March 9, 2013
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South Florida at Cincinnati
March 9, 2013
Fifth Third Arena
Head coach Mick Cronin
"I'd rather win than lose. I think you have to give South Florida credit. They are a team that has played really well their last two games. They definitely had my attention. Victor Rudd is playing at a high level and Anthony Collins is controlling the game at the point guard position. They play a lot of guards, so it is tough to rattle them. Stan (Heath) does a great job coaching. They just happen to play in a league where you can play well and lose. If you don't have depth and catch a couple injuries, it can be really unforgiving.
"Before I take questions, what I would say is don't underestimate winning to continue to have a successful program. It is not a God-given right. Some people say this team should have finished higher. Why? It wouldn't have been our God-given right to finish higher than 9-9 in the BIG EAST. The truth of the matter is the difference between this year and last year's team is three close games that we won last year that we probably didn't win last year. And I could give you six of them. We won close games last year. Maybe that was because Dion Dixon and Yancy Gates were out there as seniors and made smart plays and made plays down the stretch. This is a hard league to win in. I can assure you that there are a lot of teams in this league that would like to have our record.
"With that being said, we really needed to win today. I was really proud of our guys for hanging in there. There are a lot of things that didn't go our way from Victor Rudd playing like an NBA player in the first half to us struggling on offense, a lot of illegal screens in the first half, and 11 first half turnovers. (Our players) just continued to play hard and believe in each other. I'm really proud of our guys and their effort today."
On Cheikh Mbodj:
"I can tell you that he can block shocks and he is a great kid. What is hard is for the kids like Cheikh, and he reminds me of Adam Hyraniuk, is the speed of the game and not playing basketball growing up. It is hard for those guys to get comfortable on the offensive end. He and I both would have hoped that he would have had a more productive senior year. He continues to try and give his best effort. At times I get frustrated with him too much. I have to be able to gauge if he is giving us everything he can give. I asked him at halftime to give me rebounding, and he gave us nine in the second half and overtime. That is what he has to give us. He can continue to get to the foul line because he is a good free throw shooter. If he doesn't give us nine points and eight rebounds, we don't win the game. He had no rebounds at halftime. His effort was tremendous and it was great that his parents could be here. They have been here for a little while, but it wasn't easy for them to get here."
On being down eight in second half:
"Play harder on defense. We have to play that way. I thought (Shaquille) Thomas infused energy when I went to him. I thought Shaq gave us some great energy there for a little bit. He likes to press, and there are other guys that don't like it. Justin's energy infuses into his energy, and I felt we were lacking that today more so than the last couple of minutes. I thought Shaq Thomas really helped in the minimal minutes that he gave.
On Justin Jackson's condition:
"I thought this was a game that we really needed Justin Jackson. He wasn't ready to go. He would have done it. If I had let him play today, I don't know if he would have been ready to play next week. He has to be able to practice a little bit without his ankle swelling up. It was as bad as an ankle sprain as you can have. The problem is it was his second time (this season) and it was already sore when it happened.
On UC's offensive rebounding:
"For us, we have to play great defense and take care of the ball. When we don't take care of the ball, you can't rebound the turnovers. For us to win, we have to play great defense and we have to get shots off that we can rebound. We have to have the mindset that we are an offensive rebounding team. Again that is Justin's mindset as a player. We were imploring Park and Titus to get in there. That was the difference in the game for us. We don't win the game if we don't get on the offensive glass."
On the importance of today's win:
"Every game is an important win. It is magnified because it is the last game of the year and probably secures an NCAA tournament berth. Probably being the key term because you never now. I think our nonleague schedule this year was big for us and our nonleague wins. I'm just happy for our guys. They have been trying. It isn't for a lack of effort with us. At times, we've really put a lot of pressure on our defense because we've struggled to score. It has been an epidemic that isn't exclusive to our team."
On JaQuon Parker:
"He had six offensive rebounds, which is who he is. Last year, he was playing the four a lot of the time so that was his mindset. At times this year, he gets away from that. He has been handling the ball and he's on the perimeters. We have to continue to remind him that that is when he is at his best. For him to have a career and us to win in March, he has to be the toughest guy on the court that can't be blocked out."
On making plays to win the game:
"We had two rebounds on missed free throws that were huge for us. I think they were both in overtime. Cheikh got one and got fouled and Park got the other one and ran it down in the corner. There is a fine line between winning and losing. It's not easy to win games in this particular league when every game is a death match. Those type of plays separate who wins and loses. Everyone makes them but who makes them more.
On preparing for the Big East tournament:
"I'm already thinking about Providence. As far as us, I'm hoping to get Justin healthy. We have to find how we are going to win and know it, or we are going to get knocked out. If we don't play great defense, have great rebounding, take care of the ball and single digit turnovers, we can't win the BIG EAST Championship. The way for us to win the tournament is low turnovers, tremendous defense and extra effort on the glass. We have to have multiple people on the glass. We have got to get that done to give ourselves a chance to win. The kids want to."
On playing well In New York city:
"The last few years, we've been playing well heading to New York. We won two, won one and won two. This year we need to win four. Mental toughness and guys that believe they can win, which with this team. I have to do a better job of getting them to believe in our formula. There are times with us that we worry about mistakes and we get afraid to lose at times. In fairness to them, when you start out the way we did and end up losing so many close games, you are so worried about losing.
"We can put all that behind us now, which will be my message. We've done what we needed to do from the regular season and we can put that behind us now. We don't have to worry that we blew it. We had a lot of that going on. Not that I talked about it, but it is inevitable with the kids. You can't play to lose. Scared money never wins. That's the way we have to go up there and play."
UC Player Quotes
No. 1 Cashmere Wright, G
On what inspired the team late in game:
"I feel like the people on our team didn't want us to lose. We had the mindset no matter how much we got down we were coming to win this game and we weren't leaving with a loss."
No. 13 Cheikh Mbodj, C
On what he saw during the play that lead to the block:
"I just realized that he was going to try to attack me and there is a size difference so I used that to help me and I used my left hand and got the block. He was way shorter than me too and all I did was try to feel the ball and grab it."
On having his parents here:
"It was a great feeling because I haven't seen them in three years. They haven't been to my basketball games since I was back home, which was six years ago. In the beginning, it was a surprise but when they told me I was really happy."
On if his parents have seen him play:
"Usually my dad would try to follow us throughout the season, and sometimes he would watch the recap of the game online."
No. 23 Sean Kilpatrick, G
On what his thought was from Cheikh's block:
"He gets blocks like that all the time in practice. He is so much longer than everybody that his size difference against defenders is difficult and he can cover a lot of ground. Not only that but he has the mobility to move with everyone in this league."
On the team's mindset being down late in the game:
"I remember it like it was two seconds ago, Parker (JaQuon) was at the line and I looked at Cash (Wright) and he told him we aren't going to lose this game and once he told me that I already knew that he was aware of what was going on. Parker hit the free throw and that was it and after that we told ourselves we have to lock up on every play now. We have to continue to keep getting stops and rebounding and luckily they fouled us on every rebound we got and we were knocking down those free throws."
No. 44 JaQuon Parker, G
On tonight's victory and it being his final home game:
"It's good for me because I can say that I got a victory for my final home game and it good for all of us as well as the seniors."
On his effort getting the offensive rebounding late in the game:
"You all know what type of player I am, and whatever I got to do I am going to do it. Whatever I need to do to help the team I am going to go do it but we weren't really shooting that well from three and someone had to get the rebound and put it back up so we could get some easy buckets."
Head coach Stan Heath
On momentum swings and what cost them the game:
"I thought the timeout and momentum we got gave us a good run. We kind of knew going down the stretch that they were going to keep swinging. The thing I thought cost us the most was the rebounding - whether it was the rebounds and free throws or rebounds on some of the shots that maybe we had possession or looked like we were going to get - it seemed like they got all of those 50-50 plays with a lot of those rebounds. I think they got about 80 percent scoring, maybe 10 more points, from those second- and third-chance points."
On expectations during BIG EAST Championship
"This is our postseason and we want to make the most out of it. We'll have to take it one game at a time. Seton Hall is our first matchup and hopefully we can take an excerpt out of UConn's page from a few years back."
On going into the BIG EAST Tournament with momentum after beating UConn earlier in the week and battling Cincinnati:
"I absolutely feel like we are going in with momentum and I told our team that. We've been playing some of our best basketball and we came up a little short tonight against a good team, but we're playing much better together. We have a better flow on the offensive end and I thought our defense was solid. We have to do a better job on our rebounding, but we're playing some of our best basketball; in a tournament like this anything can happen."
On not going to the free-throw line in the second half:
"I wish I could answer that question. When you go on the road you know you're probably going to get a tough whistle. Even when you look at the last 30 seconds of regulation when we lost Martino Brock when he got a knee to the thigh, a lot of those moving screens were called earlier, but they were okay late in the game and it cost us in the end because UC was able to take out one of our better defenders. You like to get some things going to the basket; you like to be able to draw some fouls. I'd have to look at the tape to find out why we couldn't shoot at least one free throw in the second half before overtime."
South Florida Player Quotes
#2, Victor Rudd, Forward
On Cincinnati gaining momentum when Anthony Collins and Zach LeDay fouled out:
"You know what Collins does for us. He gets us in our offense and keeps us in a rhythm offensively. Zach is playing really good right now. He is rebounding, being aggressive, finishing, and defending. It was hard not having them in there for overtime."
On UC being more aggressive on the boards in overtime:
"Yeah, we are going to have to be more aggressive. They were aggressive. They did what they were supposed to do and got the win. "
On expectations for the Big East Tournament next week:
"Our goal is to always win. We play Seton Hall first. We want to win that game. They beat us earlier in the year and we feel better about how much better we got since then. Our goal is always to win and try to make a run in this tournament."