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Nov. 22, 2011

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La Salle at No. 17 Pitt, November 22, 2011, Petersen Events Center, Pittsburgh, Pa.

Pitt 73, LaSalle 69

Quoting Pitt Head Coach Jamie Dixon:

Opening statement:

“Good win for us against a good team. I think LaSalle has very good guard play and good inside guys.  Rebounding was key; it was a big emphasis coming off our last game.  We outrebounded them by 18, so that was good to see.  There are a lot of things we can improve on and I think that is exciting for me.  I’m looking forward to what we can become. Nobody is really where they want to be in November, but I feel that we have a lot of opportunity to improve, we did some things better today but we also have much to work on.  We had 21 turnovers and that’s hard to believe.  They slapped numerous balls out of our hands.  Our halfcourt defense was better. It was improved but they still got a lot of transition buckets and that led to layups.  We will get back to work tomorrow and get ready for Penn.”

On bench play:

“It was a little better.  Last game it was hard to believe what happened. We’re finding ourselves and that’s what we hope to do.  J.J. Moore was key for us.  We really felt with J.J. (Moore) and Lamar (Patterson) we would have a good rotation at that spot.  Lamar has played well and J.J. is finding his place.  I like the six rebounds that J.J. Moore had, between the two of them we had pretty good play.  Khem (Birch) looks a little more comfortable every day.”

On playing Khem Birch at the five position:

“Yes, he was more effective there and I think we knew that.  With Nasir Robinson being out, we needed someone to play that spot. Injuries are not good when you have them and that was the case on that one.  Now he has to get more comfortable playing the five spot.  We have some more versatility at those spots, we have guys now where they need to be moving forward.”

On better rebounding:

“I thought our halfcourt defense was very good. They took contested shots and those are the ones you are going to be in position for and the ones you are going to get rebounds on.  We are going to go watch it on tape now and our field goal percentage defense we want to keep lower than 43 percent.  I think a number of those layups were off of deflections or steals, those are things that just cannot happen, but I think our halfcourt defense was much better which led to the better rebounding.”

On Dante Taylor’s injury:

“He got elbowed in the neck and I think he was having trouble breathing.  They told me couldn’t go for the rest of the first half and once we got into halftime, they told me he could go.  I think he finished better in the second half.  We just have to keep getting better.  We have tomorrow and Thursday to get ready for Penn on Friday which is a very good team.”

Quoting Pitt’s Tray Woodall:

On Tray’s overall performance and the closeness of tonight’s game:

“We have to give LaSalle credit because they came out and played hard tonight. We were able to see how they played against another Big East team after watching them play Villanova. They came out again and played hard and made shots. They missed a couple of key shots in the first half because we played pretty good defense against them. I definitely expected a tough game and that is exactly what they gave us.”

On the block at the end of the game:

“I didn’t want LaSalle to have the chance to get an easy layup. Normally I would go up and just touch the shot to make it more difficult for them, but at that point in the game we needed a stop so I made sure to get after him. I wasn’t thinking about the fact that I had four fouls instead I only thought about how I didn’t want to give up an easy layup.”   

Quoting Pitt’s Khem Birch:

On his newfound confidence level:

“At first I wasn’t used to the system, but as practices went by, I got more confidence and now I know what to do out there. Now I have more confidence in myself and hopefully will make more key plays like we did tonight in other games.”

Quoting Pitt’s J.J. Moore

On the sequence with his assist to Nasir Robinson:

“Coach wants us to go out there, give it our all and play as a team. I saw an opportunity with Nasir Robinson down low and wide open so that was a key play for us. Everybody told me to have confidence and always play hard when you go out on the court and that is what I did out there tonight.”

Quoting Pitt’s Dante Taylor

On tonight’s performance compared to last week’s:

“Last game we were not able to rebound and we don’t accept that because we are a rebounding team. At practice, coach emphasized rebounding just like we have been doing. Leading up to this game we focused on rebounding drills, playing hard and going out after it at practice. With tonight’s game it was easy for us to go hard and be aggressive like we have been practicing and that’s what we need to continue to do. In the last game against Long Beach State the other team played harder than us and we knew this time it would not be acceptable. Every day at practice we came together as a team before the coaches even said something and talked about how we know we can’t play like that again. We have to play hard and be aggressive because teams are going to keep coming after us. Now we to play like the underdog and come out and play hard in every game.” 

On Khem Birch’s development:

“It helps us to show that Khem is coming along in the system. It’s not easy for a freshman to come in right away and to be able to get things going because that takes time. Tonight he was able to switch it on and I hope he can do that in every game. He works hard at practice and goes after it just like that rest of the guys so I hope he continues to do the same.”

Quoting La Salle’s Head Coach Dr. John Giannini:

Opening statement:

“We’re obviously very frustrated, because we think if we did a couple things differently, we would have had a chance to win the game and that means a lot.  Pitt is a great opponent and this is a very difficult place to play, so this was a game that we really wanted badly.  We just didn’t do some things; we have a freshman who got hit on couple screens and gave up layups, there were a couple close calls at critical times that I think had an impact on the game and those things come back and haunt you.  There are a few plays that will stick with me.  It’s really disappointing for us, because we know it would be a special opportunity to have a chance to win against an opponent like this in a place like this.”

On fouling Ashton Gibbs down two points with 1:12 left:

“I have to look at the tape, because at first I thought ‘Oh my gosh our guys thought we needed to foul when we clearly didn’t.’  My assistants didn’t think it was a foul, so you know I’ll have to look at the tape.”

On what his young team gained in the loss:

“Obviously we’re going to get better.  I think our kids will learn from these sorts of things and I think we can have a good team.  Again, you just hate to blow special opportunities, because they don’t come around too often. “

On Sam Mills’ defensive performance:

“He played ridiculous defense on Ashton Gibbs.  People need to start talking about Sam Mills as one of the elite defenders in the country."

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