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Dec. 6, 2011

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VMI at No. 15 Pitt, Dec. 6, 2011, Petersen Events Center, Pittsburgh, Pa.
No. 15 Pitt 97, VMI 70

Quoting Pitt’s Head Coach Jamie Dixon:

Opening statement:

“It was a good win for us. I thought we did some things really well.  Obviously, the rebounding stands out, we had 60 (rebounds).  Those rebounds came from a variety of guys and I think our depth is helping us in that direction.  We are becoming a very good rebounding team, but I don’t think we’re there yet. We just constantly have to keep getting the numbers from our big guys, but we have to improve with our guards too.  Our guards have to get more rebounds, so I was excited to see Ashton (Gibbs) get six. It’s something we emphasize, so we want to continue to improve in that area.  VMI keeps pushing the ball.  We have a lot of things to get better at; we realize that and we’re working on it. I thought Nasir (Robinson) really played well.  I thought he played unselfish with the five assists. He made a lot of good passes and realized they were ‘sagging’ in the paint.  I though he led us and really kind of set the tone for the game. ”

On Isaiah Epps’ play at point guard:

“With Tray (Woodall) being out we have to find another guard to play some minutes.  I really feel comfortable with John (Johnson) and Cameron (Wright) playing the two spot for us, so we have to get someone to play some minutes at the point.  Nick (Rivers) and Isaiah (Epps) have been battling each other and Isaiah (Epps) did a pretty good job once he got in there.  He’s a good distributor, a good decision maker and that’s key.  We need to get good rebounding out of him as we go forward, but it was good to get him in there and get him some action.”

On team’s 3-point shooting:

“We thought Lamar (Patterson) was going to be a good shooter, we thought J.J. (Moore) could be a good shooter, I don’t think we knew about the other guys.  John Johnson shot the ball well. I don’t think I can say I predicted that.  John (Johnson) has become really patient offensively. He is letting things come to him, and that is really a good thing to see from a freshman.  He (Johnson) had just five shots in today’s game and he took good shots.  I think we took too many three’s early and we tried to address that at halftime.  I thought we had a better shot selection in the second half.  I feel we’re a good shooting team.  I feel we can put three guys on the floor at all times that shoot the ball very well.”

On Dante Taylor coming off the bench:

“Obviously he is playing more minutes than Khem (Birch) is, he’s been more productive and you can’t hide from the numbers.  I kind of like it in some regards because we have such a young group.  Our bench is so young, so we have a junior who has been around and knows what we are doing.  Dante (Taylor) is one of our most experienced guys, and we think we like him coming in with that group, but the bottom line is he is playing very well.  I feel good with him on the floor and I thought he played well today knocking down his free throws.  I thought he played better defensively, too, because he was on the perimeter and had to guard outside.  I think we’re getting good production out of the four and five spot.”

Quoting Pitt’s J.J. Moore:

On first half play:

“Coach told me to be ready. He said to always be confident in your shot.  He said play hard on defense and you’ll get your shots on offense. ”

On shooting so many 3-pointers:

“I saw it in their defense, it was definitely what they were giving me.  My team was setting a lot of good screens.  Dante (Taylor), Lamar (Patterson), and Nasir (Robinson) were all setting good screens.  They were getting me open and that was basically good team play for us.”

On keeping concentration after slow start to second half:

“We always play hard no matter what, if we are down or up by a lot of points.  We just wanted to play hard. Coach said ‘don’t let up’ and we played good defense.”

Quoting Pitt’s John Johnson:

On VMI’s “up and down” style of play:

“I like to run so it was nice.  We usually like to play teams that like to slow it down and run an offense, so it was good to play a team that likes to run it up and down.”

On not giving up many turnovers:

“In practice, we try to play unselfish and pass the ball more to get everyone involved.”

Quoting VMI Head Coach Duggar Baucom

Opening Statement:

“I think Pittsburgh is as advertised. When I think about Pitt, I think of toughness. I thought they certainly showed that tonight. Anytime you get 60 rebounds on someone, 22 of them being offensive, it makes it pretty tough on the opponent. Ashton Gibbs was an absolute stud. I knew he was a good player, but it’s a little different up close and seeing him as good as he is. I think that we played much better in the second half. Except for about the last three minutes, I think we played pretty well. But they have a really nice team and Jamie does a great job with them. They seem like they really play together and like playing together.”

On Gibb’s catching fire:

“I was hoping that he wasn’t going to catch fire like he did. He did get off to a slow start, but I think that Robinson is a stud. I thought that he carried them.  He had a double- double in the first half, and we knew that he was going to be a beast. He does a lot of things. But I think that Gibb’s is a great player. He picked his time and he made some huge shots. We had that string of 17 points and we were feeling good about ourselves to keep it competitive in the second half and then he went on his streak.”

On their slow start:

“That’s never good. That’s never good for anybody, especially us. We are much more of an offensive team. I credit them with that, I think they pushed us all to the 3-point line, contested everything that we had, and set us up on our cuts. I think it had more to do with them than it did with us. In the second half I think we got a few more looks and we exploited that pressure a little bit, got a few back doors, and made some more plays. But I think they are very sound defensively.”

On the last four road games:

“The conference games we’re still really disappointed by. We played two poor halves in two games. The guaranteed games are certainly something that we experienced teams on our level and it’s a good experience for our guys. Our guys get to watch Ohio State and Pitt on television and to come here and play in this great arena is a good experience for our guys.  I thought if we can execute like that against Pitt like we did, we think that we can do that in our league. It gives our guys confidence. We don’t face the size we faced tonight in our league so it’s a learning process. We knew when we scheduled this that it is a rough four-game patch. We just hope that we get better as a team and just keep believing in each other.”

On Pitt versus Ohio State:

“I think that Ohio State is a little bit of a different animal because they have Jared Sullinger in the paint. And I think Aaron Craft does a great job leading that team and they have a lot of pieces. But Ohio State doesn’t have an Ashton Gibbs, who can prove what he did in the last 10 minutes of the game. I don’t think they have a guard that can do that. I would enjoy watching them play the rest of the year. I knew that Robinson was good, but I didn’t know that he was that effective. He’s a good player.”

Quoting Stan Okoye

On their slow first half:

“The first couple minutes were pretty tough. We just weren’t knocking down shots and getting the shots that we wanted. But we are a streaky team; we know that we can catch fire quickly. So we just kept confidence in our system. In the second half, you saw we went on a nice little run. We just hope to keep that consistency, especially for the rest of the season.”

On Pitt versus Ohio State:

“I see similarities defensively. They’re good rebounding teams and good defensive teams. They stress their defense. Offensively they both execute really well. I see similarities in both of the teams.”

On going into the conference games:

“In all reality, you can say that these games don’t matter. They matter, but in the long run we want to win our conference. That’s the most important thing to us. We look at how well we play against these big teams and we try to compare that to teams in our conference. They’re not as skilled, but they’re still teams and we need to battle against them like we did tonight. Playing well is good for us because when we go to conference games, we use that confidence to play against them and execute the way we did.”

On tonight’s game:

“Our defense was a lot different tonight. If we take that into conference and really stress our defense, I think that’s the biggest thing right now because we can score but we have to lock down on defense. That’s the most important thing for us to take into our conference play.”

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