Postgame Quotes: MTSU 71, Vols 64

March 19, 2012

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(opening statement:)
"I thought both teams really competed. I thought we battled and got off to a slow start, got ourselves back in the game, did a good job of defending and getting stops and not turning the ball over. I think we had them up nine in the second half. We just fell short. We were out of our consistent flow offensively. I felt shot a couple balls quick as opposed to really pounding the ball inside and taking advantage of them. But give those guys credit for sticking to it and finding a way to win the game."

(on Bruce Massey's play down the stretch for MTSU:)
"I thought he did a good job, start to finish of the game. He's not a scorer but he had opportunities. They felt like it was an advantage for him to score the ball. He did a really good job of just driving it to the rim. He did a good job defensively. That's his game, a defensive stopper type of guy. He had two on-the-ball steals. But I guess they felt he had an opportunity to go and make plays offensively, and he did that."

(on defensively, the way the Vols played in the final game:)
"It's not disappointing because if you look down the stretch of games, you look at how teams won the game, they won off the ball screen with their point guard attacking the rim. You look at most games and bottom line."

(on rebounding differential, which favored MTSU:)
"I wouldn't noticed that if I hadn't seen the stats sheet, but a couple times I did tell our big guys when the ball is hanging on the rim to really box out and then jump. The ball was hanging and hanging, we'd jump and all of a sudden they'd get the ball. It was box outs more than anything. It didn't look as bad as I thought when I saw the numbers."

(on post players accepting challenge of limiting LaRon Dendy to 10 points:)
"I think our big guys accept challenges like that. They knew he was a good ball player. They knew he was coming in ready to play. I wouldn't have thought Massey -- I like his toughness -- but I didn't think he would have scored the ball the way he did."

(on if guards struggled finding Maymon and Stokes late:)
"I don't think it's one guy. We ran plays for them to get the ball inside, but like I said, they were setting up in a double team every time. It's just a matter of big guys continuing to post strong and get the ball out of there if they double or make quick moves. I thought for the most part they did, but probably about four or five shots we shot too quick when we could have gone inside with the ball.

(on Golden's defense against MTSU's point guard late:)
"There's a lot you can do. It's really stepping up to the challenge. We had to do a better job of hedging. For the most part, you have to step up and guard your man, especially when a guy who's a non-threat offensively is making plays off the bounce to win the game for his team and not penetrating and pitching. That's just taking individual pride. Every man has to do their job to step up and get stops at the end of the game. Like for example, Massey got a big block on his end. You have to do your part and make them shoot poorly if anything, not letting them get to the rim and shooting a layup."

(on satisfaction with the season:)
"I thought our guys did a good job. From where they started to the end, I saw the progress. I saw guys get better without a doubt. I just think we lost to a good team. We didn't hold onto the lead. I thought our guys did a good job as a team to continue to get better. The addition of Jarnell Stokes and the way he played, I thought he played well tonight, really being aggressive off the blocks. Really being physical around the rim. Missed a couple layups, but it was aggressive."

(on if MTSU would appear on future schedules in the regular season:)
"Oh yeah. I'm quite sure we could."

(on offensive lull late in the game:)
"I think we had good looks, but obviously when I watch the film, I may see otherwise. I thought Skylar (McBee) had three good looks at the end. I thought Jordan (McRae) had opportunities on pullups. Outside of Trae (Golden) getting a shot blocked and Jeronne (Maymon) turning the ball over, I thought we had good looks. They were doubling the post. We were trying to get the ball inside and I thought Jeronne and Jarnell (Stokes) did a good job getting the ball out of there. We had some looks that just didn't fall and that's part of it."

(On Tennessee's play down the stretch)
"We just didn't come together offensively and get the buckets that we needed. We didn't get the stops that we needed."

(On the end of his career)
"It's obviously tough. You never want to go out in a losing effort. It's all a part of the game. It's all about growing up. It's all about handling adversity, trying to learn from it, and becoming a better man and a better person. That's what Coach Martin has taught me."

(On struggling to get the ball in the post)
"I think a couple times we got the ball inside to them, but they did a good job double-teaming them and making them try to make plays out of it. We kicked it out to some of our shooters. We got a good look at it and didn't knock it down or got to the bucket and couldn't make a layup. It was certain plays that normally we make that we just didn't capitalize on and finish when there were double teams."

(On Tennessee's 3-point shooting)
"I don't think we were really paying attention to the stats of our 3-point shooting. Coach Martin has all the confidence in the world in us and says if we have an open shot to take it."

(On how he felt tonight)
"I felt good getting up and down the court. Everything went well. I was a little step slow, but I felt really well playing out there."

(On when he knew he would play tonight)
"Today, around shootaround this morning."

(On Tennessee's offense late in the game)
"We just couldn't get a bucket. We were running our offense. We just couldn't put the ball in the hole. They made plays down the stretch. That really helped them."

(On what the mood of the team was down the stretch)
"We were just trying to not turn the ball over and trying to execute as much as we could. We didn't do that. We were just trying to keep each other up, for the most part."

(On whether he was surprised that Tennessee was outrebounded)
"It really doesn't surprise me. They were just blocking out and getting rebounds with two hands. We were just trying to go vertical and really get the rebound. The ball was hanging on the rim so that really helped them because they would tip it out. It was really no surprise. They were just getting rebounds and we weren't."

(On whether he felt rusty)
"I felt good. I was making my shots. Down the stretch, none of them were falling. There wasn't any rust or anything. I practiced on Sunday and I felt good. We just couldn't put it all together tonight."

(On coming together as a team) "At the start of the season, we definitely didn't know what we were or what it took to be a good team in this league until we really started to put it all together. Coach Martin talked to us and told us that us players really have to take control and take control of our own destiny. Once we finally realized that and got that together, we really became a family almost. We started putting it together and getting wins. Down the stretch, we really had a good run. We just have to get back in the gym and try to get better for next year."

(On whether Tennessee wasn't patient late in the game)
"I think we were just running our offense and couldn't put the ball in the hole. We didn't need to be patient. We just needed to execute our offense. We had good clock management. We were getting the shots that we wanted. We just couldn't put it in."

(On ending the game on a 15-0 run)
"We got into a timeout and just talked about winning on the defensive end. There were tons of possessions left. We started trapping the post, and they probably missed a couple of shots that were open. We made late game free throws. We took advantage of every possession."

(On responding after being upset in the Sun Belt Conference Tournament)
"It speaks for the character of the players and how they responded. It started with LaRon Dendy. We were devastated after Hot Springs and still had our hopes that we maybe we could get an at-large bid. We kind of prepared them for the NIT and talked about what a great tournament it was. We got right back into the gym and followed his lead. He had a great energy. We have had really, really good practices the last two weeks."

(On the significance of the win)
"It means a lot to me, and it means a lot to our staff. I know it means a lot to our fan base. We understand how good Tennessee has been, and how good this team, this year has been in this building. It was difficult and maybe we will cherish this in a month. But it is a quick turn-around. When we get on that bus, it has to be behind us."

(On taking momentum from this game)
"I want to keep on going. I feel like this is a special team. We got down a little bit, but as a team we're like a family. Coach Davis picked us up. The team picked ourselves up. We came out on a 15-0 run and won the game."

(On the keys for Middle Tennessee down the stretch)
"We knew that we had to do what we do best and that's executing our offense and playing harder on defense. They were getting a lot of offensive rebounds and second chances. We knew that if we stopped them from getting second chances and executed our offense, then we would win the game. That's what happened."

(On the significance of winning at Tennessee)
"Like Bruce said, you grow up watching Tennessee. Getting a victory over Tennessee, that's big time. We're just going to take this, cherish this and keep going."

(On the team battling foul trouble)
"It was very tough, but we still had to go out, play and not worry about foul trouble. I knew that there was a good chance of me getting my fifth foul and fouling out, but I knew I had to keep playing hard."

(On his performance)
"I hit free throws early to start the game. I could see the basket getting a little bit bigger. My teammates told me to stay in attack mode all game long but to be smart about it and pick my spots when to attack."

(On whether he sensed his bucket to put MTSU in front 67-64 was the game-winner)
"It was a sense. We went up three. We had guarded the 3-point line well all game. They weren't, fortunately, hitting many threes. We knew we had a slight advantage."

(On whether Coach Davis' technical foul was inspiring)
"When you have a coach that's into the game and wants to win, that picks you up. When he got the technical, he was going hard for us. It told us that we needed to pick it up and that's what we did."

(On the significance of winning at Tennessee)
"Growing up, you watch Tennessee basketball on TV all the time. You know the history of the school. Even though I'm not from Tennessee and know that Tennessee had a greater edge in the win column, you can definitely appreciate (this win)."

(On finding the extra motivation down the stretch)
"We were in the same situation against Vanderbilt earlier in the season. We got tired down the stretch. They got tired, but they made the extra push to give them the victory. Tonight, we didn't want to quit. We didn't want to lose. We found the extra energy to keep going. Coach Davis told us, `Don't stop. No quitting tonight. If we're going to lose, give it your all.'"





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