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March 18, 2014
Albany Â– 71
Mount St. MaryÂ’s Â– 64
THE MODERATOR:Â We're joined by the head coach of Mount St. Mary's Jamion Christian and student‑athletes Julian Norfleet, Rashad Whack, Sam Prescott and Will Miller.
Coach, an opening statement.Â After that, we'll open up the floor to the student‑athletes.
COACH CHRISTIAN:Â First of all, a lot of credit to Albany.Â We just had so much respect for their program.Â One of the things I tried to do when we took over the program two years ago, I wanted to look at mid major programs that had been to the NCAA Tournament and had very good regular season success.
One of the teams I looked at was Albany.Â I have so much respect for them and how they've been able to transform themselves over the years.
And as for us, I felt like we played very well.Â Maybe some nervousness at the beginning.Â The way we came back is very typical of how we like to play, shooting the 3‑ball getting into the press and playing together.
Not surprised that we were able to come back from such a poor start, our team has so much character and we play for one another so well that just about anything can be achieved.
But, again, I'm going to give a lot of credit to Albany, did outstanding job tonight and they deserved to win.
Q.Â Rashad, you had a 3 there in the final minute.Â Looked like it might roll in but it rolled off.Â Can you talk about what you were thinking at the moment you saw it roll off?
RASHAD WHACK:Â I got a good look at the shot.Â Shot it with confidence.Â As I seen it leave my hand, see it hit the rim, I thought it was going in.Â But sometimes it doesn't always fall.Â So it is what it is.
Q.Â Julian, what was it like out there in the beginning of the game and how surprised were you guys, missed your first 11 shots?
JULIAN NORFLEET:Â It was a little surprising, being that we shot the ball so well the past three games we played.Â But once we were able to get the first one to fall, we were able to make a little bit of a run there.
Q.Â Sam how did you guys keep your composure there when you're down ‑‑ you've done it a lot, talked about it a lot.Â Still it's challenging when it happens.Â You were 21‑2, got back into the game, how did you keep your composure there?
SAM PRESCOTT:Â This team has been down a couple games and made a couple of runs.Â We were able to rely on each other and trust in this game.
Will, he came in, gave us a spark off the bench.Â So that always helps.Â Once you see a couple go down, the ball gets rolling.
Q.Â Sam, I saw you kind of linger off the court a little bit.Â I know it's a tough way to end your career here.Â What does the season mean to you?Â Did you want to hold onto it there at the end?
SAM PRESCOTT:Â It's been a long journey since I started college basketball.Â And to make it to this type of stage, it's tremendous, get the type of exposure, experience the lights, it's been a great ride.
Q.Â Will, you were able to hit a lot of big 3s, kept the team in the game.Â How were you feeling out there and how nice was it to keep the team in the game especially after that start?
WILL MILLER:Â It felt good.Â Anytime any player really can get a start like that, you just kind of keep going and you build off momentum.Â To be able to come in the game, make that kind of impact, really made a lot.
Q.Â Rashad, you led 45‑41 in the second half.Â Two parts, A, I assume you felt really confident, felt like you were going to win the game at that point.Â What happened after that, really what was going as you were making baskets, you went cold again?
RASHAD WHACK:Â Albany did a good job taking our punches.Â We were trying to fight, get the lead back.Â And we did a good job.Â And there was kind of focus on Will, and a lot of falling shots, credit to them, credit to Albany.
Q.Â Will, are your emotions kind of torn right now because you played so well on the big stage, national TV, but at the same time you guys didn't come out with the outcome you wanted, is it sort of mixed emotions for you right now?
WILL MILLER:Â Anytime you get to play, just from years past watching the NCAA Tournament, it's a huge stage.Â So just for our team to be able to make it this far is something huge.
Not every team, obviously not any team in the nation makes it this far.Â But just be able to do it with these three seniors, it confident a lot.
THE MODERATOR:Â Any other questions for our student‑athletes?
Q.Â Julian, if you could sum up these last four years and sum up this run that you guys have made.Â I know it ended at least one game earlier than you hoped it would.Â What's it been like?
JULIAN NORFLEET:Â We started off not making the playoffs and being a low seed in our conference and just to see it come up over the past two years and make it back to the tournament and then win a championship, you know, come to the NCAA Tournament and play on this stage, it just shows how much Coach Christian has come in here, just changed the program and it's a lot of great things ahead.
THE MODERATOR:Â Time for one more question.Â All right.Â Julian, Rashad, Sam, Will, thanks for your time and congratulations on your season.Â Open up the floor for questions for Coach Christian now.
Q.Â What were you feeling at the beginning of that game?Â It had to be a big surprise to find yourself down 21‑2 after eight and a half minutes.
COACH CHRISTIAN:Â Honestly, I just knew if we got one to go down, it was going to‑‑ we were going to be able to turn the page.
I didn't really waver, to be honest with you.Â My emotions stay pretty calm.Â I knew this game was going to be all about possessions and creating tempo.
