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March 15, 2014
BROOKLYN, NEW YORK
ST. JOSEPHÂ’S Â– 67
ST. BONAVENTURE - 48
COACH MARTELLI: First of all, tremendous respect for Mark Schmidt and what St. Bonaventure did and how they came out.Â You would think they would be the ones with the tired legs, and they put us on our heels.
Our ball skills came in question in the first half, and these three guys just kept talking to their teammates about staying with it.Â It really wasn't coaching.Â It was more them being great teammates and trusting each other, and we just wore them down.Â You know, they missed shots at the rim.
I think obviously these numbers by Halil are extraordinary, and Langston yesterday, but the effort that DeAndre' just gave, really poor offensive game with five turnovers in the first half, but his defense on Matthew Wright was at a very, very high level.
So I'm happy for these guys.Â I just told them that we'll go back and we'll rest and tomorrow we're coming over here for rings and nets.Â That's what we want to get tomorrow, rings and nets.
Q.Â Would you say that was one of the biggest or best performances of your career?
HALIL KANACEVIC:Â I would say numbers‑wise. I really never base my game on numbers.Â I'm more‑‑ it's my floor game for the team.Â I don't care about points.Â I definitely look at rebound, but that's the only thing I care about, rebounds, and not so many rebounds I get, it's how many offensive rebounds the other team gets.Â That's my main concern is.Â It's my floor game for the team.Â Scoring, I don't really care about it.Â I just want to win, and I think these guys feel the same way.
But yeah, I had a good scoring game and rebounding today numbers‑wise, so that way, yeah.Â But I really don't care about it.
Q.Â You had a tough first half and you had 16 in the second half.Â What were you doing differently, and also, how big was it, Halil's first half performance?
LANGSTON GALLOWAY:Â I mean, the second half, Coach was just saying be aggressive and just keep playing.Â I had two fouls in the first half, so I had to sit down, but I just wanted to come out and be aggressive and then I mean, these guys, Halil and Ron, were finding me and I was getting open looks and we just got going from there. It's all credit to this team.Â We played a great game tonight.
Q.Â With the rest of the team struggling in the first half, you were all over the whole game but especially the first half.Â Was the mentality that you needed to take over to keep the team in it?
HALIL KANACEVIC:Â No, after yesterday area performance, how they played the whole season, they were hard on Langston, hard on the screens, just all over him, so I was getting good looks.Â He was giving me good looks.Â Coach has confidence in me and teammates have confidence and I have got confidence in myself.
So we if have a good shot ‑‑ yeah, we were all chaotic in the first half, turnovers all over the board, and for myself, everybody.Â But everybody did a good job of getting me some good shots, and we got a better rhythm in the second half where he started scoring and I started scoring but the first half I got good looks.
Q.Â You had a couple blocks off the ball‑‑ tell me how big that was and also the fact that they missed a lot of shots inside.
RON ROBERTS, JR.:Â Yeah, I just tried to help my team in any way.Â If the guard was coming to the lane, I wanted to protect the basket and just try to do the little things to keep our team in it.
Q.Â For any of you, how do your legs feel after two games in a row logging heavy minutes and how do you think it's going to affect you tomorrow?
RON ROBERTS, JR.:Â Well, we're playing a championship tomorrow, so we've got to just forget about that.Â We're still going to play hard, feel the energy, we really want to win a championship.Â Since we've been here we've never been this close, so we've got to seize the moment tomorrow.
LANGSTON GALLOWAY:Â I mean, Ron said it, we've just got to go out there, sees the moment, play hard and leave it all out there because there's no tomorrow.Â So I mean, it's a championship game, and we're going to come with a lot of energy.
HALIL KANACEVIC:Â They said everything.
Q.Â In Philadelphia, I would assume that Villanova got a lot of pr this year because they had such a good year, and you guys get to the Atlantic 10 tournament as the four‑seed and yet you're considered a bubble team.Â Are you guys tired of being overlooked?
HALIL KANACEVIC:Â We don't care about any of that stuff.Â It's just been about us the whole year.
Do you think we're underrated?Â We don't care.Â No offense ‑‑ I mean, no offense, but we don't listen to that stuff.Â We just keep our head straight.Â Coaches do a good job of just keeping us in that tunnel vision.Â We don't care.Â We just care about winning basketball games, one, a hundred‑‑ I don't think anybody in that locker room would care, we just keep trying to win games, each and every game.
