March 13, 2010

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West Virginia – 53
Notre Dame – 51

An interview with:

THE MODERATOR: Notre Dame is here. Luke Harangody, Ben Hansbrough, Tory Jackson, Coach Mike Brey.
COACH Mike Brey: Proud of our group. Boy, we made a run at it. And to have a shot, it was kind of a weird game. We were in a hole. But to dig out and have a look, it was pretty good. We had the tempo we wanted. We did a better job on Butler. And that was a combination really when we got Ty Nash on him, that at least gave us a chance to have a chance to win the game.
They’re really good. Very difficult to defend, and physical and take away space in the half court with their length.
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Tory, do you wonder what’s it going to take for you to hit a game winning shot?
Tory Jackson: Just keep watching Michael Jordan clips, I guess. It just happens, you know. Things happen. I thought it was a good shot when I let it go. But you live and learn. One thing we’re not going to do is dwell on it. We just had a heck of a run. We have to make another one coming up.

Q. Tory, it looked like your defender backed up. Were you going to the hole and he backed off?
Tory Jackson: Yeah. When he dropped off, that’s what made me want to take that shot. It was a wide open shot. Just didn’t go down.

Q. Ben, you’ve been kind of struggling with your shot recently. Is that the game you’ve been looking for?
Ben Hansbrough: I’ve just been feel like I need to let the game come to me. I’m not going to try to force anything. Especially with the flow we’ve been playing at. Just got done with a six game winning streak. Try not to worry about individually. We’ve been getting those W’s. So I haven’t even thought about it, honestly.

Q. Ben, Tory, what do you make of this run you guys had here? It started beforehand, but what did this do for you guys? What did you take out of it going to the next one?
Ben Hansbrough: West Virginia is the sixth ranked team in the country. They’re a very good team. I think that just goes to show we can play and we can beat anybody in the country. We want to take that momentum into the NCAA Tournament. I mean, we lost to the sixth ranked team in the country by two points and had a shot to win it. It just shows how far this team has come.
You look at us at the very beginning of the year and you look at us now we just got done with a six game winning streak, and people didn’t include us in the picture and we got tough. We showed we can play and beat anybody in the country now.

Q. Coach, second night in a row, tough, close game. I think you used your last time out with more than a minute to go. Talk about that and that last play with Tory tonight.
COACH Mike Brey: Well, I think we needed our time outs to set our defense and get our legs under us. One thing I don’t do with this team is overcoach them because we have a high basketball IQ. And, you know, we kind of flow and make reads. I think the worst thing would be, even if you had a time out, was to let all that length get organized. When they get organized and they would have got organized, it may have been tougher. The karma around this guy during this run has been so good, when he took it, I said we’re going to live and die with it.

Q. Coach, middle of the first half their 1 3 1 extends pretty much farther with that length than other defenses the you’ll face. Why was it they were able to defend the wings and corners as well?
COACH Mike Brey: Well, it was a little different. I thought they would play more of that instead of just let us burn clock versus man. They’ve watched us do that. And it is something in their arsenal to kind of make us try and play a little faster. I don’t know if we played faster, but our rhythm was a little different than playing against man to man and burning against man. And it took us a while to kind of get into a rhythm.
Now, we missed some great looks that we usually make that I think would have helped confidence wise. We had some great looks there. Carleton (Scott) and Abro (Abromaitis) against that. But it was a different rhythm. We talked about that today in the shoot around to be ready for heavy doses of that.
THE MODERATOR: Any other questions?
COACH Mike Brey: Thanks.
THE MODERATOR: Notre Dame, thank you.

THE MODERATOR: Da’Sean Butler, Kevin Jones, Coach Bob Huggins.

Q. For both of you guys, you guys are from this area. The whole starting five is from New York and New Jersey. What is it like to be in the finals at The Garden? And do you feel more comfortable playing here because you guys are from the area?
KEVIN JONES: Definitely. When you get to play in front of your friends and family, it’s always a great thing. And we just want to perform well for our fans and I think we did a good job of doing that tonight. And hopefully we can come out with a win tomorrow. And bring home the championship.
DA’SEAN BUTLER: Honestly, I feel the same way. It’s tremendous to be here. The number of times we came to the semifinals pretty much every year except for my freshman year. Even then we played tough and hard and but it didn’t come up. This opportunity, we can’t blow this opportunity. I’m looking forward to this game tomorrow really bad. It’s just an honor to be in this situation right now.

