THE MODERATOR: We’re now ready to begin the University of Virginia portion of the press conference. Coach Bennett is going to pass on his opening statement and we’re going to move straight to questions for the student-athletes. If you have a question please raise your hand.
Q. Anthony, it looked like there’s a picture of you almost praying over Coach Bennett when he was dealing with his dehydration. What were you doing and what were you thinking when you didn’t know exactly what was up with him?
ANTHONY GILL: I didn’t know what was going on. And I was praying just to make sure he was okay. Yeah. It worked; I healed him (laughter).
Q. Tony, can you talk about what happened there?
THE MODERATOR: Student-athletes first.
Q. Guys, you guys were able to go on a 20-3 run to end the first half and kind of put this game out of reach. What were they doing early on to kind of make life difficult for you and how much more comfortable were you obviously after the run to kind of build a cushion?
MALCOLM BROGDON: You know, I think it was a matter of both of the teams getting settled down and getting adjusted. I think there were a lot of nerves coming to this game, being the first game of the Tournament. So we just had to get adjusted on both ends, and, you know, start establishing ourselves inside, and I think A.G. was able to finish a couple for us early and that got us going, got us to a good start.
LONDON PERRANTES: Yeah. It started with our defense definitely. We started to buckle down defensively, started playing with more energy and A.G. started making some layups and opened it up for some threes and some run-outs, but it all started with our defense.
Q. London, you mentioned the three-pointers, what were they doing that maybe opened things up there late in the first half?
LONDON PERRANTES: I think it just started with, like I said before, getting into the paint, having our bigs be aggressive down low, just finishing down low, and then it open it up for us around people. We wanted to start inside first and playing inside-out. I think that’s what we did.
Q. London, just, you kind of kicked things off there, got on a hot streak, hitting the threes. That kind of opened things up for you guys. Can you tell us what that feels like for you when you get in a groove like that?
LONDON PERRANTES: Just being aggressive. Malcolm fed me the ball at the right times when people like A.G. and Malcolm are going, it opens things up for other people. Just being able to hit the open up the shots, it feels good. I just wanted to keep it rolling going forward.
Q. Anthony, you’re from North Carolina. Is it any extra special to have such a big game on a court in your home state?
ANTHONY GILL: Anytime my family can be here and help me kind of motivate me to play the best I can play, you know, I think that really, you know, gets me going. And I guess it is kind of special being here in North Carolina, only because I am born and raised here, but I’m just blessed to be in the position that I’m in.
Q. Malcolm, it’s not often that you spend the final ten minutes-plus on the bench of a one-sided game. With another game two days from now, how much could that help you?
MALCOLM BROGDON: I think it can help the team as a whole a lot. I think rest is the most important thing coming into the Tournament. And then, you know, playing these games almost back to back. I think it’s going to help us tremendously get up by a lot, win by a lot and be able to rest our guys.
Q. For Anthony and London, were you able to watch any of the early game? What do you know about your next opponent? And what is the challenge of the tournament setting where you have the quick turnaround?
LONDON PERRANTES: I watched a little bit of the first half. Offensively they’re pretty dangerous, they shoot the ball, got good bigs inside but obviously they can shoot the ball as well. A different team than we did play today. And we’re just trying to get ready as best as we can, just watching films and all, practices as best as we can, and also rest our bodies. It’s really about us when it comes down to the Tournament.
ANTHONY GILL: Yeah, I watched a little bit of the game as well. I remember commentators saying that they do get out and transition but they also don’t turn the ball over as a lot much teams do when they get out in transition. We just got to be back and packed and ready from the start. The biggest thing about tournament time is the recovery between games and you have to really treat your body well, eat right with that one day off.
Q. Malcolm, you talked in the past about the guys coming off the bench. Could you talk about the bench. I think it’s 33 points you got off the bench tonight.
MALCOLM BROGDON: I think it’s huge, especially for our first game. We need the momentum. We need our guys to come off the bench to play with confidence going forward. I think most of the time the teams that have the best bench production, whether that’s getting stops or producing on the offensive end, I think they end up winning a lot more games than the teams that don’t.
Q. A lot of teams say defense sparks their offense. It seems like that was really true for you guys today. I think there was five minutes where they didn’t score and you guys really started to pour it on. When you were forcing turnovers, getting stops, does that spark your offense?
ANTHONY GILL: Yeah. I really think we can feed off our defense. Anytime we can get a stop, we really get up for that. That’s something we pride ourselves on. When our defense is executing the way we should, it really makes it a lot easier for our offense.
Q. Anthony, as the true point guard of this team, are you particularly proud of your career high four assists tonight?
ANTHONY GILL: Oh, you know, I’m glad you pointed out that I am the true point guard of this team. A lot of people don’t notice that. But I am very proud of that. I didn’t even know I had four assists. That’s credit to my teammates knocking down shots when I give them the ball.
THE MODERATOR: Any other questions for the student-athletes? All right. Gentlemen, you’re excused. Congratulations, and thank you very much. Now we’ll go ahead and open the floor up for Coach Bennett.
Q. Coach, can you take us through what happened there at the end of the half? What did they tell you? Scary moment for you?
TONY BENNETT: I think I’ve just been a little under the weather the last couple of days and I think I was a bit dehydrated, and when you’re squatting down and get up quick, I just grayed out or blacked out a little bit. I was saying something to London and had more Powerade than I’ve ever had in my life right now. I’m hopefully hydrated well and it was — yeah. That’s happened before where you get up quick and been a little dizzy, but I don’t know. It just happened kind of quick, and was just a little off sorts. Maybe being a little under the weather was what played into that. So, thank you for asking.