Â RON ROBERTS, JR.:Â Yeah, like Halil said, we don't listen to the outside stuff.Â We just listen to each other, listen to our coaches and so we just try to go out there, play hard and control what we can control and that's it.
Q.Â You mentioned before that you are preparing for the Championship game tomorrow.Â How do you go in to night looking at either playing VCU or George Washington?Â How do you prepare for either one of those teams?
RON ROBERTS, JR.:Â We have to wait until the game is over obviously.Â We're going to prepare, watch film, do a walk‑through.Â Coaches do a great job of getting us ready, get off our feet and just be ready to play tomorrow.
Q.Â Langston, if you can remember, you guys were starting to get some separation and you fed Halil for a layup for a basket and you had a pretty good emotional response to that. Can you remember what was going through your mind at that time?
LANGSTON GALLOWAY:Â It's funny that you say that because me and Halil were talking that at the end of the bench at the end of the game.Â It happened when we played at St. Bonaventure.Â I hit Halil with the same pass and he dunked on Andell.Â But this time, I knew it was coming.Â I was just waiting for him.Â He kept slipping all night and I finally got an open look to try to hit him with a quick pass and he finished with a dunk.
Q.Â With 14 assists on 21 made baskets, what does that say about the unselfishness of your team?
COACH MARTELLI:Â Well, the coach in me is going to say it's really a nice job by them but then there's 14 turnovers, but we have to clean up.Â We had ten in the first half.Â We'll clean those up.
Obviously against these two teams tomorrow, VCU with their pressure and George Washington with their 131, you can't turn the ball over that much.Â But that's what we've done.Â We basically had five guys average double figures.Â We do it by six‑game totals and I always give them number of baskets on assists and our total for the last six games was something like 67 percent.Â So that's basically what we did here today.
Q.Â Could you talk a little bit about, again, the two potential opponents you could face tomorrow, more specifically, what problems each team might present for your team and how you guys are going to go about trying to overcome those challenges?
COACH MARTELLI:Â Well, first thing is that they are both really good teams.Â We were fortunate enough to beat VCU at the end at home.Â We had some separation in that game and they just kept coming, as is their kind of MO.
With George Washington, we got down 14 I think in the first half, went on a 16‑0 run to take a two‑point lead.Â We maintained that lead in the second half but we had a lot of foul trouble, particularly with Halil.Â You know, they have a wonderful, wonderful player, I think underrated maybe, even a pro prospect, in Garino.
And they are both going to be coming in on an uptick. They both played really well last night.Â I only saw snips, little snippets of their games last night, but they both played really well and I would expect that this will be a high‑energy game.Â They tell me, the people from the league tell me, that George Washington has a really sizable turnout with them and the VCU crowds are legendary.
So I'll know more at 6:30, and we'll meet the team at 8:30 tonight just do film, tomorrow we'll walk‑through at 8:00 AM.
I think we have to make it about us, not necessarily about who we are playing.
Q.Â Halil has such a unique skill set‑‑
COACH MARTELLI:Â And personality, and vocabulary‑‑ (laughter).
Q.Â Because of the way he plays and the way you guys play with him, and he has the ball so much, how difficult was the decision for you when he first came to the program to put that kind of trust in a kid like that?
COACH MARTELLI:Â Well, I think the biggest thing was to get him on the floor.Â You know, like Ron Roberts, obviously everybody knows is a highlight reel dunker and we had C.J. Akin leading the country at one point in blocked shots, and now we are looking at Halil.Â And Halil is the best low‑post passer,and he's also the best low‑post distributor.
So we had to figure out a way to get him to the post and not‑‑ but he's been asked to sacrifice.Â He'll tell you that he's been asked to sacrifice, and if he could play in the low post, he would be convinced that these would be the numbers that he would post every single night.
So I'm fascinated by him as a person.Â I said yesterday in his press conference, on a team full of great teammates, he's the best teammate.Â And he's the one‑‑ when that was‑‑ like that was ugly for about 14 or 15 minutes.Â He kept saying in the time‑outs, "Listen, it's all right," we were just down nine, we're down one; it's a tie, we're up‑‑ whatever‑‑ I didn't have to say it.Â He said it to them, and because he says so much, they all listen to him.
