Utah vs. Wyoming Post-Game Quotes

March 10, 2006

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Coach Steve McClain: Well, I thought, you know, once again the kids fought through. I thought both teams at times looked a little tired.But we got a nice lead. We kept our lead. When they made their run, they never got it back to a point where the pressure was on us. You know, they did a good job, once again, of setting screens, moving the basketball. You know, we were missing a few free throws, then Justin kind of started us making 'em, then Brad and Brandon kind of finished it off.You know, once again, a very good team effort out of everybody.

Question: Justin, did you know you needed those free throws to get your triple?

Justin Williams: No. I never pay attention to things like that. Last game I could have shot a couple games back, I could have did that. You know, I just don't pay attention. I just play hard till the end of the buzzer.

Question: When did you find out you had the triple?

Justin Williams: I looked up on the Jumbotron while Brandon was shooting free throws and I seen it (smiling).

Question: Justin, could you just talk about your game, especially blocked shots and rebounding.

Justin Williams: I mean, that's just what I bring to the table. That's why Coach McClain brought me here, was to rebound and blocks shots. I didn't go out trying to score. I just wanted to do whatever it was I needed to do to help my team get to the championship.

Question: Brad, you spent a lot of time driving down the lane. Is that sort of part of the game plan for you, to get to the basket like that?

Brad Jones: Yes, sir. Coach did a nice job of telling the bigs that if me and Brandon get around the guards, just seal (indiscernible). They did a great job of doing that. We had easy looks.

Question: Brad, last week against Utah, you guys got off to a slow start. What did you do tonight differently?

Brad Jones: Well, coach did a great job of getting us ready for the game plan, showing us their sets, showing us what they're going to do on defense and offense. We just knew we had to be the aggressor, to come out and play hard from the jump and get the lead.

Question: Brad, second half looked like they were spreading the middle for you. What was going on there?

Brad Jones: Like I said, coach did a great job of telling the bigs that if we got past their guards, just to hold the seal on the big man, so we could get those easy layups and all. I owe it to these two guys. They seen me being my man. They just held the seal. I got to the goal and finished the layup. Just trying to do my job to help us win.

Question: Justin and Derek, where are you guys drawing motivation? You're really hitting your stride right now.

Derek Wabbington: Well, we're just getting it from each other. You know, our coach always tells us when we're on the road, all we have is each other. We just feed off of that.

Justin Williams: I think, you know, coach told us, you know, before the first game, you know, we only have 40 minutes left. I think we really embraced that as a team. Just went out and played for 40 minutes.

Question: Derek, tell me about Nevill getting those early fouls, how important that was. Was that kind of a goal?

Derek Wabbington: You know, our coach just told us to go out there and be aggressive and be physical with him. That's what we tried to do. You know, luckily he did pick up his early fouls and they had to go to their bench. We just attacked from there.

Question: What did it mean to have those fans tonight?

Justin Williams: It meant a lot to us. It's a real great spirit going around right now, Cowboy pride. You kind of felt it yesterday after the game, after we went into the crowd and just said our hellos to our people.That's really lifting us up right there. This is almost like it's a home game for us with all these fans we got out here. So, I mean, those Cowboy fans, they're great fans. We've been saying it from the beginning. If they keep coming out and supporting us, the sky's the limit.

Brad Jones: Like Justin said, it's a great atmosphere, just like we're playing a home game. Coach always said, show them we're the hardest playing team for them. We just try to play hard for them and get a victory.

Derek Wabbington: I just add to what they said. It's just big. We didn't have the greatest year, and they're still coming out and supporting us. It just really means a lot to everybody on the team.

Question: First time it was overtime, and on the conference call this week you said you kind of ran into a buzz saw. What do you expect tomorrow night? Going back to the fan base, I don't know if it gives you an edge, but you can count on the encouragement of those people.

Coach Steve McClain: And I think when you're playing three nights in a row, maybe if we can get a little luck, that crowd can give us some energy, give us something that will take it over the top.But, you know, the respect I have for what Steve Fisher has done this year. There isn't any question about their talent level. There isn't any question about the job he's done coaching that team.You know, I didn't think we were at our best tonight. We'll have to be at our best. We'll have to do everything perfect to have an opportunity to win the game.But, you know, when you get to this time of year, it's about getting to play one more. Again, that's where I go back to San Diego State, people question whether they should be in the NCAA tournament. They won the league outright and now they're in the championship game. They shouldn't even have to worry about being in the NCAA tournament.I think the fun part will be, it's going to be two teams that are going to lay it on the line, and hopefully show people throughout the country what Mountain West Conference basketball is.I think it all proves that, once again, when you start thinking about all the players on San Diego State, Wyoming, Utah, Vegas, the number of young players that are making these games happen, you know, how good is this league going to be a year from now?But, you know, hopefully our fans are going to help us out a little bit tomorrow night.

Question: Did you see something before the game in Justin's eyes, anything Utah was doing that foretold you he was going to have a monster game on the defensive end?

Coach Steve McClain: I think, one, we changed it up a little bit and we didn't have him guard Nevill the whole time. We had Wab guard him. We had Chris Anderson guard him. But then Justin could go guard him. He's such a different defender, it created, you know, blocked shots, it created other things.You know, again, these kids have taken their hits, yet the last game of the year they were playing as hard as they could. I think, you know, this senior group wants to still be remembered for something. They're playing. I don't see a bunch of guys that are tired and ready for it to be over.An old coach told me a long time ago, he said, "Steve, come this time of year, teams that want it to be over, it's usually over." And I don't think this group wants it to be over.

Question: You're aware that in the past in this tournament, San Diego State won it all I think as a five, Colorado State as a 6. Do you think as a 7 it is kind of your destiny this year?

Coach Steve McClain: I don't know. You know, if Steve and them want to let it be, I'd sure like it. You know, it's one thing about our league, the champion of the league has had a hard time ever winning the conference tournament.I just think, more than anything, it says something about the depth in our conference. You know, I read where somebody wrote that, you know, they thought this was a mediocre league. I don't think you can be the eighth ranked conference in the country and be a called a mediocre league.If we were 18th or 19th, maybe you'd call us a mediocre league. But we're right there with the Big 12, the Big 10. I just think it says something about the depth and the coaches in this league, the respect they have for each other, the programs, and what they're doing.

Question: You have said all year that you're right there, on the verge of being a top team in this league. Do you feel like you have maybe gotten past that now and are at the point where you are just there?

Coach Steve McClain: You know, I think the kids are playing with a lot of confidence. This group of kids hasn't had a lot good happen for 'em. You know, they've had people take shots at 'em.I think Wab said it best. I teach kids in life, "Control what you can control; don't worry about what anybody else is saying; don't worry about what they're doing; you control what you can control." And they've believed that. They've kept getting better. So, you know, again, we're playing for a championship. No matter what anybody wants to say about our program, this will be three out of eight years that my program has played for a championship. We've won two championships outright, and we'll play for the third one this year, with some pretty young players.I think, you know, to answer your question even simpler, they believe in what we're doing. They're going to try to lay it out there for 40 more minutes. They're laying it out there for 40 more minutes.I went back and used a Billy Tubbs. When I left the other day, I brought one suit. If you notice, I'm wearing the same clothes I wore last night. I'm going to wear 'em again tomorrow night. Because about eight years ago, we went to Vegas, and Billy said before we left, "One suit." I said, "What do you mean one suit?" He said, "One suit. Any time you pack for more days, you don't get to stay. Let's pack for one day and maybe we'll stay."Well, we stayed four nights. I packed for one day. We're going to play another night. Again, I couldn't be prouder of these kids.

Coach Ray Giacoletti: You know, I just kind of right off the top, Wyoming was the aggressor tonight with their triple penetration offensively, really kind of put us back on our heels.The other piece of the puzzle, as I look at the stat sheet, I can't remember a center going out and getting a triple double, 12 blocks and how much of an impact he had. The guy scores 10 points but goes and gets 15 rebounds and 12 blocks. You don't see that very much. You don't see an athletic guy like that that's able to block shots and stay out of foul trouble like he was. To me, he changed the game tonight.But I'm proud of our effort. Just had a stretch there right at the end of that second half where we kind of got it back and was not able to I think we I don't know if we got it to four or five, but to Wyoming's credit, they did a great job of defending, guarding, putting us on our heels defensively.

Question: Luke, you just saw Justin Williams last week. Did he do anything different tonight? How did he upset you inside so much?

Luke Nevill: He did a tremendous effort of just, you know, coming over to help any penetration basically. All our guards and forwards, just penetrating, even me, you just changed. Everybody shot. Even if he didn't block it, we had to shoot it a bit higher, shoot it a bit quicker. He just upset us offensively.

Question: Luke, did it matter that he played off you for a little bit tonight? Did he bother you more as a help guy or when he was straight up on you?

Luke Nevill: It's hard to tell. I mean, whenever I went to take a shot, he just seemed like he was around me no matter where, if he was playing on me or if he was playing on someone else. He would just always come over to help.So, I mean, I prefer to play on him basically because, you know, I could use my body a bit more. But, you know, it didn't really matter in the outcome.

Question: Bryant, can you address that, too, what Williams did your shots on the inside?

Bryant Markson: It just felt like when I was going up, he was always there. One time I thought I had an open layup, he just came and blocked it.He was just aggressive tonight, just being well alert, shows why he's a good defensive player. I think he adjusted a lot of people's shots down there tonight. We just thought about it every time we drove, and that had a big impact on the game.

Question: Can the seniors reflect back on the time you've had at Utah, the highs and the lows.

Tim Drisdom: This has obviously been the most challenging year in our career. You know, like I tell a lot of other people, for me personally, I mean, did I have the senior year I could have had? Probably not. But I think what I'll take from this is, we have a lot of young guys, and a lot of guys with potential. I was able to help them along the way. This was a tough season. It's tough for them to experience this in their first year.I think for me, my role this year was just to try to help those guys along, try to tell them everything I know, you know, everything I've experienced. And I think that I've been a part of, with Bryant and also Chris, starting something new, starting a new tradition with the Utah program.You know, I think there are better years to come. Like I said, I mean, we've had great times, you know, being in the Sweet 16, the whole nine. This was just a year that I think the young guys needed us more, needed me more for sure, just as a vocal leader and as a teacher, as a guy with the experience, as a guy who's their peer, who they feel like they can trust.I'm real proud of the career I've had. I'm real proud of B's career. He's had a tough two years. You know, these last two years, he's been our guy, especially this year. Red, the same way. He's kind of been the second guy, but always a vocal leader. So, like I said, I think the team has a lot of potential and I think we're going to be just fine in the future.

Bryant Markson: Four years here have been great for me. The first two have been tough. I had a tough coach and I learned a lot from that situation. When Coach Giac came, he told me he believed in me, and Rich got hurt, and I made the most of my opportunity. Ever since then, I've just been working on my game hard. Coach has just been talking to me and instilling to play defense and rebound.Most people say my senior year was kind of inconsistent. But to me it really wasn't. I mean, it depends on what the game plan is. I don't care about going out to score every night or doing anything like that. As long as I'm playing defense and getting everybody else better, it's fine.It's been good. I mean, this year has been a tough one. But you learn a lot from it. The young guys learned a lot from us. They're going to rebuild.

Question: Bryant, you went through the whole season having periodic scoring droughts. How do you explain those?

Bryant Markson: I don't know. I think it's just from we get good shots. Sometimes our shots don't go down. We get open looks sometimes. They just don't fall down. Scoring drought happens. Every team goes through it.

Question: With the emotional win last night, do you feel like your players maybe had some tired legs tonight?

Coach Ray Giacoletti: Wyoming went through the same thing, so it's even. I do think that Wyoming was a little bit more energized than we were. We talked about it all day today, about trying to have that gladiator mentality. It was more mental than physical.But I'll take my hat off to Wyoming and the job they did and Steve. I mean, he got those kids to play their butts off two nights in a row. I know he's been under a lot of criticism this year. I think he's done an amazing job. People have no idea what it is to try to rally a team in March, for those kids to have gone through tough times, still believe in him and in that program in that situation. You know, somebody needs to stand up and recognize that.

Question: You had a season that was pretty unusual. How do you look at the season as a whole?

Coach Ray Giacoletti: I mean, we started three freshmen and a sophomore for a lot of it. I mean, you're going to go through some growing pains. We're missing a couple classes. It's not excuses. I think we got a pretty good center. If there's a better freshman center on the West Coast, I'd like to see him.I think we're going to be fine. We had our ups and downs, which I think you go through with young guys. You know, I'm more of just dealing with black and white. When we have tough times, I address them and try to get through them the best we can, not make excuses. This non conference part of our season, we didn't, I thought, give maximum effort. I would call it like I see it.
But I think this team has grown up a lot. I think we had a real fine line to really where we could have finished strong. We had the BYU win, then at San Diego State, came back home and got beat on last second threes with Colorado State and with Air Force, which I think really knocked us back down.We're very fragile mentally. I think it probably comes with young guys. I think if we get through that week, but that's the way sports are. If it could have, would have, should have. If you could have got through that week, you think you could really have gained some momentum. We didn't. But they continued to fight.
It's kind of where we're at. Help's on the way. Big Serb will get a year back and have two years left. Our recruiting class is already done with signing five kids early. I couldn't be more excited there. I sleep good at night knowing the future. I think I'm realistic with things. If it wasn't, I'd be a little bit nervous right now. But I think we're where we were expected to be. I would have hoped we could have won a few more games this year.

Question: You were pretty animated the last few minutes, moving guards in and out of the game. What were you looking for from those guys?

Coach Ray Giacoletti: We were going to try to press of made free throws or made field goals and call timeout. We were just trying to, with the substitution in a free throw situation, they'll stop for the sub so we could get lined up in our pressure. We were going to try to face guard guys and see if we could create a turnover.

Question: What was going on with Lawrence and Luke at the end?

Coach Ray Giacoletti: They kind of had some words. I've probably brought that along because I've said all along that we need to hold each other accountable. Emotions run high. Those are two good kids. I actually don't have a problem with that. We don't need to do it out on the floor.We've been pushing hard to try to get some more emotion and holding each other accountable for things. I think no big deal.

Question: A moment ago you said something about Steve's coaching this year, that somebody ought to say something about it. Could you elaborate?

Coach Ray Giacoletti: Yeah. I have a tough time when people kick a guy when he's down. I have a real tough time with that. That's the way it's become in society today. Shoot, it's easy to kick a guy when he's down. Who's going to have some backbone to back him when it's gotten a little tough? He's done a hell of a job up there.
It's okay today. I mean, you turn on any radio show, you turn on any TV show, and it's okay, especially with sports. It's enough. I mean, it's a human being with a family. Treat him that way. I think he's a pretty good guy. I think he's treated people in a pretty good fashion.But our society today, you turn the TV on every day and you've got, you know, Jim Boeheim, who has won a national championship, who snaps. But he's been pushed so far that, yeah, you're going to get a reaction.I just think this thing's gotten way out of whack. It's acceptable to write or say or do whatever you want. Who is going to be tough enough to stand up and back the guy? I'm sure there's going to be a lot of bandwagon jumpers now.I've been doing this 21 years. This is my ninth as a head coach. It ain't easy. Everybody's got the answer. People that stick together with things and fight through things, are going to be successful. In our business right now, you turn the TV on every day, it's easy just to talk bad about somebody or try to fire somebody. I think we as coaches need to band together and help each other out. I think you're seeing a little bit more of that. Olden days, I say "olden," but when I was in high school, our coaches would go out for pizza and beer afterwards. Today you wouldn't be seen with somebody because you're trying to one up somebody else or cut somebody else's throat with recruiting.
Gosh. Enough. I got a little band of best friends, four or five in this business, the only people I trust. We all need to help each other out through this. Yeah, it's competitive, but I think it's just gone too far.