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Nov. 23, 2012

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Delaware vs. Pitt, Madison Square Garden, November 23, 2012, NIT Season Tip-Off Consolation Game
Pitt 85, Delaware 59

An interview with Pitt Coach Jamie Dixon and Tray Woodall

COACH DIXON:  I was really happy with how we responded, and obviously, we lost a tough game.  A game that we felt we just didn't finish the way we wanted to.  So how do you respond coming back Thanksgiving Day and getting ready for a 2:30 game. So we responded well getting off to a 16-2 lead.  We were fortunate, obviously, that they were missing one of their players.  He's a good player, and I think that was something that was a benefit to us.  But I really was happy with how we responded, the assist to turnover ratio, the unselfishness, the passing this week was a good week for us offensively. We learned some good things about ourselves.  We got better, and I think it's something we can really move forward to and get away. Really happy with how we played, how we responded.  I thought Trey played really well and really unselfish, and I think it spread throughout the whole team. Excited about where we're at right now.  We thought we should have won that last one, but we didn't.  How you respond says a lot about this team and what it thinks about themselves and what they think they can be.  Thank you.

Q.  Tray, coach said how you respond shows a lot about what the team thinks of themselves.  But how would you guys say you think of yourselves after the test today?

Tray Woodall:  Yeah, the guys responded in a good way today.  We knew we wanted to pick the team up defensively, and we wanted to build on the game we had the night before.  We just wanted to respond and build off what we didn't accomplish in this game.

Q.  Tray, how does it feel coming back home?  I know you played locally here in St. Anthony's, did you have a lot of fans coming back to see you all play the last couple of games?

Tray Woodall:  Yeah, I definitely had a lot of family members come watch me play.  I saw people in the crowd from St. Anthony's also.  I was just happy to play in front of my family and familiar faces.

Q.  Two of the top freshmen bids according to recruiting rankings and all that stuff here in New York, Mitch of course at Michigan and Steven, I don't know what the expectations were of the player, but both are easing into things and developing.  In all the years you've been doing, this is it your experience that yes, there is Jared Sullinger, and DeMarcus Cousins and guys like that, but typically do the bigs take a little more time to develop?

COACH DIXON:  Every guy is unique.  Every guy is different and comes from different backgrounds.  I think Sullinger was a guy going to Ohio State from the day he was probably born.  He was working more towards the system, and he was a skill, undersized guy.  He just had a feel.  Every guy is different.  I'm sure what Michigan is going through with McGary and we're getting asked the same questions. But usually it's the defensive thing that is a big adjustment.  It's the biggest challenge for them.  They have to guard on the perimeter and ball screens and 2-3 zones and standing in the middle.  It's so different.  For big guys it's so different from what they've played against.  In high school for most kids, and then with Steve, he didn't play in high school.  So it's a whole different world. I understand it.  I think Coach Beilein understands it too.  But it's just something that you can't stop the articles that are going to be written.

Q.  Thoughts on Pitt center, Steven Adams’ performance.

COACH DIXON:  Yeah, it's usually with the big kids there's always something different.  Again, Steven hasn't played with -- I don't know how all these things.  When he played in those games in L.A., those weren't games.  Those were pick-up games with no structure.  He was the best player on the team, and he was playing with guys he just met from the Asian team and the Latin American team.  They just didn't know where New Zealand was, but they put him on those two squads. That's all we've really got to base it by.  He's got, I think Mitch recruited for a long time too, so I'm very familiar with him and with Steve.  We're excited about that.  I thought this was a good day for Steve, and it was a good day for him.

Q.  You guys got off to a quick start today 10-zip right before Delaware called that timeout.  Would you attribute that to a year of execution or do you think they were a little awe struck playing Pitt on a big stage like this?

COACH DIXON:  I think one thing was Brinkley wasn't able to play, and that helped us.  I think they don't have the depth that we have, and I think that was a big factor to what I think.  So, you know, that's a good team.  Obviously we could have won last night.  I guess it was very close watching the film.  It could have gone either way.  That is a big key. If certain teams can sustain that, but a team, playing against a team like us with our size and our depth it becomes more of a challenge.  But I was really happy how our guys came out and played.  We were up big and stayed with it for the most part and did the things we wanted to do.  Field goal percentage, the rebounding was not where we wanted it to be.  Whatever it is, I thought this was going to be a good rebounding team. But we haven't rebounded well enough from the beginning.  Even our big blowouts and 35-point wins.  Obviously, the guys in Michigan point blank, we got beat on the boards, and that's why we lost.  No question about it.  With that said, we didn't rebound to the numbers I wanted to do, but offensive execution.  I thought the unselfishness was just a tribute to the guys and where this team could be offensively.

Q.  You've got ten guys here double digits and minutes.  No one's played more than 28.  I know you guys kind of ran away with it at the end.  But is this going to be something as a coach and a program that you're going to focus going forward?  Listen, we want to get 9, 10 guys, 15 minutes, not have to use anyone more than 32, 33 if we don't have to?  Is that something you're focusing on in the coming weeks?

COACH DIXON:  We'd like to.  Hopefully we'll stay healthy, and we had some things with Cam wasn't available for a couple days, and he didn't practice for us the last week, and Trey didn't practice, so things occur, foul trouble as well.  But I do feel that we can play ten guys out there that are really good.  We have walk-ons that are red shirting.  They get to play a lot of minutes too with the big lead. So it's been interesting playing with these guys.  I think they know they're going to get minutes.  They know they're going to play.  I think it's a good feeling.  They can see it by the way we're passing the ball. Offensively we're heading in the right direction.  We've got some things to address.  He the rebounding thing I'll go back to again, because it is just something that I thought was going to be a much better rebounding team.  But we will and we'll get to it.  But the guy's a rebounder.  The guys can play.

Q.  How important are playing in these preseason tournaments with top level competition with an early barometer for you guys?

COACH DIXON:  It was great.  It's something that we're looking forward to.  We've done them every year.  We've played in the best ones we can.  We get to play in the Garden, and we've been playing here now 44 times in 11 years.  So we do everything we can to play in this building.  It's great for our fans, great for our families. But, again, playing we found some things out against Michigan and even Delaware.  Again, our rebounding is something that we've been known for.  It's something that we've done among probably the best in the country over the long hall.  Right now we're not.  So when you lose a game and get outrebounded by 12 in the second half and point to all different things and this and that, at the end of the day, that's what we do.  When we don't, we come up short. So we've got to understand that and see that, and today we're playing hard.  Our transition defense is the other thing we found out about, even today.  We're back.  We saw it in the game against Michigan.  We were back.  They scored them three on five situations a number of times.  It's just not knowing what we need to do and understanding that guys are going to keep going.  Those are two things that we really learned this week.

Q.  Lamar scored a lot more in these two games up here.  Did you want them to be more assertive?  Did you want the ball in their hands much more?

COACH DIXON:  I don't know if he was more assertive.  He made shots and we were wide open.  Everybody was like why are you playing Lamar?  Well, he was our best player in practice for the first four weeks.  We just didn't see it happen. But guys go through stretches where they don't play.  He played good basketball.  He didn't score a lot.  He was unselfish.  He had high assist numbers.  He played pretty good defense during those games when we weren't scoring a lot.  So I wasn't panicking.  Did miss some shots that were wide open for a stretch there. But now he's making them, and he's a big part of what we do.  He's playing good defense.  I think we've got a nice rotation with Durand and Cameron that can play those spots.  And it's something that we can really build off of.  But he's a really unselfish player.  I think that was evident.  He took good shots and poor shots, and that's how he's been playing in practice.  Those are pretty good numbers, 16 points, 10 rebounds and four assists in 26 minutes.

An interview with Delaware’s Monte Ross, Jamelle Hagins and Devon Saddler:

THE MODERATOR:  From the University of Delaware, student-athletes, number 44, Jamelle Hagins, number 10, Devon Saddler. 

COACH ROSS:  Congratulations to Pitt.  I thought that that was one of the more astounding offensive displays that we've ever had against us, and we pride ourselves in being a very, very good defensive team. One of the keys for us tonight was to make jump shots.  And we didn't do a good job of that in the first half.  I thought they got their confidence by getting a lot of points in the paint.  So congratulations to them. I didn't think by the score that we played very well.  I thought the first half was probably our worst played half of the year.  But I thought in the second half one of the things we challenged our guys with at halftime was let's play.  Let's play.  I thought we did a much better job of just playing in the second half. We'll go back to the drawing board, and you never want to have to learn from a loss, but unfortunately they do happen.  If we want to be the team I think we can become, we'll learn from this and get better.

Q.  Jamelle, against Kansas State the other night, you guys really established your defensive presence right from the git-go.  Was that harder to do tonight?  Was that kind of, when you guys weren't able to do that right off the bat, did that mean it was going to be a long night for you? 

JAMELLE HAGINS:  I think we just started off slow, a little slow.  They hit shots and, like Coach said, they got their confidence up.  So we were trying to fight back to hit shots, and it just got harder as the game progressed.

Q.  Were you confident in your ability to play with a team like Pitt from the Big East coming into this game? 

JAMELLE HAGINS:  I think we're confident to play with anybody.  We're not scared.  It was just another step up.  You see where we were at, I don't think we played our basketball tonight.  But we were confident.

Q.  Jamelle, your legs feel better?  No cramps?

JAMELLE HAGINS:  They feel okay.  It's all right.

Q.  Devon, being that you're like the quarterback of the team also playing somewhat of a big media market in Philadelphia, how was it coming up here a little further north in the Garden and playing in a larger media market?  How was that? 

DEVON SADDLER:  It was a great experience just coming up here, playing in front of a big crowd.  We just gave it our all tonight.  It's bigger than playing back at home.  So it was a lot for us.  We have a lot to learn, but as it goes on, we play Sunday.  But we can't think about this now.  We've just got to get back to the gym tomorrow and get to Temple.

