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March 19, 2014
BUFFALO, NEW YORK
THE MODERATOR:¬† We're now joined by student‑athletes from St. Joseph's university.
Joining me is Langston Galloway, Halil Kanacevic, and Ronald Roberts.¬† Welcome to Buffalo.¬† Thank you for being here.¬† We'll open it up for questions.
Q.¬† If you could just speak to the maturity of being a senior in this tournament and how you would be better prepared for this now than you might have been earlier in your career.¬† In other words, what you've gained by playing your four years in college.
LANGSTON GALLOWAY:¬† Just being a senior, you've been through the battles, and you've been through so much in your career.¬† And these three guys, us three, we've been through so much.¬† We know what to expect, and we're just ready to play.
HALIL KANACEVIC:¬† Basically, relaying off of what Langston said, none of us have been in an NCAA Tournament, but we've all played in big games.¬† I've been in school for five years.¬† They've been in school for four years.¬† We've been in numerous TV games against high level opponents.¬† I don't think anything like this is really going to affect us.
RONALD ROBERTS, JR.:¬† Like they say, we've been through four years grinding and battling all the time, putting in work in the gym, and now we're just ready.¬† We waited four years to be here, and now we have the opportunity.¬† We just want to go out there and play as hard as we could and get some wins.
Q.¬† Langston, what kind of momentum do you think you guys can generate after doing what you did during the A‑10 tournament, going into this thing?
LANGSTON GALLOWAY:¬† I think we have a lot of momentum on our side.¬† Like we were just saying, we've been through so much, and winning the A‑10 tournament is definitely big for our confidence, and we're going to try to keep on building that as we go.
Q.¬† Ron, when you got to St. Joe's, you were kind of just sort of a one‑dimensional guy who played near the basket.¬† Now you've sort of developed as a defensive guy down low.¬† Could you just sort of take us through how that happened and sort of how you've sort of developed into that role.
RONALD ROBERTS, JR.:¬† Yeah, well, when I first got here, I didn't have all the answers.¬† I came in with a clear mind.¬† I listened to my coaches.¬† I just wanted to get better each year.
Primarily, I was inside, and then I started expanding my game a little bit.¬† I wanted to work on my shot because I knew I couldn't just do it down low the whole time.¬† But I still play down low a good amount of the time, but it's just good to have other aspects, to add other aspects to my game.
Q.¬† Halil, what do you get the most satisfaction from and why?¬† An assist?¬† A three‑pointer?¬† A blocked shot?¬† Or a dunk?¬† And after that, can you tell us what happened in that dunk in the A‑10 championship game, you know the one when you missed it.
HALIL KANACEVIC:¬† That's a tough question.¬† Probably a blocked shot.¬† I mean, you want to defend the basket.¬† You want to be a good defensive team.¬† You want to be a good defensive player.¬† You win games by stopping teams from scoring.¬† I could say assists because I love getting guys involved and I like seeing my teammates score rather than myself, but defense comes first.
We've been a great defensive team during the A‑10 tournament.¬† Throughout the year we've been a really good defensive team.¬† So, yes, blocked shots to keep them from scoring.
On that dunk, they called a charge.¬† I got hit in the legs and stopped my momentum.¬† They called the charge.¬† So I couldn't finish.¬† I wish I could have, but what are you going to do?
Q.¬† You guys have been talking since the beginning of the year about the goal of the season was to make the NCAA Tournament.¬† Now you guys are here.¬† Can you talk about that, the experience so far, and how you guys feel about that?
LANGSTON GALLOWAY:¬† I mean, it's big because we've been talking about it all year, and like you're saying, we don't want to just stop right here and have our careers end just getting to the first round and saying, All right, we made it to the NCAA Tournament.
We definitely want to go out there and shock some people.¬† We want to go out there and pull the upset off.
HALIL KANACEVIC:¬† Same thing as Langston said.¬† We worked hard.¬† Very happy with the A‑10 championship.¬† It's done a lot for ourselves and our school, but I think we have a good enough team to get a good amount of wins this season.¬† I wouldn't say that if I didn't think so.
We've got a veteran group, but we've got some youth with us.¬† DeAndre' Bembry, Chris Wilson, guys coming off the bench.¬† Coach has us in the right mindset.¬† So, yeah, we want to get some wins in the tournament.
RONALD ROBERTS, JR.:¬† Yeah, off of what these guys said, I want to play basketball for as long as we can.¬† All three of us are seniors. ¬†After this, college basketball is over.¬† So it's kind of like the thing you want to just keep playing as long as you could.
Q.¬† Langston, what has Bembry done to help this team throughout the season as a freshman?
LANGSTON GALLOWAY:¬† I mean, he's done a lot.¬† He's the defensive stopper on our team this year.¬† He's made big buckets in crucial situations.¬† He's able to attack the basket, which definitely gives the perimeter guys a little more room to operate.
Offensively with Halil and Ron, they get a little more operating room, too.¬† So he's definitely meant a lot to this program.
Q.¬† Halil, you talk about defense first.¬† What are going to be some of the keys in stopping Shabazz given what he can do on the court?
HALIL KANACEVIC:¬† He's a great player.¬† He does everything for that team‑ rebounds, scores, assists.¬† So we've got a game plan that we've got to definitely try to like execute it to the best of our ability.¬† He's a great player.¬† He's not one of those players where he has a weak point to his game.¬† He can pretty much do everything.
We've got to stick to the game plan.¬† Coach is going to tell us what he wants us to do, and we've got to execute it.¬† It's worked for us the whole year, and that's what we'll look to do.
The guy's a good player, so he's going to make shots.¬† We've just got to keep going, keep playing, and that's pretty much our mindset.
Q.¬† Having Villanova in this pod, is there some Philly pride among the three of you given the 'Big Five' wars that you guys have gone through for the last four years?
LANGSTON GALLOWAY:¬† We really can't look at Villanova right now.¬† We know that we have a big team in UConn in our way.¬† It's definitely our mindset right now because if we overlook UConn, we'll be headed back home back to Philly.
So we don't want to look at Villanova just yet.¬† We want to take care of business tomorrow against UConn.
Q.¬† You talk about being through so much.¬† What specifically do you draw from?¬† Was there a low point that you draw from?
HALIL KANACEVIC:¬† As a team or individually?
HALIL KANACEVIC:¬† For this season, I would say probably the loss after Villanova.¬† I can't sit here and lie.¬† They killed us at home.¬† That was definitely a low point for all of us, mentally and physically.¬† Basketball‑wise, we didn't play good basketball at all.¬† We weren't together.
After that point, we just kind of regrouped.¬† We knew we had‑‑
HALIL KANACEVIC:¬† Before the season, excuse me.
Q.¬† Four years.
HALIL KANACEVIC:¬† Oh, the four years?¬† Yes, I'm still saying that, the four years, it was the low point just because it's our last year, and we've been through so much.¬† We weren't trying to go out like that.¬† We were 4‑4 after that.
These guys can attest to it.¬† We hated having that feeling.¬† It's happened a couple times, but that was probably the worst feeling we've had since we've been here.¬† We didn't want to go out like that.¬† So we got ourselves together, had a pretty good run toward the end of the season.¬† Went to the tournament and won the A‑10 championship.¬† So we've got to try to keep that going.
Q.¬† Langston, can you just talk about UConn, speak to what you see as their strengths and what you need to do to get past them.
LANGSTON GALLOWAY:¬† They're definitely a guard‑oriented program.¬† Shabazz and Boatright, they're definitely going to try and attack us, especially from perimeter‑wise, and Daniels.¬† They have a really good team.¬† We're just going to try to limit them as much as we can.
But going to the counter aspect, we're going to go right back at them.¬† We don't want to just let them come at us.¬† It's definitely going to be a fun matchup, and we're ready to play.
THE MODERATOR:¬† Gentlemen, thank you for your time.
We'll have Coach Martelli shortly.
We're now joined by St. Joseph's University head coach Phil Martelli.
Coach, welcome back to Buffalo.¬† You've been here before for this event.¬† Always good to see you.¬† We'll open up with a statement, and then we'll take questions from the media.
COACH MARTELLI:¬† Obviously, I'm elated to be coaching this group, have been since June, tremendous character, and they've carried the day.¬† What they accomplished last weekend puts them in a special category at St. Joseph's University, and they will be remembered for a very, very long time, not only as champions, but the way they handled themselves when we were kind of down and out on December the 7th.
So I'm really pleased for them, excited for them.¬† I sat in the back, and I heard that, and I believe that, that this isn't enough, just to come here.¬† The way I've explained it to them this week is your euphoria goes to a 50 if you're one of 32 teams that's still playing on Saturday morning.
THE MODERATOR:¬† We'll start way in the back here.
Q.¬† When Kevin Ollie was up here, he mentioned that one of his stints with the Sixers, when they were still practicing in your gym, that you and he struck up something of a relationship, and he would pick your brain a little bit.¬† Even back then, did you say, Hey, this is a guy that could turn out to be a coach?¬† Could you talk a little bit about those encounters and what you remember of them.
COACH MARTELLI:¬† Heavy emphasis on pick my brain for a little because there's not much there.¬† Class, class personified.¬† Really, I do believe that those are separate worlds, the NBA and college basketball are separate worlds, and he would be a guy that I would say, Yeah, you could see him on a sideline in the NBA.
I'm in awe of the fact that he's two years in, he comes from the background of the NBA, and the way his team defends.¬† Again, maybe I haven't delivered this clearly to my team.¬† This is a St. Louis level defense, top ten in the market, field goal percentage defense.¬† Everybody wants to play fast.¬† Ask any kid.¬† You want to play fast and average 80, and that will be great, and we'll get everybody excited.
You know what gets everybody excited?¬† Winning.¬† And that's what he's done, including a big win over Florida that maybe we haven't talked enough about.
Q.¬† Phil, welcome back.
COACH MARTELLI:¬† Thank you.¬† It's been a long time.
Q.¬† Any special memories from 2004?¬† I know it's a different team, but ten years later, here you are back again here.
COACH MARTELLI:¬† Yeah, my memory was, when I looked out there and said those two guys are going to be in the NBA, I'm going to be pretty good at coaching this weekend.
And, again, it's ritualistic, it's not superstitious.¬† We did practice at Canisius this morning.¬† But the last time we got off the bus to practice at Canisius, I think I ruined about, I think they were $35 at the time, $35 shoes, but that was the high end for me at that point.
But maybe a little bit different vibe.¬† I mean, we were the number 1 seed.¬† Not that you're treated differently, but you could feel that.¬† There was a lot swirling around our team.¬† There's a lot swirling around our team now, but it's not about our team.¬† It's about a member of my family.
So you're sitting in a room today at the head coaches meeting, and Jay's there, who's my friend, and Boeheim is my friend.¬† He doesn't have many of them, but I am one.
Look, it's the memory of a lifetime.¬† '03/'04 was the memory of a lifetime, and have this group of kids with their character be with me is very special.
Q.¬† Just as a follow‑up, Jim Calhoun is here, but he's available to Kevin any time he needs him.¬† What is it like to be facing a UConn team without Jim Calhoun behind the bench?
COACH MARTELLI:¬† That's interesting because I think we're still facing the brand, and I'm delighted that we're facing the brand that is UConn, because when the name popped up for our team, our players in their lifetime have seen UConn hang three banners.¬† I just have to remind our guys that Kemba Walker is not playing, and Rudy Gay is not playing, and Ray Allen is not playing, and Emeka Okafor is not playing.¬† They have a whole other cast of players who are of that ilk.
But I think it helped.¬† I really do think it helped get us over the celebratory hangover that we had on Monday.
Q.¬† Phil, you've talked a lot about what you've been through both professionally and personally in the last year.¬† Was there ever a moment where you said, I don't know if I can do this, if I still have what I need in my belly to continue?
COACH MARTELLI:¬† Not really in my belly, but my abilities, you know, some of the things that they've been through, you all know were well‑documented.¬† I made a decision on a transfer.¬† They were collateral damage on that.¬† Whether it was recruiting decisions or whatever, there was never self‑doubt.¬† I would label it more I was more self‑disappointment that I let people down and that there weren't enough smiles and there wasn't enough joy in all that we were doing.
Q.¬† So how did you get it back?
COACH MARTELLI:¬† Two groups really, to be honest with you. ¬†This group and their character, and I picked it up in April and May last year, and I didn't want to let them down.¬† I didn't want to go into a Shell and say, Oh, woe is me, and people should leave me alone.¬† Don't they remember?¬† I didn't do all that.
And then the fact that my grandkids live with me, two of them now live with me, they kind of took a little bit of the tension that I was walking around with off.
Q.¬† Phil, if you could compare from a preparation standpoint, going back to the ten years ago that you were here in '04, the difference between preparing a team that does have two future NBA players and the best three‑point shooter in Big Five history versus a 10 seed and just how different are they, if at all?
COACH MARTELLI:¬† I think that this team was better prepared than that team was in '03/'04, only because of experiences learned and the way that we've gone about this.¬† We've taken their time and our time and kind of really reduced it to being very efficient, I believe.¬† That could be self‑promoting, but I believe that we're very efficient in what we do.
To be honest with you, when we got here in '03/'04, I was literally managing people's time and doing less coaching because I had to make sure that, '03/'04, they had a chance to be sons and to be friends and to be boyfriends to people.¬† It was a different world.¬† Just ten years ago, no texting, no tweeting, no Spacebook or whatever that thing is called that they do (laughter).¬† They just didn't have all those distractions.
That's why I stand in admiration of what Wichita State has accomplished.¬† They went through this whole thing, and you haven't heard about a kid jaywalking.¬† And had it been ten years ago, look, people would have created a story.¬† They would have created misinformation to just be able to say, Hey, did you see what I said?
But I'm very comfortable with this team's preparation for this moment in time.
Q.¬† Phil, Ronald's a guy who everyone looks at him and sees the dunks and the highlight stuff, but how has he sort of changed himself to be a guy on the defensive end who sort of patrols that underneath the basket area?
COACH MARTELLI:¬† Work ethic and Dave Duda, my assistant coach.¬† He took Ron and spoke very bluntly about, You're going to be okay doing this, but you're going to be a highlight reel dunker, and maybe you're not going to fit.
You have to understand the frontcourt that he was trying to get in.¬† We had C.J. Aiken, who at a time led the country in blocked shots.¬† We had Halil coming with his whole kind of different skill set, and Ron had to find a way to fit in there.
And we would have many conversations.¬† I asked him, when we played the big lineup last year, I said, you're going to guard a small forward, but you have to be really good at it.¬† And he would study tape, and he would listen to the coaches.
The beauty of the person with him has allowed the basketball player to come out and to keep continuing to grow.¬† And I think maybe in three years from now he's even going to be a much better player than he is today.
Q.¬† Was that something that you thought was possible when you asked him to sort of make that move?
COACH MARTELLI:¬† That he would grow his game or that he would be‑‑
Q.¬† That he would be so good at it or so efficient at it for you guys.
COACH MARTELLI:¬† I believed in him.¬† I believed in him from the day I saw him as a junior in high school.¬† I thought he could be special.
Q.¬† Phil, you referenced Wichita State.¬† What has gone through your mind during the course of the season?¬† You're one of the few people that can relate to what they've accomplished, and you talked about the social media aspect of it, but what else has gone through your mind as you've seen them continue to go?
COACH MARTELLI:¬† First, I think we over analyzed them.¬† They went to the Final Four last year, so they had a month of this.¬† They knew what they were getting into.¬† Second was the infrastructure there.¬† If it you ever watch a game there and you think, Okay, this is as big time as this could get.¬† What would I be missing?¬† You might say their leg.
And then the third thing is, when they got to 28‑0, I went, I'm off the hook because now when all of you need information on the next team that gets to that number, why would you call me?¬† We only went 27‑0.¬† So you're going to call them, and Gregg Marshall can handle that.
Q.¬† How does winning those three games in Brooklyn in three days prepare you now for this stage?
COACH MARTELLI:¬† It doesn't, to be honest with you.¬† It really doesn't because I think the excitement of conference tournaments is great.¬† I think they're a bit unfair because at no other time, other than an exempt tournament, do you play back‑to‑back‑to‑back days.¬† So in this tournament, we've had a normal practice set.¬† We've had the two days of practice.
I just think that what it prepares us for is to realize that there are 68 special teams that have been selected for this tournament one way or another, and we're never going to give that back.
And then the other idea.¬† You know, I was just asked by radio, I've never seen anything like the limited bench.¬† It's limited.¬† What can I do?¬† We just won an Atlantic 10 championship.¬† I don't know how many minutes those guys averaged, but it had to be in excess of 35 minutes per guy.¬† So we can do this.¬† We can do this for one night and play 40 minutes.
Q.¬† And one quick followup.¬† 6 of those 68 are from the A‑10.¬† What does it say about the league that you guys are in?
COACH MARTELLI:¬† All tribute for that goes to Bernadette McClain, the commissioner, the athletic directors and the presidents for scheduling and allowing their coaches to schedule properly.¬† It's pure and simple numbers.¬† The teams scheduled and won the games that they scheduled to be in a situation, to be in the conversation, whether it was for five days or four days or three days or on the last eight or whatever it would be.
But it comes from the very top and the coaches buying in and saying, We're going to do it.¬† It also challenges now the six that have made it.¬† There are going to be eight teams at home now saying, We can do that, and we're going to do that.
So it's wonderful, wonderful competition, but it all comes from the plan that originates at the top.
Q.¬† All that stress, that off‑season stress, the personal issues that are painful, how did you avoid like kind of wallowing in pity?¬† You know what I mean?¬† That can be an easy thing to do.¬† How did you manage to do that and keep battling through it?
COACH MARTELLI:¬† Well, the players for sure, the character of these guys, and the support, because each in their own way would say to me, Coach, I got you.¬† I got you.¬† I got you.
So when I would go to them and say, I need this, or I need you to do this better, or I need you to eliminate this academic conversation that I'm having via e‑mail with your professor, they bought into that, and they recognized it.¬† They could tell whether it would be my face or my movement or whatever, that there was a lot going on, and there was a lot churning.
There was a lot of discussion among friends, even some St. Joe people that, you know what, maybe you should take some time off in the spring, but I can't.¬† I can't.¬† This is what I do.¬† It's not who I am, it's what I do, and I do this 365 days a year.
Q.¬† Phil, just to follow up on that real quick, that whole idea, I mean, is this your best team?¬† I know that 2004 team had two first‑round picks.¬† Is this your best team?
COACH MARTELLI:¬† It's close.¬† You know, I don't rank them.¬† I don't rank wins.¬† I don't rank anything.¬† I'll rank the Atlantic 10 champions, but this is close.¬† This is a group that I'd like to duplicate year in and year out for the rest of my career.
Q.¬† So, Phil, your grandson, first of all, how much of the edge has he taken off for you this year?¬† Was there any thought of allowing him to sit with you and answer some questions today?
COACH MARTELLI:¬† He has his own slot.
THE MODERATOR:¬† Yes, after you.
COACH MARTELLI:¬† Why would he want me up here with him?
THE MODERATOR:¬† We're expecting more media for that event, too.
COACH MARTELLI:¬† No kidding.¬† So am I.
Let me give you a 4‑year‑old's day today.¬† He did a phone interview with a Philadelphia radio station today.¬† He was featured on the CBS the morning show segment.¬† He got buckled into his car seat and went to preschool with the other 4‑year‑olds, and the 4‑year‑olds welcomed him back like, let's play, and the parents lined up to get their picture taken with him.
He's on a plane.¬† We got here by minivan.¬† He took a private plane to Buffalo.¬† He has an appearance tomorrow morning on a Buffalo television station.
The part about mimicking, I didn't know.¬† I really didn't know because in the arena he sits a little bit higher, and I wasn't quite aware that this was going on during games.¬† What would happen is we would play on a Tuesday night.¬† Maybe I would be home on Thursday night by chance, and I would say, I have a game tonight.¬† Then he would go through the same routine that I do to get ready to coach this team.
And then somebody said to me, You need to see the YouTube.¬† And this was prior to the selection show on Sunday, and I about lost it.¬† I never saw anything like it.¬† It's not practiced.¬† He told somebody the other day, they said, What do you do when you coach?
And he said, I stand up.
And they said, Why?
And he said, Because I'm the head coach, and Tug, that's what he calls me, Tug never sits down.
Now, how would a 4‑year‑old know that I've never sat down in 19 years as a head coach?¬† It blows my mind really.
He went to Brooklyn last week, and he packed three suits.¬† He said, How many games are we going to play?
I said, We could play three.
He said, Okay, I'm going to take three.
For this trip, he's packed two.¬† And he'll be working out of a suite probably at the Ritz‑Carlton by later tonight.
THE MODERATOR:¬† Hard to follow that up, but we'll go in the back here.¬† We've got time for two more questions.
Q.¬† Phil, when you deal with your team at this time of year, do you try to be business as usual, or do you try to emphasize like it's a special time?
COACH MARTELLI:¬† I was going to go into the Atlantic 10 tournament and treat it as business as usual, and the coaches, in conversation with me, said, We know there's an elephant in the room.
And I would say, Well, what's the elephant?
And they said, They're reading the bottom line, bubble this, bubble that.¬† You blew your chance by losing the last two games in the regular season.
So I talked to them about it, and I told them, It's a basketball game.¬† I don't know what the result could be of a win or a loss.¬† I know what you're reading, you're normal basketball people, but just we have to stay in this group, in this locker room, and play the best that we can play on Friday.
For this tournament, I used the earlier line about euphoria.¬† I just want you to know from experience.¬† It's one thing to be here.¬† It's another thing to be here Saturday morning.
So everything else, though, is business as usual.¬† The same practice length, the same amount of film, the same amount of rest.¬† And I've asked them to be very, very careful from Tuesday on about answering all the social media and all the congratulatory and worrying about tickets.
I pulled up the Super Bowl, I said, Look, the Super Bowl teams, they're done with that stuff.¬† You can't be taking calls on Wednesday night at midnight about your girlfriend's friend didn't get a ticket to the game.¬† There's nothing you can do.¬† All you can do is go play and win that game.
Q.¬† By Geno's standards, wise guy standards, he was kind of mild the other day, saying if he had spoken to you before tomorrow night, he would tell you guard Shabazz and also don't forget the tall German kid.¬† But he also got a little bit serious, and he said in '95, the first time they won, you were the first one there, in 2000 in Philadelphia, as well.¬† How proud are you of him and the role you've played in helping him develop as a head coach?
COACH MARTELLI:¬† Well, I had nothing to do with it.¬† He had a gift.¬† He's always had a people gift.¬† And the perfect storm occurred, I believe.¬† I think that Lou Perkins and the people at Connecticut said, we want to be the best in women's basketball, and they took every obstacle, and they said, We're going to move it and go do it the right way.
Now it's, you know, 900 wins.¬† The best want to be associated with the best.
Why does Taurasi end up there and this kid Stewart end up there?¬† Because the best want to be with the best.¬† He's the best women's basketball coach of all time.¬† But he did that.¬† I don't have anything to do with that, nor have I ever thought that I did.¬† Thank you very much.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports