UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH FLORIDA
COACH HEATH: Well, it's hard to beat a team three times. Villanova, they're very aggressive, and it's hard to run anything. But our defense is what's got us here where we are right now, and we've got to hang our hat on it. I'm really proud of the effort the guys gave out there on the court. We've got to play a little bit better tomorrow, quite a bit better tomorrow, but we'll enjoy this win for a moment and try to steal another win tomorrow.
Q. Can you just talk about the jump you got off to, especially what Victor did, to have control of the game early?
COACH HEATH: Yeah, he came out on fire, and we needed that. We needed somebody to jump start us a little bit, and I thought he did a great job of attacking the basket. He knocked down the three, got out in transition a little bit, too, and really looked like we had a chance to maybe open the game up a little bit. But Villanova came back. But we did get off to a great start, and I think that was a big key to the game.
Q. Do you almost see some similarities with Notre Dame?
COACH HEATH: Absolutely, yeah. I think there's a very good comparison. Both teams in the non conference. Didn't necessarily have all their parts, and we're trying to figure a way to be successful out there on the court. Once we got all of our guys towards the end of December when we got Poland back and Anthony after his six games where he was out, we became a much better basketball team. As time went on during conference play, you could really see us gelling on the defensive end and figuring out ways we can be effective offensively.
Q. Ninth straight game where you held your opponent under 60 points. Could you speak to the level of consistency you've shown on defense?
COACH HEATH: It's a little bit of both. When we're grinding out possessions that helps, too, but you can't deny the fact that normally teams, their scoring is down, but their field goal percentage is down, as well. We were No. 1 in field goal percentage in the BIG EAST Conference. It is a statement that, one, we don't give up a lot of easy baskets, we challenge shots, and we really help each other. I think the trust level on our defense is extremely high, and that's why I think we are so effective.
But it's something that we're very proud of, how well we're defending.
Q. Could you just talk about the significance of being in the Big East Tournament quarterfinals for the first time in this program?
COACH HEATH: Yeah, it's definitely a step in the right direction, and it shows that our program has improved quite a bit. You know, we want more. We're still very hungry. You can tell there's a newness about our team out there tonight because we played sometimes like it was our first time. But once we settled in, we started playing a lot better. But definitely our program is on the rise, and I think tonight is a testament to that.
Q. You guys have accomplished so much for your program this year but there's still that question of what that's all going to mean next week. How frustrating is that?
COACH HEATH: You know, 12 wins plus a tournament win in this league, and there's questions. I don't know. I don't know why there should be, but there are. But it's good fuel for us, and we continue to use whatever things we can to keep us hungry, and I think our guys, when they hear those things, it motivates them.
Q. The post play wasn't there very much. Can you talk about the guards?
COACH HEATH: Yeah, normally we are much more effective with our post play, and tonight for whatever reason we didn't finish a lot of shots. Gilchrist had some shots around the basket and Anderson never really got involved and seemed like fits couldn't get it going, either. But it's good that Vic picked up the slack and AC really turned it on in the second half. It's been a team effort. We're one of those teams where I don't think we have a double figure score, so it's been different guys on different nights all the time.
Q. You guys held Maalik Wayns to just nine points tonight, which is a rare occurrence. Can you talk a little bit about your plan for how you guys handled him?
COACH HEATH: Yeah. Well, he's a great player, and he's fun to watch when you're not coaching against him. You know, Anthony I thought did a fantastic job just staying in front of him and not allowing him to get to the basket or get some clean looks, and as time went on, we were able to switch and put Hugh Robertson, a little bit longer defender on him, as well. We had kind of two fresh guys out there that were doing a good job staying with him. But our defenses, I think, were really solidified. When you've got a guy like Ryan Anderson in the back calling out screens and helping and helper and things like that, I think that really helps our defense. He missed some shots he normally makes, but I thought we did a good job, as well.
Q. I was wondering if you could sort of look back to that Notre Dame game in early January and talk about what you remember from that and how far you guys have come since then.
ANTHONY COLLINS: We've come a long way offensively and early in the year we kind of struggled a lot. Now we're starting to pick it up a little bit. We were still close in the Notre Dame game the last few minutes, I believe, because our defense, of course, if we just come out on offense and execute, we should give ourselves a chance.
Q. Can you just talk about the first couple minutes, just your energy and the start you had getting things going?
VICTOR RUDD, JR.: I was just trying to get things in the flow, and that's what I did. I ran the floor, got easy buckets. I hit a three when I was wide open, and that's pretty much what it was. I was being aggressive attacking the basket not trying to settle for a lot of threes.
Q. Was there an urgency? What was the urgency you felt in this game?
VICTOR RUDD, JR.: I think we just wanted to win. We're trying to get in the tournament. We've got to win to get in the tournament, and we know what we've got to do to get those wins. That's pretty much what it was.
Q. You kind of joked about this as you got up on the podium, but what can we expect tomorrow?
COACH HEATH: Well, I think both teams will value possessions, and they're very good defensively. Jack Cooley has had big time games against us the last couple years, so we've got to do a good job with him, and Jerian Grant has been very good, as well, and Martin. They can shoot the three. They have an inside presence. They're a difficult team to guard because of that, and they execute well. You know, I don't expect it to be a high scoring game, but if we get a chance to get it up and down the court a little bit, we'll try. But if not, we know we're going to have to work real hard for good shots, too.
Q. For either one of the players, they cut your lead to five at one point in the second half. What kind of confidence do you have in your defense, though, that when you need to get stops, you can get them?
VICTOR RUDD, JR.: I think we have great confidence in our defense. We've been in games where we have to defend when we were up by one point and we had to get a stop to win the game. We rely on our defense for a lot of things, and it came through for us.
COACH WRIGHT: I thought South Florida's defense was outstanding. That's not a surprise to anyone that's seen them this year. I know they're going to do damage in the NCAA Tournament because they play a style that is very, very difficult to play against. We were down 10 at halftime, and down 10 to them is like 20, 25 to somebody else because of the way they control the tempo and the way Collins just controls the game. He was just incredible. We didn't have an answer for him. We know they're going to keep the ball in his hands, and he was outstanding.
Q. Did you feel like you got some good looks, though?
COACH WRIGHT: I did, but I think part of it is that it's never one thing. We did get some good looks, but part of it is they kind of sucker you into settling for jump shots. I thought early in the game we just settled for jumpers. We didn't get the ball inside, we didn't drive the ball, and therefore they were shooting free throws the whole first half and we were shooting jumpers, and you're down 10 at halftime, and I'm proud of our guys, they just battled in the second half. Our guys never quit, they've never quit all year. They've played until the last second. But I thought a big key was being down 10 at the half to them. Most teams, it's not that big of a deal.
Q. What do they do differently?
COACH WRIGHT: You know, they get Mouph, they get our bigs in foul trouble and we end up having to play small against them and that's when they get us. Mouph has been outstanding. The last third of the season here for us, just outstanding. Him getting two fouls in the first half, then we played small, played with Markus Kennedy, a freshman, and that's when they took advantage of us. Maurice Sutton got in foul trouble. That's what gets us.
Q. What is it about their defense that makes them so difficult?
MAALIK WAYNS: They're real long. They just keep you in front of them and clog the paint and there's no driving lane, so they force you into taking jump shots.
Q. It looked like you got some good looks. Can you talk about that?
MAALIK WAYNS: Yeah, I got my shot. I didn't hit it today unfortunately, this is the tournament. You have a bad day, you go home.
Q. Mouph, can you talk about their big guys, what they did to make it so tough to get the rebounds and work inside against them?
MOUPHTAOU YAROU: I think they're both seniors, they know how to play. They keep me off the offensive glass, and they make me work on the defensive glass. I think they did a great job. It was tough. It was really tough.
Q. How do you assess your team's future? You've got everybody back next year, coming off a disappointing year.
COACH WRIGHT: As I said, this was a disappointing year, but I feel great that our guys never quit. They never gave in. They came to practice every day. Right until the last second here, they played hard for us. We've got great leaders in these two right here, and we learned a lot this season. I think we're going to come back very strong. I think this season is going to be something that we always refer to as a group. I'm excited. I'm excited about this group coming back, I really am.
Q. Specifically what did you learn about the way they handled adversity, injuries, real tough losses?
COACH WRIGHT: Well, we had to play a lot of different styles because when we lost everything kind of revolved around Maalik and then we lost Maalik for a while and then I thought we got Ty Johnson some great minutes, so we gained some confidence in Ty. You know, Maalik is our leader, and when he wasn't playing, I thought Mouph really stepped up and gained the respect. JayVaughn Pinkston came into his own, and I just think everyone individually really improved as a player, but we could never get that we could never get that rhythm as a team.
I thought last night we kind of played that way, but it was the first time we were all together in a month, and then tonight this team was too good to miss shots and still find a way to win. I wish we had more games to play together and everybody healthy.