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March 13, 2014

Dan Hurley

Xavier Munford



COACH HURLEY:  Proud of the‑‑ it's a little bit like Groundhog Day for us in the game.  Obviously led the majority of the game against one of the better teams in the conference, played them for the third time this year.  Proud of how our young guys fought against a much older, much more veteran team.
Difference in the game, obviously, were the volume of free throws that they shot.  You know, they made more than we took, the majority of which, happened in‑‑ in the game fouls, they did a good job of getting to the line.
And we obviously missed free throws in that last five, six, seven minutes when it was winning time and they were getting really, really physical and aggressive defensively, both on the ball, off the ball, being really, really physical.
You know, obviously having some guys, when you're on demand and you're losing guys, tailbones to the face and cramping and all types of stuff, it took us out of our execution, because we were executing at a high level probably up until about ten minutes to go in the second half.

Q.  Even with the loss tonight, the team did win three of its last four regular‑season games, seemed in the St. Bonaventure, you went on to really play competitive; was there anything about game or anything about that game that turned the season around a little at the end?
XAVIER MUNFORD:  I think what helped us in that game was traveling, we had to travel and we had to fight through adversity.  It was a long road to get there.  We just fought hard that game.  We just wanted to make a turnaround to our season and we became a better team in practice and that's when it all started and we just built it from there.

Q.  Coach alluded to things got a little chippy out there.  Is that kind of just building up, you play these guys three times in a month and a couple frustrating losses, is that just kind of building and building up?
XAVIER MUNFORD:   Playing against UMASS is a big rivalry, very familiar with those guys, it's our third time playing them so it's going to get pretty chippy and stuff like that but we just have to keep playing them.
COACH HURLEY:  I think that run we had, a seven‑, eight‑point lead, and that showed our lack of experience, because we were playing significantly better basketball than they were playing, and then when the talking started and the chirping started, I think that had a negative effect on us.
I think it became too emotional.  It became too personal and then we started putting ourselves in really bad spots off the dribble, and you could see it and we tried to calm the guys down but it certainly got chippy.

Q.  Can you talk about your first half shooting six for six from the field and also specifically, you and Chaz Williams going at each other over the last 20 minutes or so?
XAVIER MUNFORD:  When I came out, I didn't force anything.  I just found my rhythm and I just went from there.  Tried to find my offense and as far as me and Chaz Williams, it's a great rivalry.  Me and him, two hard‑nosed players.  We both want to win.  We're both tough, and that's basically it.

Q.  Did they play you any differently in the second half?  Did they cover you differently off ball screens?  Did they use maybe two or three different guys on you, anything differently than the first half?
XAVIER MUNFORD:  Just laid off the screens‑‑ the guys stayed longer than usual the first half.  The first half I was able to turn the corner a lot.  The second half, they kind of took that away from me.

Q.  With 24 points in your final collegiate game, I know it's probably a little fresh, but at this point, as best you can, can you reflect back upon your two years at Rhode Island, a thousand‑plus points and just what it's meant to you?
XAVIER MUNFORD:  It's been great, playing for Coach Hurley, that's been awesome; playing for a coach that knows my personality and my game well.  Thousand points is a great accomplishment and I'm proud of that.  I just want to keep working and keep building on my game and see what my next step is.

Q.  You mentioned the youngness of the team.  Is this the kind of three‑game series that down the road, you'll look back and say, you learned some things from this as a positive growth thing down the line?
COACH HURLEY:  This was the same game we played against Providence earlier in the year.  Same game we played against St.Louis at home.  Same game we played twice against St. Joe's.  We've been in these types of games.
It's just what you see at the end of games is experience is usually going to shine through, and then really in the game, we would have‑‑ we would have had a cushion, two‑, three‑, four‑ five‑point cushion down the stretch in the last, you know, three, four, five minutes of the game, which for a young kid, a young team, is enormous.
If we would have just made some free throws after playing behind after having the lead the majority of the game‑‑ there's just a panic that you see in your kids when they are just young and inexperienced and they are just not‑‑ they are just not men yet.  We just played against men; the top six players, average age is 23 years old.  We just played against men, when we are a very young team.

Q.  Did the way the game‑‑ aside from the talking and maybe you felt that that was almost inevitable and you're trying to stave it off, but the way that it was being called and the pace of the game totally changed, do you think that was an even bigger reason why maybe your team got knocked off?
COACH HURLEY:  I thought the pressure the last 12 minutes of the game, the last ten minutes of the game, when they got really, really physical, you know, both in the full court and in the halfcourt, it rattled us.
We were executing very, very well.  You know, halftime, shooting 60 percent from the field, up until ten minutes to go in the second half, shooting in the high 50s from the field, obviously we had issues with turnovers.  That's really what you go through when you don't have a pure point guard like a Chaz Williams who runs your team, and that also affects you in other game situations.  The last two or three minutes, it becomes a little bit debilitating.
But they stepped up their intensity level.  You know, we didn't play through the physicality.  We could have done a better job, and then when fouls were called, we didn't make the free throws.

Q.  Was it frustrating for to you see your team struggle offensively down the stretch?
COACH HURLEY:  It's frustrating to lose.  I just think this that's a by‑product of just being young, you know, and not having a seasoned point guard.  You know, if you look at what they did down the stretch, they weren't exactly prolific.  There were a lot of broken plays.  There was a step back‑‑ I don't know if ‑‑ was it a 23‑footer from Chaz?  That wasn't exactly great execution; that was a guythat's shooting a step‑back 23‑footer, who is one of the best players in the conference stepping up.
So you know, the end of game, what became a physical, brutally physical, intense, last five, six minutes of that game, it was going to be hard for it to look pretty.

Q.  There were times this season when you were only dressing seven or eight scholarship players, a lot of injuries; looking back, the way they finished the season, how proud are you of the guys?
COACH HURLEY:  Proud of them.  The line from today, the senior‑‑ shot 31 percent from the field, shot three for 15 from three.  I thought did an admirable job for most of the game on the backboard.
We lost the game by not making free throws and by the volume of free throws that they made, we were minus 17 at the free throw line; that was the difference in the game because we didn't make it and we put them down the line.

Q.  You talked about young talent, looking at a guy like Martin, what do you project for him as far as next year?  What type of things do you want to see in his game as he becomes a sophomore?
COACH HURLEY:  Stud.  That kid is going to be a stud.  I thought he had five blocks in the first half‑‑ yeah, that kid, he's 18 years old playing against grown men.  That kid is going to be a star.  He's going to be a star.  This was their first conference tournament game against a UMASS team that, you know, if that's your sixth‑place team in the conference, right‑‑ you got anything to say about that‑‑ if that's your sixth‑place team in the conference, then this is one heck of a league.
I wish we had‑‑ I need a week off.  I almost lost my mind out there today and it's happened several other times.  But I wish it was a week, I wish we could take a week off and I wish we could get started on the future.
We have some help on the way.  Internally we had some great pieces moving forward, ranging from future Player‑of‑the‑Year‑types to guys that can really emerge next year and take the next step.
I'm excited about what I'm building.  I'm excited about the year that we've had.  You know, we have made great improvement.  We were plus six overall, doing it for the most part with eight players, four of which were freshman this year, anyone that feels like we didn't take major steps forward this year doesn't know anything about basketball.

Q.  When a team is on a run like that and they are ramping it up physically intensity‑wise in the second half, you started to use a couple time‑outs, it didn't stop them ultimately, in an ideal world, personnel aside, what has to stop a team when they are making a push like that?
COACH HURLEY:  The pressure was bothering us, they were denying so many things, so many of our sets which we had great success with.  They were doing a really good job of getting really physical, bodying guys up, getting into passing lanes.  And then when they got into denials, and then we tried to spread them out and drive them, they did a really good job of physically guarding us off the dribble and forcing us off of downhill drives and straight line drives.
And then what happens with young teams is they take away your initial entry and then now they are in denials and now you need guys to make plays, and then that's when guys try to maybe do too much, put it on the floor, drive the lane, they are a shot blocking team, instead of drawing help and sharing, I think we had too many guys today that maybe that last five, six minutes maybe just tried to do too much.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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