Q.Â You talked about Langston in the past beating opponents softly; is that changing?Â Is he turning the corner on that?
COACH MARTELLI:Â Well, Langston, all three of these guys are seniors, and really, they want to keep going.Â When we came here, we didn't know if we would keep going.Â Like we didn't know if we would keep playing.
And Langston has a fire that you almost have to equal at times, because he always wants to be in the gym and he always wants to get shots and he always‑‑ and he has to listen to what we're telling him about, you know, get off your feet, rest, and just keep driving at this thing, because that's the attention that he deserved and he just had 16 points in a semifinal game in the second half.
And we are going to lean on him tomorrow, against either one of these opponents.Â It was a little hairy there a little bit, you know, and he hit the three, like on your side of the court, the press table side.Â That's a monster three.Â That ended the game, really.Â I think we were holding nine and he hit a three put us up 12.Â That's what we need from him.Â Your best players have to play their best in order for you to advance.
Q.Â Could you talk a little bit more about your defense against Matthew Wright?Â I don't think he got an open look today.
COACH MARTELLI:Â Bembry was unbelievable.Â At the offensive end of the floor, DeAndre' was a freshman in a big game setting.Â At the defensive end of the floor, he was a ten‑year vet.
We kept talking to him in the time‑outs; that offensively, it will come, it will come, stay relaxed, quit turning the ball over.Â But defensively, he maxed out his effort.Â He's exhausted and he should be, because that was a really good player that he guarded.
Q.Â Would you consider this Halil's best all‑around game as a whole?
COACH MARTELLI:Â I don't know.Â I don't rank them, I really don't.Â I'll be honest with you; I think the game he had and the game that saved the season was the second half against Drexel.Â We were down a couple at the half, I think he had 27 against Drexel, and he knew it; he knew that day that we really need him, because we weren't hitting on all cylinders.Â But seriously, I‑‑ I just asked him walking over, did you have 20 rebounds, because I didn't know how many he had.
But I think from the whole, scoring the ball, rebounding the ball and leading his team, it was right up there as a great performance.
Q.Â 2014 did a few things, but they didn't win an A10 title.Â What is the meaning of playing for a championship with these guys and for your program?
COACH MARTELLI:Â Well, for these guys, it's justification for how much they have believed in each other, and the fact that‑‑ you know what it was like.
We go back to that Sunday after we lose to Villanova by about 111, I think the final was, and it's justification.Â They stayed with it.Â They trusted each other, and what Ron said is what they did; they went internal.Â They only listened to each other.
I'm delighted for them; that they are going to have a chance now to put their name on a line that really only one team has done, that only one of my teams has done.Â So I think it's not just the seniors, though.Â I've been saying it all year.Â This team has extraordinary character and their character's being rewarded by the way that they are playing.
Q.Â One thing the St. Bonaventure did yesterday and love to do, they love to get down in transition and be able to kick it out with the perimeter shooters and today they only hit two triples, was the main key to the transition, the perimeter that you can talk about?
COACH MARTELLI:Â I'll be honest with you, three games in three days.Â We played defense.Â I'm not taking anything away from my team but they played three games in three days, and ironically, I spoke to my team last night.Â I've been asked questions all year about depth, depth, depth, depth, depth, but then I looked at their minutes and their guys played heavy minutes.
But when you're being run off your plays, that ball's heavy.Â That ball's heavy.Â Like I said, we were able to take advantage of the fact that they were playing with tired legs.
Q.Â Along those same lines, I know you've had a tight rotation all year but now playing three games in three days, how much of a challenge is that going to be, especially against VCU?
COACH MARTELLI:Â You're playing for a championship.Â You know what I was thinking about coming over here?Â We came‑‑ I don't know the streets up here but we came past a park, and I was think to go myself, those kids in the park are playing for one reason:Â They want to stay on the court.Â So if they have to stay on the court until 6:00 tonight, and that was at 11:30 this morning, they would do whatever was necessary.
And that's exactly what we're going to do.Â And if that means throwing guys in to save minutes, buy minutes.Â But seriously, if you look at these media time‑outs, I got engaged in less time than the media time‑outs.Â It's too long.Â I don't have anything left to tell them.Â I don't know that much about basketball, and there's two and a half minutes; what am I going to tell them?Â I know we have to sell advertisements and all that other stuff, but we'll use the time‑outs.Â We're playing for a championship.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports