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"Yeah, again, I'm just speaking on behalf of the team, and from them, from us to all of those people out there that believed in us, and understood a little bit about what this is all about, what it's like to compete and what it's like to be between the lines, I'm just thankful for those people. The people outside the lines that weren't quite sure and didn't understand what these guys were all about, that's okay too because in life what you try to do is you try to teach. Sometimes you try to teach by example and our players, I think, taught a lot of people by example. They taught young players some things, in Wisconsin, about how to play the game, how to play together, how to be tough mentally and physically. And I'm so proud of these guys, I can't even put it into words again that what they've done with some things that were presented to us earlier as has been talked about a million times, but what they've done with this group, how they bonded together, I haven't been around a team that's done what this group has done with what they've had. And I'm telling you, this group was unbelievable."
At the end when you had the fouls to give, and you gave them, was the foul with 51 seconds left a mistake by Kammron [Taylor]?
"Kam got a little too aggressive. He went in with his chest. If you look at it, and I haven't had a chance to look it, but it looked like he went into him with his chest thinking that Felton or, I believe it was Felton, was going to put it on the floor, and he was just going to make him think about him, and then boom, as Felton turned into him, then that was just, it was a foul. So, okay, well, all right. But what we didn't want to do is let him come down and run 30 seconds off and then foul. It was either going to be something right away going for the ball. I thought on one of those, we had a jump, We didn't get it because they had the arrow. The other thing we said was, if we get a jump, go in there with two hands and let's get the possession that way. We can get a turnover. If a guy is too aggressive, then you have to just get it back again, that's all."
You really don't see that many guys who bang in the low post like May did. Why do you think there are not so many low-post players? You don't see guys banging around like May does all that much.
"There aren't too many guys built like him, and he knows how to use what he has. He uses his body well. And you have a coach that's going to tell their guards to get the ball to him when they can. So if a guy knows that he's going to get rewarded for working hard in the post, he'll get the ball, and he'll get a collapse to score. If a big man is not scoring, he's not going to see the ball. But May has scored on a lot of teams, and he works at it. And a lot of us as coaches, we tell our guys to get the ball to those kind of guys. We do it. They did it. And sometimes you don't have to be his size to get it in the post. But you have to have some of that post play to open up the things on the outside. And they got a little bit of both on us."
At the end of the game, you spoke with Raymond Felton at half court. What did you tell him?
"I hadn't heard any good jokes lately so it wasn't it. I don't know. I talk to guys afterwards and shake their hand and wish them luck and played a great game. That's something between players and coaches that stays on the floor as far as I'm concerned. Just basketball talk."
,br> Can you talk about your decision to play Stiemsma and the push that gave your team in the first half?
"We needed the strongest guy that we had on the bench. So I by passed Helmigk, Butch, Chappell and looked at Steve. We had talked about it yesterday in practice. Greg, this is what I want you to do if you go in. Here is what we're looking for. And what happened was, his presence was pretty good. And there are some things that you give up right now, with a freshman of his size that may be on some things with screening situations that he's been working on that he's going to be hopefully ready next year to do some things. He was the recipient of a very good pass there in the low post off of a post feed by our team. And he was a guy that was on the floor when we did some other things too. So it isn't just the one peson. But he's got three years of basketball in him, coming off that ACL from last year. We see him getting better in practice. We see Chappell getting better. Those two guys in the post, Brian Butch trying to, you know, as soon as he gets totally over the mono, I mean, those are guys we're going to have to count on with losing the five seniors, and also the 12th who is a young man on a medical redshirt from his freshman year."
Would you comment on the senior class at Carolina when they were freshman? They were 8-23 and now in their senior year they are going out in the Final Four. As a coach, what does it say to them as individuals that you can see from your perspective?
"I don't know that much about another team's situation. And I've never tried to talk about other coaches and how they do things, or other players and how they do things. I've always tried in our profession not to get into that. Except to say it is obvious that they progressed into a very good team, a very cohesive team, and a team that's played extremely well. They were the number one RPI team, the number one seed. I mean, you don't have to keep restating the obvious. They're just good and they're good as a result of maybe handling a little adversity that makes you tougher. That's what they say. But they are all good players. They all came out of high school as pretty good players. You know, I don't think that's a surprise to anybody."
Having played both now, is there any way that you can compare Illinois and North Carolina?
"Well, two teams that stayed pretty focused during the year and have a chance to still compete. Individual matchups and all that I'm not going to get into, but let's put it this way. They are two of the four teams that can win it. And don't laugh, I didn't mean that to be they are two of the four teams that have inside-outside experience, free throw shooting, defense, offense. There are a lot of possessions in this game. Again, for a teacher that's stodgy and whatever else term was used, I guess we needed 90. But I thought offensively, our guys played pretty well. You see how our guys can move the ball and knock down shots and the possessions were speeded up. And to me, it's always been about points per possession, and it was never about us taking time off a shot clock or anything else. I don't think that North Carolina did that. So Illinois doesn't do that. We didn't do that and we played Illinois. That 50-something-40-something game is you had to be there to see the intensity and the knockdown, drag them out, banging and effort that was put into every possession. But again, I still think you've got to play the game enough to know what that's like. And it's hard to explain it until you play it. And I just think that Illinois and North Carolina are two teams that have been through both. They've been through some lower scoring games, high-scoring games. The point I'm getting to, they've played a little bit of everything. So there wasn't anything we were going to do they hadn't seen. But for us to shoot the percentage that we did, in all three categories, and take care of the ball, pretty much, a heck of a lot better than we did Friday night, we gave ourselves a chance. But their offense, their ball movement, their post feeds, their finishes around the basket, that's where they were better than us this afternoon. That's where they beat us, and Illinois has beaten us in some different ways. So when you try to compare, I mean, Illinois with total guard play some game, other games Augustine and Powell will do some things to keep you honest. But both teams will keep you honest. I thought our team kept people honest during the year which got us here. They're going a little further. Because I guess they kept people more honest. Meaning, defensively and all and keeping people on their heels more than on their toes."
Do you think you showed what Wisconsin basketball is about?
"We kind of showed that we can play with anybody. We have a lot of great players on this team. They can all play and we're not afraid to step on the court with anyone. You want to be on the floor with the best competition -- you want to see how good you are. Everyone showed up to play today and that was just great."
You guys went on a 16-0 run to take the lead and then they scored 14 straight in less than three minutes. How frustrating was it to watch the lead slip away, considering how quickly they did it?
"There were a couple of loose balls that they just happened to get and finish. They are a team that can put points on the board quickly. We did a good job on them for awhile and then they knocked down a few shots and got a few bounces that went their way. We were still there at the end. They made shots and some plays at the end of the game."
Talk about Sean May's play this afternoon -- How difficult was he to contend with?
"He's a great player. I mean, he uses his body well. He gets it down there. He's almost unstoppable and even knocked down some jump shots today. He just played amazingly all over the floor. He did a good job on the boards, everything. He's just all over."
Do you think you showed what Wisconsin basketball is about?
"The main thing is, we played for what's on the front of our jerseys. And we did that all year. That's one thing we stuck to and that's what made this such a great season. We just play for Wisconsin."
You guys went on a 16-0 run to take the lead and they scored 14 straight in less than three minutes. How frustrating was that to watch the lead slip away, with how quickly they did it?
"You can put points up quick and they got them on the run. And there were just some decisions there toward the end, you know, we wish could have turned around. We could have made better decisions, but then again, they kept swinging the ball around and working it in. Their guard penetrated and made tough shots at the end. On offensive rebounds the ball got bobbled around and North Carolina picked it up and hit a big three. That's a key play also, so it was just some plays that we wish could have turned around."
When you guys were down one with about five minutes left, you went back and forth with a few missed possessions. Do you feel that you guys rushed a couple of those, and how meaningful would it have been to take the lead back from them the end?
"That was a very critical stretch for us. You know, that's one of the stretches that I'd say we wish we could have made some better decisions. I think we stopped settling for working the ball inside. We weren't swinging it as well as we had been to get us to that point and that's what was one of the main keys."
Can you talk about the end of the first half and what kind of boost that gave you? What was the key when you rallied from that eleven-point deficit?
"We were swinging the ball. We were making good plays. We were making the extra pass every time and the guys knocked down some big shots. Clayton (Hanson) caught fire. Sharif (Chambliss) made nice plays. A couple of threes and then we were aggressive attacking the rim. That is what hurt them, when we were attacking the basket aggressively and making smart plays."