An Interview With:
COACH WRIGHT: Great defensive second half for us. Monday afternoon, we had everybody at practice for the first time, and we're just having fun. We had a lot of fun being together, being healthy, and just happy for our guys that they've really stuck to it this year. A lot of teams have struggles. Everybody goes through it. We do, too. But I'm just happy we got everybody healthy and able to play tonight, and they played well.
Q. What did you guys do differently in the second half?
COACH WRIGHT: Just extended out on them a little bit more. Their guards in the first half, Carter, I think, had three threes in the first half, and Mack had one, and Dane Miller had one, Seagears had two, I think, in the first half. They were 7 for 11, so we just extended on them, and our forwards had to do a good job if we got beat on the perimeter, and Mouph and Mo Sutton did a great job in the paint.
Q. (No microphone.)
COACH WRIGHT: Wow, that's a great defensive effort, it really is. You know, I don't want to BS, we just haven't been able to have Cheek and Maalik and James Bell on the floor at the same time with our point guard, what's his name? Maalik Wayns. We just haven't had those guys on the floor, and then to have the two big guys in there, Mouph and Sutton, has been good. We've been trying to get to that. They did a great job defensively.
Q. What did you think of the way Maalik played?
COACH WRIGHT: Just awesome. Great composure all night long. A couple plays where he gets a little excited, but he really did a great job. And I really think Ty Johnson did a great job. He gives great defensive intensity on their guards. They're small guards for us, as you know, we play bigger, that's tough for us, so we had to go small with Ty. He did a really good job.
Q. (No microphone.)
MAALIK WAYNS: We practice it every day. We come in early in the morning. I come in extra myself to shoot free throws. I've got confidence, so every time I step to the line, I think I'm going to make it.
Q. Maalik, you talked the other day about a clean start coming up here, new season. Did it kind of feel like that?
MAALIK WAYNS: Yeah, I mean, I think that's definitely how we're looking at it. Anything that happened, and we're good enough, we've got everybody back now, everybody has been practicing together. We had some great practices. Our young guys are getting more comfortable, guys getting more healthy. If we keep playing the way we're playing and defending, everything takes care of itself.
Q. Can you talk about having Ty Johnson out there on the floor with you, especially a little bit more in the second half? Does that help open things up for you?
MAALIK WAYNS: Yeah, it allows me to get off the ball a little bit. It allows me to not be blitzed and double teamed on ball screens. A lot of our offense is ball screens. When I get a chance to get off the ball, I can make plays for other guys to going one on one. I can get my shot. I can do different things, instead of just being up on the ball all the time. I think it helps me a lot when he is in the game. Even defensively, you can pick up a point guard full court, so he does a lot of great things for us.
Q. When you look at the freshmen guards does it remind you of how you were as a freshman and can they become as good as you are?
MAALIK WAYNS: Yeah, definitely. I think all three of those guys are great players. I'm surprised none of them were on the All Big East rookie team. I've got a lot of respect for those guys being young guys. I think they're going to be great in this league.
Q. (No microphone.)
MAALIK WAYNS: Yeah, after I came back from my injury, a lot of guys got going, JayVaughn, Mouph, Cheek. A lot of those guys had it going. They were playing great for those two games and I just wanted to come back and just fit in and gets those guys shots, find my shot within the offense. That's what I've been trying to do, fit in and try and take my shot if it's there and if not make the right passes.
Q. Mouph, you had a great defensive effort the second half. Can you talk about that?
MOUPHTAOU YAROU: As a team, we try and focus on the defense. We know we can score. We try and focus on the defensive end. We know we can stop people. We try to rebound the ball better and focus. On the open court, they can try really good and with JayVaughn and Mo and Marcus trying to stop people, rebound the ball, not let anybody pass the ball inside. We know we can score if we try and stop people.
Q. Before half time, did you feel like the foul was a turning point in the game?
COACH WRIGHT: We had three straight run outs there off of our defense, and I thought that was the key. Like that was the third one, so even if we didn't get the attention, I thought three straight run outs off defense to take the lead I think got our energy going defensively.
Q. How big is this for your freshmen, for Ty and Marcus and JayVaughn?
COACH WRIGHT: JayVaughn really JayVaughn is hurt, and his ankle is just not right. And he doesn't say anything. It's still swollen. I saw it, and I said, I don't know how he's playing. The trainer says he says he can play. He's hurt. He's terrible.
Q. But just the experience
COACH WRIGHT: Oh, it's great. It's great for him to go through a game like this and us win. It's great for Ty Johnson, great for Markus Kennedy. And James Bell is like a freshman for us. He's coming back from injury. He did a great job tonight. Every time we can play together it's going to be important for us.
Q. Was something wrong with Dom tonight?
COACH WRIGHT: Uh uh, no, I joked with him after the game. I said, I could use a couple more threes out of you but he played great defense and he rebounded. You know, I think last game he really got hot on them, and I think they really stuck with him, and it helped off of him and allowed us to go inside and drive, and he just played offensive rebounding.
Q. You've had a lot of great guards in your coaching career and Maalik has got it. When you look at those Rutgers guards, what's their up side and can they get it going there in a couple years?
COACH WRIGHT: Yeah, those three guards, you look at some of the damage they've done, they beat Florida, beat a lot of good teams in our league. They're just freshmen. And there's three of them together. Usually, like Maalik got to play with Corey Fisher, and he got to play with older guards. Those guys are out there by themselves doing a hell of a job, and they're going to be together there for four years. They're going to be really good.
Q. (No microphone.)
COACH WRIGHT: Well, when we play bigger they can speed us up, and you saw sometimes where they sped us up we turned the ball over. Last time they pressed us a lot. It was very important when we got the lead not to worry about getting fast break opportunity, just be strong with the ball and make sure we got to the foul line. I thought Ty Johnson really helped us with that hand on the ball.
Q. Maalik, talk about how much you enjoy trying to keep the season going.
MAALIK WAYNS: Well, this is probably the easiest Big East Tournament I've played in since I have been here. My freshman year we had a little action. Last year we were searching for a win, playing not to lose and tonight no pressure going in here rebounding, listen to whatever coach tells us to do. We just try and take it one day at a time?
Q. Rutgers, a pretty good shooting basketball team, 3 for 25 in the second half. Was that your best team defense execution in the half this season?
COACH WRIGHT: It was. It really was. As I said, I think that we together we get Maalik Wayns and Ty Johnson and James Bell and Cheek out on the floor with those two bigs at the same time, we just haven't been able to do it. We knew we needed to get to that to defend teams that have good perimeter shooters. That's what's hurt us all year our three point defensive field goal percentages not being good. We've had to play big. So it was good for us to get those guys on the floor together. It shows us some things we can do next year, but it also shows it can give us a chance in this tournament right here.
Q. You guys have played USF twice already this year. Both were losses. What can you take from those games into tomorrow?
MAALIK WAYNS: Well, they're a good team. They control the glass. They control the tempo. They slow the game down. We've got to try to speed them up, turn them over and just do what we do. We can't do anything different. We've just got to come in and do the same thing we did the last two games, just try to do it better.
FastScripts by ASAP Sports.
VILLANOVA – 70
RUTGERS – 49
An Interview With:
COACH RICE: Obviously, it's very hard to win a basketball game only scoring three field goals in the second half. We made some mental errors that led to their transition, led to their wide open looks in the paint, and it just snowballed from there. A young team might not have responded as well as I would have liked, but these things happen. Learn from it. Hopefully use that as motivation in the spring and the summer to improve, to get stronger, to maybe be able to finish some of the shots down in the paint. But that's life when you have a very young basketball team.
Q. Can you just comment on Maalik Wayns and how he was so difficult for you guys to handle?
COACH RICE: Very difficult, especially in the second half. I thought he was somewhat corralled in the first half. He's going to make very good plays. He's very dynamic with the basketball. I was okay at halftime, and then the second half, our rushed shots, our response to missing lay ups, instead of springing back in transition and getting to the gap and helping, do all the things that we talk about, they just didn't do, and guarding him one on one is not a favorable match up.
Q. (No microphone.)
COACH RICE: Well, when you make only three baskets, that's how it does. I don't know how many lay ups it was, but it was a ton of missed lay ups and opportunities. The execution wasn't there. We didn't execute like we did in the first half for some odd reason.
Again, maybe it was a case of not responding after you miss a lay up or miss a shot or something happened. We just didn't and I couldn't reel them back in during the huddles. They kept snow balling. Maalik Wayns just kept the pressure on and made all the right moves.
Q. When you look at what Maalik is, is that what you envision Eli and Myles being in a couple years, and how confident are you?
COACH RICE: I am very confident. It's going to happen. Rutgers is going to happen. I keep telling anybody who's going to listen. You get bigger and stronger. We need to be we now know what we don't know going into October. They all thought they knew it. They had the answer. It's hard to win a Division I basketball, and it's hard when you have a pro playing a point guard position on the opposition.
But these guys will get it. They had incredible learning experiences. They all developed. But yeah, I mean, the person right in front of me had a half that was as good a half as a freshman had all year. Very consistent. Didn't respond exactly, but they'll get there.
Q. Is it kind of good that this off season you don't have seniors now because you don't have turnover and you can say this is what we did wrong?
COACH RICE: Sure. Again, when you have everybody back, it's always a good thing, as long as you like that team, and this team is going to get bigger and stronger. They're going to understand what makes Division I teams successful, what makes winning basketball teams, making winning plays, playing for one another, doing your job, doing all the little details that goes into it. I love that I get to work with them in the summer. I get to work with my whole team, spring, summer and fall, including Wally Judge. Yeah, I'm encouraged. Boy, it's a tough second half.
Q. How frustrating has this year been given the fact that you didn't
COACH RICE: After this half, it's a high on the frustration meter after three field goals. But again, I didn't know what I didn't know going into it because I never had experienced something like this with so many young players.
And so I had to learn on the job to be honest with you. Would I have liked us to be more consistent? Yes. Would I have liked to learn things at a quicker pace? Yes, but it's a process. Again, this will be something that's going to be brought up time and time again when maybe our work ethic is not good, 12 percent and 3 field goals against Villanova, pretty big stage in the Big East Tournament.
Q. Eli, Coach is talking a lot about these learning experiences. What have you learned in the last two, three weeks about basketball?
ELI CARTER: Just how hard you have to work to compete at this level and to be a good team in the Big East.
Q. For Dane, what have you learned, and how did the season match what you thought going in with the highs and lows and everything?
DANE MILLER: As a team, we've just got to stay consistent, and every possession just play together and play hard and leave everything on the court.
Q. Eli, did you feel like you had an opportunity to stay home and do something going in, stay home from New Jersey?
ELI CARTER: I definitely did, but now I know I can take a little bit of time, work hard in the off season and hopefully make it half.
Q. Dane, you guys now know what you have to do in this off season. Is it kind of clear and crystallized in this last month, month and a half?
DANE MILLER: Yeah, definitely. I think a couple things we've got to work on is attention to details. I mean, locked in and being real focused on both ends of the court, and I think now as the games go by, we saw that you can't win a lot of games like that without being focused. We just come in in the off season and listen to Coach Rice and the coaching staff we should be successful.
COACH RICE: We're going to lock them in the weight room, too.
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