March 18, 2010
MODERATOR: We'll start with our first postgame news conference of the tournament. Joined by Old Dominion Head Coach Blaine Taylor and junior forwards Frank Hassell and Keyon Carter. Our format for our postgame news conferences, we'll have the Head Coach make an opening statement.
Coach, a few thoughts on the game.
COACH TAYLOR: First of all, Notre Dame, you know, Mike did such a great job at the end of the season with the way they've adjusted and they've played some of the best basketball around, so they were no pretender coming into this tournament. He's done a great job over time, did a great job this year, and they played a really good ballgame up to the point.
But I think it reflects the magic of March, the way the two teams battled. One of the officials turns to me at the two minute mark and said, It's been a heck of a game, and I really think it was.
Our kids took a little bit of a punch early from them. They came out and played well, boarded the ball well. I thought we had just a little bit of jitters and a little bit of adjustment that we had to kind of work through.
The rebounding margin probably was the difference in the first half margin at halftime. But I thought our kids did a really nice job just kind of tightening it down and playing down the stretch.
We had some big plays on defense, some big plays on on offense. So obviously we made some free throws when we needed to and got some stops. At somewhat of a lucky time. You know, a little St. Patrick's Day yesterday, and I guess we have a St. Old Dominion's day today.
MODERATOR: Questions for the student athletes.
Q. With Gerald having the one first half shot there, when did it become obvious to you that the game was going to go through you? Talk about how you were able to be so effective today?
Frank Hassell: First, I wasn't really stressing about it. Just playing ball. Gerald's a really good player. He was kind of off today a little bit. But Coach kept telling me to dig deep, and he put his trust in me. And I put my trust in him too. He called the right plays. When I got the ball I knew what to do with it. I had no jitters and I just played ball.
Q. Talk about the second half difference of rebounding. You guys have been a good rebounding team all year. It didn't sort of look like the way you played. What did you do to adjust?
Keyon Carter: Well, Coach kind of reminded us that we are a good rebounding team. We have been out rebounding many of our opponents this year. He explained that we were getting slaughtered on the boards. They were up major on the rebounding. So it's just effort. We came out with a lot more effort and made a lot of clean box outs and just being more aggressive to the boards.
They were beating us to a lot of those shots in the first half. We just clamped down in the second half.
Q. What sort of things did Coach Taylor tell you guys while handling Luke Harangody, keeping him to only 4 points for the game?
Frank Hassell: Luke's a great player. Really good player. He didn't really say nothing too much. He talked about him, touched on him. He just said we were going to play physical and play our game. We really weren't worried about them or Luke. We were worried about us. We came out and played our ball and we knew we were going to be okay.
We got our physical niche in the paint, and that's how we play. That's basically how to answer that one.
Q. When did you guys realize that it was kind of a turning point in the game? And the shirt, is there any meaning by wearing your shirt that you're wearing right now? Padlock shirt?
Frank Hassell: Oh, no, no meaning behind it. I liked this shirt because it was $5 (laughing). That's why I got this shirt on.
Q. I like that, too. But the turning point in the game, where did you feel you kind of got comfortable? It seemed like you guys were a little off kilter, then in the second half it almost seemed like you guys came out. Was there a point where you can think we're really starting to turn it around right now?
Frank Hassell: Basketball is a game of runs, and this man on my right always told me that one. We knew they were going on a run, they're a good team. All teams in the tournament are good teams. We knew we'd have our time. We just had to buckle down and play hard.
How do I say it, we just soaked in their run, and we just went and played our ball. We weren't really worried about it. Weren't really nervous, our leader wasn't nervous, and we were fine.
Q. Talk a little about those last few free throws. There had been a couple of tight ones from Gerald and Darius. What was going through your mind as you were standing there?
Keyon Carter: I just knew it was a chance to put the game a little further out of their reach. Just try to be calm. There is no defense on you, so it's really the easiest shot in basketball.
With Darius and Gerald missing a few of theirs, I knew given the opportunity I was going to go ahead and knock them down. I'd been in that situation earlier this year, and I just kind of brought my mind back to that and calmed my step down. Step to the line. I shoot free throws a lot, so it's just repetitive.
Q. Just wondering if you could describe what was going through your head on Notre Dame's last three pointer as it was in the air and then in and out?
Keyon Carter: Oh, I said, Here we go again. Those guys made a lot of clutch threes. Carleton Scott hit one in the corner to tie the game. So I thought it was going to be another scenario. I was kind of thinking overtime, but gratefully it rimmed out. They battled on the boards but they got it back. It was a 2, but gratefully we were plus 1.
Little help from above, I guess. Divine intervention a little bit.
Q. Were you referencing a specific game you said earlier this season?
Keyon Carter: The William & Mary game at William & Mary. I think it was the same situation, we were plus 1 and I got fouled.
COACH TAYLOR: Made some big ones against VCU in the semifinals also, didn't you?
Keyon Carter: VCU, too.
Q. Looked like their penetration was hurting you early. Maybe it had something to do with the rebounding. What was the difference when you went zone? Did you feel that was one of the keys?
COACH TAYLOR: Well, their style of play is they try to frustrate you and you chase them around, chase them around, you burn a lot of energy. You're not really trying to score.
So you burn that energy and then you get spread out and then the rebound comes and you've been chasing them around for all that time. So, in my opinion, I just thought we needed to get them out of rhythm a little bit and play three different defenses. Then make them come to us a little bit. And that put us in a little bit better rebounding position.
Now there's a little bit of good fortune involved. You know, they go 6 for 26 from three. And if you had told me that going into the game, I'd have said, well, we'll have a chance. But if you told me they were going to outrebound us, I just wouldn't think that would be even possible. But you've got to give them credit.
Now, we broke even on the glass in the second half and we played better defense. And we played better office. I thought we did a better job. Our poise was a little better. Our selection of plays. We had some nice scores at the end of the clock, and I thought we had some clutch executions late in the game.
Darius James' three pointer comes to mind. Gerald Lee, kind of directing traffic and getting Gerald Lee off that double screen on the back side, he knocks down that. And I really thought he was going to make the free throw because he just made the same shot basically off a double screen. And he's a good free throw shooter.
Those were a couple of big baskets for us.
Certainly some of the stops and rebounds we got, the last play of the game, we could have fouled, perhaps. Really didn't want to employ that strategy. Wanted to see if we could keep them in front of us and really contest the three knowing that the two wasn't probably going to be the difference in the game. And I thought we got up and contested that pretty good.
We stopped Jackson's push. They were not able to get to Hansbrough, and so, you know, taking our choices, I believe the shot was taken by Abromaitis, right?
COACH TAYLOR: Was it Scott? Okay. But taking the ball out of Hansbrough's hands and keeping Jackson out of the paint were two of the priorities that we had. I actually devoted two players to Jackson if necessary to stop him. Then we had to find Hansbrough and rotate as fast as we could to the other guys.
Q. You said you didn't want any participant ribbons for this thing. Can you just discuss the significance of this win for you, the players and the program?
COACH TAYLOR: Oh, you know, it's hard to put it in perspective because you're in the midst of everything that's going on on. But for instance, back on our campus, you know, the whole campus is just alive. The Web center, student activity center was just packed with people.
So to put it in perspective, it's been some years Old Dominion has been in some postseason play, and we've been in the last few years, but it's so hard. Look at this game. It could have gone either way. It's so hard to get post season wins in this setting.
It's quite an achievement. It's hard for me to put it in perspective because right now I've got my sights set on the next one. I'm sure in the spring it will sink in that we did all we've done, because we've really just kind of like I told the kids in the locker room, we're going to enjoy this one today. We're not worried about our next opponent. Tomorrow we'll roll up our sleeves and get to figuring that one out.
Q. In deciding not to foul when you were up three. Do you generally not do that or what is your thinking on that?
COACH TAYLOR: Well, I guess I'm kind of old school. I think we can guard people and stop them. Now, we had a guest coach from Europe that was over here and chased us around for a year trying to kind of learn American basketball. He thought we were crazy over here that we didn't just foul automatically all the time.
But I think the Europeans are probably a little bit better shooters and that strategy is employed over there a little bit more. Had the clock been a little shorter, I might have done it. But in my mind what was going on with nine seconds, okay, let's get them to mid court and foul them. Now the clock stops. Now the ball can be passed to a lot of different places with a whole new set of plays that can be set up.
So I didn't really think that that was the thing to do in that circumstance. A little shorter clock, I might have. I discussed it with our players and our coaches. I said, hey, what do you all think? The kids are kind of like me. We're kind of stubborn and hard headed. We thought we could stop them. We were lucky the ball rimmed on out. It was not an easy shot and it came late enough in the clock that the putbacks really didn't matter.
Q. Can you just talk about how important it was to limit Luke Harangody the way you did? Foul trouble first off and then him just not able to score in the second half?
COACH TAYLOR: Well, their style is such now that they're going to spread out more and they don't focus on him as much. So in that respect, you know, they're a little more dependent upon the three and the movement than some of the sets they used to run that isolated him more.
We're big enough that you can't really just take a big guy down there and just say, hey, take these guys to task. We've got enough big guys that we can kind of handle that.
Now, he's got a big team and a skilled team. But in Luke's absence, other people had to adapt to scoring more and making more plays and they played well. So, a little bit fortunate that their focus has maybe changed from Luke a little bit. Little bit fortunate that we match up with a guy like Luke pretty good.
Then, of course, you know, I don't know how much is Luke 100 percent? I don't know that. You have to ask him. Obviously you're not with the crutches. (Laughing). You redshirted this year (laughing).
Q. I'm taking a year off.