March 16, 2006

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NCAA Men's Basketball Division I First and Second Rounds Tennessee and Winthrop Coach and Player Quotes

Opening statement
"March Madness has begun and we are very pleased to have won and advanced. We beat a very good basketball team and it would have been hard for you (the media) to have not characterized it as an upset if we had gotten beat, but you had two terrific basketball teams that played extremely hard and it's a shame that one team had to lose. We played well. We played well. We had a lot of guys that stepped up. It was all we could do to win."

On whether or not he was aware of how much time remained when he called the final timeout
"When I went to call the timeout, I thought I had a little over three seconds (left), closer to four, and there was some time between when I signaled for it and obviously when the whistle was blown to get it stopped. I just didn't like the look, and we're so good on set pieces, that I just thought we'd get a better look if I called time out.

"I just felt like Dane (Bradshaw) is a guy that'll make a great pass, but he's not necessarily, and especially with his wrist, the guy that's going to make that shot."

On Winthrop's last shot
"I don't know exactly what the rule is, but I thought that the ball went off of the backboard, and then it bounced, and then it scrambled around. I'm thinking, "What was it, point nine (seconds remaining)?" It seemed like a lifetime."

On having C.J. Watson in foul trouble
"It was a lot to overcome, but just like when we beat Florida at home when they were undefeated, C.J. Watson fouled out with about two and a half to go, almost three minutes, and Jordan Howell came in and played very well. Jordan has not played a lot for us, but he's played every game and he is a great example of why you don't give up. Jordan would like to be playing more, but he's one of our hardest workers. He's got the greatest attitude of any player on the team, and he was rewarded because of what a great guy he is. We recognized him after the game. He got the biggest cheer of any anybody. It was a great team effort because we had a lot of guys step up, but the guys were more excited about Jordan's effort."



On whether or not he can relate to Winthrop coach Gregg Marshall after the loss
"I can. He was extremely distraught after the game. I was worried about him. So much emotion, and so much going into that one shot. If they'd have won the game, it (would) get (them) a little more recognition, and they'd be happier, but it doesn't take away from what a great team, what a great program, what a great coach he is. But I understand. I'm numb sitting here myself.

"But we deserved victory. You can see, it wasn't like we had to get hit in the mouth to start playing. We were ready to play, and we had to play well. They had 15 offensive rebounds. They had like 12 second-chance points in the first half. They were manhandling us. That's a Big South team against an SEC team. As you can see, from the things we talked about all year, we're not that big. We're not that physical. I thought our front line really stepped up."

On the game-winning shot
"Coach just called a simple play that he made-up within 30 seconds. We executed it perfectly. I got open and knocked the shot down.

"(Winthrop's Torrell Martin) had pretty good defense on me. I didn't get a real clear look. I just saw the goal and fired it up there."

On the game-winning shot
"The first option was Andre (Patterson) on the back pick for the lob, and he actually became open for a while there, but I couldn't tell until after I made the decision that he wasn't. I was able to get Chris on the curl. Major Wingate set him a pretty good screen and opened him up just enough."

On discussion of their No. 2 seed
"I don't think it gave us any pressure. It just gave us more motivation since everybody was doubting us. All the players were hyped up for the games. We heard all of the comments on the TV shows and the radios, and it gave us a lot more motivation to go out there and win the game."

On Lofton's winning shot after his scoreless second half
"There was no doubt. We're going to continue to try to get him the ball, to try to get him some shots. He's proven himself. He's a three-point threat. In a situation like that, you let it ride, and he hit it."

On his first NCAA Tournament win
"It feels good to get this first one behind (us). This is our first time here and (for) a lot of us, this is our first Tournament win. It's a great feeling. We were feeling kind of nervous coming into this game, but it feels good to get one under our belt."

On Winthrop
"I think they could come into the SEC and give everybody a run for their money. They're a solid team. They had everything we had. They have shooters, a big body and people that can score inside. They pretty much dominated us on the inside."

On playing in such an exciting game
"It was just great. That's what you come to college for. You watch those games when you are a little kid and you dream of being in situations like that. Chris probably dreamed of hitting that shot all his life, a buzzer-beater in the Tournament. It's great to do it and be a part of it."

On the last five seconds of the game
"On their shot we thought they would try to go to (Chris) Lofton, which they did and that was obviously a smart move. We wanted to make sure we got something going away from the basket. We were going to switch guard-to-guard.

"We ended up with Torrell Martin (defending Lofton), who had done a great job all night, and he did a great job on that play. I think he shot-faked him maybe once or twice, eventually rose up to take the shot and Torrell did exactly what we asked him to do - contest the jump shooter without fouling him.

"People in the SEC that see (Chris Lofton) a lot consider him, I'm not saying he's J.J. Redick, but he's in the same high-rent district. He can get a shot off even when he's contested. I learned a great phrase talking to some people they played over the year - you need to be standing on his toes when he catches the ball and still he can hit some. He hit a big shot.

"We called a timeout, we had one left, and ran a last second play that we've practiced 15 or 20 times during the course of the year...(The pass) is supposed to go to the bottom of the net. In this case it actually worked out better off of the backboard, but Craig (Bradshaw) didn't think he had enough time so he rushed it a little bit. He almost could have laid it in, but that was the game."

On the offense struggling down the stretch
"We did have two turnovers (late), but as I recall, Craig's shots were good all night and James' (Shuler) were good. I don't recall them taking any bad shots.

"I don't know what the turnovers were, but I know the shots were pretty good. If either one of those shots go in; we may be sitting here talking in a different order."

On the emotion after the game
"I told the guys I was proud of them and that they have huge hearts. I thanked the seniors. I really care for each and every guy in the room. For what they do for Winthrop, for us, and for themselves, it's tough.

"We were a 15 seed and whoever we were going to be matched up with was going to be a good team. We thought we should be a little better, we weren't, and now we're three points away from being able to talk about that."

On the game-winning shot
"I kind of knew it was coming to Lofton at the end and really, I just stayed with him the whole time. I had a great contest at the end and he made a great shot. It was a great play.

"They screened me twice, but I really didn't get caught up in them. It was a great contest. I was there in his face the whole time. I almost blocked it, actually. I was devastated. There it goes, it went in. It was just a great shot."

Overall feeling
"I am totally devastated with the way things went down. You play hard the whole game, we hung in there and the guys gave it their all. Sometimes things happen like that. We didn't want it to end like that, but that was the outcome. It was a great thing that we made it this far, and to be in the game at the end, we showed everyone that we had enough character and confidence to match-up with a great Tennessee squad. My career (at Winthrop) is over with. But I just challenged the guys in the locker room that are here to not only return, but win a game."

On the play with 0.4 seconds left
"We drew it up for one of our bigger guys and to get it near the basket. I knew there were some taller guys down in there and I just gave it a heave. Actually, in high school, I was taught to try to throw it off the backboard. I didn't mean to throw it off the backboard this time. It just happened that way. We had an opportunity at it and to get a shot off, but it didn't go in."

Before Tennessee's last Shot:
"Words can't even explain it. We just knew that we were going to go to overtime, or we were going to get chance to score again, and that shot went in. When his (Tennessee's Chris Lofton) shot went in, our emotions showed on everybody. We didn't know what to do. We couldn't believe it."

On chances of beating Tennessee:
"We felt that we got a 15 seed and that we didn't deserve that, but we came out with confidence. As you could tell, it was very high, and we knew if we went out there and played like we could, it just didn't fall in our hands today."

On Coach Greg Marshall's remarks to the team after the game:
"There is no way that you can prepare yourself for a tough situation and the right words to say after a game. He just told us he appreciated us and our effort and to keep our heads up."

On next season:
"We are losing two guys, but we're just going to come back next year and have the same goal. We'll get one (an NCAA Tournament win) one of these days."



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