Q. Were you aware of Anthony praying over you and being right there?
TONY BENNETT: I didn’t, no. That’s very kind of him.
Q. Coach, were you surprised that they didn’t try to maybe put some pressure on you, maybe press you in the second half when they got down?
TONY BENNETT: Well, they had a heck of a year, Hampton did to win their regular season and win your conference tournament. Coach has done a really good job. You asked the question about the three-point shots, they do a good job of jamming the lane and choking and that’s how we got some threes. When you start pressuring and it opens up some things, they tried some zone and tried different things. We had a nice balance going inside and outside. That’s a tough spot to be in. That’s how they’ve been successful. You have to do what you do and you can’t just become someone you’re not, and I think when we separated a little bit it was tough for them. Early on, they’re jamming the lane. We got some inside shots and we weren’t hitting. I could see that watching film that they had that ability.
They had a heck of a year. They really did. The score got a little bit away from them, to do what they did, I certainly have respect for them. It was two veteran teams playing is what it was.
Q. Coach, three-point shot was big for you guys obviously today. Was that sparked by some of the defensive spots or because it was they were packing in the lanes so tight?
TONY BENNETT: I think both. We missed some early but had to go inside. Again, they jam. They really tried to keep the ball out of the lane and penetrate. If you could touch the paint and at least draw and kick, you’re go to get some rhythm shots. You’re going make some of those. You just have to.
Defensively, we talked about that. Tried to make them earn everything. They hit a couple tough shots. Chievous hit a couple threes. Statistically, he’s 22% in conference, I think 29 overall. He hit some of those. You know Johnson can get going. So, I thought that once we got in after about eight minutes or whatever that stretch, we kind of tightened it up defensively and contested more. And that really — we knew we could get stops that helped us.
Q. Joyner had mentioned that your size gave them some issues. He said, you know, you kept bringing size off the bench. With their four-guard lineup, was that something that you hoped to give them that problem?
TONY BENNETT: Yeah. I think that, you know, Mike came and Anthony. I used them together at times and our guards are big. So that was important.
You know, Chievous is interesting. He’s a little bit like Blossomgame for Clemson. He’s really quick off the bounce, so we were concerned about that match-up, and he exploited it a little bit. Then Isaiah did a good job, but we had to take advantage of our — I mean, I don’t think it shows too much on the glass, but our size was an advantage, so we tried to go inside, and Anthony did a good job and Mike and some other guys once they got some touches.
Q. Tony, the last two years, you know, relatively close calls, and sort of a struggle in the first-round games. How much better do you feel the way your team performed today?
TONY BENNETT: Yeah. I mean, yeah. You just know going that this, I mean, it was tight early, and then we separated. Those first games, Malcolm said there’s a guy that’s a fifth-year senior who probably has more experience than most guys. It’s just how it is. It’s all at zero once that ball is tipped. And, you know, we talked about the difference between saying and doing. The seedings, the expectations, you just got to put those away and play in however long it takes.
To be able to have a little separation like that and have some more comfort certainly was different than last years. Two years ago here, we were fortunate to win against a really good Coastal Carolina team. Played Belmont last year. So much of it is matchups, it really is. We had the size difference and experience. I’ll take this feeling over the other two you mentioned for sure.
Q. In that same game what would a score like this do to your guys that are focused? We’ve seen this team do well and come out the next game come out slow. Do you think they know better?
TONY BENNETT: You don’t have an opportunity. You’re done now, so you got to be ready. Butler is a team that they don’t beat themselves, from what I know, and respect that program from what they’ve done in the past, how they play now and I’ll watch them more. You’re at the stage now it’s who is playing best. I think our guys understand that, and they’ll present challenges that we’ll have to be on point with.
I think the guys understand what’s at stake. And, again, they’re capable. You know, I always say you’re able but will you? And that’s what you got to answer once we get started.
Q. Tony, you’re not known for sideline histrionics or anything, but was it weird to be glued to that stool in the second half? Did you tell yourself not to jump up quickly?
TONY BENNETT: Yeah. They told me to sit there and drink Powerade. Yeah, thankfully the game wasn’t close in the second half. Yeah, usually you like to be kind of active and involved. I guess it shows you that coaching is overrated. I don’t think they know it’s overrated. You can sit on your hands and they wouldn’t notice if you’re active. That’s just for coaches to feel good, I think.
Q. Coach, did the doctors mention to you the term “vasovagal response”? That’s a common form of fainting when you stand up.
TONY BENNETT: I think something like that. They said, “You had a vasovagal reaction.” Being a little under the weather, I’m sure that’s all it was. I don’t think it’s anything too serious, a little more embarrassing than anything. It is what it is. I’m sure I’ll get teased about it but we’ll move on.
Q. Coach, what do you get more joy from, shooting the ball the way you did today or having five-minute stretches where they are not scoring?
TONY BENNETT: Both. We have to start it with good defense. In this tournament you have to be airtight or as best as you can defensively and make people earn to get those stretches. But it has to come with that first. You have to play both ends to advance in this thing. It’s nice to see both for sure, but it starts with the defense.
Q. Tony, knowing just a little bit of how you roll with these kinds of things, you probably just prefer to move on and not think about the episode today and just move on to planning for Saturday, but did Ethan say anything about strapping you down and putting in an IV to make sure you’re okay or what is the plan to make sure you’re good?
TONY BENNETT: You’re making too big of a deal about it. I’ll be fine. They’ll check me out and maybe give me an IV to be hydrated but it’s all good.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much, Coach.