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NCAA MEN'S FINAL FOUR


April 5, 2014


Ben Brust

Sam Dekker

Traevon Jackson

Bo Ryan


ARLINGTON, TEXAS

Kentucky 74
Wisconsin - 73


THE MODERATOR: We'll go ahead and get started with an opening statement from Coach Ryan and then take questions for the student‑athletes, Ben Brust, Traevon Jackson, Bronson Koenig, and Sam Dekker.
COACH RYAN: Well, I'm extremely proud of these guys. When it comes down to a one‑possession game, the last possession's always seemed so magnified. But there was 60, 70, 80 possessions in there and a lot of those ended up being the possessions that were more crucial. We just came up one short.
So we have been in the other end of those and we know what it's like. It's hard. It means we're done playing for the year.
I really love coaching this team. I knew they had something in them it was just trying to get it out of them sometimes that was a little bit of a challenge.
But they answered it. They answered everything. And that's how we got here.
THE MODERATOR: We'll take questions for the student‑athletes.

Q. Ben, are you more shocked that it's over or sad that it's over?
BEN BRUST: Probably shocked right now. We did a pretty good job putting ourself in a position to win. I've seen Traevon make that shot before to win a game, and we got a good look and unfortunately it didn't go down.

Q. For any of you, talk about the shot that Aaron Harrison hit to put them ahead, what you thought of that. What was going on out there at that time?
SAM DEKKER: Yeah, it was a great shot. Aaron has been doing that all tournament. He's got that clutch gene. And props to him for hitting that shot. You got to tip your cap when credit is due. He came through big for his team and put them ahead.
Like coach said, it wasn't just the shot that beat us, it was a lot of other things during the course of the game that we didn't do as well. They came out on the winning side of the column, and props to them for a hard‑fought game and good luck to them in the National Championship.

Q. Ben, as a three‑point shooter yourself, what do you think about a guy making the big shot three straight games?
BEN BRUST: He stepped up and he made the play when his team needed it.
Overall, we had done a good job, but at that point I think they were one‑of‑four from three and he made a clutch shot and he's done that before. So got to tip your cap to him for making a clutch three.

Q. Traevon, did you think the shot was going to fall? Did it feel good out of your hands?
TRAEVON JACKSON: Well, I think I got hit on my arm, but I thought once it was out of my hands I thought it had a chance to go in. But at that point when I seen it didn't go in, it just was a shock more than sadness at that point, so...
You make some, you miss some.

Q. Ben, can you talk about the toughness. They took an advantage early in the second half and your ability to come back from that, that toughness you guys have showed all season.
BEN BRUST: Yeah, I'm very proud of this team's resilience. No matter what the situation, we're always going to make a challenge or make a comeback or whatever it takes to get yourself in a position to win.
We took a couple guys off the bench to spark us and that's what you're going to get in the Final Four in April. A one‑possession game, tough battle, and just didn't fall our way.
THE MODERATOR: All right. We'll excuse you to the locker room and take questions for coach.

Q. Can you take us through the last defensive possession when they hit the three and then your last offensive possession, the last two of the game.
COACH RYAN: What do you want me to take you through?

Q. Just what you had seen in their last offensive possession after you take the 2‑point lead, what were you hoping to do, what were you not hoping to do?
COACH RYAN: Well, the fouling thing was not an issue, because we didn't go up three. So that erases any of that should you foul, shouldn't you foul stuff. So you don't have much to talk about.
It's a 2‑point game. They're in the free throw. We had to try to make them take a tough shot. We forced the ball out of the hands of the first guy and then the ball's kicked and we close on him and he hits the three.
So we get a timeout. We showed one look. They called a timeout, then we showed a second look. Without having to use a diagram, we ran it and got the ball to Trae and he got in his favorite position. I mean, I felt pretty good that he was able to get to that spot where he's hit shots before. It just didn't go.
But again, if it's a three‑point game, it's this. So that's why I always say, in a one‑possession game, people want to walk through the last part, let's walk through 40 minutes. We can go possession for possession. That's the way basketball is. The end's magnified and the rest of the game is, Oh, okay.
So I thought Trae did a great job to get to the free‑throw line. Drew the foul. He's a clutch free‑throw shooter. We're 17 for 17 at that point. I liked our chances. It just didn't happen.

Q. How well do you think Kentucky exploited its size advantage and how well did you guys counter that to hang in the game?
COACH RYAN: Well, they didn't exploit it. They just used it. I mean, it's not like you didn't know. It's just very difficult to try when they're putting their heads down or they're driving in there as hard as they can, and we're trying to get our bodies in front. Then it always comes down to interpretation.
But the problem is, after we're displaced or we're moved out of position, we can't get to a block‑out position like we normally do, so then that's how they got the second chance points.
So you have to pick your poison. They usually get about five threes a game. We were hoping to end the game with them only making one three. But they ended up getting two and that ended up being the one three they needed.

Q. That three from Aaron Harrison's going to be played over and over again for years now. Will you ever go back and watch that whole game again?
COACH RYAN: Sure. I watch all the games. There's always something you can learn, something you can do. But they can play that as many times as they want, it will still go in. I don't think it's going to not go in.
So anybody that watches it more than once, I feel sorry for them. If you know the result, why would you?
I take that back. I watched Dumb and Dumber about 20 times, and I might watch it a 21st when I get home, and I know the ending.

Q. It seems like you may be changing your blueprint. So much of your success has been predicated on your defense. You've had offensive firepower. Maybe it's a little too early to look ahead, but what do you think the future holds seeing in terms of recruiting guys you got coming back based on what you were able to accomplish this year, particularly on offense?
COACH RYAN: Well, now's a difficult time to talk about that because you can't talk about recruits. But there are some people around that know how we play and know that we have done pretty well. Our players are tough‑minded kids and young men. We have a record. You guys don't. Are you 4 and 2 this week with USA Today? Six stories and four of them were good and two...
We have a record. So recruits look at record. They meet your guys, they see how you play. You know, we got a lot of guys coming back, so we'll see how that plays out.
But our guys certainly have nothing to hang their heads over. They played hard. They played smart all year. That's how we ended up here.

Q. Wanted to ask about the 15‑0 Kentucky run. What did you see from your team after that that got you back in, got it even and played to the finish?
COACH RYAN: Good thing was I didn't tell them that they had just scored 15 in a row on us. That might have made our guys nervous. Hey, you can't panic. Okay. It's one possession at a time. We don't change from that.
The bench picked us up. Some guys made some plays. We got some stops. That's the only way you can come from behind. You're still trying to get to the free‑throw line. You're trying to get fouls on guys, trying to get other players to the bench from the other team. We didn't do a great job of that.
But we have had runs in games that were positive 10, 12, whatever and come up on the short end. So it isn't anything automatic. I just think that our guys are pretty resilient. So they didn't let that change the way they played.

Q. Sam mentioned that Aaron Harrison had a clutch gene as he said. Do you believe in something like that? Is there something that separates guys?
COACH RYAN: Well, I think you have to go with the total body of work and say, Okay, in these situations, somebody got it done. Now does that mean they're going to do it forever? I don't know.
We have had guys that have been clutch players in sometimes consecutive games over the years. I don't think it's a gene. I think what it is, is there's a lot of athletes, as I've said many times back in Madison, the short stop that wants the ball hit to him when the bases are loaded and two outs; the pitcher that's got the full count that wants to make that last pitch; the guy with the ball who wants the ball in their hands at the end of the game.
Wanting it and doing something about it are two different things. He's done something about it. So you got to give him credit.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports


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