2007 NCAA Men's Basketball Championship First Round
Nationwide Arena, Columbus, Ohio
March 16, 2007
No. 4 Virginia 84, No. 13 Albany 57
Virginia Postgame Locker Room Quotes
John Cain, senior forward
On the tournament
"You have to come to play every time you come to a game. Everyone is trying to win the game. Everyone wants to continue playing. Nobody wants their season to end."
On the game
"We came out strong and shocked them a little bit by how fast we came out. Coach (Dave Leitao) just said to be aggressive and go out to win. Everyone was energized and came out ready to play."
On teammate J.R. Reynolds
"It wasn't anything we haven't seen before. Every time he plays, he does something great. He is an amazing player and he showed that today."
J.R. Reynolds, senior guard
On his injury
"You just have to forget about it. I wasn't worried about it. I feel better than I did a week ago. I just had to put everything else aside for the game. You can't think about anything, you just have to come out ready to play."
On the game
"We got in the groove of things and got the game going. We just tried to make it tough on them. I think we made a great statement today. We aren't finished yet. We had to show everyone what we can do. Today was a good way to get started. We played great defense, which makes the offense come easy."
Sean Singletary, junior guard
On getting out to a good start
"We did a good job of getting everyone the ball. Our communication was good and we did a good job reading the defense. Everyone was active."
On denying Albany the upset
"We didn't think about that much. Coach (Dave Leitao) mentioned it once but we didn't talk about it after that. We just went out and played our game and got the win."
On the win
"We definitely got a good win today. We struggled a little bit toward the end of the regular season, but now it is the tournament. It is a whole different season. It was good to start out the way we did today."
Albany Postgame Locker Room Quotes
Brian Connelly, sophomore forward
On Virginia's defense
"They played good defense but we struggled on offense. Their defense combined with our bad offense wasn't a good combination today. They hit a lot of early shots to give them confidence and we couldn't hit anything early on. It was tough to get out of that early hole."
Brian Lillis, junior forward
On Virginia's offense
"We missed some shots and then they came down and hit some at the other end. They got out so fast we had trouble getting back in the game. We thought we could come back but it was tough against a good team."
Jon Iati, junior guard
On stopping Virginia's guards
"We tried to focus on (Sean) Singletary and (J.R.) Reynolds. Their entire game goes through them, but they were on today so they were tough to guard."
On Albany's offense
"We had opportunities early on. We had some good looks but they were bigger, stronger and more athletic. It was tough to match up against them."
Virginia Postgame Press Conference Transcript
COACH LEITAO: Obviously we're very, very happy, particularly for J. R. to come back and play the way he's capable of playing and it gives us a chance when both of those guys, Sean for the full 40, especially the second half and J. R. all game long offensively and defensively gave us a chance, but with everything we do, it's a total team effort and we really concentrated this week defensively at taking what in my estimation is a great player in Jamar Wilson and trying to concentrate more than one guy on him and disrupt the rhythm of their offense and I thought all of our big guys stepping out, Jason, Tunji, Lars, a freshman off the bench, really did a good job of clogging the lane and making it tough on him an the rest of the guys and overall I'm very, very pleased with what we did today.
REPORTER: J. R., did you have any sense that you would play a game like this, did you feel better than you did in warmups?
REYNOLDS: I was feeling good all week just to get back in the rhythm, get back with my guys on the team, they kind of uplifted me. I didn't want this to be our last game, so --
REPORTER: Sean, when you see J. R. playing the way he did early on, what does that do for you and the rest of the guys on the team?
SINGLETARY: It really gets our energy going, especially when we get stops on defense. I know with J. R., when he's got it going like that, there's no option but to keep going to him and ride the high hand as long as we can. Ever since that, we never look back.
REPORTER: Both you guys, if you could answer this, that'd be great. You have a game like this, I'm sure it gives you some sort of confidence going into Sunday and how hard will it be to come back Sunday playing two games in three days, obviously you've done it before, but what are the difficulties on this stage?
REYNOLDS: Right now, the guys just don't want to go home, that's the biggest thing. We want to continue to play. We've been working hard all week to get prepared for this weekend. We've just got to get back and get our rest and get prepared for whoever wins this next game.
SINGLETARY: It's definitely the case. We don't want to do the same things as we did last year, early this season we had a lot of confidence and then we lay eggs, so we've got to get our minds and bodies rested.
REPORTER: J. R., what happened to this hip injury of yours? You didn't look affected at all by it.
REYNOLDS: You're just playing for the guys. That's the biggest thing for me. I put everything else behind. And when you go out on that court, you can't feel no pain. Everybody wants to win and I don't want to let the guys down.
REPORTER: Several major media outlets picked Albany in an upset. Did you perhaps feel a bit discounted?
SINGLETARY: All week we were excited about this match-up. It's the first time J. R. and I have never been to the tournament and we wanted to fill our team with energy and we did that. We knew they had a great player in Wilson, but our whole team was better than their whole team today. He's a great player but we had a better team today. We play in the toughest conference in the country and we want to make that effect.
REPORTER: Dave, if you could talk a little bit about the result of this game, could you have asked at a coach in a first round like this to see a better result? Sean, could you have asked for a better result today to get off on the right start?
SINGLETARY: We're definitely getting off on the right foot. They're a good team, but our energy, we could have beat a lot of teams today because our energy was just so great throughout the game and we sustained it for 40 minutes unlike we did earlier in the season where we let up on teams but we really didn't let up today. In the second half, when they started to make a run, we just answered it with a big shot, J. R. had a big shot, we had a couple rebounds and a couple big shots. We out-hustled them today and out-energized them today.
REPORTER: Sean, when you went down in the hump there banging heads, were you groggy?
SINGLETARY: I take a lot of hits throughout the year. That's nothing new. I just had to get back up and keep playing.
REPORTER: J. R., a couple things, first are those new shoes that you're wearing today? And second, just tell us what it felt like to be playing the way you were playing out there based on the games that you've had recently?
REYNOLDS: Yeah, these are new shoes. I had to go with a different look. But it just felt good, like I said, and getting into a rhythm and practice was important for me this week. And once I established that and got in a rhythm, then you I knew I'd be fine today.
REPORTER: J. R., it seemed like you were playing with a swagger out there, at a certain point you looked superconfident and I think everyone else on the team had an air of confidence about them after you guys got off to a good start, did you kind of sense that or feed off that a little bit?
REYNOLDS: It started with our defense. That's what got us, that swagger going and that's what got our rhythm and once we kept getting stops in the first half, that's when the offense was coming to us.
REPORTER: I'd like to ask Sean, as a point guard, when you're up by 20 points in the first half, does that change the way you run the offense or approach the rest of the game? Do you try to modulate a little bit and slow things down or do you still want to push? Does the big early lead change your approach at all?
SINGLETARY: In the first half, you don't want to let up, in the second half you don't want to let up. We play best in transition, so it would be best for us to do that for 40 minutes. When we're up 20, we need to keep our foot on the pedal. When we started to let up, they wanted to run, and then we put our foot back on the pedal and we did that until the last minute and then we ran good offense and took some time off the clock. For us, our best bet is to keep running, keep energized and keep getting stops and transition.
REPORTER: J. R., the toughest shot you probably had was the one lying on your back after the whistle when you threw that one in, were you so hot, did you even think that shot was going to go in?
REYNOLDS: When you've got it going like that, I don't know, but it was a tough shot, so I don't know.
REPORTER: Sean, it's not unusual for you guys to be up at halftime. Recently you'd come out and play poorly in the second half as a team. How much talk was there today talking about coming out with the energy you talked about, because I think you scored the first five points and kind of put the game away?
SINGLETARY: That's been a point of ours the whole year. We struggled with that, we struggled with it a lot last year, which is consistency. We did a good job of it today. Throughout the season, we're up big at the half and sometimes lose leads, sometimes sustain it, but we did a good job of it today. So it just speaks to our resiliency, you know, we play tough and play hard and never let up.
REPORTER: J. R., you only trailed the Albany team by two at the halftime intermission, were you aware of the kind of half you were having at intermission?
REYNOLDS: I knew we were playing great basketball and kept getting stops, I didn't know we were up by however many points. Our biggest thing, I just play attention to how we're playing defense and how quickly we're moving the transition.
REPORTER: Dave, talk about being able to see your team come out and play like this in the first round, as a coach could you ask for any better result in a first round game?
COACH LEITAO: No, particularly knowing what we had to do from a game plan standpoint, we looked obviously, as everybody else did, at a lot of film and you try to understand what a team does well and what their deficiencies are and once we zeroed in on a few things to try to get the guys to understand that, and that's a challenge sometimes physically and mentally, but I thought all week, and I've said it, that we had a really concentrated effort by everybody and what we needed to do and it's made practices more crisp in preparation and obviously as you mentioned when you go out there and you're able to execute that, it means that you have guys that understand, which is a very important thing this time of year.
REPORTER: Coach, did you have any idea going in that -- I mean, J. R. looked 100%. What was the nature of his injury? And did this surprise you, his performance today?
COACH LEITAO: I'm not surprised because J. R.'s done a lot of this throughout the two years that I've been with him. And again, I think what we try to do is manage his injury throughout the later stages of the season, and try to establish that thin line between resting him and keeping his rhythm and I thought this week that his time on the court was good and it got him his rhythm back, which he was lacking, but yet we still had time to rest him and make sure he was feeling comfortable that way. So obviously we have to continue to do that, we've got a quick turnaround until we get to Sunday afternoon and we've got to rest him but yet keep him in the same frame of mind, and that comes from how he feels physically.
REPORTER: I'd like to ask Dave, from the way you manage the game on the bench, is there any difference between how you would handle a 20-point lead in a regular season game early in the game or a 20-point lead in this environment where you just absolutely have to win?
COACH LEITAO: Well, J. R. mentioned it. I tried not to very much at all look at the score board. I look at how we're playing. And then I manage the game a little bit more that way. We were playing hard and guys were aggressive, so it allowed me to substitute more and more freely, especially earlier in the game where guys could have gotten -- needed to get their second wind. But when you get up, if I look up at the score, it's probably not until under 10 minutes to go in the game that you start managing it differently because you're up by that many points and even a team in this tournament, has the ability, especially because they're a good team to come back, so for me it's just managing the game by how we're playing and seeing what we need to make adjustments on more than anything else.
REPORTER: Dave, as well as the guards were playing, you got nine of your first 13 from other people, how important is it to see that those guys are into it early and what does that do for Sean and J. R.?
COACH LEITAO: It is big, and even the last game we played, Jason Cain got off to a quick start as he did today and we were able to maintain ourselves that way and let everybody on our team, especially everybody on the other team understand that we're going to have to guard everybody and Jason had a couple post-ups early, he made a really good offensive move early, Tunji scored early, Mo was able to establish himself and I think it gave the confidence to all five guys on the floor that anybody can touch it, potentially can make plays and obviously once J. R. got started and made shots, it opened up from there.
REPORTER: When people look back on the first half they'll probably remember J. R. shooting, but Albany's first possession you forced them into a shot clock violation and it seemed to set the tone defensively, was that as important to you as what you were doing offensively?
COACH LEITAO: Absolutely. We knew if we're playing good basketball, we'll get our fair share of looks, whether we make them a lot depends on how we feel. How we feel depends on what we do on the defensive end. We've got to come out and establish that right away. And understanding that, again, for three or four days now we've been talking about what they're going to do and how they're going to do it and what we need to do to take some things away. And once we started the game and that happened, it energized us and allowed to us play better offense.
REPORTER: Dave, specifically what was your game plan with regard to Jamar Wilson?
COACH LEITAO: Well, we wanted to crowd him. We had J. R. on him to start. We put Mo on him for long stretches. We wanted to make sure if he put the ball on the floors that he saw not one but two, maybe three sets of eyes on him. We tried to chase him off screens so he couldn't turn the corner and made him give up the ball more than he's used to doing, rotate to people we thought could hurt us, if we get to our rotations, obviously play basketball from there. It worked in that it allowed us to play deep into the shot clock and then once that happened, they were taking more uncomfortable shots than comfortable shots and it started obviously with him and as I said, making sure that we had at least two tore three sets of eyes on him.
REPORTER: Dave, also with regard to Jamar, did he live up to what you saw from him on film? Was he as good as you expected?
COACH LEITAO: All the games I've watched, even going back to last year, he's a tremendous player. He does it in a lot of ways similar to the guys we have because he's talented, first of all. He has a skill package that is undeniable. He's got quickness and agility, those kinds of things to get to spots on the floor. It looks like not knowing him personally that his biggest asset may be his brain. He really understands the game, he understands how to make people better, he understands his impact on the game. He can get to spots he wants to go and make things happen for himself and his teammates. You've got to recognize that and respect that more than anything, and having played and coached a couple of different times in that league, you start talking about two-time player of the year where Malik Rose and Reggie Lewis and Taylor Coppenrath, those are guys that go down in history of that league and he fits very well within that company.
REPORTER: Of course you never play the perfect game, but did you feel like you guys played at a really high level today or that's about as revved up as you could have hoped today?
COACH LEITAO: We played on both ends as aggressive as we need to be. I looked at the stats, anytime we're in that 40% or below field goal percentage, that means we've done some things right to disrupt the other team's rhythm. Offensively if we can get out there and get some bodies moving up the floor which allow us to make early decisions in the offense, it gives us confidence to execute, I think that's been good for us all year long and we were able to do that today and make it work for us.
