March 16, 2012
THE MODERATOR: Opening statement by coach John Thompson III, and we'll open it up to the student athletes.
Q. Jason, having lost early in your past couple of NCAA Tournament appearances, was there a sense of urgency for you specifically early? I think you scored 10 of the team's first 14 points.
Q. Henry, was there a moment in this game where you felt like all the talk about you guys not being able to get out of the first round was just over?
Q. Henry, can you talk about not getting frustrated when you first got the first two fouls?
Q. Henry, I think you have five assists and a lot of the offense was running through you on those back down screens. Can you talk about how that's maybe developed this year through your career and your passing ability and how the offense has been able to sort of run through you at times?
Q. Is that something you learned when you got to Georgetown?
Q. Henry, you know you had the trouble in the first half a little bit and at one point you had a basket in the second half and looked like you had a big smile on your face. Like that. Can you talk about the emotion? Were you happy that you were getting into it from the scoring standpoint?
Q. Otto, can you talk about your guys' focus particularly in the zone, closing out their 3 point shooters?
Q. Coach Byrd, the Belmont coach, he said that you really threw him off by playing as much zone as you did. Was that a I don't know, was that the game plan from the beginning to get them out of sync, or can you talk about your defensive strategy?
Q. It didn't seem there was any evidence at all of a player on the team taking today's opponent lightly or playing with anything less than total commitment and intensity. Did you see it that way? Did you talk about the danger of this game, or is that just what you expect from this group all the time?
Q. I asked Henry about the passing ability and how the offense sort of runs through him. I'm curious, when he was in high school, if you remember that ability did you see that in him? If not, how much did that have to develop and how much did you guys have to put in in terms of that passing ability? And the second part of the question is what is the key to making that work, that offense work and having a center who can do that?
Q. What's the key to having someone like that facilitate that what's the key to making an offense like that work when you ask a big guy like that to facilitate that?
Q. John, you guys played NC State last year in Charleston. Obviously a lot of the same players, but a very different team. What's your read on them as an opponent?
Q. I was kind of interested in Mark's question about when you see a center or a big guy in high school, do you look at his hands and feet and how do you understand whether the guy can pull off that position, because it's such a unique skill set, I would guess?
Q. Is dexterity either there or not, though? It would seem to be something you can't teach, either your hands are good or they're not?
Q. How much relief do you have just not having to get any more questions maybe after mine about not winning the first game of the tournament?
So because of that, naturally, leading up to today, there's a lot of questions. Our guys turn on TV and see seems like most of the world picking us to lose today. And so you plant that seed. You put that in the back of your head and then you move on.
So it's over. As Henry said or Jason, one of those guys said, we came here hoping to win, expecting to win, and now we're prepared going to start to prepare for Sunday. But this tournament is not about let's get that monkey off your back, it's not we're going to see if we can win another one Sunday.
Q. Is that old school Georgetown defense like the Thompsons like to see it played?
Q. On that point of that defense, could you just speak to what the large skilled bodies you have to work with enable you to do as a coach to make that defense so impenetrable?
But we're versatile. We're long. And a lot of times people just look at heights and associate that with being having length and being versatile. But we have several guys that are 6'8", 6'9" that can guard guards, guard little guys, guard medium guys, guard big guys. And they're willing to do it. It's not just the gifts that God has given them. It's a desire. It's attention to detail. It's a caring about getting stops.
So I think we're versatile. We're a lot more versatile and flexible at both ends of the court, but defensively we can do a lot more that we haven't been able to do the last couple of years.
Q. I know you don't want to talk about NC State yet, but can you talk about the turnover or the turnaround that you guys have to do with the fact that you're saying you don't know much about NC State yet and these tournament turnarounds?
Q. I think Liz said something about the intensity, but I noticed a possession with only 90 seconds left, the game is over, and your guys were still really going at it. A lot of starters out there.
Q. But they were playing really hard, you know. Did you notice that and did you look for things like that and does it mean anything?
So let's not act like our defense was impenetrable today. I mean, we had a good defensive effort but it's got to be a lot better if we want to have success on Sunday.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach.
THE MODERATOR: We'll start with an opening comment by Coach Rick Byrd.
So I think the better team won the game, and I'd like to say different. But they deserve a lot of credit. And well coached. They shot 61 percent from the floor and they made 12 turnovers. That's a scary good offensive efficiency performance, and therefore pretty bad defensive efficiency number for Belmont.
