probably took a couple early shot that's we probably shouldn't have taken.
But got to give them a lot of credit.テつ They came out firing, and we never really kind of regained our balance until it was too late.

Q.テつ Basically, how are you feeling right now?テつ How much does this loss hurt?
DESHAUN THOMAS:テつ I mean, it hurts.テつ We tried to repeat getting to the Final Four; but, man, we had a heck of a season.テつ After that Wisconsin loss, we came together as a team.テつ This was the most a team that came together that I've ever been on.テつ We had a great season, won the Big Ten tournament, the best conference in the world, in my eyes.テつ But today was a tough loss.テつ That's all I've got to say.
AARON CRAFT:テつ It hurts.テつ We've been playing pretty great, pretty well together.テつ Find a way to win a couple games we probably shouldn't have won in the past couple games, and it seems like everything caught up to us.テつ We didn't come out with the same intensity, the same fire today, and they did.テつ It's tough, and it hurts.
This team is great.テつ We did a lot of great things this year.テつ It's just very unfortunate that it's got to come to an end now.テつ But hopefully sometime down the road we can look back and appreciate what we did.

Q.テつ Deshaun, I've got to ask you the obvious question.テつ Do you know at this point whether you're going to be back next year, or are you going to enter in the draft?
DESHAUN THOMAS:テつ It's a tough loss we've had.テつ Thinking about this loss, man, I'm just going to go home, enjoy my family, get back in the gym, and have to think about this.テつ This is a great group of guys I have around me and great coaching staff.
So I'm going to enjoy my time off and not going to remember this loss and get back in the gym and get better.

Q.テつ Aaron, you can appreciate there is such a fine line.テつ Four points here between winning and losing, getting into the Final Four as you did last year and not getting there this year.テつ Can you appreciate how difficult a task it is now?
AARON CRAFT:テつ I've lost my three tournament games now by eight points combined.テつ Last year and the year before were one possession games losing by two, and obviously, this by four.テつ It's tough.テつ It's crazy tough.テつ It's very tough to grasp how important a possession is in the first half and how that can come back to haunt you in the second.
We had quite a few of those today, just plays that we don't usually make.テつ We weren't really playing our style of basketball, and they kind of took us out of our rhythm.テつ It's tough.テつ Every possession counts.テつ Every possession is important.

Q.テつ How would you compare Wichita State defensively either in style or effectiveness or both to anyone in the Big Ten that you went up against this season?
AARON CRAFT:テつ I think they're definitely one of the more physical teams we've played.テつ They did a good job of packing it in, someone kind of like Wisconsin, kind of like that.テつ They had a couple shot blockers, a little better than the ones at Wisconsin, obviously.
The way we were able to be successful against those guys was getting in transition and really kind of executing on offense.テつ We just didn't do that today.
THE MODERATOR:テつ Questions for Coach Matta.

Q.テつ They had some success against your small lineup in the first half, and Amir was having one of his better games.テつ I wondered at the point that you went small in the second half, what was the reason that you thought you could maybe make a run with that?
COACH MATTA:テつ I tell you what.テつ We were just looking for somebody to put the ball in the bucket.テつ We had dug ourselves in such a hole.テつ We were compromising a lot of different things. テつThey countered what we were doing.テつ They went small, in essence, four or five guards at times.テつ Yeah, I mean, it was just trying to find somebody to make a shot.

Q.テつ Coach, when you get off to such a difficult start offensively, do you worry at all about the kids maybe starting to press a little bit?テつ Do you try to change the strategy to maybe get inside and get some easy buckets even though they're so difficult in the paint?
COACH MATTA:テつ Yeah, they were hard to come by in the paint today.テつ We could never knock a couple down.テつ We couldn't string together a couple of positive possessions that would enable us to mix it up a little bit.テつ I mean, when you're shooting as poorly as we were, it's just you're trying to find just anything in something to become contagious.
Like I said, we can never get that.テつ I thought our defense was good enough.テつ But we just needed something to ignite the offense.

Q.テつ The thing that Aaron mentioned about the lack of transition, when you looked at them on tape, did you think it was going to be tough to come by?テつ And with the way they played half‑court defense, did you expect that you might have a tough day if you couldn't make shots?
COACH MATTA:テつ Well, with this team, when we don't shoot the ball well, we're not real productive.テつ We felt like going into the game if we could rebound the ball effectively on the defensive end‑‑ because they send a lot of guys, which they're great at it.
But if we could just get some clean ones, we felt like we could get out and score.テつ That just wasn't there today.

Q.テつ Specifically, how and why do you think you lost this game?
COACH MATTA:テつ Were you in there?

Q.テつ Yes.
COACH MATTA:テつ 31%, I mean, that was the difference.テつ I'm just saying, you've got to make shots.テつ You can't go 8 for 33 in the first half against a great team.テつ I'm giving Wichita State the credit.テつ Man, they D'd us up.テつ That was the biggest thing.テつ 31% for the game, you're not winning a game like that.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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