REPORTER: Why is it that guard play is so essential once you get to the tournaments, is it because you're seeing different looks all the time?
COACH LEITAO: It's the people that have the ball in their hands. It's the guys that touch the ball that have to make decisions, that have to make plays on both ends. Obviously you'd love to have a Greg Oden or somebody like that on your team this time of year, but whoever continues to advance, it's going to be most likely because they've had terrific decisions made by their perimeter players. And as I said, we just happen to have two that are good at a lot of different things and one of them is making good decisions for us.
Albany Postgame Press Conference Transcript
COACH BROWN: Well, I thought Virginia played as well as they could play I was very impressed with their team today. Their guards are as good as expected, as well as advertised. I thought early in the game we got some good looks and we didn't knock them down and we got frustrated and we let that impact how we defended. We didn't really execute the game plan very well in the first half, a lot of that had to do with Virginia's defensive schemes and also the success that they were having on the offensive end of the floor. I thought our team did some really good things in the second half, but it was a little too much, a little too late, but hats off to Virginia. Everybody looks at North Carolina as a number one seed and people don't realize that North Carolina didn't win the ACC outright, they were co-regular season champions with the Virginia Cavaliers so we knew going in that Virginia was a tremendous basketball team, very talented and we would have our hands full and if we played exceptionally well we would have a chance to win the game, but the better team today won the basketball game.
REPORTER: What made it tough for you guys shooting-wise today?
JAMAR WILSON: They were just really solid. Obviously they blitzed a lot of us off of ball screens and we got a couple of double teams and I think they're just really aggressive and they with a lot of enthusiasm.
REPORTER: How about personally?
JAMAR WILSON: I would say they definitely defended me tough, I would say they had a six-six guard on me most of the game and every time I came off a ball screen on screen, they tried to double as much as possible but I think they more so did a good job of after double willing me that they didn't give up any easy looks and made us shoot late in the shot clock so that's where we struggled at.
REPORTER: After the way you played last year, was it a little of a shock to find yourselves down 19-2?
BRENT WILSON: I think no matter what game you're in, it's going to be a little bit of a shock, especially with the group we had, we thought we could win this game and things in the first half definitely didn't go our way and we were a little shocked to see that, so, I mean, we just kind of had to play through it and towards the end all you're playing through is pride and the guys on the bench with you and the 600, 800 people that made the trip from Albany because the support's been great this year and you don't want to let anybody down.
REPORTER: Brent, a tough day on the boards for you guys, what made it tough to rebound against Virginia?
BRENT WILSON: Just, I mean, you're facing up against six-ten, six-11, you don't see that every day in the America East. I don't think we as a group adjusted well. That was a significant edge, they outrebounded us 41/25 so that definitely played a big part in the game.
REPORTER: A question for the seniors, is this a frustrating way to go out, to just be blown out in the NCAA tournament?
JAMAR WILSON: Definitely, I mean, I felt we were playing our best basketball and we were more prepared than any team in the Country, I felt. From getting up at 7:00 in the morning, 7:45 in the morning, making sure that we knew all this stuff from eating, breathing, sleeping, you know, Virginia Cavaliers and the fact of the matter is, they totally took us out of our game. It had nothing to do with any coaching or anything. I think more so than anything, they just played a lot tougher than us and especially for us seniors, it's really hard being that we knew we could have brought some more to the table, but obviously they're a good team and I wish the best for them and we just have to hope for more positive years to come in Albany basketball.
REPORTER: For Jamar and Jason, their guards are exceptionally quick, have you guys seen anybody play like that? It just seems like you guys are quick in your own rite, it just seems like they were a step or two ahead.
SIGGERS: We already knew those guys were NBA-type players, I guarded Marcus Williams last year who is a very quick player and a player like Sean Singletary who can drive to the basket and shoot deep threes, it makes it tough so you just have to try to contain those guys and they did a good job of evening out their attack. Reynolds went off today, so those guys did a great job.
REPORTER: What was clicking last year with U-Conn that those kind of things going well for you last year was not this time around?
JAMAR WILSON: We played defense last year. The whole game felt like U-Conn. They were just out there playing and I think from the start of the game, Virginia came with a lot of momentum. They hit a couple shots and we missed a couple shots, a lot of teams get confidence and that's when they try to stick it to you, and when we got down 19-2, it was like we were playing to come back instead of playing to win and got down more and obviously the story goes for itself.
REPORTER: For any of the players, more often than not, a game with a low seed goes like this than it did with you guys did against U-Conn last year, does this make you appreciate what you did against U-Conn last year?
BRENT WILSON: I think it definitely does, but I think it makes you appreciate all the hard work we put in last year, and the way things went last year, I think the big difference between last year's game and this year, we got off to a big start last year and all of a sudden we had 20,000 people cheering for us, and all of a sudden, you're down 14-2, and nobody's really cheering for you. You didn't have the whole arena on your back so I think that was a big difference going into this year's game, we got off to a good start and all of a sudden you've got 20,000 people behind you.
REPORTER: What were you hoping to do defensively against Reynolds that did not work out today?
COACH BROWN: We needed to find those guys in transition, both Reynolds and Singletary, Virginia excels when they can get out in transition the other thing was to make sure we hedged hard on ball screens and forced them to give up the basketball. What happens with great players, especially shooters/scorers, when they get themselves in a rhythm, they're tough to stop. Reynolds got himself in a good rhythm in the first half and Singletary was in a good rhythm in the second half. We're a man to man team, we've played man to man defense since I've been at Albany and we felt we could guard those two guys with a lot of help. We got down 19-2, our kids were in shock. That's the first time we've been in that position all year long. The last time we were probably in shock like that was the second half against VCU earlier in the year. So you've got to give credit to Virginia and to Singletary and Reynolds. When you get in a rhythm, you're going to make tough shots as well. And there's a reason why they're the co-champs in the ACC, they're good. But we felt if we executed our game plan to a T, that we'd be able to take this thing down the stretch and hopefully have this arena on our side and see what happens, but we never got ourselves to that point.
REPORTER: Coach, what's your estimation of how far Virginia can go given that they have not only one but two good guards? How dangerous are they because of that?
COACH BROWN: Guard play is really going to be to your advantage in the NCAA tournament, if you have more than one guy that can go off, and they have Singletary and Reynolds, they go off on the same night, teams are going to be in trouble, if one of them goes off, they're good enough to carry a team. So I think the big thing for them is they probably need some other guys to step up and help them. And again, I've said this over and over. You talk about the great teams in the ACC, right away, everybody thinks of North Carolina, Duke. Virginia was the team that tied Carolina, they're good, they're doing something right. People are hesitant to say Virginia has a shot to go deep into this tournament is because they struggled a bit down the stretch. But if those two guards shoot the ball like they did tonight, they can go a long way. They're a good club, they're well coached. They're big, strong, physical, that hurt us today. The size of their guys had every position, that played a role in the outcome of this game too.
REPORTER: Will, your kids were confident, is it possible that they felt a little bit too good about this match-up going in?
COACH BROWN: No, we definitely weren't overconfident. We watched a awful lot of film on Virginia, have a tremendous amount of respect for them as a team and as a program. The one thing we try to do with our program is we try to keep our guys as loose as possible. We want them to enjoy it. We want them to have fun. I tried to explain to them, there is no pressure on them. I think the last couple of days, everybody started picking Albany as the upset in the south region over Virginia, and our kids are smart kids, they're in the hotel watching ESPN, watching all these shows, and I think they started thinking, I think they might have put some pressure on themselves. And when we got down big early, I think they panicked a little bit. I think that's natural with young kids. But we were the 13 seed sand we wanted to win in advance, but we ran into a buzz saw today.
REPORTER: Coach, you've gotten to this point two years in a row now, how hard is it to win a game in the tournament and get to the next step for your program?
COACH BROWN: Apparently it's very hard because we're 0-2 in the NCAA tournament. As your seed improves, I think automatically you assume you've got a better chance to win and that's true, because a 16 has never beaten a 1. It will it happen, I'm not sure when. But you have to play your very best if you're one of those 16, 15, 14, 13, in that range, you've got to play very good basketball to have a chance. I'm a firm believer that the closer the game is, the later it gets, the tighter it's going to get because again, you have everybody rooting for you, there's no pressure for you, you can relax and play. This is new to us. This is the first time we've gotten down like that in any game to start a game all year long. We were even or right there with VCU at the half and they blew it open against us in the second half and got us on our heels. We were a shocked basketball team today in the first half. And to Virginia's credit, they did some things that bothered us, but again, we were kind of not the same Albany team that had played with such passion and had all the momentum heading into this tournament. It was almost like we were deflated in the first half when they went on that big run. And you live and you learn, but we've had a great year.
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A 1985 graduate of UVA, White worked at the Richmond Times-Dispatch until July 2009. He was honored six times as the state's Sportswriter of the Year.
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