Although 21‑2 is not exactly the best way to start the game, I think anyone would acknowledge that, I knew our team would rally together and be able to come back.
We scored 11 points in a minute five or six times this year.Â Once you do that, get them fatigued a little bit, now you're in the ballgame.Â We're able to do that.
A lot of credit goes to the guys on the floor and our program, just having enough character to be able to take their punch at the beginning.
A lot of teams would have folded.Â I don't know if people understand the emotions of the NCAA Tournament, how much these guys want to win on both teams.Â And it's real easy to be on an emotional high that leads to depression that creates an emotional low.
Our guys didn't do that.Â They took the punch, and we bounced back.
Q.Â You guys took 37 3s in this game.Â Was that a little higher than you were imagining coming in?
COACH CHRISTIAN:Â I love shooting the 3.Â 37 was a bit high for even my liking today.Â But I did feel like we had some very good looks.
I think if Rashad Whack and Julian Norfleet can get off 19 total 3s, I like our outcome, if they're taking good shots.
I thought the majority of their shots were.Â Whack misses that 3 down the stretch and it goes in and out.Â And if that goes down, maybe there's a different outcome.
So I'm pleased with our guys, how they played together and they shared the ball.
A lot of credit goes to Albany for their defense.Â They did a good job getting out to their guys.Â But we could have been better offensively tonight.
Q.Â Coach, with the 3‑pointers, how big was Will Miller in giving you a spark tonight?
COACH CHRISTIAN:Â We felt Will was going to have a huge game for us.Â He's been a kid all year long playing on big stages, against big teams, he's made a lot of 3s.Â And we knew he was capable of getting hot.
I believe in his career some day he'll hit 10 of these.Â I thought that might have been tonight.Â He got to seven.Â Had he got to 10, we would all be in here jumping for joy, at least I would.Â So I thought he played well, though.
One of the things that they did a good job of, they switched their matchups up at the beginning of the game, made us have to play one more at the 4.Â We were able to do that.Â He was able to find found some open looks, and he made the majority of them.
Q.Â Coach, what does Julian Rashad and Sam mean to you, for your first two years, they've been complete leaders for you?
COACH CHRISTIAN:Â They mean everything to me.Â I love these guys as if they were my own children.Â As an alum, as a person who wore this Mount St. Mary's jersey and not being able to play in the NCAA Tournament, I have so much respect for what they've been able to do and I'm so proud of them.
It's not easy getting to this point.Â It's very difficult in a one‑bid league.Â They were able to take the program from where it was two years ago and really change the trajectory of it, and they did so by believing in the vision that I had for them.
It wasn't always easy because they're each individually very talented players.Â They would probably be All‑League players in every team in our league, but they decided to play unselfish for one another to help our team win, sacrificing their individual games along the way.
And they got a chance to go to the NCAA Tournament and really be really create a legacy in our program because of it.
Q.Â I know you haven't had much time to think about it or look back yet, but what do you think the ultimate take‑away from this run and just this season will be?
COACH CHRISTIAN:Â Good question.Â I think, first of all, it shows everybody in that locker room that what we do here works; that the plan that we put before them, when everyone buys into it, it will work.
We came up a little short a season ago.Â We got into the NCAA Tournament this year, which is a goal of ours, but our goal is always going to be to win games in the NCAA Tournament.
So we were making progress each year, and the first thing I've learned from being at VCU and Bucknell, teams that have won games in the tournament, you've got to know that you can get there first.Â There is a road, there is a blueprint to get there, and you gotta have the confidence to know that the blueprint works.
Our guys in the locker room all know that.Â I'd be shocked if the younger guys weren't back in the gym in the next 48 hours, trying to fight back to get back here again.
Q.Â Julian and Rashad, they did have a tough night seeing the ball tonight. Â Do you attribute that to anything that Albany was doing or to the big stage, like you say, or was it just one of those nights?Â Could it have even been a week off?
COACH CHRISTIAN:Â No, I don't think so.Â Those guys have been so tremendous for us their entire careers.Â Sometimes they just don't fall.Â And that happens sometimes.
I'm really happy with them, Whack able to get to the free‑throw line nine times and able to score 16 points, and also did a great job defensively.
I think the biggest thing you take from it that could have easily happened because they weren't shooting the ball well, they could have stopped playing defense, they could have leading.Â They didn't do those things.Â Because they continued to stay locked into the game plan and continue to fight to help our team win, we had a chance to win the game despite their numbers.
So I'm really proud of them.Â I'm proud of all our seniors.Â And, again, this road to get here isn't easy.Â But they've been tremendous for us, and I'm really proud of them.Â I'm proud they call me Coach every day.
That's one of the biggest things I'll take out of this is when you go through a journey, you go through a battle with a group of guys, and at the end of it you can look at each other in the eyes and have a lot of respect for one another.Â You've done everything you could to help them move forward.
THE MODERATOR:Â Thanks for your time.Â Congratulations on your season.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports