Virginia vs. Tennessee Postgame Quotes

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VIRGINIASPORTSDOTCOM

VIRGINIASPORTSDOTCOM

March 18, 2007

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2007 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship
Second Round
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 your hands?

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 missed it.

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 forward.

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 differential?

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 accustomed to.

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 were facing.

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 season?

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 lead.

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 forever.