March 17, 2011
No. 1 seed Pitt vs. No. 16 UNC Asheville, March 17, 2011, Washington, D.C., Verizon Center
No. 1 Pitt 74, No. 16 UNC Asheville 51
Quoting Pitt Head Coach Jamie Dixon
MODERATOR: We are joined by Jamie Dixon student-athletes Ashton Gibbs, Gary McGhee and Gilbert Brown. Coach, if you could make an opening statement on your thoughts about the game and then we'll open up.
COACH Jamie Dixon: We're aware of how good an offensive team Ashville was, impressed by their guards, how they can score and make plays, Dickey and Primm. We really want to keep them from getting going, especially from three. That was our main concern, making sure they didn't make threes. So we did a pretty good job of that. They're a very good team and obviously with a win already in the Tournament, I think they had a lot of confidence going into the game. So happy with how we defended for the most part, and rebounded well obviously for 40 minutes, and that's what we do. And we had a nice lead to start in the half and made some mistakes and turnovers to let them get back in it and in the second half we pulled away with solid execution and rebounding and defense throughout.
Q. Coach, I just wonder how much of a difference, looking ahead to Butler for a second, does it make to face a team that has that much NCAA experience?
COACH Jamie Dixon: I haven't really seen a lot of them, so I'll have to look. But obviously they've been here and had a nice run last year and have some returning players. But I know Coach Stevens very well. I know Mack very well because I coached him with the USA Team. So I know they're very good. But I think we understand that they have a good balanced team. They're a very physical team. That's what I've seen in the little bit I've watched them. Very physical, very aggressive on the ball, and we gotta be prepared for a physical defense from them. But those are the things that I've seen in the past and saw in the recent times. I watched them a couple times during the year. When I saw them as physical a team that we'll play all year, probably the most physical team.
Q. Coach, why was your second half so much stronger than your first half?
COACH Jamie Dixon: I think we got off -- we had a decent lead in the first half and a couple turnovers brought it back. So they're a good team, they took advantage of those opportunities. A couple press situations we didn't handle as well as I would have thought. But I think we really just missed some open shots early some finishes around the rim on some offensive rebounds, and then some open threes. Ashton obviously shot much better in the second half. I think just kind of opened it up. I thought our defense was pretty good throughout, but our offense kind of slowed us down in the first half. Second half making some shots and finishing some baskets around the rim were key.
Q. When you talk about physical play, in a game like this where you've gotten so used to the physical play of the Big East, and you're playing a team, say, from the Big South that's not accustomed to that. How much different does it make that you guys know how to play physical? You were very physical but you weren't accumulating fouls and what sort of advantage do you get from that from your Big East experience that allows you to carry that over against teams that may be aren't used to that?
COACH Jamie Dixon: I think it's being in position. I think not reacting late is oftentimes how you get fouls, being out of position. So being in the right place at the right time, anticipating what they're trying to do offensively, and we did a good job. Coach Gary did the scouting. So wee had a good feel for what they would do. Obviously we'd seen them play from Tuesday and figured they wouldn't be too much different from the stuff they had done on Tuesday's game. But they're very good. I think it was more our depth probably more so that wore them down too at times. I was happy with our minutes; we shall able spread them out today and keep guys fresh. Two guys up here, Gary had 11 rebounds, Gilbert had nine rebounds, Travon had five rebounds. So those were the things that we really wanted to focus on, getting rebounds from our other guys, our guards as well.
Q. Coach, you mentioned they had some momentum winning only one game you only had one day really to prepare how much of a difference is that?
COACH Jamie Dixon: The preparation was a little different. And there's no question about that. But that's what we're going to have here for this next game going forward. But it was different and it was waiting on the opponent when you usually know right away. But we had time we did a good job as far as scouts we did a walkthrough today, which we don't normally do, but I thought it was important because of the short turnaround. I thought it was good for us. Got us a little bit more accustomed to some things they were doing and I think that was good for us today.
MODERATOR: Any other questions for Coach Dixon?
Q. I know you're probably tired of answering these Final Four questions and I'm sure you are. But how confident are you in this team this year that it can make a deep run or do something different than previous years?
COACH Jamie Dixon: I think every team here, every player thinks that they have the ability to go and believe they will go to the Final Four and win the national championship. Any team that's in this event has won so many games, has had a great year, beaten people in different ways and I think every team has that belief, has that confidence that they can win the national championship, every player on every one of these rosters. And so I think we're just like those teams. But we're really focused on the next game, and that's what we've been saying since we got here and that's what we've been saying all year, and it's the next game. And we know who that opponent is. When you don't know the opponent is, you don't have the brackets, maybe you talk in general terms, but right now it's Butler, and I don't think at this point when you know who you're playing, that's our sole focus. So as you can tell our guys here when talking to them, they're focused solely on Butler, and there's no thought to what's after that. It's solely on our next opponent.
Q. This is for Ashton: You have high expectations to go all the way this year, to reach Houston. I know this is one step in the process. What are things you'd need to do against Butler?
Ashton Gibbs: It starts on the defensive end and just gotta play defense. Our coaches do great job of scouting the other team, so now it was just about executing once we get out on the court and just executing our defensive schemes and really rebounding the ball.
Q. Ashton, they pull within three in the second half, it's gotta make you a little bit nervous. You come out and score 20 in the second half. What happened there? What got you going? And did they rattle you guys a little bit?
Ashton Gibbs: Well, I just tried to move it without the ball. We've been in situations like this. We have a lot of seniors and just a lot of experienced players in general. So we've been in different situations like this. Now it was just our turn to be patient and let the game come to us and just try to move without the ball, and my teammates did a great job of passing me the ball to get open spots, and I just tried to take advantage of it and knock it down.
Q. Ashton, I know you made some comments last week about wanting to get to the Final Four in Houston, how confident are you in this team that you guys can go deep in the Tournament and possibly get to the Final Four?
Ashton Gibbs: I'm very confident. We just gotta take one game at a time. I think if we do that we'll be fine and just keep playing our game. Keep playing unselfish keep playing on the defensive end and let that carry on our offense, and I think if we do that we'll be all right.
Q. For Gary, can you take me through kind of what you were thinking on that alley-oop in the first half. I think it was about midway through, you were kind of back-peddling. Were you surprised to get the ball in that spot? And what were you thinking?
Gilbert Brown: I had closed out on a three-point shot I think by Dickey, and I ran and Brad passed it to Nasir on the wing, and I just kept running and he made a great pass and just went up and got it and dunked it in. It was a good pass by Nas.
Quoting UNC Asheville Head Coach Eddie Biedenbach and Matt Dickey
MODERATOR: Now joining us on the podium from UNC Asheville Head Coach Eddie Biedenbach and junior Matt Dickey. Coach, if you could make an opening statement and then we'll open it up to questions from the student-athletes.
COACH BIEDENBACH: It's been a really good run for us this year to win the conference tournament and to win in Dayton. Our guys, I couldn't have been prouder of them in how they played together as team and the effort that they gave. And here also, I couldn't be prouder of what they did and how they played. We had a rebounding differential of 50 to 27, and although it's a physical game, you can't lose the rebounding differential that much and stay in the game. So we have to teach rebounding better and I have to use a different technique on how I teach it, and I'll get the Big South officials to come in and help me with how we're supposed to teach it and play. So I felt we battled them really well. I think Pitt is a really good team. They're physical, they're good. Jamie Dixon does a great job, and very difficult to defend. They don't turn the ball over. They handle it well, they don't take bad shots, and they're very deserving of the No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Gibbs is an outstanding shooter. And I tell you what, he's a quality player. They have a lot of quality players on the team. They go eight deep and they don't lose any ground at all in high-quality play. So it was a difficult game for us. I thought we battled them very well in the first half and we just needed to play better.
Q. Coach, you mentioned employing Big South officials to help you rebound better. Employ might have been a bad word, but utilizing them. Do you think if you did the same with Big East officials that they would teach you different or show you differently or guide you differently?
COACH BIEDENBACH: Well, we have scrimmages that we start the season with, and they could help us decide how physical we can be in certain positions. So that's what I was alluding to. And I'd be fine to have some Big East officials come down and help us. Also I'm sure some of them live in our area.
Q. Coach, could you just talk a little bit about what the experience has been like to play in this tournament for you and your players?
COACH BIEDENBACH: The NCAA Tournament is just absolutely tremendous. I mean, the March Madness, the amount of media coverage on a daily basis, you just turn the TV on, Sport Center, Mike & Mike, and all the different local guys in all the areas, it's remarkable how much media coverage there is. Our school, because of these young men, Matt, J.P., John, Eric, the guys we had, we've had a great year, and the experience getting to the NCAA Tournament just has made it really great. I would have liked to have gone a little deeper into the tournament, but coming into the tournament was 105-0 for 1-16 seeds. I don't look at those things. I thought we could do something special. I thought we could do something different, and I was up for the challenge and our players were. But we weren't up enough for that challenge here in D.C. in this particular game. But the whole experience is unbelievably great for all of our athletes, our coaches, and all the teams that are fortunate enough to get in.
Q. Matt, and maybe Coach could speak to this, too. You played an overtime game less than 48 hours ago against Arkansas, Little Rock. Could you speak to the challenge of facing a physical team like Pitt. In the second half, did the overtime game on Tuesday night take its toll with you guys a little bit?
MATT DICKEY: I wouldn't say it had too much effect on us. This is such a cool experience to get to play in the NCAA Tournament. Adrenaline gets you through game. And like Coach said, it was a physical game and Pittsburgh is a very good team and we knew we had to play really, really well and rebound. They hit a couple threes and made a little run. I think we probably got a little tired, but I wouldn't say that had an effect for us losing the game.
COACH BIEDENBACH: I agree with Matt. It's such an exciting the time of the year. We had a week off after our tournament. The overtime game was a very difficult game. We played awfully hard for 45 minutes, and Matt and J.P. both put a lot of time in in that game, both over 40 minutes. But the trip here, we had a charted jet we got in late but we had all day to sleep. I don't think it was a factor in. Could it be an advantage to the other team? Maybe slightly. But I don't think that -- I think it's a good way -- I don't know. Until they come up with a better way to do it, and I'm sure everybody has their own opinions, but I'm pleased with the reception we got in Dayton and in Washington, D.C. I thought the way the whole trip, everything was handled was great on their part. We had to play better here today. We battled pretty well, but we have to play better. We have a good team, and like I said, I couldn't be prouder of them. But I don't think that play over there -- Clemson went after us and they flew to Tampa and they had a pretty good game. I didn't see the end of it, but at one point they were up 10 and they didn't get to bed until 5:00 in the morning. College kids stay up later than I do.
Q. Matt, you were within 6 early in the second half. The crowd is getting a little behind the underdog. Do you feel like Pitt was a little vulnerable today, if you guys had shot a little better and maybe been able to compete on the boards a little better?
MATT DICKEY: Yeah, definitely. We went into halftime I think down 5, and that's where we wanted to be. We wanted to make sure that it was still a game in the second half and we kept it close. And like you said, we missed a couple shots. They hit a couple threes and they were able to stretch the lead out. They're a really good team and it's hard to fight back from a 15-point deficit that we got to, but I think we fought hard all game and it was a tough one.
COACH BIEDENBACH: How many points did Gibbs have in the first half? 6? He ends up with 26. He made a lot of open threes. And we knew before the game what a great shooter he was, and you just can't give those kind of guys open threes.
Q. Matt, was there anything about them that surprised you at all, something that you weren't expecting? Number one. And number two, could you just talk about -- I know it's tough to end on a loss, but the 7-game winning streak and being here for two games, winning a game in the NCAA Tournament?
MATT DICKEY: Yeah. I don't they surprised us on anything. We knew they were going to be a really good team. We knew they rebounded well. We knew they shot the ball well. And they did all those things tonight. And we just had to play better and get on the boards more, and we could have stayed in closer.
But this whole experience has been -- it's been amazing. This seven-game winning streak we were on, I gotta thank the seniors, John and Erik. They really got us going towards the end of the season, and I think we rode them all the way here, and talking about this experience it's been a blessing to play here. And I'm just so thankful for the opportunity.