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Listen to Audio (9:15)
Opening Statement -
"Probably the understatement of the day is I couldn't be more proud of our team. I know Zabian had 33, Deron had 14 rebounds, but that was as good a team win as I've been associated with. How competitive we were, in this environment. I always tell our guys the hardest playing team wins. And I don't know if we were the hardest playing team, but we played very hard tonight. That's a special group that we played against and we were just fortunate to get one more stop. It's like anything else, you know, they score the last possession and people say, 'boy that was another close one, they competed, they played hard.'
"There's such a thin line between winning and losing, and last year we couldn't impose our will on the game. This year it seems like we've gotten stops when we needed to. Why? I don't know, maybe the basketball gods are on our side. The job Jamon Gordon did defensively on Ty Lawson. Chris Paul and Ty Lawson, the two toughest guys we've had to defend in the open court. And Jamon to play as long as he did with four fouls, I thought he did a terrific job. Deron as active as he was; Lewis Witcher gave us great minutes to start the game; Cheick Diakite gave us great minutes.
"But in the end, Zabian Dowdell. Dowdell offensively just put us on his back. And he got to the lane and he made plays. He always jokes and he always tells me he'll make plays. Well, he made great plays and it was a hard-fought game, they're so talented and we're really fortunate. I told Coach Williams after the game, for this one night, we were just extremely fortunate to find a way to win."
On his team's poor shooting in the first half -
No, we were getting decent shots, not great shots, you don't get great shots. Ok, we were getting good shots. Coleman had some good looks. I mean they all had some good looks. Again, you're talking about 6-10, 6-9, long, angular, athletic, quick guys and sometimes they are going to contest and affect your shots. It's just the way it is.
"We ran our offense at a really good pace. I always talk to our guys about making our opponent guard a lot of the floor, because the more they guard, the more we have the ability to drive the ball. We did a good job at that because of how hard we ran our offense. The pace of our offense was good.
"That was a defensive win, even though at one time I didn't think we could stop anyone. We came up with enough 50/50's. That to me, when you get those 50/50's, those loose balls, that's what it's all about. There's a mindset, a toughness that you have to possess that you are just going to compete. It's really simple, it's hard to do and it's hard to define, but if you just play really hard. Like I always tell our guys we're redefining how hard you think you can play. That's just a constant process. You know I read an interesting article last week, which I gave to all our players. They probably didn't appreciate it, but Bobby Huggins was quoted saying that playing hard, you're not born with it, you learn it."