March 18, 2014
MEN'S BASKETBALL POSTGAME QUOTES
HIGH POINT (16-15) 81, MINNESOTA (21-13) 88
WILLIAMS ARENA | MINNEAPOLIS
MARCH 18, 2014
ATTENDANCE: 3,493 (14,625 cap.)
Head Coach Richard Pitino
"We found a way to get it done, certainly the first one is always the toughest. Then when one of your best players, DeAndre, goes down early, no update on him yet, I would anticipate that he will be ready to roll by Sunday. But you know, I tried [DeAndre] the second half and he was hobbling like crazy. He was making some faces that were making the fans cringe so I had to get him out of the game. Found a way to win, it was a difficult game to coach just because you played two months of traditional basketball; traditional center, traditional power forward, and then all of a sudden now they're playing four guards, even five guards at times so we had to play small which was difficult match up wise. You play for two, three months, not getting the fans, I understand you're but playing in sold out crowds. The whole thing just mentally was difficult for our guys and I thought they found a way to overcome that. I think the first one is always the toughest one. I guess Robert Morris beat St. John's. You find out who wants to keep playing and who doesn't. And a guy like Maverick Ahanmisi steps up, I was happy for him, you can see he wants to keep playing. Joey King was really, really good for us. Austin Hollins had eight assists, zero turnovers. A lot of good things, we've got to get DeAndre healthy certainly ready to go by Sunday."
On Ahanmisi stepping up...
"[Maverick] is playing well, I'm happy for him, I've said all along that's one of my biggest regrets, decision-wise, and I've got a lot of them, which is going to be normal I guess. I just wanted to find him more minutes, it takes a lot of substance to come in to practice every single day when you're not playing. He continues to play hard, continues to stay positive, so I'm happy for him that he's tasting success right now because he deserves it. I know he wants to play overseas somewhere so this is good for him."
Mo Walker, RS Jr., Scarborough, Ontario
On the slow start and the smaller crowd...
"We expected coming in for it not to be as packed as a Wisconsin or Indiana game, but we tried to bring our own energy. The first 10 minutes of the game were kind of shaky, but we got it going later on in the game."
Maverick Ahanmisi, Sr., Santa Clarita, Calif.
On the atmosphere...
"I thought it was pretty good for an NIT game and it was during spring break, so a lot of kids weren't here. We have good fans, so they'd be here if they were here, but I think it was a good atmosphere."
On getting more playing time due to DeAndre Mathieu's injury...
"I know my role on this team--being a captain and being a leader and helping the team any way I can. I didn't really see it as an opportunity, I just went out there and played my game and played hard."
On using the NIT experience from 2012 in this year's tournament...
"It was fun. I know I'm not going to be here next year, but for these guys, when we went to the NIT and got to the final, (the momentum) kind of carried over to the next season and we made it to the NCAA Tournament. We (seniors) told (the younger players on the team) it's something you have to cherish, because we're seniors now and we're going to miss it."
DeAndre Mathieu, Jr., Knoxville, Tenn.
On the team's focus coming into the game...
"Our mindset was to go and play this game like any other game. Coach (Pitino) told us this game would be the toughest because the competition is not what we've been playing against for the last few months and the crowd wasn't going to be what it's been the last few months. He told us to not come out here and pull a Northwestern or an Illinois where we don't have the energy. (If we) create our own energy and if we survive this one, the next few will be ones we can get up for without having to worry about the crowd or anything."
High Point Head Coach Scott Cherry
"I thought our guys played really well. It is hard to win a game with you two best players sitting on the bench. The kids did a really good job. It was neck-and-neck and then (John) Brown and (Adam) Weary end up on the bench with two fouls. We can't win games in our league when our two best players are on the bench. We certainly aren't beating a team out of the Big Ten. I think that was the story of the game. John (Brown) is the player of the year in the (Big South). He is dominant when he is out there. He scored 19 points in 21 minutes. Other guys stepped up. (Devante) Wallace played a great game."
On the impact of DeAndre Mathieu leaving the game...
"We picked up the press a little bit later in the game when we were behind, but Andre Hollins is pretty darn good. Maverick (Ahanmisi) had 21 points in 23 minutes. That is picking up the slack for a starter. I thought we did a pretty good job. We turned the ball over 12 times. In the first half we only had four (turnovers). I thought we did a good job keeping (Minnesota) out of transition. We switched to a zone. We had to keep the ball out of the middle because they were killing us early in the second half with post-ups. Again, I have to have my best players on the floor. It is a challenge when they are not out there."
On the team's ability to keep the game close with John Brown on the bench...
"Our kids have done it all year long. We have played through injuries and foul trouble. (Brown) has done a really good job all year of not getting in foul trouble. You have to go way back to see him with two fouls in the first half. Our kids off the bench responded. It is hard when you have to replace him with two freshmen. The kids who come off the bench are talented, but they are not John Brown. I thought our kids did a really good job fighting through adversity this year and in this game."
On the team's experience in the NIT...
"There is not a senior in the starting lineup we rolled out there tonight. We started two freshmen, two sophomores, and a junior a lot of the year. This is back-to-back post seasons tournament appearances for the first time in school history. This is back-to-back regular season conference championships for the first time in school history. I feel like we are doing a pretty good job. We just have to take that next step to get to the tournament with four letters in it. That is hard when you are in a one-bid league. I have been playing and coaching basketball for 21 years and have won three conference tournaments. Those things are monsters. To win three games in three days is difficult, but that is the league we are in. I feel good about our program and the steps we have taken."