March 1, 2014
Virginia Head Coach Tony Bennett
On rebuilding the program with the help of Akil Mitchell and Joe Harris:
"I took a moment to give thanks because I can remember when we had a bigger group but those guys came in and we just painted a picture to them and the vision was come help us turn this program around. When you're a part of turning something around it's really special. That was the vision and that was what Joe remembered. He said I don't care this year if I'm not getting as many shots. I just want to win; I want to turn this program around and I'll get my chances later. For Akil and Joe and certainly Thomas, I'm very, very excited for them."
On the play of the post players:
"They're the number one team in the ACC in points off turnovers so you can't turn it over. You have to offensive rebound against the zone, you have to bang in some outside shots, and you have to sometimes get it in the high post. I thought that we did that especially in the second half and that was key. It is hard. You have to punch it in off the dribble. It was good to see Akil [Mitchell] and Mike [Tobey get all over the glass early. That was significant. We just tried to pin them low and we had a couple different looks. They exploited us a little bit offensively, but that play on the glass and the interior play was good."
On the play of Mike Tobey:
"He was good. We really needed him. He is a very good offensive rebounder and he always goes to the glass. That is one thing we stat. He is one of our best at going [to the offensive board]. Where he was positioned he had chances. There are very few weaknesses in that zone, and I'm not saying offensive rebounding is one of them, but it gives you a chance if there isn't a body on you right away to get in there. He is long enough to be in those spots. He grabbed a couple nice defensive rebounds and we needed it.
How much more prepared do you feel for the rest of the season versus last year:
"We went out and cut down the nets, but I said celebrate this but there still is a lot of basketball left. Keep this in perspective. We will celebrate this when the time is right but this is about us. Now we've got a little time to get better and tighten some things up. But, I think the depth this year and the balance is what's different. It's not just Joe [Harris] as you saw. Malcolm [Brogdon] was in the high post, Justin [Anderson], Mike [Tobey], there are different guys at different times and you need that as physical as the game is. I don't take anything for granted. I know you have to be ready for anybody. But, hopefully we keep it moving."
On the crowd:
I knew it was going to be electric, but that crowd gives you something defensively. I mean it was special how intense it was in there and the passion you got from it. Last time I heard it that loud I was at the Taylor Swift concert. I remember I sat there and there were 14,000 teenage girls screaming and I was like `I wonder if we can get it like this for a game.' And I'm telling you something; it either rivaled or surpassed it. It was that good. I told our guys, the celebration is in the playing. It is in executing and getting stops and doing it between the lines. That is the celebration to me as a coach and for the players. It is so nice to cut nets down and do all that but that is the joy and that is the pure part of it. I just loved how they stayed on task all game. That was important to me."
On senior night:
"I talked with Joe [Harris] and Akil [Mitchell] after the practice and I said don't get goofy on me. Your parents can enjoy this. You are going to get an unbelievable ovation when they announce you name. But we have a task at hand. Just stay focused. I kind of joked and said when the season is over we'll get a DJ and have a party at my pool. I said you need to be focused because this team is so good. It is so emotional. You're with your family and the way the crowd reacts it can take you down a road that I don't know if you want to go down in this important of a game. I thought they did a great job of being locked in, which is easier said than done."
Virginia Guard London Perrantes
On UVa's offense in the second half:
"We got out there and we weren't really attacking too much- only looking to pass the ball- but once we figured out that when we attack we get open looks, people started shooting more and it opened things up for us. That's how we got in that groove."
On their struggles hitting outside shots in the first half:
"I feel like we could have won had we not started hitting shots, but it would have been a lot closer. But we did hit those shots, so we don't need to play out that scenario."
On UVa's slow start offensively:
"We thought our defense would keep us in the game. We always start off slow in the first half and we like to pick it up in the second. We've figured out how to play and know what we need to do make them take contested shots. They did get some open looks but we found a way to do it."
Virginia Guard Justin Anderson
On his and UVa's three-point shooting:
"With their zone, and the way that they play, once you touch the middle of the paint, the perimeter will get open shots. I had a down part of the season where I wasn't hitting those shots, but I've been putting up a lot of extra shots in practice and it paid off tonight. Coach told me to get ready and keep my hands ready to shoot. London's three was huge, and we really started to knock some down."
On UVa's three-point shooting woes in the first half:
"It's tough. At the same time you can look at it the other way and ask is we could have won with one of your leading scorers not scoring as many points. I think someone who deserves a lot of credit is Joe [Harris]. Having one point going into the second half, you would normally think that he's the guy lighting it up. But his unselfishness was huge and got open looks for other guys."
