Men's Basketball-Houston Postgame quotes
March 15, 2018
WICHITA, Kan. -
THE MODERATOR: At this time we'll get a statement on a very heartbreaking loss.
COACH DUTCHER: It's always bitterly disappointing when a season ends, especially when you feel like you have good basketball left in you. And we over came a rough first half, fought them the entire second half, fought back to tie the game. It's March. We had a March-type shot to win the game and didn't go in. We're going home. And we're disappointed over that.
Congratulations to Houston. They fought hard, too. That's what happens this time of the year, two good teams fighting hard to the end, and they got one more play than we did. And we're going home and they're moving on. I'm so proud of my team, the effort they put forward today. To come from 13 down in the second half and fight all the way back in the game and have a shot to win it in the end, I couldn't be more proud of a group than I am of this one.
Q. Trey, there wasn't much time, but you were able to get your shoulders squared and get a shot in there. Could you just explain that sequence and the kind of look you wanted to get and the kind of look you did get.
Q. Trey, obviously Gray had a huge night, but it wasn't like he was making open shots. He was making ridiculously contested shots. Is there anything at that point you can do as a defender? Isn't it sort of the job to try to make take hard shots?
Q. Back to Trey, I think in the first half you guys as a team had 10 turnovers and then you had one turnover the next 17 1/2 minutes. How tough did you make it on yourselves collectively in that first half in terms of ball security, and how much did taking care of the basketball allow you guys to get back in it in the second?
Q. I got one for Malik and one for Jalen. Start with you, Malik. You got your fourth foul pretty early in the second half, and you didn't come out. What was going through your mind? And I'm assuming you did not want to come out.
Q. Same thing for you, Malik?
Q. Maybe for Malik, you know, that first half with all the turnovers and Coach mentioned that 13-point hole that you guys came back from. There was a sequence where you jumped on a break situation, came down with the ball, could have went up with it and you kicked it out for the three. In that moment it seemed like body language of a lot of guys on your bench changed. Did you think that might be a moment when you get over the hump or were you waiting for that moment when collectively you might get over the hump?
Q. Other two guys had played in the NCAA Tournament. You hadn't. What did you learn about playing in this tournament in a game of this magnitude, and how will you take that to carry on in your career?
Q. Circling back on the difference in turnovers in both halves, in the first half those turnovers created a real hole, and in the second half it allowed you to get back in it. Compare those halves and what looked different to you in those halves in terms of how you took care of the ball or didn't take care of the ball?
Then the second half we played with two turnovers, and that allowed us to get back in the game. The first half they ran out on us. They had fast breaks. I gotta imagine the majority of those were off turnovers.
So once we stopped turning the ball over and turned it into a half-court game, they struggled more to score against us in the half court than they did on the break obviously.
Q. Talk us through the decision to keep Trey on, Gray, obviously, he was scoring a lot, but he was making contested shots, and Jeremy seemed to have a pretty good spell against him there. But did you want Trey in for the offensive end?
I just felt Trey was so good offensively, making plays for other people that I couldn't sacrifice having him out of the game. And then a lot of what Gray did was tough. He made tough contested shots. We provided a lot of help on ball screens, tried to stop his momentum going forward, but I think the three-point shots were kind of the daggers. We know he's good going to the basket. But I think the four threes were huge for him when he bounced up and made those.
Q. Seemed like in the second half when you guys mopped up the turnover ball security stuff, you had a stretch there where you just couldn't hit a free-throw or you were missing the front end of one and ones. What did free-throw shooting mean as you guys were trying to climb back in this one?
And we've done that for most of the year. We've been a pretty good free-throw shooting team, and we shot free throws here every day in practice, whether it was 20, 30, make 30. We shot them. Made sure everyone knew they were important.
But you see all these teams in all these games, the pressure free throws are different at this time. So I wish we'd have made a few more of them. I was so proud of the guys attacking and getting to the foul line. We were very aggressive. And, you know, in the first half, you come in at halftime and you say, well, what should we be running different offensively, and you think, my goodness, how many layups are we going to get to the rim and not get in the basket? And I thought we had great opportunities, and I told the kids at halftime: Just get your swagger back. Know you're good and take those same shots, run that same action and this time finish.
And I thought we did a better job finishing and drawing contact in the second half than we did in the first half.
Q. Dutch, obviously no loss is fun, particularly in this tournament, but is it better because -- is it mitigated because of the way you came back and fought back and tied the game, or is it worse because, as you just said, you left a ton of points on the table, you had a lot of unforced turnovers and all the missed free throws that you could kick yourselves about?
So I think our program showed great character, and that's a great reflection on my three seniors that played their last game in an Aztec uniform. And it's a great formula for the future with all these new kids that they got a chance to fight in this environment, know what it's about and have that hunger to come back and do it again.
Q. From your vantage point, what did you see with the look that Trey got? And then on the release, what did it look like to you out of his hands? I guess that last sequence?
So I know Trey was probably heartbroken it didn't go in. But there's no play you're going to draw up to get a better look than that with length of the floor and one second to go. The kids executed it for something they hadn't done all year, and did it at that moment and the ball didn't go in.
And that's March. I mean, I watched Loyola beat Miami today and rolls up knocked deep three down. And there's going to be a thousand of those moments. And the ones they're going to talk about the most are the ones that go in. And when it doesn't go in, it's heartbreak.
But it's March and it's the NCAA Tournament and that's going to happen eight or nine more times in this weekend.
Q. Had you not made it to the NCAA Tournament, there was a chance that you could sort of break this chain of having players in your roster who have played in the tournament before. You might have had nobody left next year on next year's roster. Now that you made it, you're a first-year head coach, how important is it to your program now to have a roster full of guys, particularly some freshmen who have played in this environment and this tournament?
And the route may be different. Maybe we'll be good enough to play magic basketball all season and get an at-large earlier. Maybe we'll have to fight through the conference tournament. Every team is different. Every path is different. But like Coach Fisher always says, we have a program now. We're not a one-hit wonder. Been seven of the last nine years of the NCAA Tournament. I thought we should have gone two years ago when we were 16 in the Mountain West and I think 28 and 10 overall.
We've had good basketball. We'll continue to have good basketball and we will try to recruit kids that this is the goal, to win titles and hang banners. And like I said, our goal was to make it to a Final Four, to win a national championship.
So was this team good enough? I guess we'll never know. But it was awful good. So all we can play for now at this point is send our seniors off with congratulations and get our underclassmen started to work next week already and work toward next season.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach, for your class and professionalism.
THE MODERATOR: At this time we'll get an opening statement from Coach Sampson. If there's ever a reason they call it March Madness, we just saw it, Coach.
COACH SAMPSON: First of all, congratulations to Brian, Coach Dutcher, and his kids, first of all, on a great, great year. I know this was his first year, and for them to win their conference championship and then get to the NCAA Tournament is unbelievable accomplishment. So congratulations to them.
There's a lot of ways you have to win games. A lot of times you just have to do it from the seat of your pants. We certainly didn't go into this game thinking that offensively this was what we were going to have to do. But I think we said that -- what was the number we said, Devin? 24?
You know, our three best shooters tonight went 6 for 28. If you'd have told me that Corey Davis would go 2 for 10, Armoni Brooks 0 for 4, and Devin 4 for 14, go 6 for 28 and was going to win, I'd say there's no way. Especially with the shots they were getting.
But that's -- NCAA Tournament will do that to you. Coaching these games, a lot of these games, and I've always thought the hardest one is the first one. If you can get by the first one, usually your kids relax and play a little bit better.
But difference in this game tonight is we had Rob Gray and they didn't.
THE MODERATOR: At this time we'll open it up for questions for our student-athletes.
Q. Rob, can you take us through those last few seconds there and what you saw on that last play to make that driving layup?
A small thought ran through my head. I was thinking about Cincinnati, how I had a final chance to win the game for us and I didn't. So I just wanted to come through for my team and my family and just give all the U of H fans the feeling they haven't had since 1984.
Q. Rob, we talked to Elvin Hayes after the game. You tied his record here for most points scored. And his quote was: Rob Gray refused to lose tonight. I know how much you think of Elvin. What does that mean when a Hall of Famer says that about you?
Q. Rob, was there a point in the game where you just felt like, hey, I can take this game over? Looked like in the second half you really started going to the rim and really taking the defenders off the dribble.
Q. You talked about in the second half taking over, but it seemed like from the beginning you took it to them very aggressive. Is that a mindset you had or just kind of how it presented itself when the defense plays?
It also leads to getting to the foul line a lot. Most of the times when I'm aggressive, it does good things for our teammates. Just gotta take care of the ball at the same time.
Q. Rob, they used primarily two guys, Trey Kell and Jeremy Hemsley. And it seemed like Jeremy had a little success middle of that half. They went back to Trey. Did that surprise you at all, and was there something you were able to do against Trey that you couldn't do against Jeremy?
Hemsley, I'll give him credit. He's a good defender and he was staying low, moving his feet very well. And he blocked my shot one time on a jumper, and hats off to him for playing good defense. But I just try to stay aggressive no matter who's guarding me.
Q. Devin, as one of the seniors, what's this win mean to your program and your coach?
Q. Kelvin, could you describe your emotions watching that last sequence go back and forth, Rob, Watson and then Rob?
Corey has made 102 threes this year. He made 102 threes this year. And top 15 in the nation. Three-point field goal percentage. But neither one could knock down a shot tonight.
But when you're at this time of the year, you don't keep going back to the well to see if they're going to make one. Rob had it going. When he has it going, you know, we're going to ride that horse until they stop it. But when he hit that three and then I think it was -- was it Watson that made the three? That was a great shot. They're a good team.
You know, I mean, obviously we have great teams in our conference. We have two teams ranked in the Top 10 in the nation in our conference, Wichita State and Cincinnati. But they're really well coached. Brian does a good job of exploiting, taking advantage of his players' strengths. He puts Kell in that mid-picking role. They spread you out. Their bigs slip. We hadn't seen that much. We had to make an adjustment by staying back on the pick and roll.
But I felt really good when Rob's shot went in and there's 1.1 second left. And then if I was ever going to have a premature death, it would have been when Mitchell caught that ball and had a clean look. All I could think was, oh, God, there's Christian Lattner, because that's kind of what it reminded me of.
Again, hats off to San Diego State. They played great tonight.
THE MODERATOR: A couple of notes here. Rob scored 21 of Houston's last 22 points of the game, including 14 in a row. And, Coach, you held San Diego State without a basket the last 6:39 of the first half.
COACH SAMPSON: Our defense was tough. We had a hard time keeping them off the free-throw line. But it was just a rock fight. You know, we're used to being in rock fights.
Q. Kelvin, you had mentioned going into the game just about the opportunities that were here, but to get that win that hadn't been in this program, a tournament win since '84, what does that do now for the program?
I'm glad we won for -- you know, it's been a long time. But, you know, if I'd been here since '84, I'd been on my fifth job by now. I'd have been fired a long time ago. We've gone from building this program to the point where we get to the tournament and the very first time we're here we beat a really good team and we're getting ready, I think that's more significant.
But I'm glad we won, and I'm glad -- you know who I'm happy for. I'm happy for all those fans at all those watch parties all over the city of Houston. I'm happy for all those Cougars that the well has been dry for all these years that have wanted something to support and get behind. I'm happy for Mack Rhoades for fighting to make sure that that development center was built. I'm happy for Renu Khator, our president, and Tilman Fertitta, and Hunter Yurachek and Chris Pezman, our administration for giving us the resources to be successful.
And I've said this once, I've said it 100 times. Coaches win games, but administrators win championships. So our administration started with Mack Rhoades, but they put us in the position to be successful. And shout out to Rob Gray, too.