March 20, 2010
No. 3 Pitt vs. No. 6 Xavier, Saturday, March 20, 2010, Bradley Center
DENNIS KRAUSE: We're joined by Pittsburgh student-athletes Gary McGhee, Brad Wanamaker, Jermaine Dixon and Gilbert Brown. When they're finished we'll hear from Head Coach Jamie Dixon. Questions for the Pittsburgh student-athletes, please.
Q. How difficult is it to stop Jordan Crawford, and what have you guys seen from him on tape?
Gilbert Brown: I mean, he's a tough player, and an A-10 All Conference First Team player, has a lot of moves and scores in a variety of ways. I think with the type of defense that we play, we'll be able to manage him. So I'm not really worried about like what they're going to present offensively to us. I really have a lot of faith in our defensive abilities.
Q. You've had a very up-and-down year. You've had some huge games and some other games where things haven't gone quite as well. Can you just sort of talk about that experience, what it's been like going through that? And you're obviously coming off a big game in the opener, where does that leave you going into tomorrow?
Gilbert Brown: You know, it plays in my mind a little bit, I guess you could say, because if you look at the statistics, one game is big and one game's not so big scoring-wise. But I think the main focus is the effort and the consistency of playing hard. My main objective is to go out there and give my team 100 percent and be able to contribute in a win. So at the end of the day I think that's the big picture, and that's what we're all focused on.
Q. Gilbert, I was wondering, this being a Big East arena, do you guys find any comfort here? Does it make preparation easier, anything about the tournament experience?
Gilbert Brown: I guess you could say we're used to the arena in some type of way, you know. But I don't really feel like it's an advantage that we played in this arena before because new floor, new everything. And they still have their fans coming to the game. So I just think it's another game.
Q. Jermaine what do you remember about the match-up and what, if anything, carries over from that game?
Jermaine Dixon: I can't really remember much about the game last year. But Levance hitting a big shot, basically it was a defensive game. I remember it was a hard-fought game. They were coming at us hard. They were coming at them. We just made plays at the end. And tomorrow we are looking forward to just playing hard, playing our game. Trying to slow down their guards and keeping their big men in check. Keep rebounding and everything helps with the game.
Q. Jermaine, will you have primary responsibility for Jordan Crawford, and do you remember seeing him in the YouTube video with LeBron James?
Jermaine Dixon: Yeah, I do remember seeing him in the YouTube video. It's just a dunk. I don't think it's nothing special about it. I guess dunking on LeBron is a big thing, but everybody gets dunked on so that means nothing to me or any of us. Whether I'll be guarding him or not, I don't know yet because Coach Dixon didn't let me know. So he asked me if I could help out with that. But whoever is guarding, we're going to play our defense and try to keep them under control.
Q. Gilbert, what did you learn from having to sit at the beginning of the season this year and how to use that for motivation to keep going?
Gilbert Brown: Sitting out, it was really tough for me just to sit out and watch and not be able to practice and be next to my teammates, like going into the game situations they were in. It really drove me to come back and be prepared and be on top of my game when I came back so I could contribute. It was a learning experience. And I learned a lot from it. And actually even though I made the best out of a bad situation, I think it was a positive thing that I learned from it.
Q. Brad, when you guys have six players in double figures yesterday and then Ashton isn't even one of them, what kind of a challenge do you think you guys present to a team that's trying to game plan to try to stop your offense?
Brad Wanamaker: I feel it's a tough challenge for them. It shows that we've got other guys capable of scoring other than Ashton. We had six guys in double figures. I mean, that tells you how dangerous our team is. Any given night somebody could score in double figures.
Q. Gary, Minnesota had a big height advantage over Xavier, and Xavier was able to have the rebounding edge. How big do you feel that will be tomorrow on the boards?
Gary McGhee: Whoever wins the boards will have a good chance of winning the game. That's something that we're looking forward to coming out, pounding the glass hard, keeping them off the glass. It's going to be a tough challenge for us, but we look forward to taking it on.
Q. Gary, you played against Love last year. What kind of a player is he to go up against and how does he compare to Benson who you went up against in the first round?
Gary McGhee: Two different types of players. Love is more of a banger, likes to use his body, throw his body around. He's a strong guy, has nice post games, post moves. It's going to be another challenge, another night in the tournament, so I'm looking forward to it.
Q. When you watch Xavier, do they look like kind of a Big East team, do they have a similar style at all, or are they a bit different?
Brad Wanamaker: You could say that. I mean, they play real physical. They're a great offensive rebounding team. In the Big East that's what a lot of teams do. They take advantage of the second chances, and that's something that Xavier do. And they also had good guard play.
Questions for Head Coach Jamie Dixon.
Q. Gilbert's obviously had a very up-and-down year, struggled with consistency. Can you talk a little bit about what he's been through and then maybe talk about what you expect to see from him tomorrow?
Jamie Dixon: Well, there's going to be some games, I think, people just look at the scoring, and that's not always the best indicator of how a guy's helping a team or how protective he is. So if you focus just on that, you can come up with your own evaluations. But he's done a good job. He's done a better job, I think, as the year's gone on rebounding, defending for us, and just getting back into shape and game shape and doing the things that we do. And so it's been a process. He's improved as the year's gone on. And he's been there some games where he's been able to produce for us offensively. But also he's been able to create some shots for other guys as well. But he's done a very good job in all areas. And he's had a career of a lot of injuries, and then obviously missing the first semester, but I think the more he's out there, the better he gets and the more he comfortable he gets.