And although we certainly had problems with their zone, I think the big difference was on the defensive end.
Q. Scott and Mick, the stat sheet shows they only blocked three more shots but how many more do you think they affected?
Q. Drew, what was not happening against the zone that normally you guys are able to produce against?
Q. Coach, can you talk about the uniqueness, maybe the difficulty of playing against a team who gets all their assists from their big men?
Because the backcuts then create if they don't get their layup, that means they've got help from the bottom side and the guy stepping out is wide open. There's so many things that happen when you let them backcut you. But you can't replicate that in practice. You can't. And you can get pretty close to replicating a lot of offenses if you've got four or five days to prepare, like we did, but you can't do it with the speed. They practice it over an hour plus every day they practice that stuff.
And, you know, some of it was some of it was them making good plays. But we had breakdowns. We had guys making mistakes at critical times and letting their guy backcut them. We had a even real late we had a they curled a play. We're not going to switch their curls. And we switched it and left a guy over there on the left wing wide open. He made a 3. If there was a nail in the coffin, that was probably the end of it right there. And it was wide open. And we did the wrong thing. And we did the wrong thing on a couple of out of bounds plays.
There were some disappointing parts of it. And I did a really poor job of I didn't expect as much zone defense, and it would be interesting to know if John just felt like that was a good thing to play us or whether he was worried about how we were doing against their man to man defense and switched it and tried it and it worked and he stayed in it. But we didn't spend much time they play at less than a third zone defense. And we've got good shooters, and I just didn't predict that we'd face zone or that we'd do as poorly as we did. But it's a great one. They're well taught, and they've got great athletes. If Syracuse is better than that, I'm glad we didn't play Syracuse.
Q. Do you feel like your guys have made progress to get back to the tournament? Do you feel like there's something you could take way from last year? COACH BYRD: I'm really disappointed in this game. Not because I think we should have won or that we are the better team or that we should have been favored and there were people picking us. I don't think that was right. Georgetown Georgetown is a better team than we are, and I think they're kind of supposed to be a better team than we are. But it should have been it should have been a better game from start to finish. And they established a six , seven , eight point lead. We couldn't we just it ends up being probably mostly double figures in the second half. And I just would like for us to have been more competitive. I think Wisconsin ended up 14 last year. But I felt like we were in that game better than I felt like we were in this game. But, I mean, I thought Clark making those three 3s in the first half, and they weren't real easy ones, were really big for them.
They made some big, tough shots late in the shot clocks, and if we're going to beat a team at this level, we've probably got to catch them on a day when those don't go in, at least we've got a better chance.
I'm proud of our team. I'm proud of our year. Those seniors just won three straight regular season championships and two straight tournament championships and 57 games in two years. And when I get a little perspective, I'll feel a little bit better than I do right now.
Q. I surely understand that your concern is not Georgetown's future opponents, but having played them just now, do you see a vulnerability in their defense that upcoming opponents can exploit? What is the best way to score against this Georgetown team?
But I had some days where I thought we might have won those games on those days. But I think if they play with consistency, if they play I mean, 30 for 49 and only 12 turnovers, that doesn't leave many empty possessions. And they're going to play bigger, stronger, better people as they go along, if they go along. But I do think they have a better chance to advance further than I would have before we played them. I don't know if that answers your question or not.
Q. Could you comment more specifically about Blake Jenkins' performance not only today but these past few weeks?
And a couple of the mistakes I mentioned were focused defensive mistakes that he made and gave up baseline out of bounds layup and an open 3. That's not the kind of thing that the casual fan notices, and if he can get better than that, if he'll make more of a commitment, he's an All Conference player in whatever league we play in. And he's getting way better at it. He's much closer.
Q. You mentioned whatever league you play in. You guys are changing leagues next year. What do you think moving forward, how tough will it be to get back here?
Now, East Tennessee State moved into our league and had a great tradition. Once Florida State and Georgia State and Troy State moved out of the Atlantic Sun, we haven't had a team like Murray State. But we lose three important people, there may be a lot of guys between us in the top next year. We've got plenty to prove, and Morehead State won a year ago, and it could be somebody next go around. But the tradition at Murray State program, it's kind of where it's in the water. They're going to win. They have a lot going for them. Great tradition. And they expected to win.
So I think it's fair to say, and Tennessee State is getting much better. But, you know what, Upstate is getting better and Florida Gulf Coast and Mercer is getting better and you never know what any conference might hold.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach.