Press Conference: UVA coach Tony Bennett, players on win over Butler
THE MODERATOR: We are now ready to begin the University of Virginia press conference. Coach Bennett is going to take a pass on the opening statement, so we’re going to go ahead and open the floor up for questions for the student-athletes.
Q. Malcolm, can you talk about your defensive play on Andrew. He had 24 points before you got on him and then one point the rest of the way.
MALCOLM BROGDON: You know, he’s an excellent player. He had an excellent game. He’s a tough guard, because he’s not quite 6’8″ but he’s not quite a guard’s height. So he’s very physical. You just got to match his physicality.
I thought my teammates were really able to help me, A.G. especially. We post-trapped them a little bit. The guards choked down when we weren’t post-trapping. We tried to make it difficult for them.
Q. Anthony, in the second half when you went to the four-guard lineup it kind of opened things up down low for you and you were able to take advantage. When you’re going like that and offense working through you, how does it make you guys so effective?
ANTHONY GILL: That four-guard lineup was something we did in the Clemson game. It was very effective for us then. We really thought we could take advantage of it tonight as well. We made that kind of in the second half, and, you know, once I got it going in the second half, I was able to just kick it out for those guys and it made it a lot easier for them to make a lot of shots. So when they’re keying on me like that inside it makes it a lot easier for everybody else.
Q. Malcolm, did you lobby Coach Bennett to cover Andrew after he was scoring like crazy there?
MALCOLM BROGDON: A little bit. I think Coach Bennett was already leaning towards putting me on or putting A.G. on him. But I definitely did lobby. I wanted to guard him a little bit, and see if I can disrupt him and frustrate him a little bit.
Q. Marial, second half was big for you, 11 points and I believe it was your third double-digit scoring game. I could be wrong there. How did you factor in the second half when you came in and started giving those big minutes and helping your team to victory?
MARIAL SHAYOK: I just wanted to bring some energy. We have so much depth on our team. I wanted to step up and provide what I can offensively and defensively.
Q. Yeah, just feeding off of that, Anthony, can you speak to what Marial gave — I think you were on the receiving end there. He gave a look to you during a run, a 10-3 run, that got you guys going. What kind of lift did he give you the middle part of the second half?
ANTHONY GILL: He really helped us out a lot. When Marial gets in a game, he’s always looking to be aggressive and attack the rim. That’s something that we need from him because it does make it a lot easier on everybody else when we do have somebody coming off the bench who is really aggressive and looking to score.
He also does bring a defensive aspect that we really need as well. When he comes into the game, we don’t lose anything from him in that position. So just having guys like that coming off the bench is awesome. With the depth that we have, I think this it speak to how Coach Bennett recruited everybody and the system he has here that anybody could impact any given day.
Q. For Anthony, Malcolm. This is sort of the game you guys lost style-wise from Michigan State the last two years. What does it say about this team the way you played in the second half matching their toughness and winning some of those battles?
MALCOLM BROGDON: First, I think it speaks to Coach Bennett. He made adjustments. We all learned but I think he’s made adjustments going into this game learning from last year. As a team we followed and we executed the adjustments on the floor. The four-guard lineup is the biggest adjustment and it really helped us.
Other than that, we played a really tough team tonight but we were really tough. So it was a battle of wills and I think we imposed our will a little bit more towards the end.
ANTHONY GILL: Like Malcolm said, it would be our mentality. We came in a little tougher in this game. We wanted it a little bit more. Not saying we didn’t want it last year around this time. This year we knew what we were getting ourselves into. We knew we had to go out there and attack from the beginning and fight throughout the whole game, and that’s what we did.
Q. When Michigan State got knocked out, was that any kind of distraction that you guys had to remind yourself to stay focused on the next game?
MALCOLM BROGDON: I don’t think it was a distraction. It was something to take note of and to recognize, but at the same time, we’re not really a team that, you know, focuses on everything else. We focus on the task at hand and that was preparing for Butler and I think that’s what we did and that’s why we were successful tonight.
Q. Anthony or Malcolm, how important was it for you as seniors to make this step in the Tournament? Not in terms of validating your legacy but two Sweet 16s in three years is a huge step for the program.
