March 19, 2011
COACH Jamie Dixon: Obviously for us it was -- we've had a few losses this year, not a lot, but they've all been disappointing. This is a disappointing loss for us. And battled back. Very proud of our guys. Battled. We got down and made a number of plays to put ourselves in position, had a lead, and just were not able to close it.
And give them credit. They're a very good team, Butler. Played very well, and I thought if we could outrebound them by 11 and outshoot them by a high percentage like we did, I thought we'd be in good shape, but did not seem to get the result that we needed.
But I'm very proud of our guys, and as always, I'll take responsibility for the loss. But I'm proud of the effort they made. We didn't lose it on one play. We lost through 8the entire game, and it's one play. We got to take care of business all the way through. And that's where I think -- we got down early and that hurt us. And we played very well second half but came up short.
MODERATOR: We're going to open it up for questions for the student-athletes first.
Q. Gil, I was wondering if you could talk about the emotional swing in the last 2.5 seconds. You seemingly lost the game, had a chance to win the game, and then lost the game again.
Gilbert Brown: You know, it was just -- it's a tough situation to be in. The ups and downs of the game, it's really emotional during that time period.
Like Coach said, he takes the blame for it, but that's just the type of guy he is. We lost that game in the first half with mental lapses defensively and things like that. He's a great coach and he puts us in position, but we gotta play the plays.
And that last 2.5, everything could have been avoided if I make a free throw and Nasir doesn't foul. It's just that's just the way it went. They're a great team. All the credit is due to them.
Q. For any of the players, how important was switching to a more pressure man defensive scheme in the second half? How did that impact, how important was that impacting your comeback in that half?
Brad Wanamaker: We stayed with the same thing we was doing for the first half. We were a little bit more aggressive, forced them into tougher shots.
Q. Gilbert, and the other players can talk as well, walk us through what happened basically in those last -- not necessarily just the free-throw but when you were brought the ball up court, did you think you were fouled? Did you know you were fouled right away? And then after the missed free throw, what did you see happen on the foul that sent Butler to the line?
Gilbert Brown: That last play, I heard the whistle blow and I tried to shoot the ball up, and I was just assuming I was fouled and I was banking on going out to the free throw line and making two shots. If anything, I wanted to be in that the position. That was the position to win the game.
After the missed free throw and the in and out Nasir just he was trying to make a play. It's not like he did it essentially or anything. He's a hard worker. He's a hustler. He's probably the hardest worker on the team. He doesn't stop until it's over. He was just trying to make a play out there, trying to help the team win.
MODERATOR: Other questions for the Pittsburgh student-athletes?
Q. Gilbert, I noticed that Mack was right in front of you before you shot your free-throws. Was he talking to you?
Gilbert Brown: Yeah. But I wasn't paying attention to it. Wasn't feeding into it. I was focusing on just trying to -- I was just -- that's what players do.
Q. It was such a well-played game and such a good game. Is it disappointing that the officials had such a significant impact on the outcome?
Gary McGhee: I wouldn't say that. I would just say that it came down to just made plays at the end of the game and we didn't make the plays. Butler came out and made the plays at the end of the game. We just had some lapses down the stretch and it just cost us the game.
Q. How much were you guys drawing on your experience from the St. John's and UConn games in those last couple seconds, just with -- you've left some buzzer-beaters in there at the end. How much was that going through your mind?
Gilbert Brown: I guess you could say it plays in our minds a little bit. But at the end of the day, we huddled up, get this stop, this is what we're here for. We put ourselves in a position to win and we are focusing on getting the stop.
But the circumstances during the game, it turned out a little differently, and unfortunately we lost.
Q. This is for any of the players. What was going through your head when you saw the referee put his hand up with .8 seconds left?
Brad Wanamaker: Just for Howard to miss two free-throws, that's the only thing that could go through our head at the time. The ref made a call and he just had to deal with it.
