Memphis/George Washington Postgame Quotes
March 21, 2014
MODERATOR: We're now ready to begin the Memphis portion of the press conference. At this time, we'd like to ask Coach Pastner to make an opening statement, please.
COACH PASTNER: First of all, I want to recognize the best AD in the country, Tom Bowen right there and our deputy, best deputy AD, Wren Baker. So any interviews those two right there, they're the best in the business.
Secondly is I'm very proud of these young men. It was a total team effort. We beat a very good GW team. They're very well coached and have a lot of good players. To be able to win the game and lead the entire game from start to finish is a great thing. This is a player's game. These players to my left and the guys in the locker room made plays. That's why we were able to win the game. Very proud of these young men. We did a good job defensively making some -- taking the three out. 19 assists. We're third in the country in assists. We were third last year in assists. Again, we hat 19 assists on 27 made field goals. We only had 12 turnovers. At the speed that we play at, that's a good thing.
Again, back-to-back years we've been in the Final Four academics, Journal of Higher Education. Based on academics, APR, everything else, back-to-back, Memphis has been in the Final Four of academics. I'm proud of our university, academic support staff of this young membership.
We have a great just. Academically, it's under the radar. We got a big-time university academically. That's it
MODERATOR: At this time, we'll open the floor for questions from the student-athletes.
Q. This question is for Michael and Joe. Michael, before you hit the free throws, you made that big three and coaches talked about your ability to make big shots throughout the season. I'm curious what was going through your mind. Joe, you passed it to him. What were you thinking on that play?
MICHAEL DIXON: They were in a 1-3-1. We saw we had the driving lanes and passing lanes were taken away. Coach told us to come for two jump stops and make the pass. Joe was getting in the lane, so he got in the lane. Two for a jump stop. I was fortunate to be open and knock the shot down.
Joe Jackson: Just the lanes was open on the 1-3-1. It was spaced out. We had room to penetrate. I was just trying to make a play for one of my teammates and try to find an open man.
Q. Joe, your thoughts, six assists, he hit huge threes for you guys?
Joe Jackson: He played great, kept us in the game early. Chris always makes great decisions. We just play like himself. You know what I mean? Just trying to help the team win, whatever it takes. Getting big stops and steals. It's just what he does.
MODERATOR: Right now, we need to get questions for student-athletes and then we'll come back to get coach.
Q. Joe, your coach has taken heat for sticking to you guys. Talk about his belief and conviction that he was going to ride or die with you guys.
Joe Jackson: We're the seniors on the team. I think coach realized that he understands that we all have the same things in common and we try to get to the Final Four. And we trust our coach 110 percent. Whatever decision that he makes, we just try to go out on the court and get victories. And in this tournament, just continue to win and continue to get far.
Q. For any one of the players, there's that bracket contest for anyone to pick a perfect bracket and get a billion dollars. During your game, it was down to three brackets from the whole world and they all picked GW. So you guys wiped out the billion dollar bracket contest. Want to see if you have anything to think about that?
COACH PASTNER: If Warren wants to donate the billion to our university, we'll take it and use it in good company. Why don't you graduate, we can give it to you. A billion dollars.
MODERATOR: Any other questions for the student-athletes? Gentlemen, you're dismissed. Thank you very much. Congratulations.
At this time, we'll open up for Coach Pastner.
Q. Josh, we heard their description of that final shot for Michael. I was just curious, did Joe have the option on that play to shoot it himself, or did you want him to kick it to Michael?
COACH PASTNER: I called a timeout to get Michael in the game. He was subbed and there was 19 on the shot clock. I didn't like where we were at. I called time out, wanted to get him in. Because he made the shot, it looked like I made the right substitution. If he didn't make the shot, I can go back to this. Players make shots, coach looks good. Players don't make shots, coach doesn't look good.
So we drew something up to penetrate, to suck in. I wanted to get Michael the shot and it worked.
Q. Coach, can you talk about your second half adjustment, because you guys took a lot of threes in the first half. But when they got in foul trouble, you pounded it inside.
COACH PASTNER: We made some adjustments at halftime in trying to get the post moving more. I thought we were a little stagnant. But I want to say this. You know, when you're looking at the negative at times, in the UConn game a few weeks ago, when we lost to UConn at UConn, and we were up three, they missed a shot,got the rebound and got fouled and we went in overtime and lost.
As upset as we were, the positive to that is we were in the same situation today and I told the guys in the huddle, I said guys, I told you, this game is going to come back, after this game, it's going to come back to help us in some way, shape or form. By golly, it helped us today, because we said what beats you is a second shot. We were able to switch every screen. We had worked on that after that game. And it actually helped us in winning this game.
The second thing, again, losing to UConn the last time gave us a little more practice time to clean some things up that we needed to clean up. And it actually helped us to win this game again today. So sometimes you can look at negative, but then weeks later, it actually turns into a positive. And for us, that happened today. Helped us win the game.
Q. Talk about having the four guards on the floor at the end of the game and then the resiliency of this team all year long not to lose back-to-back games. You've bounced back after each loss?
COACH PASTNER: Our guards, again, you know this. I was going to put a lot of stock in them from the beginning. Heck, in the summer, I remember when I was on vacation with my family, I barely spent time with my family. I was thinking the entire time, how are we going to get the four guards this and that, get the spacing, the playing time, everything else.
There have gotten some games where they were really good and games they haven't been good. I said from the beginning I was going to roll with them. I have, and they've won us a lot of games. It's a team effort. Other guys have come up with big plays as well too.
I'm just very proud of those guys. I tell you, during my five years here, as a head coach, we've been in some must-win situations through my time. I can think of so many games where we've come off of a tough game and just based on the city, I mean, that next game's literally a must-win. That's happened a lot through my time here of just a must-win situations. Guys have come through. It's not coaching. It's the players stepping up and making plays. I'm very proud of those guys to step up and make plays.
Q. Josh, Mike Lonergan talked about how when Armwood picked up his fourth foul and they went to the 1-3-1. You guys did a great job in attacking that. Were you confident going into the game you would have success against the 1-3-1?
COACH PASTNER: We've had good assists because we moved the ball. We're third in the country in assists, which means we're a team that plays unselfish. We moved the basketball. We're third in the country last year on assists.
The adjustment in the second half, the post moving against the zone helped move things up against their defense. When you've won over 400 games like he has, you're a heck of a coach. That guy's a big-time coach and they're a very, very good basketball team.
Q. Coach, your thoughts on Austin Nichols' performance tonight and how much more comfortable you think he'll be on Sunday, given that he's gotten a game under his belt.
COACH PASTNER: You're going to have nerves in your first game of an NCAA tournament game. He had nerves, but came through in big plays and I expect him to only get better. The way, as much as Austin's played this season and as many -- he started from day one to now, I look at him now, he's no longer a freshman. The amount of minutes he's played and started, he's really a sophomore.
MODERATOR: Any other questions?
Coach, thank you very much. Congratulations.
COACH PASTNER: Thank you.
Memphis Senior Guard Joe Jackson
On playing a Memphis style of basketball:
Memphis Graduate Student Forward David Pellom
On early game struggles:
On next opponent:
On playing near the end of his career:
Memphis Senior Guard Geron Johnson
On winning a tournament game:
On their next opponent:
MODERATOR: We are now ready to begin the George Washington segment of the press conference. I'd like to remind you once again to please turn off all cell phones. If you have a question, raise your hand and wait until you have a microphone before you ask the question.
At this time, we'd like to ask Coach Lonergan to make an opening statement, please.
COACH LONERGAN: I'd like to congratulate Memphis. Nice hard-fought win for them. Disappointed we lost the game. Happy that our guys battled a little harder on the boards in the last ten minutes. That was the key while we were down most of the game. They really out-rebounded us on the offensive glass. We new that coming in and couldn't stop it from happening.
Give credit to Memphis. They're a very good team and we're disappointed in the loss. Happy about my seniors. Helped us put GW basketball back on the map and just kind of sad for them but want to wish Memphis best of luck for the rest of the tournament.
MODERATOR: At this time, we'll open the floor for questions for the student-athletes. Once again, questions for the student-athletes only.
Q. Maurice, could you discuss the last possession, the shot that you got? Were you happy with the shot and disappointed that it didn't go?
MAURICE CREEK: I knew the ball was coming to me and [indiscernible] was giving me a great screen. I caught the ball cleanly and it didn't fall. And I felt like I got a great look. The best look I was going to get and it just didn't fall.
Q. You guys were down five at halftime and came back, cut the lead to two with under four to play. What was going through your guys' minds when you were making the comeback?
ISAIAH ARMWOOD: Just get back in the basketball game. We've been in the games throughout the season where we were down more than that. We know the mistakes we made and we were only down five points and were fortunate at halftime to get back in the ball game, which we did. We just couldn't put it up at the end.
Q. Isaiah, for you again, 21 points. Kevin had 16. Just what was the frontcourt mentality for you guys going at them all game?
ISAIAH ARMWOOD: We came out early aggressive and started scoring. So most of the time, whoever's got the hot hand, that's who Coach Lonergan goes to. Kevin did a good job early on and I just followed up. So they wasn't doubling us, we tried to take our men one on one, which we did. They did a good job on the boards. That's where they hurt us at a lot.
Q. Mo, you had the ten stitches in the first half. Did that affect your seeing, your sight at all, affect your shot?
MAURICE CREEK: No, not at all. No. It just wasn't my night and I'm glad these guys picked it up, picked me up, because I just didn't have a great night. And I got some clean looks and, you know, good looks that I've gotten all season to knock them down. Just tonight just didn't fall.
Q. Isaiah, both you and Kevin had to carry the load early on. Did fatigue ever play a role as the game progressed?
ISAIAH ARMWOOD: We got tired throughout the game, but it didn't play a big role in it, because you got some easy points on fast breaks, they did, but we got tired, you don't do that. You get tired when you play that type of style. But it didn't play a big role in it.
Q. Your last games as Colonials, no one expected this coming into the season. You were picked tenth to finish in the A-10. You finished third. Now you're at the big dance. Kind of sum up the whole season the best way you can?
MAURICE CREEK: It's everything I asked for, from head to toe. We came out and like you said, everybody picked us to be tenth in the A-10. Didn't know what to expect from us. And when we started winning games, everybody started to notice us just a little bit. Then we started winning bigger games and got the respect that we were supposed to already have.
That's what we were coming out here to do. We were coming out here to win basketball games and to gain the respect from everybody because that's what we felt like we didn't get. So I'm glad that I got to play with my teammates and I'm glad that I got the greatest coaching staff in college basketball.
And then, you know, this right here, this man right here is the hardest working player that I've ever played with, and he's taught me a lot throughout my career. This is the last time we'll be playing with each other. Hopefully, down the road, we'll be seeing each other again.
ISAIAH ARMWOOD: I forgot the question.
Q. Sum up your career?
ISAIAH ARMWOOD: When I got here, I didn't do well the first two years. I sat out last year,13 of 17. This year, finished third in our conference. It just shows you the hard work that our coaching staff and players, we had a great coach to put this team together and we believed we could do it. Went out there and did it. We got the credit this year. That's why we made it so far. That's the biggest reason. That sophomore class is special. That's a big, main reason why we're here today. Because those guys stepped up from their freshman year.
Q. Isaiah, what level of frustration, if any, is there when you kind of hit that point where you're within five, six points and it stayed there for a really long time until you cut it to two? Did you feel like you couldn't get over the hump?
ISAIAH ARMWOOD: I wasn't really frustrated. I was encouraged because I knew something was going to happen and we cut it within two points, I believe, 64-62. But I was never frustrated except when they called a couple fouls on me. But that six-point lead never got me frustrated at all.
MODERATOR: Any other questions for the student-athletes. Gentlemen, you can return to the locker room. Thank you very much.
At this time, we'll start taking questions for the coach.
Q. Coach, if you can just put into words the last play. Did you call it for Mo just like that?
COACH LONERGAN: Yeah, I mean, you know, we were going to go to Mo. I was worried that we'd jam him up. I wanted to make it look like we were going to go to Nemanja, and I thought he did a good job getting a piece of Maurice's defender. And Mo got a pretty good look. He probably didn't square up a lot, maybe rushed it but it was a shot we wanted. It's a shot he usually makes and it wasn't his night. We didn't shoot the ball well tonight, even when we were open.
Q. Can you talk about the contrast between the second and first half? You guys looked kind of sluggish in the first and really picked it up in the second. What were the adjustments at halftime?
COACH LONERGAN: They do a good job, have active hands and get a the lot of steals. They didn't adjust. They were stripping us, turning the ball over. We were trying to do too much individually.
In the second half, we had more energy. They killed us on the offensive glass. I thought we had more energy. With the long TV timeouts, we were able to stay mostly with the starter. Had a little bit of foul trouble in the first half. That didn't play much of a factor in the second half.
Give them credit. They outscored us off the Bench, 25-3, that's a big stat right there. And we just, you know, were limited and they did a good job exposing some of our weaknesses. Everybody is going to talk about the last shot, but I really felt we had two great shots by our best shooters in Nemanja and Mo. With a minute left, I think if we'd have tied it, the momentum was shifting. I think if we would have tied it, timeouts left, those would have been different. Those were the two threes I think about more than the last shot he took to tie it.
Q. Can you talk about the play of Kevin and Isaiah tonight, carrying the load in the frontcourt for you guys?
COACH LONERGAN: They were terrific offensively. We had to go inside our starting backcourt, was 3 for 19 from the field. So we had to go inside more than we normally want to. And we were just hoping that would open some things up.
We finally -- Maurice finally hit a three late in the game and I thought that would add to a couple more and we just, that sort of was really it. But we scored inside, but we didn't do a good enough job from the free-throw line. That's hurt us all year. I was much more happy with our energy and our play in the second half than the first half.
But you got to give Memphis credit. They're a good team. We just couldn't get over the hump. It stayed at five way too long. We couldn't quite get all the way back in the game.
Q. Mike, as you guys were trying to get back into the game, Isaiah was dealing with foul trouble and I was just curious how you thought that influenced you attempt to get back in it.
COACH LONERGAN: It made us play 1-3-1 a little more. Give their coach credit. They attacked it. They were throwing alley-oops, driving it against us. They were taking twos instead of threes. Isaiah had to concede layups. It's very difficult to play man against them with their terrific backcourt when we're in foul trouble.
I thought Patricio and him were active. Joe, we got deflections and stuff. We couldn't quite make them pay for the turnovers.
Q. How much do you think a year like this, making the NCAA tournament, how much do you think that helps your program as a whole? I know you talked earlier about putting GW back on the map. So how much do you think a year like this helps your program?
COACH LONERGAN: Hopefully it helps a lot. Our goal, when we got here, was to try to win this weekend, to try to beat Memphis and win on Sunday. We're a 9 seed and we felt we could have been an 8 seed, 7 seed, whatever. We felt if we won, it wasn't an upset.
I'm very disappointed we lost the game, first of all. In a couple weeks I'll look back. We have a pretty good recruiting class coming. I'll feel good about the future and what the upper classmen did to help us get back. GW has a rich tradition and history. Seven years ago, GW made the tournament. It's been a little while, but it's not like 70 years. Our men's and women's programs have been as far as the Sweet 16. We feel we've got a great school and a great athletic department.
I told the guys after the game, we don't want to be one-hit wonders. We want to get back. We have a good nucleus. Hopefully, Kethan Savage will be back. That hurt us. We weren't the same team when we had Kethan. That gave us a little bit of the bench. You know, injuries are part of the game. We'll miss Nemanja, Mo and Isaiah. But our guys have to work this off season, because it's tough to make it in the tournament. We're in a great conference and hopefully will be back next year.
Q. Coach, with Isaiah and Mo playing their last games as Colonials, can you talk about their impact as senior leaders throughout the season and talk about how you guys earned that respect and what their role was in that?
COACH LONERGAN: Well, Isaiah's a great leader. Even the year when he sat out, he helped us change the culture of the program with his work ethic and helped us with Kevin Larsen saw how hard Isaiah worked every single day. So I can't say enough good things about Isaiah Armwood. He's a first impact recruit we really had. And he did a great job. He got better. Tonight, he was putting the ball on the ground, taking guys to the rim. I feel bad for him we couldn't advance.
Maurice will take the loss hard. Obviously, he didn't shoot very well tonight. But what a story. With all those injuries, he came back, helped us have a terrific year and in front of his friends and family, and a lot of people would have packed it in with the injuries he had. I think GW was great for Maurice Creek and Maurice Creek was great for our school and our basketball program and that's what it's all about. Nemanja has a job. Our seniors will be very successful, so I'm happy they brought us to this point, but I wish we could have advanced for them in particular. Because this is it for them.
Q. Mike, they seemed to do a pretty good job on stopping Joe's dribble penetration. Would you talk about how they were able to kind of bottle him up?
COACH LONERGAN: They have four senior guards. Transfer from Missouri comes off the Bench and they're all good. And they're all seniors. And we're watching a Mercer/Duke game, lot of seniors. So I hope our sophomores when they're seniors play like that. But they did a great job. Joe's tough and strong and they just cut him off on all his penetration.
That really hurt us.
So I give them credit. They played better defensively than I expected, but their seniors are very, very good and I think they have a pretty good inside game as well.
MODERATOR: Any other questions?
Coach, thank you very much.
COACH LONERGAN: Thank you.
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