Q.  Devon, given that teams from your conference have gone to the Final Four, how does that change your expectations for yourself and for your team?  What does this experience do for you getting ready for your conference? 

DEVON SADDLER:  This is great for our confidence, because we play a lot of great teams, and a lot of the teams we play up here are not as good as the teams in our conference.  It's just a great experience being up here because we're not going to play teams like that in our conference.

Q.  What about like George Mason and VCU going to the Final Four?  What's that do for you guys?

 DEVON SADDLER:  That just gives our conference confidence that every team has the ability to go to the Final Four or make it to the tournament.

Q.  How serious is Josh Brinkley's injury, and how did it maybe hurt you guys not having him available tonight? 

COACH ROSS:  How serious it is, we're not sure.  It's his ankle.  It's not his foot, hich is good.  He's had some history with his foot.  But it's his ankle, and we're hoping with a couple day's rest that he may -- there is a possibility that he may be able to play on Sunday against Temple.  We're not sure, of course.  But any injury is serious, and we're going to take the necessary precautions to make sure his long-term health is what's most important. How did it affect us tonight?  We told our guys, you have to step up.  Someone goes down, it's your opportunity to step up.  I'm not sure we did that as a whole tonight.  Josh has been a tough guy for us, a mainstay for us in the lane.  Of course we probably miss his presence down there, but we practice a certain way every day so that guys will step up when they have that opportunity.

Q.  Early on you guys came out pretty slow.  What do you attribute that to?  Do you think your team was awe struck by playing Pitt in the garden or do you think they were executing and you guys weren't? 

COACH ROSS:  I don't know.  I asked them the question at halftime, are you Pitt fans or Big East fans?  Because you're right, that's how we play.  We play like we were watching the game and not participating in the game.  As to the reason why we started off slow, I think they might have caught us on our heels a little bit.  I think we had an opportunity to either go up 2-0 or make it 2-2, and we missed our first lay-up. That's sort of like -- missing the lay-up is different from missing the jumpshot.  When you miss the lay-up, it's like a kick in the stomach.  It takes a little bit of the error wind out of your sail.  But I thought we did a better job of not being spectators in the second half.  We talk to our guys about when you step up a level, which Pitt is, you've got to be ready.  We were ready. Just why the shots didn't go in, why their shots went in, well, that's the game of basketball.  But when I look at the stat sheet and some of the things that we've had ten turnovers.  I'm not sure how many we had at the half, so that's always a thing I look at right away.  How many turnovers did you have in a game like this, and turning it over ten times is okay.

Q.  What are your thoughts on Zanna and the how Pitt's been utilizing him here in the season? 

COACH ROSS:  I think his ability, I think what they do is his ability is probably more face-up than post-up.  I think he's more comfortable face-up than post-up.  But he is a very physical player.  You don't get that combination a lot.  A guy that likes to shoot jump shots, can score inside, but probably doesn't favor that.  He's still physical inside there.  He's a long, athletic body that I'm sure is what you need in the Big East to be able to compete and be able to be a good team.  They have that in that length that he has.

Q.  Out of curiosity as far as teaching, how much of basketball from the teaching aspect did you learn from -- how you say, Martelli are, and also the late games? 

COACH ROSS:  I would say a lot of the basis for what we do and how we do, trying to do things the right way, trying to do things with class, trying to do things when the chips are down, there is a certain level-headedness you must have about -- the saying is, "It's never as good as it seems.  It's never as bad as it seems."  The reality lies somewhere in the middle.  I think that is the lesson that I've learned from both of them. You have to coach your team.  There are going to be ups and downs, and trials and tribulations, but you have to coach your team.  You owe it to the gentlemen that you're in charge of to make them not only the best basketball players that they can become, but the best people that they can become, and that is on a daily basis. So any opportunity you get to affect their life -- an example.  We're getting our butts handed to us.  If I go in a shell and don't continue to coach them, what kind of message does that send to them in terms of, okay, something bad has happened.  When something bad happens, you don't do what you've always done.  No, it's an opportunity to show them, look, first of all, we don't have any fight.  I'm going to coach you guys until that buzzer goes off, so I need you guys to play until that buzzer goes off. So it's little life lessons like that that I've learned from Phil, and Coach Bighouse Gaines that will stay with me forever.  Hopefully I can give a little bit back that's been given to me.

\Q.  Temple on Sunday are playing their first game in eight days.  You're playing your third game in five days.  How difficult is it for you guys to play them any day, but just in this kind of situation?

COACH ROSS:  One of the things that I told the team is that there are a lot of teams that I've coached that would not be able to handle what we've put on them thus far.  I think they're able to handle it from a physical standpoint and being able to compete and have a chance to win.  They're also able to handle it from a mental standpoint and meaning, okay, we got our tails handed to us today.  Let's regroup and still have that same confidence that we had before this game going into the Temple game.  This is a group that can handle it, and we'll display that come Sunday at 2:00.

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