Gilbert Brown: As soon as he made the call, the first thing was to hope for -- did he even have enough time for the foul to be called once it hit his hands, and then we were just hoping Howard would just miss the two free-throws. That's all we could wish for.
MODERATOR: Other questions for the Pittsburgh student-athletes?
Q. How difficult is it to have lost this game and the Connecticut game the way that did you? And is one loss any worse than the other, the way that you lost it any worse than the other?
Gilbert Brown: A loss is a loss, regardless of the outcome. It comes down to the plays that we didn't make in the game, whether it be on buzzer-beater or the free-throw at the end. It hurts all same. And it hurts even more because it's our last game. We know we'll never be able to put the Jersey on again and go out there and play with our teammates. Everybody on the team is like family, so this being the last game really -- is really an emotional blow to us.
MODERATOR: Okay, you guys are all set. Thank you.
We'll now open up the floor for questions for Coach Jamie Dixon.
Q. Ashton didn't really get open for any threes or anything in the game. Can you talk about the job Butler did against him today?
COACH Jamie Dixon: Well, I thought Ashton played very well. He had 11 points. We shot 56 percent, 54 from the three. So our offense was good. We got good shots. He took good shots. I thought he made some nice passes on arbitration getting in the lane, especially that one kick out to Travon, gave us a big three. So I thought did he a good job. I thought he played very well. And sometimes you don't score as much, but four assists and team shoots 56 percent offensively and 54 from three, our offense was good. It was good. And we did a lot of good things with him. I think it was a game really where two teams played good offense for the most part.
Q. Were you sure they were going through either Matt Howard or Shelvin Mack, or did you really expect they would give the ball to a sophomore like Andrew Smith there at the end?
COACH Jamie Dixon: I think it was kind of a broken play. It was a drive jump-in-the-air pass. I don't know that it was by design. I think we had them in a pretty good position. I think that's the play you want. You want guys throwing passes like that and get deflections and being in that situation.
But he's got very good hands. The thing to watch in scouting, he's got very good hands for a big kid and does a good job of keeping it up. I think we put him in pretty good position, but the kid made a great catch and a great finish on the drive.
Q. Coach, this program has had such great success the last decade. Is there any explaining some of the disappointments you've had in this tournament?
COACH Jamie Dixon: Well, I think everybody remembers the losses. We've won a number of the games in the tournament as well. I think we've been consistently good every year, so everybody looks to us. Other teams have had drop-offs in the regular season and people get written off, but I think we're about as consistent as anybody in the country.
But every loss is disappointing. Anytime we've lost in the tournament, there's been no good losses and there's been -- but I was proud of our guys, proud of how they played. And we just ggotta keep working harder and keep having great years and keep putting ourselves in a position that we're in. And we just gotta keep doing that. That's what we'll do and that's what we have done. And teams would love to be in our situation.
Obviously tonight's disappointing, but I'm proud of how hard we played and proud of what did. I'm proud of how we fault back and battled some adversity. We had some foul trouble. Got some leads. Had some baskets taken away from us, I was really happen with how we battled and I'm proud of our guys.
Q. Jamie, in general, not specifically with this game, but what's your philosophy about end-of-game situations? Do you want players to decide games, or is a foul a foul no matter whether it's in the first five minutes or the last ten seconds?
COACH Jamie Dixon: I think you gotta call it consistently all the way through, and that's all we were asking for was consistent calls all the way through. I thought we had a great crew, thought they did a good job. There's going to be a lot of talk about it.
But we had a very good crew. We've already been asked all the questions already about it. But we had a very good crew. We'll never talk about the officials in a negative manner, and I think there were -- they did the best job and they should be proud of what they did out there. I think they did their best and. But I think you want you to call it consistently all the way through. Doesn't change from time to time, team to team at any time.
Q. Jamie, I'm going to ask another officiating question. You lose a NCAA Tournament game with one of your best teams on a foul called nine feet from the basket that if the official had swallowed the whistle, no one would have said a word about it. Talk a little bit about that dynamic. This game was decided by the officials, like it or not?
COACH Jamie Dixon: We're not wanting to focus on one play, and when you lose or win, as a team, you've gotta look at the entire game and things you could have done. So I guess it's going to get a lot of talk. It seems already from the questions and what was going on, and but we're not going to blame the officials.
I think there seemed to be a lot of going back and forth, but they're the best in the country and that's why they're playing and that's why the teams are playing and that's why they're officiating. They're the best officials in the country.
So a very good crew and we're not familiar with them. We haven't had them before, but they're a very good crew.
Q. Coach Butler's defense hasn't been quite as impregnable as it was last year but still really good lately. Why were you so effective in getting free-throw shots at such a high percentage? Really seemed like Butler really struggled just to keep up with your offense?
COACH Jamie Dixon: Well, they did the same to us early on the first half, again. But we're pretty good offensively. As I look at it, our numbers are pretty impressive with what we shot and what we did. And our turnover is a little bit high, but it seemed that we got a couple of those on some offensive fouls on good drives, and we wanted to be aggressive. So I was happy with those.
But we're pretty good offensively. We have had pretty good balance. We pass it very well. They're very good defensively. We really focused on not overpenetrating, reading their help because we think they're very good help-side team, but they're really a very good team defensively.
But I thought we did a good -- that's what I told our team at halftime. I felt about good about our offense and things we were doing. Missed some shots early. Got going the second half, really knocked them down. And was happening with our offense. We needed to tighten up on our defense and we did.
Q. Coach, again, back to the officiating. Were you surprised at either of the calls in those final two seconds in light of everything, the way the game had been called up to that point? Just your experience in general were you surprised that either whistle was blown, either the one on Gilbert or the one on Matt Howard?
COACH Jamie Dixon: I don't know. Nothing really surprises me as far as what can happen. You gotta be prepared for everything. So we thought that we were.
But again, they're a great crew. It's their call. It's their game, and they did a very good job all the way through. And we're not going to blame officials. And I guess there was there was a lot of talk about it.
Quoting Butler head coach Brad Stevens and student-athletes
MODERATOR: We are joined by Butler Head Coach Brad Stevens as well as junior guard Shelvin Mack and senior forward Matt Howard. Coach, if you could make an opening statement maybe your thought process about the last couple sequences or two.
COACH BRAD STEVENS: I just heard Jamie and one of the things that is very clear and needs to be made very clear is we're not a better basketball team than Old Dominion or Pittsburgh, we just had the ball last. And I think that's just what happens sometimes, and you have two really good basketball teams that are very evenly matched. And he's a heck of a basketball coach. Those kids played really hard. They were really hard to stop we couldn't guard them.
And you talk about the last sequences, and I said this on CBS, you hate to see a game end that way. But I asked Shelvin, did he think he fouled him, and he thought he fouled him and Matt thought he got fouled. So that was the way the game ended.
I thought we played really hard. I thought we took some punches. We were down five after we had a big lead, and we could have folded and these guys don't fold.
They are bulldogs in every sense of the word.
MODERATOR: We'll open the floor up for questions for the student-athletes first.
Q. This is for both of you all three of you: In general, do you believe that end-of-game situations players should decide games or is a foul a foul in the first five minutes and the last ten seconds?
SHELVIN MACK: I think if it's a foul it should be called a foul no matter if it's 0.2 seconds left on clock or 39 minutes left on the clock. The game is played for a full 40 minutes, I think it should be refed for a full 40 minutes.
MATT HOWARD: I think it's pretty hard to argue with what Shelvin said. As much as it would have hurt and really stung quite a bit if we would have ended up losing the game, if a guy gets pushed out of bounds and it is a foul it should be called that way.