Q. Coach Huggins, how did you get all these New York kids to come to Morgantown?
COACH BOB HUGGINS: My effervescent personality.
I mean, it’s the BIG EAST. And I think anybody from the BIG EAST, people are going to listen to. I knew some people in Mont Vernon. And so I thought maybe we had a chance to recruit KJ. We were fortunate enough to get him. Actually, I think Truck (Bryant) before that. I think Truck committed in the summertime. Truck just wanted to play in the BIG EAST.
And then Devin, the situation in Indiana, came down to he visited I think five schools. We were fortunate. I think having the opportunity to come in and play, particularly for Devin, because Joe Alexander was leaving.

Q. For Da’Sean, what was going through your mind when Jackson puts up that three the last possession?
DA’SEAN BUTLER: I don’t think about it. I just get ready to box out. But at that time I saw him shooting the ball. I said “don’t go in.” Bad shot I had just taken. He came down and put it up. Either you win or lose on that one. I just prayed he didn’t. I boxed out. Thank God he didn’t.

Q. Da’Sean, what would it mean to you to bring home West Virginia’s first BIG EAST Tournament championship?
DA’SEAN BUTLER: It would mean the world to me just because it would be our first one and I was a part of the team. And I was part of something special. That’s something the coach has been talking about all year. If you want to be special, you have to do special things. Can’t just have good talent, great coach and great schemes and come up with nothing. We have to win things, and win special tournaments and whatever the case may be.
So this is an opportunity for to us do something special in the BIG EAST. So hopefully we take advantage of it tomorrow.

Q. Coach, can you talk about the decision to go to the 1 3 1 in the first half and how effective it was.
COACH BOB HUGGINS: Well, we had had some success in the past, and we had a 1 3 1 lineup. We can’t play that with every lineup. The lineup we had in at that time was a lineup that we play pretty well. We play the 1 3 1 pretty well. And I thought it was effective. And Mike does a great job coaching. And he made some adjustments in the second half, and got the ball to the guy that was making shots. We were supposed to shadow Hansbrough a little better than what we did in the second half. He made two big threes.
You know at the end of the day, 1 3 1 has been good for us, but at the end of the day if there’s a time out and I think it was a one point game and I say to them, what do you want to do, to a man it’s always, “Let’s just guard them, Coach. Let’s go guard them.” Because we work so hard at trying to guard people, and they have a lot of confidence that they can go out and stop people.

Q. Kevin, Coach obviously has track record of sending guys to the NBA. How much is that a motivation for you and the other guys and the New York guys to come play for Coach because he has that history?
KEVIN JONES: I mean, definitely. I look to his background when he was coming after me. I mean, he’s a great coach. Had a lot of great players go to the NBA. Definitely that was attractive to me. And I just see it as a chance to get better. He demands so much of you. I also demand so much of myself. I think the rest of my teammates can say that, too. So it was just a great opportunity for me, I thought.

Q. Da’Sean, with Syracuse losing and you guys kind of being next in line, do you think also about getting a No. 1 regional seed for the NCAA if you win tomorrow?
DA’SEAN BUTLER: I think it’s possible. I don’t think there’s any reason why we can’t, if we don’t lose any games. We haven’t lost any games in the tournament that we were supposed to lose. We took care of business. All the other teams fell out. We take care of business and win this game tomorrow, I don’t see why we can’t be a No. 1 seed at all.

Q. Not trying to be funny, but you’re up 10 with 8 minutes left. Did you have a sense they might come back, and given the way you played, can you hold on and focus in the end?
COACH BOB HUGGINS: I am starting to have a lot of confidence in our guys screwing up enough to let them back in the game, if you’re asking.
We had opportunities. You think about the transition opportunities we had and we blew, and we have not shot free throws nearly as well as we’re capable. Devin struggled in this tournament. He’s an 80% free throw shooter. We didn’t take care of the ball the way we need to take care of the ball. But, you know, I tell them all the time, you know, I’m not very happy about it. We’re going to try to keep fixing it. But at the end of the day we’re 26 6, playing for a BIG EAST championship.

Q. Is there a New York feel to what’s going on in Morgantown?
COACH BOB HUGGINS: You’ve never been to Morgantown, have you?