Virginia Guard Joe Harris
On winning an ACC championship on senior night:
"It's unbelievable. I can't even describe this feeling right now. One of the main reasons I came here, and I know that Akil [Mitchell] came here, was to be the foundation for Coach Bennett's program and turning this thing around back to what it used to be. For us to go out this way with an ACC crown is unreal. I can't even describe it. But at the same time, we still have a lot of basketball left. This is exciting, and I can't wait for the postseason, but I also can't wait for Maryland. We're going to have a good week of practice and we're going to keep this thing rolling."
On UVa's three-point shooting in the second half:
"They were huge in the second half. Anytime you can knock down open shots or guys are playing well you have a chance to win. I think we did a better job of getting it in the high post and kicking it out to shooter. We did a better job of denting the zone which let us get easier shots on the perimeter."
On the celebration:
"We weren't really expecting to cut down the nets. They just shuffled us back out there. It was pretty cool. Some of the guys talked about it before the game, but I said no way we're cutting down the nets because Coach Bennett will just want us to start getting ready for Maryland."
Virginia Center Mike Tobey
On his aggressiveness on the offensive end:
"Going into this game, Coach [Bennett] told me to be aggressive, especially at the top of the key. For teams that play zone, that's the soft spot in their defense. I haven't been playing up to the level I know I can play, so I came into this game with an aggressive mentality."
On Virginia pulling away in the second half:
"We really committed to our defense, which has gotten us this far. It helped us pull off this win."
On winning ACC championship:
"It's an amazing feeling. I know it's been a long time since this school has won an ACC championship, so it means a lot."
Virginia Redshirt Sophomore Malcolm Brogdon
On his emotions toward the end of the game:
"I was super excited. You can do nothing but smile at that point. When you beat a team like Syracuse and you're having success like we're having, it's surreal."
On being a part of a big win:
"I wanted to help last year [during the Duke win] and I wanted to be a part of it. It's great to be a part of it this year and being a part of an amazing season."
On Thomas Rogers' 3-pointer:
"I think that was the moment of the game. That's Thomas' last home game as a senior and he came off the bench and hits that shot. It brought us all great joy."
Virginia Senior Forward Akil Mitchell:
On the magnitude of the game:
"This is a team full of guys that live for the big game. We got our opportunity and we were blessed to be here. We just tried to make the most of it."
On the home crowd:
"It was a great senior night. They showed us so much love tonight and really over the last four years.
On the balance and depth of the team:
"I think the depth speaks volumes about the team and about the sacrifices we've made to be a part of a special team. I don't think any one of us regrets it. This is a special group and we all rely on each other to win."
Syracuse Head Coach Jim Boeheim
"They have been the best team in the league so far this year. They proved that today. They had a tremendous second half. They proved that they could hit those three's, and got it going a little bit. Everyone knows they are a tremendous defensive team and they are also an impressive three-point team. They got going in the second half. I have thought that for a couple weeks that they have been by far the best team. This is the first game all year that we have been out of the game. We have to give tremendous credit to both their offensive ability and their defensive tea, too."
"Jerami Grant is hurt, his back is sore. He can't play. Since Jerami was out, he's obviously our rebounder so that hurt us. Their big men did great. The first half was fine, but we got little behind their shooters and we got behind in the second half because of that."
On London Perrantes:
"He is a tremendous player. He has had a tremendous year, and he is a very good shooter. They have great balance. They have a little more depth off the bench and Akil Mitchell helps them out a lot with that as well. The second half we had no change in plans, we wanted to play the same way but our defense wasn't the same."
"I thought we allowed Malcolm Brogdon to shoot the second half, and the first half we didn't allow that. Two of the three games we've lost, we've let those three-point shots sneak up on us. We did not do a good job guarding those three-point shots."
On Tyler Ennis fouls:
"It didn't really matter, he hit a three right away, I don't think that fouls were a factor. For the most part we got good shots. I thought we had some good looks. We try to play each half the same. Virginia is that good that their defense won't allow those shots that we needed."
Syracuse Center Baye Moussa Keita
On the game:
"They had their shooters out hot. Their three's in the second half hurt us. We don't focus on the losses. It's basketball, we have to focus on the next one. We know every other team we play it might be a big game for them but for us it is just another game. When we play we just go ahead and play hard. We need Jeremy Grant out there to be our inside person but we need to play without him and adjust."
Syracuse Guard Michael Gbinije
On the game:
"I just tried to go out there and win. I have grown a little bit these past two games. I have started to shoot the ball better, but I need to continue being aggressive. I have been practicing on the wing and I need to play in that position the best I can. This season is definitely not over, it is a season of runs. We saw that we can do it last year and we will try to do it better this year."
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