Q. This is for Shelvin: Shelvin, did you mean to just kind of keep the offensive player in front of you or side of you? And what did you think after the referee did call a foul? It must have been pretty traumatic moment at least for a second or so.
SHELVIN MACK: Yeah, first reaction was make him pick up the ball. When he threw I was running to sideline, trying to move out the way, but it was coming towards me. I put myself in the best situation to make the ref make a call. Once the call was made, I realized that it was the dumbest mistake of my life. It was a crazy one minute for me. A lot of emotions involved in it. Still time left on the clock, and we was able to get the win.
Q. Matt, were you surprised they contested the rebound? Because obviously in that situation the game is won or lost at the free-throw line and it's probably going to overtime if they don't contest it. Were you surprised that he fouled you?
MATT HOWARD: Yeah, I was really surprised. And I knew we didn't have any timeouts, so when I grabbed the ball my reaction was to look for a guard up the court somewhere. I felt his arm come across me and so just threw the ball towards the rim.
Q. Matt and Shelvin, you've obviously been involved in some tense, dramatic NCAA Tournament games over last two years, can you sort of quantify and compare what that last flurry was like in comparison to all your other experiences, Shelvin?
SHELVIN MACK: I just talking to Matt, it's been the craziest weekend of my life basketball-wise. Win two games on game-winners coming down to the last play of the game. I had an up-and-down feeling the last minute of the game because I had probably the worst foul in Butler history, but then the dude from Pittsburgh made up for me. So that got to be all right.
MATT HOWARD: Yeah, you win two games by three points, it's gonna be pretty crazy. Like Shelvin said, this is by far the craziest weekend of basketball, and the type of games that you really play for. You know that obviously you'd like to really play your best and blow teams out, but with such great teams you know it's going to come down to the end, and these are the type of games and moments that you play for as a competitor.
Q. Shelvin, two questions: One, during the time when the officials were resetting the clock after you committed the foul, you were having a chat with Brown at the foul line. Can you relay a little bit of that conversation to us. And second, given how well you played the entire night, do you think that will cause your teammates to not give you quite as much of a hard time about the foul or are you a dead man walking?
SHELVIN MACK: I'm a dead man walking. They're giving me a hard time right now. A teammate Ron, he had a dumb foul earlier in the year and we lost the game sort of like that.
But at the free-throw line we just had a regular conversation. I just asked him where he was from. (Laughter). Simple question, just talk to him a little bit. He responded back. There's no trash talking or anything like that.
Q. Did he ask you where you were from?
SHELVIN MACK: Yeah, I told him I was from Lexington. I had 3.0. Stuff like that. (Laughter. )
Q. This is for both of you: Can talk about the value of playing all the way through to the end? Because both teams were prepared for anything to happen basically those last 2.2 seconds. I guess specifically about Gilbert missing that last free throw and you guys being able to make something out of it.
SHELVIN MACK: It's important to play the full 40 minutes. I was talking to my high school coach earlier, back in high school teams used to walk off the court with ten seconds left. But we still played the full 40 minutes. I think it's a crucial point when you get older you start realizing there's a lot of possessions left in the game, so you have to play the full 40 minutes.
MATT HOWARD: I think this game is a really good example of the fact that anything can happen, and I'm sure, at least in my mind, I was thinking when Drew hit that shot and they don't have timeouts, they're probably not going to get a very good shot off and the game's going to be over, and who would have known there's two possessions left. So, yeah, you gotta play all the way through. Three possessions, my bad. Let's correct it.
Q. Shelvin, can you elaborate on your offensive performance before the end. You just looked like you were in some kind of a zone and just really feeling confident. Was Pittsburgh doing something you didn't expect because it seemed like you had room to pull the trigger on those three-pointers time after time and really seemed dialed in?
SHELVIN MACK: They're a very great defensive team. Last night I asked one of the coaches for some film when they played UConn, how they were guarding Kemba Walker. I noticed they were there a lot on the catch but they really didn't have a presence on the ball. So I took that into consideration today.
MODERATOR: You guys are all set. Thank you. We'll reopen the floor for questions for Coach Stevens.
Q. Brad, I know you're a pretty calm guy, but can you talk a little bit about your emotional swing that last 2.5 there?
COACH BRAD STEVENS: Well, I thought you our guys did a great job off the side out and they scored and made a great play. And you know you're between that a little bit because you are down one. How many guys are you going to send to the glass and how many guys you going to tell to get back, because if you score, you better be back, and if -- most likely you're going to have to go and try to tip one in.
They threw a pass out to Brown, and I thought both guys were kind of deciding to go for the ball. I thought Shelvin hesitated a little bit, and that may have created the contact. When I first saw it I wasn't sure.
But the first thing I do is I ask these guys and he felt like it was, and Matt certainly felt like it was. Matt, talk about a heavy play, right when Matt caught it, he threw through the ball at the other rim, and he got -- he certainly felt like he got fouled.
But again, I hate that we talk about the fouls and the last sequences because two pretty good teams playing a heck of a basketball game. It was physical and it was tough, and then there was a whole lot of skill on display through all that contact by both teams.
Q. Given the fact that you won six of your last seven NCAA Tournament games and five of those were so airtight, what has allowed Butler to win all these close games? Because you talk about the law of averages. It seemed like the law of averages would have prohibited that.
COACH BRAD STEVENS: Please don't take one away. I think we got seven. So but I will say this. It's -- I think it's fortunate to have the ball last. Like I said, we're not better than Old Dominion. We're not better than Pittsburgh. We just had the ball last.
We talked about the Xavier game last year when we picked up a loose ball while bodies were on the floor and laid it in. Does that make you a better team? No. We're just fortunate to advance because one thing these guys do is they play through the horn, and they'll always play through the horn. And I think that that happens because of 54. I think that that's Matt Howard's imprint on our program is you're going to give everything you have as long as you're out there every single day.
Q. Coach, I wanted to ask you in general about the concept of working the refs. When you express your displeasure at any juncture on a foul call, what's the effect? Is it just to vent or to show your players you got their back? Do you ever see an effect in that?
COACH BRAD STEVENS: I'm not smart enough to do that. I'm just a little bit emotional, probably need to control myself a little bit better. I think it's one of those things that -- I don't believe in that.
Those guys are -- they have to perform and they have a tough job, really tough job. And you're looking at things as a coach sometimes that may not be what they're looking at. And you may be looking at a cutter; they maybe looking at the ball, and you decide -- and you get mad about something that happened on a cut. Well, that's not what they're looking at. And so how you going to make a call?
They have a really hard job, and I really respect them. And certainly I showed too much frustration and emotion at times, and I think we all do, but the game is won by the players.
Q. You mentioned 54 and Matt Howard's imprint on the program, but can you talk about the other things he did tonight besides getting that last rebound and drawing that foul, the two offensive charges that he drew, the three-pointers the blocked shot early in the first half, just his overall contribution.
COACH BRAD STEVENS: I don't know how to quantify it or talk about it in a limited amount of time. One of the things that goes through your mind is what are you going to say in that locker room if it doesn't go your way with Matt Howard sitting there? And luckily I don't have to say that, at least for at least until we play again. And we're going to try or best to win and try our best to do everything right, but if and when that day comes and we're lucky enough to play four more, it's still going to be a hard day because everything that that kid does is -- I think he's made Butler better. Like how many guys can say that? He has made a whole university better. I respect him a great deal for that.
GAME NOTES: Pitt Returns to Action Wednesday Against Buffalo
Pitt Falls to Duquesne in City Game
VIDEO: PantherVision Goes 1-on-1 with Stallings & Young
GAME NOTES: Pitt to Face Duquesne in City Game Friday
Johnson Nominated to NABC Good Works Team
Pitt Hands Maryland Its First Loss, 73-59