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“Obviously it was a great college basketball game, and it was fun to be a part of it. I am proud of our team and the season that we had, and, you know, we’re going to learn from this one. We came here to win this tournament. I really believe that we were good enough to win this tournament. And we have got to learn what we need to do better, and we will, and then we will definitely look back on this season and be proud of what we accomplished. I’m very proud of these guys, all of our guys. It just, you know, it just hurts at this time.”
Could you talk a little bit about overcoming Curtis not being in the game playing a physical team like North Carolina what were you going to have to do the beat them without Curtis?
“Well, we really, you know, like the guys said, nothing changed. That’s something we talk to them about all the time. We really didn’t play any differently than we always do. We did want to just be smart about pushing the ball up. We like to run. We were going to be smart about when we got opportunities we were going to take them, and if not, we wanted to make them play defense for a little while. And that was about it. You know, the reason the guys say nothing changes is that we try to talk to them all year about whatever the environment is, no matter what is going on around us, no matter who is hurt, there is basic things that are Villanova basketball that are always going to stay the same.”
It looked at the end of the game, maybe two or three minutes left your legs were finally gone, your guys had nothing. How do you explain the last two minutes and you give yourself a chance to win the game?
“I think they were tired. I think Carolina was tired too. I think, you know, we had a couple of guys foul out. They did. I just think this team has great heart. I think they are in great condition, that’s a big part of what we try to do. We also try to keep fresh legs at this time of the year. I thought that worked for us. And I think basically just talking about heart. You know, I think guys really dug down deep and that’s something we talk about all the time. There always come as point in the game where the other team is tired, you’re tired. Somebody is going to dig down deep and suck it up and I think our guys did.”
You said earlier this week that you were rolling the idea of four guards, starting four guards. When did you actually come to that decision, and what was it based on?
“I actually asked Jason what he wanted to do. Because he had come off the bench all year and we thought about starting him and we knew he would play both ways. We knew he would play with Jason, three guards and four guards, so it didn’t matter to me and he said he would feel more comfortable coming off the bench. So we just we went with it.”
We’ve seen you lose many games this year on last second calls. When you hear that whistle after Allan drives in, what do you think? What are you thinking?
“Well, when I first heard it, I was happy. I thought we had a three-point play. And then when I saw it was a traveling call, really, you know, for a second there, you’re mad and then you just have to go onto the next play. We had to press and foul. So it happens really quickly. You know, your emotions go high, low, and then you have to go on to the next play. So, and we have had a lot of those. It is amazing. I’ve never been through a season like this, but I really just think that’s what sports are all about. It’s mostly about kids learning to deal with this, in the right way, and I’m more proud of the way our players have handled all of these types of losses all year, all of these situations. And I think that’s what college basketball is all about is; these kids learning to do that because it’s going to pay off for them in life. And I wish they didn’t have to learn it this way but I’m really proud of them.”
Have you seen a replay of that and did you think that he traveled?
“I didn’t. I haven’t seen it yet. And, do you know what? I didn’t think he traveled but it doesn’t matter. You know, there were probably other calls during the game where we got a break. Again, that’s just sports, you know. I feel like those things even out. Maybe next year we’re going to get all of those. We didn’t get any of those this year but maybe we well will. As I said, I look at all of these as an opportunity for these young people, our young guys to handle it properly and to make a positive out of it, and our guys do. And I think we’re lucky at Villanova to get the kind of kids that understand that.”
I know you touched on it before, but how similar was this loss compared to the one in the Big East coming down to judgment calls with just seconds left?
“This one wasn’t, believe it or not, as bad. We actually had two this year. We had one against Georgetown and one against West Virginia where there was a call with .2 seconds left. We had two of those. And then this one so this one wasn’t as bad. I mean, when I said bad, I mean believe it or not it wasn’t as hard to take.”
I asked you the other day about comparing your wing guys to Duke’s wing guys for a reason because Duke’s guys had given Carolina a lot of trouble. Did you feel with your quickness with your guys that you could really cause them a lot of discomfort?
“Yes. We have great confidence in our guards against anybody in the country. And I think we’re very fortunate at Villanova to be, you know, in the Northeast where a lot of great guards. And we certainly have them. And when we go into any game, we just are feeling that our guards can create shots for themselves, and they can create shots for their teammates at any time. And that’s a very valuable weapon.”
You told the team nothing changes, but as you got into the second half, you still have a four or five-point lead. Did your thinking about how you were going to manage the game change?
“There was a point where there at the end. I was concerned about keeping us fresh, and making them play, making them play defense for extended periods. But there was that period where we committed five or six consecutive fouls that it stopped the game, which allowed us to remain fresh. But they scored, what might have been like ten consecutive points. I thought that was the back breaker for us because, you could feel it getting away you we had good shots we didn’t make them. They came down and we fouled. We didn’t use timeouts because I thought we got the stop and we got to talk during the free throw, and that’s kind of, I think, where it got away from us a little bit. And all we had to do from that point was just try to manage. I think we just had to manage that, which we did a good job of, but it was that stretch where I think they hit ten straight free throws, and we didn’t score and we got great looks.”
If you could describe the play where you drove to the basket and you thought you got fouled and they called traveling.
“He kind of overplayed me, and I just drove to the basket, and I thought that the ref called the foul, but he called the walk, but, I feel we should have never put ourselves in that position anyway. I can’t say that’s the reason that we lost because of that one play.”
You almost got that inbounds pass with two seconds to go. Would you talk about that play?
“I was reading Sean May’s eyes while he was taking the ball out and it was almost down to like four seconds on the five count, and he lobbed up the pass in the end, and I kind of anticipated but I didn’t really get any hands on it. And it went out of bounds but I pretty much anticipated that pass but I didn’t get a good grip on the ball.”
Your coach said a moment ago that he felt that you were good enough to win this tournament. Do you feel that way and talk about your 28-point performance tonight and how big an effect that was?
“I thought that we were good enough to win this game. But we didn’t, so I can’t complain about that. But my 28 points don’t matter because we lost. And the biggest thing is winning the game no matter if I had two points, I would be happy if we win the game.”
Kyle, how were you guys able to slow them down. You held them to more than 20 points below their season average and obviously disrupted their offense, even though you played very small against them.
“You know, the coaching staff did a great job in preparing how we were going to get back on defense, and how we were going to play them. And after we made shots, we recovered back to the rim. So, I mean, coaches did a great job in preparing us in practice to get back to the rim. And that’s the only reason we stopped them because we got back to the rim and we played great team defense.”