"Well, we feel very fortunate to say the least. We really did some good things and we really did some bad things. But we made a couple of plays at the end. We had a couple of guys that made big time shots and a couple guys that got big time rebounds for us.
"We were down seven, and the kids kept fighting. It was 3:55 [left], we were down four in the timeout. I talked about how tough we have to be the last four minutes, and I thought our guys were really tough. Again, they made some big time plays."
Could you tell me about the 86-80 drill, and how it may have figured into your team's success?
"We don't have an 86-80 drill. We have a thing that we do that we haven't done the last few weeks. You're ahead 86 80 with three minutes to play, and how you play down the stretch. We also have it where it's 80-86 with six points down and three minutes to play. So it's just working on time and score.
"This week we really concentrated a great deal on trying to run better and trying to rebound better. The last two games we've been outscores 41-16, I think it is offensive rebounds. And tonight that was a 26-13 advantage for us.
"But the 86-80, what than means is you have a six point lead and three minutes to play. You've got to get a great shot on offense and be really sound fundamentally on defense. When it's 80-86, that's when we're full court pressing and scrambling defensively and we still have to get a great shot, because I always say if it takes five more seconds to get a great shot or to get a better shot, that's what we're going to do.
"Marcus's three that tied it up I think was an example of that. We had a couple of opportunities where we could have shot it a you little bit earlier, but we waited and got a great one and he made it."
Coach, how would you compare Bryce Cotton's performance tonight to some of the other great performances you've coached against in your career?
"I've coached a long time, guys. I've had a lot of people play great against me. Lindsey Hunter an NBA coach last year for Phoenix, he got 47 against us one night, but we won the game. Anthony Peeler of Virginia got like 45 against us one night, and we won the game. We held Big Country, Bryant Reeves, to zero for the conference championship and Randy Rutherford the guard got 43, but we won the game. The youngster Tyrese Rice from Boston College got about 1,000 in the first half against us at Boston College, but we won the game.
"We did change the first half I didn't want to play zone. I didn't want to play our 1-3-1. I wanted to save that for the second half that perhaps it might cause more confusion if they don't have a chance to talk about it at halftime. I don't know if that worked or anything at all.
"But the other thing we did is late we started squeezing the ball screen and going under, which is what Marcus was talking about, and it did help us a little bit. But Bryce Cotton played one of the best games I've ever had anybody play against us. My whole thought defensively was what can we do to stop him? I think you look at that line. I mean, 13-for-23, 7-for-7, eight assists, that was as good a performance as any of those other ones that I gave you, even though they scored more points because he was truly dominating the game.
"He's a sneaky little rascal too, because on the three that Marcus fouled him on, it looked like he kicked his foot out. But I knew when he went to the free throw line that he was going to make the free throws. So it was an impressive performance, and I said that to him when we were shaking hands."
I want you to talk a little bit about how your team plays as a unit. You have a point guard in Paige who is a good floor general. You have McDonald who is a good shooter. You have Tokoto who is a great all-around player, and then you have two bigs in McAdoo and Johnson. Talk about how they seem to play as a unit. Obviously, this isn't your most heralded squad, but they play well together. Talk a little about that.
"It's been a fun team to coach. We've had a little adversity on the court, off the court and this stuff early. We got off to a start of 1-4 in our league, and the kids never started pointing fingers. We do have a plan. I've been called frighteningly organized one time in my life. I don't know what that really means. But we have a plan and the kids have accepted it. Every single day they tried to get better. That is our mantra, let's get better today. When it was 1-4, I told them we were going to be okay. We've just got to play better. And I think that the kids gave us a much better sense of urgency in their play.
"Marcus and James Michael are great leaders too. They're leaders by how well they played. They're leaders by how intelligent they are. They're leaders how unselfish they are. But when they say something, the other kids listen to them as well.
"I think that the leadership that we get from that makes my job a heck of a lot easier. But they've trusted our coaches. You heard James Michael use that word right there. He said he trusted me. I walked out to him before, and put him back in with two fouls. I said I'm going to put you back in, but I want you to be a basketball player and play with your brain. I said I know you can do it, and I do trust him. And I did that. But they trust us too. It's that special bond you have with a coach to a player."
Coach, what is it about this group that you said they can play so well and so terrible, and they turn around so quickly from trouble. Why does this group throwaway the bad plays so quickly?
"I talk to them all the time about next play. I mean scream at J.P. for a silly turnover, and I say it's behind us now. Next play. We do trust each other. Again, we believe in each other. I'm just dumb enough that I don't think the game is ever over with. We were down against Pittsburgh by about 1,000 the other night, and I still thought we were going to come back and win the game. I do try to instill that in our team. And they trust us, but it's an unusual group.
"We have one senior, all right. Leslie is the only senior, but Marcus and James Michael are the only two on our club that's ever played significant minutes in an NCAA tournament game. So it's really a young club. But they follow James Michael's lead and Marcus's lead, and those are two great kids. We're very fortunate."
Coach, can you talk about the mood in the huddle and what you said to James Michael when he was going to the line there the last few seconds?
"I told him it was easy. I told him, I said one time I was in a golf tournament, a guy said if you make this putt we win $55,000, and I backed off and started laughing. I said why in the dickens did you tell me that? I said it's a six foot putt, downhill, right to left, it's not the easiest putt in the world. But I'm going to make the sucker.
"So if I can make a putt for $55,000, and I said it's for my charity. Not for me. I didn't win $55,000 for me. I didn't lose $55,000 by missing. I said two free throws, that's easy compared to making a putt for $55,000. So I was basically trying to get him to stop thinking about it so much."
Did you make the putt?
"I did make the putt and we won $55,000. You think I'd tell the story if I missed the sucker? Come on."