ANTHONY GILL: You know, I think it’s great, not only for us as seniors but for this program in general. You know, to have everybody on this team work so hard, and Coach Bennett put us in a position to be able to be successful in the way that we play, I think it speaks volume for our program. You know, it’s something that we can always remember that we were that team that went to two Sweet 16s and hopefully we can go further than that, Lord willing. But I just think that it’s something that we can be proud off, but it’s not over yet.
Q. Malcolm, could you talk about the three-point shooting tonight? Did they do anything to cut it off, keep you from having as much success out there as you have been having? I’m talking about all of the three-point shooters.
MALCOLM BROGDON: They applied a little bit of pressure. I think we missed some open shots, some open threes. But, you know, I do give them credit for trying to run us off the line, trying to contest threes. They are a lot like us. They try to contest threes to make you dribble it into the pack. So that’s what they did to us, and I think it had an effect on us, but I think we also missed some shots.
Q. Marial, it looked like in the second half there were plays called for you, isolations. On a team where people talk about Anthony and Malcolm and London, what did it mean to you to have Coach kind of put the ball in your hands in some of those key spots?
MARIAL SHAYOK: It means a lot that they have confidence in me and I wanted to take advantage of the defender guarding me and just make the right play.
Q. Malcolm, I’m curious if any of — if you or anybody else on the team reached out to Paul Jesperson after he hit that half-court game-winner last night?
MALCOLM BROGDON: I did, I sent him a text. Me and Paul are really close. I was happy — I was watching the game live and I went crazy when it happened.
Q. You were up kind of late, though.
MALCOLM BROGDON: I stayed up a little bit late to watch my friend play. I was happy for him. I sent him a text. I didn’t want to blow him up because I know everybody was talking to him. He responded and said he was happy.
THE MODERATOR: Any other questions for the student-athletes? All right, gentlemen, thank you very much. You’re excused. Congratulations. All right. At this time, we’ll go ahead and open up the floor from Coach Bennett.
Q. Can you talk a little bit about what the mindset was at halftime. It seemed like you got a little more aggressive to the basket. Was that a talking point?
TONY BENNETT: It was a possession-by-possession game, and I thought we got some good looks in the first half. We kind of got into the lane, got some looks. And then some of the turnovers I looked and they had 14 points off of turnovers tonight. There was that one costly one in the second half. In the first half I thought it was costly in a game like this.
We talked about, against Butler, I said, Butler will not lose. You will have to go get it. You will have to beat them. The way they play, I told you at the press conference before, the best compliment I can give Chris and his team, they don’t beat themselves. You’re going to have to go beat them.
The four-guard lineup, they were giving us a ton of problems. 45, Andrew, I can’t pronounce his last name, he was terrific, and we had trouble with that matchup and as Anthony referred to, he mentioned when we played Blossomgame, we had to go to that. So we had past experience that helped us in the present. We talked about that as a staff before the game. That may be the case.
You saw plays being made. Marial made some terrific plays. We do have a play for him, but he’ll ask for one now, I’m sure. Thanks for that. Malcolm got aggressive driving. The lane opened up a little bit. Antony got aggressive. They made plays, too. It was just games being played or plays being made. Defensively, I watched it, you couldn’t quite stop them but sometimes you have to make enough plays.
Q. You heard the guys credit the adjustments you’ve made not just during the season but from past tournament losses. What did you learn from those experiences and how did that factor in?
TONY BENNETT: Yeah. The game is — I said first, you got to be free to play this game. In a way you got nothing to lose. You watch the Tournament and everybody says, well, if you’re a lower seed you can play with nothing to lose. The higher seeds — these guys, their legacy is intact. They just have to after this and play. We tried to free their mind to get after it and play the right way. Four-guard adjustments, how we work at things in practice, that’s the staff, that’s the players. I always ask players, what did you see? Malcolm did say to me, “Coach, let me take him.”
Then we had to decide because we had to put Anthony on No. 0, the shooter, Austin. And we said, this is a tough matchup for Anthony, but Malcolm made it hard on Andrew and that was big for us. So, it’s a two-way street. Of course you have to make decisions but I said I’m going to ride these guys. The way they’re playing, the day Devon Hall picked up the ball and pressured the ball that was significant.
Roosevelt Jones made big-time shots and plays. Coach Kurtis, our strength coach, gets credit because it was a toughness game and plays had to be made.
Q. Coach, somebody mentioned they saw you and Malcolm lock eyes and Malcolm pointed to his chest at a point when Andrew had scored and made it 39-34. Did that happen, or —
TONY BENNETT: Yeah.
Q. Is that the turning point?
TONY BENNETT: Malcolm is that type of player. He sees — you look at him all year, he’s guarded point guards, wings, different guys at the 4 spot. We just said this is the time. He said absolutely, I think this is right. We talked about that before whether it was him or Marial. When a guy got cooking like that, you had to respect that, he was doing a lot of things.
Q. To have that security blanket when someone is scorching the nets the way that Andrew Chrabascz, to have that security blanket, how does that help you when you’re looking at trying to get the defense right and you know you have Malcolm there to shut down the best player?
TONY BENNETT: Just like you need plays being made offensively in games like this. You need plays defensively. Sometimes our system — we had to stretch, we had to do some unconventional things, but you have to, but you need plays to be made. Offensively and defensively, a guy that can bother a shot a little more. Malcolm is strong. It was a terrific job by him and the other guys were working too. I mean, London, we aren’t talking about him and I know offensively it doesn’t show, but he chased Kellen Dunham around hard and made him shoot for the most part contested shots, except for that one big three; we should have switched it.
It took everybody. Yes, to have a guy like Malcolm, different guys that was significant tonight.
Q. I’m not sure Mike Tobey gave you all you wanted defensively but he was 5-for-5 and was unstoppable for a couple minutes?
TONY BENNETT: It was a match-up thing. When they had, again, Tyler Wideman out on the floor and we thought okay, we can play Mike. And just we thought we’d have to go four guards, we did. I know Anthony didn’t want to come out of the game. I thought we can give Anthony a rest. Two huge offensive rebounds, move inside. You know, his minutes were nine minutes, ten points, two offensive rebounds. And he was so happy for his team. He understood. It was just one of those match-up games. I can’t tell you what he’s done for this team. I mean, he’s done it at different times but his kind of emergence and him playing the way he’s playing is significant.
Tough matchup defensively when it was either 45, Andrew, or if it was No. 0. So we had to try to find that matchup.
Q. Tony, do you think winning a game in this manner will serve you well going forward in the Tournament, maybe more so than a one-sided win?
TONY BENNETT: Yeah. At this stage there aren’t many one-sided wins when you get into the balance of the teams but, you had, as I said, you had to beat Butler. You had to go get it in a different way. Again, you use that experience and I haven’t seen the game or any of it. Obviously, Iowa State I understand won pretty handily, we know how good they are. I watched them a little bit. So it’s just now about who’s playing the best basketball at the right time and it’s possession by possession, and that was one of these possession games tonight.
Q. Coach, I think about 2 minutes, 2 1/2 minutes left, in a time-out you walked to the middle of the court. Looked like you may have gotten a little lightheaded and might have had taken a second but one of the coaches got you water. You look like you’re doing fine now. Do you think you need a full-time water coach?
TONY BENNETT: One of my friends, Duffy Conroy, sent me a text. It was Bobby Boucher, the Water Boy. He said, hire this guy as your water coach. I got a picture of Bobby Boucher/Adam Sandler on my phone.
I was fine. I was more concerned I drank so much I was going to need time-outs for bathroom breaks. So, no, all good.
Q. Tony, Malcolm and Anthony were key. Marial Shayok was as much a part of the game in the win for you guys. To come off the bench, you could pick somebody on the bench and have a big game.
TONY BENNETT: From a scoring standpoint he was and defensively. Again, I don’t want to make light of what Devon did on the ball and London chased him. He has the ability. Our offense, we don’t have a ton of set calls for him. Since the ACC Tournament, at different times he’s been able to manufacture his own shot. In tournament games, you have to make plays offensively and defensively.
He had guys up, back and shooting that little pull-up. Drove a couple times and he just made a nice pass. He hit the three. So every time I thought we could — we had a real quick start to the second half, but they just answered and scored. So I hope it was just them making plays that our defense didn’t break down, but we needed all of it. Again, you had to go get it.
THE MODERATOR: Any other questions?
All right. Coach, thank you very much.
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