Postgame comments from Miami coach Jim Larranaga, players Anthony Lawrence II, Dejan Vasiljevic
JIM LARRAÑAGA: March Madness. It’s, you know, win and advance, lose and go home. We’re just happy we won. I thought it was a very hard-fought game by both teams. Rebounds were pretty even, assists pretty even, and their pressure at times was very good and bothered us, but at other times we handled it very well. And when we handled it well, we normally scored. But if you look at our three games against them, we had 75 in one game, 76 and 79. So pretty consistent offensively. It’s the defense, and when our defense was good, that really put us in a good position to win the game.
And Anthony Lawrence had a sensational game. Final stats someplace here? No, that ain’t final. Oh, it is final. I was looking at rebounds. Anthony Lawrence had 20, they only have him for two assists, that’s probably wrong. He probably had four or five assists but might not have been given credit because the guy might have taken a dribble or something.
But we had 12 assists. We like to get 16. But these two guys, anybody else? Were really terrific, both scoring 20 points or more. Talk to them.
Q. Coach, can you just talk about survive and kind of that stretch in the second half where you had to sit your point guard because of foul trouble and that seemed like a pretty big turning point of the game where it could have kind of easily got out of control for you and you guys did a good job of handling their press?
JIM LARRAÑAGA: Yeah we only have seven guys, and when we get in foul trouble, anybody, in the first half, Izundu had two he, Chris had two, Sam Waardenburg had two, and two doesn’t seem like too many, but what ends up happening is guys with two fouls tend to like worry about that and don’t want to foul and they don’t plate great defense. And so we had to sit hem out for a good while we put Chris back in with two, but fortunately he didn’t pick up his third. But when he was out, that leaves it up to these two guys and Zach Johnson to do all its ball handling and I thought what we were doing offensively really worked because Anthony Lawrence when he was in high school played point guard and he’s very comfortable out there handling the rock. So real proud of him.
Q. You got Virginia Tech next, they put up over 80 points, I think in both meetings you had with them this year, what do you need to do better defensively tomorrow?
JIM LARRAÑAGA: We got to keep them from scoring 80. 80’s too much. The whole game with them is they’re an incredible three-point shooting team, puts a lot of pressure on you to defend the three and then Kerry Blackshear is having a tremendous season, and he’s a real force, both inside and outside. Outside as a facilitator and inside as a scorer and offensive rebounder. I think we can guard them much better than we have in the first two games, but that’s easy for me to say, I don’t have to put on a jersey and guard one of those crazy shooters.
Q. For the players, when you think back to the two meetings with Virginia Tech and including last week, what do you guys need to do better to have a different outcome tomorrow?
DEJAN VASILJEVIC: We got to stop them from scoring 80 points but also talk in transition. That’s where they got a lot of their points and be able to guard our man one-on-one. They spread the court out really well and rebound. So that’s what we got to do.
ANTHONY LAWRENCE: I think we got to play better one-on-one defense and guarding the perimeter and taking away the three, they’re a very good three-point shooting team, so we got to come out and defend the three very well.
Q. How much confidence do you guys get from getting a win and playing as well as you did kind of to carry some momentum into this game, because it seemed like a lot of maybe people were looking past the lower-seeded ACC teams but because the league is so difficult, maybe teams are better than their records.
DEJAN VASILJEVIC: Yeah, definitely. Loyola did the same thing to us last year and went on a run. We’re going to try and do that. People underestimate the lower-seeded teams. Once they get go on a run, it’s hard to stop, so we’re going to try and do that this tournament.
DEJAN VASILJEVIC: Yeah, definitely toil went on a run try and do that people lower-seeded teams. Once they got going on a run, it’s hard to stop, so we’re going to try and do that this tournament.
Q. D.J., when you came into the league you were primarily known as a spot-up three-point shooter, yet today we saw you put the ball on the floor numerous times and in fact sort of a alley-oop there in the second half. What have you done to expand your offensive game?
JIM LARRAÑAGA: Excuse me, wait a minute, we threw him an alley-oop? We threw him an alley-oop? That’s what that was called?
DEJAN VASILJEVIC: So after my foot injury over the summertime, most of it because of my weight, my girlfriend actually made a diet for me, and I was able to change my body completely, lost 25 pounds, lost about 10 percent body fat, and I worked a lot with my GA’s and the coaching staff to get me better, being able to be more versatile and put it on the deck, finish at the rim and create for others. So I’m just trying to be more versatile, and I think I’m doing that.
JIM LARRAÑAGA: I’d like to add, D.J. has always been able to do that. We never considered him just a spot-up three-point shooter. I think in his mind, he’s so good at that one thing, he looks for it all the time. But he’ll tell you, I’ve encouraged him to utilize his all-around game because he’s always been able to do that.