Q. I’m in Morgantown every year. Is there a New York feel to what you guys have going on in Morgantown?
COACH BOB HUGGINS: I’m not sure what you’re trying to ask me, but Morgantown is a great college town. It’s a great place to go to school. I would like to do it again. I tell these guys all the time, if I was 18 years old again, wow. Of course I kind of know the ins and outs, too. It’s a great college town. Honestly, I think if we weren’t in the BIG EAST, we can’t recruit those guys. What the people in this league have done over the years, I mean, it’s the best league in the country. And I’ve been around enough and been in other leagues. And I’ve said this a lot, when you’re in the other leagues, you say, man, it ain’t that good. And then you get in here.
You ask about a No. 1 seed. You think about the gauntlet we’ve just gone through. And John helps me so much with the scheduling, you know, having Georgetown and Villanova to end the year.

THE MODERATOR: It’s working out ok so far.
COACH BOB HUGGINS: I know it’s a stroke of genius on your part. The league sells itself. And then I think to a degree, like Kevin said, you look, we’ve been fortunate to win some games. And I’ve had wonderful guys. And I have had whatever it is, 17, 18, 19 guys go play in the NBA.
So I think everybody wants to be challenged. I think everybody loves this league, particularly here in New York loves this league. And then you have an opportunity you know, it’s kind of like I tell these guys, you know, you take a heck of a chance if you go with somebody who hasn’t done it before. And we’ve been fortunate to do it before, do it multiple times before in getting guys in the league. So those things help.
But they’re great kids. I tell you this, this is a great bunch of people. Coaches are always talk about low maintenance; I have basically no maintenance. They do what they’re supposed to do.

Q. Coach, for Da’Sean kind of a two part question: Some things you haven’t got in the past two games, penetration and scoring inside. And with Joe Mazzulla, how did that help you? Da’Sean did that help free you up some?
DA’SEAN BUTLER: A lot. Joe always gives us a lot of everything as far as defensively and running the team offensively. Any day him just attacking the basket, especially if they’re overplaying me a lot and overplaying Kevin a lot. Joe just attacked and found spots and just took care of business. That’s what we looked to him to do, because he’s a leader as well on the team.

Q. Can you talk about the challenge of playing Georgetown, specifically the how well they’ve been playing these past few games.
COACH BOB HUGGINS: They’re really good. Extremely well coached. John does a great job of coaching them. Monroe is terrific. We jumped on them pretty good in Morgantown early and then they came out the second half and played extremely well against us. And Monroe was a large part of that. You know, it’s the BIG EAST, you know? I’m not trying to be redundant. You look around the league and who do you play who doesn’t have great players? Everybody has great players. And I think Mo said after the Syracuse game, he is the best skilled big man in the country, which I would agree with. He passes the ball, he finds open people, he can lay it down, he can score in the post. Quite frankly, people with size bother us, because we’re not that big.

Q. Coach, sorry if this has been asked already, this win tonight put you past John Wooden on the all time list. I’m just wondering if you’ve ever had any meetings with Wooden in the past? Does this hold any special meaning for you?
COACH BOB HUGGINS: Well, yeah, I have had three or four guys that were top ten on the Wooden list invited to go to L.A. So I’ve spent some time with Coach there and we’ve played in The Wooden Classic several times. So I got to spend some time with him there. I honestly don’t think about those things.
I’m worried about I’ve told this story, but it’s an absolutely true story. A year ago we were kind of young, we were playing three freshman and we go to Georgetown and the 13th or 14th in the country and have a huge win on the road. I go out and sit on the bus. I give him a Jimmy John sandwich. I want to eat my Jimmy John sandwich and watch a replay of the game. And my assistants walk over and drop about seven tapes on my seat on the bus and I said, “What’s this?” They said, “Coach, come on, we have Pitt on Monday.” They were No. 2 in the country at that time at the time. You don’t have time to think about those things. And I really never had.
I’ve told you this, I grew up in Midvale (Ohio), 500 people, two stoplights, nine bars. I got in the truck with this guy one time and he said and I looked and he didn’t have a rear view mirror. I said, “You don’t have a rear view mirror.” He said, “I don’t back up.” He said, “We’re going forward, son.” And that’s kind of how I’ve lived my life. THE MODERATOR: West Virginia, thank you.

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