March 18, 2007
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2007 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship
Nationwide Arena, Columbus, Ohio
March 18, 2007
No. 5 Tennessee 77, No. 4 Virginia 74
Virginia Postgame Locker Room Quotes
Jason Cain, senior forward
On the underclassmen on the team
"I think this game really opened the younger player's eyes. It shows you have to work hard everyday and you can't get too carried away with success. We are a big ACC school and won the regular season conference title. We got smacked in the mouth today and they have to learn from that."
On Virginia's second -half performance
"We came out flat in the second half. Our shots weren't falling and we got behind."
On Virginia's season
"We were picked to finish eighth in the ACC and we won the conference. I don't even think we were picked to make the NIT and we made the second round of the NCAA Tournament. We almost won this one so I think we had a successful season."
On the game
"I thought it was one of the best games of the tournament. Both teams played hard and it came down to a last-second shot. The loss hurts but we have nothing to be ashamed of."
Tennessee Postgame Locker Room Quotes
Dane Bradshaw, senior guard
On celebrating after the game
"Success is so much sweeter when you struggle. Back in 2003 and 2004, I didn't think we could do it. I didn't even celebrate after the game. It was just a sigh of relief. It was great to jump around in the locker room later with the team. It feels great to advance in my last year."
On the re-match with Ohio State
"I feel like our team has gotten better since the last game. We have some things to work on in practice this week. But, we will be ready for it."
Duke Crews, freshman forward
On playing Ohio State in the Sweet 16
"We always try to take it one game a time, but you can't help but look at the brackets. It motivated us to know we could play against Ohio State again. We wanted that OSU game bad. We have matured a lot as a team between now and then, so we will be ready."
On the game today
"Everyone did their part today. We are best when everyone contributes. Right now is when we wanted to peak, and we did. We proved people wrong by getting to the Sweet 16."
Josh Tabb, freshman guard
On advancing to the Sweet 16
"It is unbelievable. It still hasn't sunk it. I guess it will when we get to San Antonio. It is a big win for us. Everyone picked Virginia to win, which just motivated us to step it up. In the Sweet 16 it is anybody's ball game. Hopefully we will win there and keep going."
Wayne Chism, freshman forward
On the end of the game
"We just tried to keep our team and our game under control. We kept playing hard and kept playing good defense."
On two Tennessee players fouling out
"We have a lot of people on our team who can do a lot of things. A lot of our guys do a good job coming off the bench and doing their job."
On advancing to the Sweet 16
"It feels great. Everyone kept saying we were a young team, too young, but we did it."
Ryan Childress, sophomore forward
On shooting 3-pointers
"Coach always gives me the ok to shoot 3-pointers. I heard 'Shoot! Shoot!,' so I figured I would let it ride and keep shooting."
On the Tennessee basketball program
"I have seen what was bad turn good and now, get even better. We just want to make a good name for Tennessee basketball and do whatever we can for the program."
On the Ohio State vs. Tennessee re-match
"I am excited about it. We are a different team now and so are they. They have Greg (Oden) back now. Everyone saw a really balanced team against Xavier. It will be a good game."
Virginia Postgame Press Conference Transcript
COACH LEITAO: Obviously when you get to this point in anyone's
season, it becomes' very cruel reality that at any moment in time it could
be over. I thought especially for this group, because most of what we did
during the season was with our heart on our sleeve and when you put it out
there, it sometimes can reward you in the very best of ways, but when it
doesn't, it could also break that heart in the very cruellest of the ways.
Today was a day where we kind of got our heart broken and particularly for
J. R. and Sean who have led a two-year charge that a lot of people didn't
think was possible for Jason Cain who, I think for those of us -- for those
who know us has evolved into not just a better player, but a better person
because of the experience, so when you have moments like this, you remember
that more than anything that happened during the course of this game or
during the course of our season.
REPORTER: Sean, Tennessee said they planned to foul on that final
possession, obviously they didn't do so, that looked like about as good a
look as you could get in that situation, what did you think when it left
SINGLETARY: I thought it was good. I got a head of steam and a
good pick from Jason Cain and pulled it up deep and I felt as though I got
good elevation in my shot and good rotation, but it went in and out so I
REPORTER: J. R., were you hampered there? Coach Pearl thought you
went out with a little bit of an ankle tweak and did it bother you after
your hot start?
REYNOLDS: Yeah, in the first half I was driving the ball and
stepped on, I can't remember the player from Tennessee's ankle, kind of
rolled it a little bit, just didn't have the same lift or the push-off in
my right ankle, so.
REPORTER: J. R. and Sean, can you put in words what it means to
get this far and to have that feeling going and then, poof, it's over?
REYNOLDS: We had an unbelievable season and in the beginning of
the season, didn't nobody expect us to do well in the ACC. They picked us
to finish eighth, but we didn't believe it, just like last year, they
picked us to finish last. And I don't think nobody in the world would ever
think that we had a chance to get first place in the ACC, but the team
worked hard and the coach did a tremendous job with getting us ready for
every single game that we played.
REPORTER: Sean, can you talk about just the turn-around that you
guys made from last season going into this season, what you think getting
this far in the tournament has done for your program.
SINGLETARY: I think our program has totally turned around in these
last two years. Nobody ever picked us to finish top in the ACC. We did
that, made a lot of noise. Even though we're not advancing, I think we
went this far for our program so we're going to look forward to next year
and new recruits and try to usher them in right as soon as they get on
campus, just get their mindset in a winning form and just keep going
REPORTER: For Sean, when J. R. did tweak his ankle, did you feel
more pressure to do more in the second half?
SINGLETARY: No, I pretty much was just trying to -- I saw J. R.
making shots in the first half, I didn't look for my shot really which I
should have been, but I should have been creating, but I was just trying to
keep giving it to J. R., keep giving it to J. R., because I felt he was hot
enough to take us to where we needed to go but when he injured his ankle,
we really don't have anybody else to create, so I tried to step up a little
bit and I was able to get to the free throw line in the second half, I
didn't have the game I wanted to but tried my best, I feel as though J. R.
and I were good in that we led our team and they put their heart out there
and they played real tough in the second half.
REPORTER: J. R., before the ankle roll, how did you feel? I mean,
did you feel like you couldn't miss at all?
REYNOLDS: I just wanted to get off to a good start, just being
aggressive early. The first couple shots started going down for me, then I
was looking for my shot just about every time down. Sean did a great job
finding me and getting me the ball in positions in which I can score.
REPORTER: Dave, how much of a factor was the rebounding
COACH LEITAO: It was one of three or four different things that
cost us, but we didn't get as many offensive rebounds as we normally are
accustomed to, but I think that that was balanced off by the fact that they
didn't get a tremendous amount of really baskets on that end. So it's
something that we've relied on, but I think we benefited from not having
some of those offensive rebounds by getting back on D for the most part and
not giving them the early looks especially from three that they were
REPORTER: When you commit two players as you did late against
Lofton on that inbounds and he still gets the ball, is that particularly
disappointing and what was the breakdown there?
COACH LEITAO: You know what, he's a great player. He's not a
great player because he's a shooter, he's a great player because he's a
player. They make plays at the most important time for their team and I'm
sure everybody on their side felt very, very comfortable when he went to
the line and knocked those shots down as he knew and I've got to get open
for my team. It's not something that we spend a tremendous amount of time
on and just denying balls inbounds because that's not what we do. In late
game situations, you've got to be really good at things like that. One
step too slow allowed him to get the ball and obviously he knocked down
some shots so I guess you've got to credit him for that.
REPORTER: Two questions, I assume you were anticipating they were
going to foul on the last play, that's why you brought Jason up to screen.
And second, when the game ended, you went straight for Sean. It almost
looked like your mind was on comforting your kid more than the fact that
you lost the basketball game.
COACH LEITAO: I think, John, that I feel like anyway, and I'm sure
that he would agree that we're connected emotionally to one another and I
think one of the reasons why this has worked for the two of us as well as
for the rest of the guys on the team is because we understand each other.
And whether he played well or whether he plays well or not is of less
consequence to me than what he's given to our team and our program. I
understood at that moment in time, because he is so hard on himself, that
immediately he would take blame, and that's the last thing I wanted him to
do. So I wanted to be there for him to say, hey, let's help the guy up,
let's embrace him and make him feel better, because we've all been there,
I've been there, and it's an awful feeling and I wanted him to know just
like I've tried to be there for him every day that I'm still going to be
there for him.
REPORTER: You did expect him to make the foul?
COACH LEITAO: I did, we were on the sideline talking about should
we make the first and we had six seconds to go before that play and we
still had enough time to get up a three, but when they started fouling, I
thought they would do it again. When we got our foul and got them to the
line again, I knew with only five and some change to go, that they probably
would not allow us to get a three off because they had done that twice
before, so we were talking more about with only five to go to see if we
could make the first and miss the second.
REPORTER: At least statistically, it seems like in your recent
losses over the last month, you've gotten to some semi-comfortable leads in
the first half. Is that just coincidence that you then have lost the game
or is there something that happens at the start of the second half that
needs to be corrected?
COACH LEITAO: No, first thing is you can't correct it now, it's
over. Secondly, you play 30 some odd games, it's hard to put a script on
it, unless there's a serious pattern, things that have happened recently
and getting up and losing leads and, again, if I could equate that to a
pattern, then that means when we got down in double figures, then we
wouldn't come back. Each game is a story unto itself. You want to get off
to a good start. I thought lately we've done that. And Tennessee is a
terrific basketball team and we knew and we kept talking about punching and
counter-punching and we knew they were going to come back after us. If it
happened early, we still would have had to come back. If it happened in
the second half, we still would have had to come back as well.
REPORTER: Did Reynolds' injury hurt you on defense as much as
anything else the way Smith went off in the second half?
COACH LEITAO: I couldn't tell you how much defensively or
offensively it hurt us. I think it slowed us down a little bit, but
specifically, we got -- the baskets that hurt us were more interior and
when they got up on us, Smith, Ramar Smith anyway as opposed to JaJuan
Smith was driving the ball at us, our hedges weren't very good by our big
guys and that's what was concerning me more than J. R., not keeping the
ball in front of hip or allowing JaJuan Smith get open looks. I think what
happened, and Childress was a beneficiary, JaJuan Smith was a little bit of
a beneficiary, when we disconnected ourselves in two-man games which we
REPORTER: Can you talk about when you double teamed love top, were
there instructions not to foul him or did you just think there was no way
he'd get the ball there.
COACH LEITAO: At the end of the game? We double teamed him
because we knew as the best player he was going to try to get the ball in
his hands, Sean Singletary would try to get the ball in his hands for us,
he did a better job of getting himself open than we did at keeping him from
getting the basketball, so I've got to give him a lot of credit. We wanted
him to catch it than somebody else, but even the pretty good free throw
shooters weren't making free throws as consistently as he was so we just
wanted to not have him touch the basketball.
REPORTER: Given the limitations in your front field particularly,
do you feel this team came pretty close to reaching its potential this
COACH LEITAO: Yeah, I think anytime you're in year two, and I've
said this before, of a program, you're still going to have some holes that
need to be filled, and whether we talked about it for two years, a front
court scorer or whatever the case may be, last year was depth, this year
was a couple other things, you've got to make up for certain things. I
thought we did a good job of amassing our flaws and playing much more to
our strengths more often than not. I don't think the lack of a front court
scorer hurt us as much today as it sometimes has in the past, but we
obviously would like to have more balance and when you have two guys as
good as Sean and J. R., you want to have the ability to take pressure off
of them and we've danced with that for the two years I've been here about
finding other people that can take the pressure off of him a little bit.
REPORTER: How important was the banked three pointer?
COACH LEITAO: It was momentum for them as much as it was three
points. I thought he had an idea of the shot clock so he would just jump
up and he's not the guy that normally plays hedge defense and we had him in
there defending the screen and roll, so given anybody, and particularly at
that time, the in the shot clock, some air to shoot was something we didn't
want to do. In order to win in advance you're going to have to do things
like that, and they made a couple more plays like that, just like they got
contributions early from Chism, just like they got contributions late from
Childress, or anything that may come out of the ordinary for a team is what
carries you through in this tournament.