Q. How do you stop Jordan Crawford?
Jamie Dixon: Well, I mean, it's always a team thing with us. It's never one guy. No one guy often gets written about. But it will be a team defense. It will be transition defense, I think is key. We can't allow him to get anything going in transition, them as a team getting anything going in transition, because that's where they're good. In the half court, we've got to keep them off the glass. Not let them get to the rim, and make them take tough shots. But he's going to get shots up. One thing, you know, he gets a lot of shots. So he's going to score some points. We've got to make it as tough as possible and guard him as much as possible, and nothing easy.
Q. The fact that this is a Big East arena, you have some familiarity here. You play Marquette here quite a bit. The towns are kind of similar. You've been here before. Played Wisconsin in 2004. Is there a comfort zone in any of that? And second thing, what do you recall from that experience in 2004 against Wisconsin?
Jamie Dixon: Well, first, off of that, hopefully it won't be quite the home court disadvantage that we had back then. I don't know yet. But I hope that's not the case. But it was -- obviously, as I said I think the other day, we were -- I did anyways, I wanted to come here to Milwaukee when I saw the sites. I thought Buffalo and Milwaukee, we've been to Buffalo recently, I thought Milwaukee would be a good place. Plus we won here just a couple weeks ago here. Playing here in the arena I thought would be a good thing. So I like this arena. We've played here well the last game, and so I thought it would be a good thing as far as being here for us. The city's been great. It always has been. And the last time we came through here, we were fortunate enough to win two games here and beat Wisconsin. I think that was the toughest part about that week, was answering the questions from the media about trying to get me going about why we were a 3 seed and I think they were a 6 seed and we were playing on the road. And I thought I did a very good job of not getting baited into any answers that could be used down the road against us. So that was the biggest challenge, I thought, that week.
Q. Other than the personnel changes, the obvious personnel changes, how do you feel your team is different this year than last year?
Jamie Dixon: I mean, we're different in a lot of ways. I think the main thing -- we just tried to disregard all the things that were being said about us, about who we lost. We lost great players, obviously. But I didn't want to focus on that. And I know you're supposed to follow the coaching manual, Coaching 101, you go into a year when you lose a whole bunch of guys you're supposed to talk about how young you are and inexperienced you are and what you don't have and lower expectations. But with us and our team, we weren't going to go that route. We didn't lower our expectation. Our demands remained the same. And I think our players really bought into it. So we made that very clear to our players. And I think they understood that. And there would be no excuses for coming up short. And that was the mentality that we had. We're different offensively, but we're always different offensively. We have to adjust the strengths and weaknesses. So this year we've evolved -- we've probably evolved more as the years have gone on. I think that would probably be the biggest difference. Adding the two guys was probably the biggest part in that, adding Jermaine Dixon, your two most experienced players. I know our year was unique, there's no question. When you talk about a young team, then you lose your two most experienced players to start the year, you know, I can understand where the questions might have come. But we've evolved. We've gotten better. I've found out what our strengths are as the year's gone on. That takes some time, too. And as we play with seven new guys, there's some things you have to learn as you put them in the fire. So we've gotten better and learned from some things, and we've been able to adapt as the year has gone on.
Q. Kind of along those lines, in terms of your preparation for tomorrow's game, does anything carry over from the tournament last year, or are the teams just so both different it doesn't really make a difference?
Jamie Dixon: They just asked me that in the radio, and I don't really think so. The teams are about as different as you could be. They lost three very good players. We lost the four players that everybody's been talking about. It's about as -- it's not often that you're going to have two teams meeting this late in the tournament with that many changes, that many personnel changes. And I just -- I don't see it. But we'll watch last year's game, too. So I guess you can read into that. We'll get something out of it, or hope to anyways.
Q. You've spent so many years developing your own defensive philosophies and defensive systems. When a team like Xavier shoots whatever they shot, 9 for 42 in the first half, do you avail yourself of anything that Minnesota did? Is there anything there for you? Or do you have to play your system?
Jamie Dixon: I think their size, Minnesota's -- and we can't get any bigger guys in the next couple of days --But their size was what I thought gave them problems. And that's what Minnesota's strength is. But what they do is rebound. And they're going to miss shots. But what they do, they go to the offensive glass, and they had 20 offensive rebounds with that. So they come back, a poor shooting percentage with very good offensive rebounding. That's why they're successful. So they can score in a variety of ways. But the main thing is for us, two things, transition and offensive rebounds, we can't allow them to get there.
Q. Gilbert obviously had to sit the beginning of the season with the academic situation. What do you think he took away from that? And maybe how did that impact his play on the court after he came back?
Jamie Dixon: I think, again, he's the most experienced player we have on our team. Been around for four years. A lot has been injuries during that time. So he hasn't had the opportunity to practice. To be honest, this is the most practicing he's probably done in this year than he has -- he's been injured pretty much every year he's been at Pitt. So I think that's been the biggest thing. He's actually practiced all the way through from the day he was here to the day he became eligible to the day -- to today. So I don't think he's missed a practice, which is a rare occurrence in his career. So to me that's the biggest thing for him that's helped him, is he's continued to improve this year. I think that's the biggest thing.