#1 BYU 96, #5 Wyoming 84

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March 9, 2007

BYU

THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Brigham Young university head Coach Dave Rose and student athletes Trent Plaisted and Lee Cummard.

Coach, if you want to open with some general marks on the game.

COACH ROSE: Well, I was very proud of our players, how they came out and got off to a great start. I thought that we were playing very well together, were unselfish, sharing the ball, we were hitting shots. We got a nice lead.

The first half was pretty much I felt like we, you know, from that early lead had the half under control. We knew in the second half it would be a different story.

Wyoming played very, very hard, had a real will to compete. We matched that and were able to, you know, kind of carry that early lead into a victory.

Proud of our players. We'll go back, regroup, got a big one tomorrow.

THE MODERATOR: Questions for the student athletes.

Q: Trent, you got 27 points and tied a career high. Can you tell me what was the trouble at the free throw line? What would you attribute the nine missed free throws to?

TRENT PLAISTED: You know, there's not really much you can attribute it to. I didn't step up and knock 'em down when I needed to. I'll do better tomorrow.

Q: Either player, you got off to such a fast start and were able to pretty much own the paint as well. Did you see anything or try to do anything to get off to such a fast start?

TRENT PLAISTED: That's always an emphasis for our team: To get off to a good start, kind of get a lead that we can work with.

It's hard when you get a lead as big as that as early as we did. You know, you might get a little bit complacent. We were able to hold 'em off. It just worked out for us.

LEE CUMMARD: Like Trent said, emphasis, coach wants us to win that first four minutes. Austin created some shots. We got some steals for easy buckets. Obviously our defensive effort is what created the big lead.

Q: Can you talk about now moving into the championship game, the thrill it is to play for a title here.

TRENT PLAISTED: You know, that's been our goal all year long. You want to win a Mountain West championship. Obviously when you come to the conference tournament you want a championship here.

We've put ourselves in a great position to do that. Whoever we play, we'll be ready for 'em.

LEE CUMMARD: Along the same lines. Tomorrow's going to be a fun night. No matter who we play we're looking forward to it. We got great fans coming to support us. Got really fun tonight when it got loud, interesting at the end, so...

THE MODERATOR: Gentlemen, we'll let you two go. Thank you.

Questions for Coach Rose.

Q: Big first half, then Wyoming made things interesting in the second. What was the big difference? Was it maybe the lack of focus in the second half with the big lead, or did Wyoming do anything different?

COACH ROSE: I think a lot of it was Wyoming, I mean, they're very athletic. You get in a situation at this time of year when, you know, players realize that the season's over if you don't win, and it changes the mindset.

I think they came out in the second half with great determination. I think we were real fortunate we played as well as we did in the first half.

Q: Lee talked a little bit about the crowd, enthusiasm, how loud it got inside the stadium. Can you talk about moving from Denver to here? You have more fans it seems here. Also moving into the championship game, thoughts on that?

COACH ROSE: Well, I think the way we've addressed it as a team is that wherever the conference decides to have the tournament we'll go down and play. This seems to be a lot more excitement there seems to be a lot more excitement here as far as ticket requests are concerned.

That must mean there's a lot more people that are here. But as far as who we play, we'll deal with that in a couple hours.

Q: What did you say to the team when it got down to six opinions with just over three minutes or four minutes to play? You had a timeout. What were you communicating to your team?

COACH ROSE: Mainly we were just trying to be positive, you know, trying to get some confidence going. All we needed to do was make a free throw or make a shot and it would really settle everything down.

But we knew they were going to continue to contest every pass, contest every dribble, contest every catch, and that we just needed to get ourself in a positive mind frame of, you know, we just need to finish the game off.

But that time, that three minutes or two minute mark, I mean, we knew that there would be a lot more possessions in the game, that the game was a long ways from being over, that we just needed to continue to be confident, play confident.

Q: How big was Mike's three?

COACH ROSE: I think Mike's three was very big for our confidence. But I also think that put back that Lee had sometime in that stretch was a real big shot for us.

I've said this all year long: it's hard to win games. Your guys have to really compete. You have to compete for 40 minutes. I thought our guys did really well down the stretch.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you, coach. Good luck tomorrow.

COACH ROSE: Thank you.

Wyoming

THE MODERATOR: We're now joined by University of Wyoming head coach Steve McClain and student athletes Brandon Ewing and Brad Jones.

Coach, general comments on the game.

COACH McCLAIN: I thought, one, BYU played really well. They shot the ball really well in the first half. You know, I thought our kids gave a gutsy effort in the second half. We got it to six, then we just could never get it below that.

But, you know, I think they showed our kids showed they were going to just keep fighting till the end. You know, I think that's what our program stands for.

You know, it's disappointing, but you hope you learn something from it.

THE MODERATOR: Questions for the student athletes.

Q: Rough first half. A great second half for you. What was the big difference? Seemed like you had a hard time containing BYU in the post in the first half, but better in the second.

Brandon Ewing: Well, the main difference was we got on each other in the locker room at halftime. All the trouble was we didn't want to lose, we didn't want to go home so soon, so we came out and showed everybody we wanted to win.

Just we came up a little bit short. We cut it to six opinions. But that 20 point deficit at halftime, it really hurt us a lot. If we were able to cut it down to 10 at halftime we probably would have come up with the win.

Q: What happened in the first half today that was so different than against Air Force when you got off to the fast start? Were you just stunned? What happened?

Brandon Ewing: No, it wasn't stunned. It was just they came out ready to play. We had the right mindset. We had good open looks. We just wasn't knocking them down. Every open look they had, they knocked 'em down. Every open look we had they knocked 'em down. Whether it was a three or a good move, I played there in the post.

They were just clicking on all cylinders in the first half. It's hard to beat a team that's clicking like that. I take my hat off to them. They played a great half.

Brad Jones: Like Brandon said, they came out strong in the first half. We had the same mindset as yesterday. They was just knocking down shots and we wasn't.

Q: Did you feel a little shellshocked at first when they kept hitting shot after shot? Sometimes teams just get on a roll like that.

Brandon Ewing: No. I don't think we was kind of shocked. We knew they was a great team. They top 25, so we knew they was a great team coming into the game.

It was just, you know, they were just on tonight. It was one of those type nights for the whole team. When a player hit every shot and their whole team was hitting every shot it's kind of hard to defend one player.

Q: Brad, the last minute or so, it was such a wild helter skelter thing. You're pushing the ball down the court, you fell, kept on going. Talk about how that play was.

Brad Jones: Well, I was just trying to make something happen, trying to play hard. We was down eight points. I was just trying to get the ball down the court as quick as I could.

I guess there's a lot of dead spots out on the floor out there. I kind of hit a dead spot. Didn't come back to me. Tried to dive for it. Just laid into the crowd. Just trying to do whatever it took to win.

Q: Last year you made it to the championship game. You talked about all year how that was something to build on coming into this year. Can you build on the almost comeback that you made here? Is that going to fuel your fire over the summer?

Brandon Ewing: We just had a long talk. Coach made a great comment to us at the end of the game. He said, Let's not put ourselves in a situation where we have to win a tournament just to make something special happen.

Why not come in in the situation like BYU, 24, 25 wins, you lose the first round, you're still going maybe a No. 2 bid in the NCAA tournament.

Next year that's what we wanted to work on. We kind of want to put this behind us. We'll probably take a week off and get to work, because next year we just want to win 24, 25 games, play the tournaments, not put so much pressure on ourselves to win the tournaments.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you, gentlemen.

Questions for Coach McClain.

Q: I know you talked yesterday. Keena Young had two big games against you in the regular season. He was kept in check pretty good today. Plaisted and Cummard and Ainge, they're just full of so many weapons. Were you pleased with what you did on Young, kind of discouraged about those our guys going off on you?

COACH McCLAIN: Well, you know, like Brandon and Brad said, every time early in the game when we did try to go double 'em they kicked it back out and hit a three. You know, it was kind of like we were playing the devil's advocate.

You know, if they'd have missed a couple of those, you can keep going double, keep trying to do it, but it was almost like anything they did was going to work. You know, Plaisted just had one of those days where he'd toss it up there and you think, That one ain't going in. It would just roll around the rim and go in.

I thought in the second half, Daaron did a better job on him, got more aggressive with him. But, again, I just you know, they got off to the kind of start we got off to the night before. You know, we kept trying to recover, but the harder we went, the more they just kept making shots.

But, you know, again, that's why they're a good team. Somebody else stepped up. We did a good job on Keena Young. Plaisted stepped up and had a big night.

Q: During that fast start, were you frustrated with your team's defensive effort? Were they not guarding as hard as you wanted, or was it strictly BYU being in the zone?

COACH McCLAIN: You know, you asked the guys in the game in the first three minutes just had such a different pace to it than what we had spent 40 minutes the night before. They're coming down just pulling up from three and shooting threes on the break and they're burying them. Now, if they hadn't buried them, we would have went down and got layups on them.

So, no, I think it was more of just we had to adjust to the quickness of the game, and it took us a while to do that. But, you know, we were in the right positions. They were just making every shot.

Q: The free throw line wasn't too kind to you tonight: 15 of 28. Do you want to comment on that? What was the factor on that?

COACH McCLAIN: I don't know. The other night we go 21 for 28 or whatever we were. We've been a good free throw shooting team all year. We just had some stretches there where we didn't convert. You can go back to early in the game, we got to the free throw line a couple times, couldn't knock them down to cut that lead a little bit.

But we've been a good free throw shooting team all year. Some nights you're going to have them roll in and out, and we had a few of those tonight.

Q: Commenting on what Brandon said about not putting yourself in the position to have to win the tournament next year. And obviously you can go back and look at games during the season and go, We could have got that, We could have got that, and that probably could have done it.

COACH McCLAIN: And I think the good thing for us, and why Brandon says that, why I said it to our team is, we got one senior sitting in that locker room. A lot of teams are going to leave out of here with four or five seniors. We got one senior sitting in there.

Now it's time for these young guys to grow up. Last year they experienced winning 17 games. This year finishing fifth in the league. Coming out here with the expectation to win.

You know, but you do, you go back to the Wisconsin, Milwaukee game. We lost by two. The Charlotte game we lost by two. We had so many close games there, but yet I'd love to go back and play those games right now with this team because we're such a different team now.

I think that's where Brandon and myself and Brad, you know, you go, just don't put yourself in a position you have to come out here and win. It doesn't mean it will happen, but that's what you'd like to do.

Q: What was said at halftime? Was it by you, a player who took charge in the locker room?

COACH McCLAIN: I told Brandon walking up the ramp, I said, You're going to have to get in 'em. You're going to have to just challenge them. I walked in and challenged them. But I still think there's a difference when one of them challenges each other, too. And I thought they took that challenge.

I couldn't have been prouder of how they finished the game. I guarantee you most of the people in there thought, We're going to get beat by 20. The kids just weren't going to let that happen. That's the mentality they have. That's the mentality of our program.

I got into 'em, then Brandon got into 'em. They came out and responded. That was good to see.

Q: What's next for you?

COACH McCLAIN: I don't know. I don't know.

THE MODERATOR: Thanks, coach. Appreciate it.