REPORTER: Coach, could you talk about the progress your program
made this year and look toward the future a little bit?
COACH LEITAO: Just like I told the guys, progress is understood,
obviously I think we've made a tremendous amount over two years, but what
we've got to do, and the specific thing I told them is, it's very hard to
get there. It was very hard for us to make that kind of progress, but it's
even harder to stay, so once I take my tie off and let my hair down a
little bit, then recruiting has to take over and get you are our program
better has to take over and what I've always said over two years is I don't
want to make Virginia basketball a one-hit wonder. I want to make sure
that we stay consistent and that we've got even more work to do than we've
done in the past two years.
REPORTER: After that first official timeout, it seemed like your
defense really geared down, really the rest of the game, they got off to
such a great start. Was there an adjustment made or what was it?
COACH LEITAO: Just an adjustment more mentally. We talked all day
yesterday about what we had to do, obviously when you score 121 points, you
really get the other team's attention, so they really had our attention and
we knew if we were going to have an opportunity to win that it was going to
be because of our defense, and I thought after they had 22 points before
the 10-minute mark which I equate to halfway through if we're playing good
defense or not, I thought once they got to 22 that we really buckled in and
established ourselves defensively and started to zero in on our scouting
report issues and got better that way. Obviously I thought that that
stretch that they got the lead at the beginning of the second half, we let
down again, not so much with them running and shooting, but just more
methodically in the half court making mistakes, they methodically picked us
apart. We made too many mental errors and allowed them to get back to the
REPORTER: Coach, you may have already touched on this, I
apologize, but from where you sat, did Sean's shot look like it was going
in? He seemed pretty heart broken afterwards, what did you say to him?
COACH LEITAO: From my advantage point, he was a little bit behind
where I was standing, so sometimes you have a view from behind, you can
tell, but the trajectory was good, he had enough lift on the ball and had
some momentum going into the shot and I trust him wholeheartedly, if
there's a guy in America that you want shooting that shot, it's probably
going to be Sean, I don't know for anybody else, but for my money, it's
going to be Sean. And when he fell down, my first initial reaction was to
console him because it wasn't about that shot. It was about our
performance and I wanted to make sure he understood that he has nothing to
feel bad about, ashamed about, or anything. We wouldn't be sitting here at
all if it wasn't for his contributions and I think he needed to know that
spiritually as well as verbally from me.
REPORTER: Coach, did the freshmen class this year perform kind of
how you thought they would or could you assess them?
COACH LEITAO: When we take over a situation and, again, have to go
out and recruit right away and this first class is a by-product of that, we
were looking a tremendous amount more for character guys. And if I were to
assess them from that standpoint, I think it's an A plus. They've given us
a lot more than we've given them from a character standpoint. I think they
represent themselves and their teammates and this university in an
extremely positive way. Their physical contributions, you can debate
day-to-day. Sometimes they played like freshmen, sometimes they were
untrusting, sometimes they were trust worthy, and that's typical for guys
that are coming in, particularly as we were playing catch-up. And you
try -- we talked about the other day keeping guys like Duke Crews and other
guys, we had some repair work to do, we weren't going to get the top-notch
athletic guys that we'll be able to get in the future, but at the same
point in time, we did not and would not substitute talent for character and
I think in that regard, we hit a homerun.
REPORTER: Dave, do you feel happy at all that J. R. was able to
finish his career in this tournament in a manner more befitting the way he
played all season?
COACH LEITAO: Well, you know his evolution, the short two years
that I've been around as a person even more than a player has been the way
I look at it, has been phenomenal. Not that he was immature, but his
understanding of what it takes to put himself in the position that he's in,
and as I said to all of the guys, how proud I am of them, J. R., when he
was a sophomore, scored 30 points in the ACC tournament game. That was
probably the highlight of his two years at Virginia. Now he can talk to
anybody that's worn the uniform and talk in the same circles as just about
anybody that's played in this program, not just because he's a terrific
basketball player, but because he represented this university in such a
special way and for that, when we talked about day one becoming a family
and understanding what family members are all about, he now has a clear
understanding of what it is to be a member of our basketball family now and