March 20, 2013
PITT PRE-GAME QUOTESHEET
NCAA Second Round, Salt Lake City, Utah, Wednesday, March 20, 2013
Pitt vs. Wichita State
An interview with Pitt players Tray Woodall, Lamar Patterson and Dante Taylor. Coach Jamie Dixon interview to follow.
THE MODERATOR: We have Pittsburgh student-athletes, Tray Woodall, Dante Taylor and Lamar Patterson. Questions for the athletes?
Q. Can you just talk a little bit about the preparation for this? What has it been like getting ready for this game?
Tray Woodall: It's been nerve-wracking for me because I'm a senior. I don't know if I can speak for Dante. As a team we have been preparing just as we prepare for any other game. We have a great coaching staff and they have done a great job preparing us for the upcoming game.
Dante Taylor: For me, just trying to keep everybody focused, having them look at the bigger picture, quick turnaround. We just found out so we had to prepare, watched a scout on them and prepared hard, and I've been trying to instill in the guys that you got to be ready and come out from the jump.
Lamar Patterson: We are just doing the same thing we have done all season, practice, scouting report, and we got to get mentally prepared. I know these guys are like me, they're excited to be here. So we came ready to get on the court and start playing.
Q. Tray, you faced Wichita State as a red-shirt freshman in Kansas City. Do you take away anything from that system? I would imagine it looks similar to three years ago, and what you do you see about Wichita State on tape that gives you an overall impression?
Tray Woodall: My first overall impression is the team plays extremely hard. I know three years ago when we played them they had the same concept. They had guys that played really, really hard and I was impressed with the physicality. It reminded us of our style of play in the Big East, and I was impressed with their intensity from the beginning of the game to the end. I noticed them playing hard for forty minutes, and you don't see a lot of teams that do that and Wichita State does.
Q. Can you talk about how this is a team that goes ten deep? That's been a strength of yours to have that rotation. What's it like to go up against another team that does something similar to that?
Lamar Patterson: The ten-deep thing has been successful. It's always good to know that you can leave it all out on the court and have the same thing come off the bench. There's no lack off, so you don't have to save anything. You can leave it on the court because we have ten players that are all capable of scoring, passing, rebounding, and going against them, that would be the fist time, I'm not really sure. But it will be a fun game. It should be a pace, probably, because everyone has fresh legs to throw in there. So this should be a fun game.
Q. Will you talk just a little bit about being in the NCAA Tournament and how you deal with the nerves or the fear or whatever, excitement?
Tray Woodall: It's not our first time being here. Three of the guys we have been here and played in an NCAA game before. It's not nerve-wracking, we are just anxious. We are just anxious to play. We missed it last year and that's made us even more anxious to get out there and play another NCAA game. It's not really nerve-wracking; we just want to get out there and play.
Q. Lamar, following up on your point, you said the game could be "up-paced" because of fresh legs. Do you expect that, or do you expect this to be a game predicated on rebounding and defense, first and foremost?
Lamar Patterson: I definitely think it's going to be a game of rebounds and defense. My comment was just having ten people out there. I don't think it's going to be a sluggish game at all, because we got fresh legs. I'm just excited to get out there.
Q. Tray, off topic, Sean Miller, point guard at Pittsburgh, I was curious if anybody talked to you about Sean Miller or told you Sean Miller stories?
Tray Woodall: For the most part, I think we got the same story. He was the guy that made the pass for the famous dunk in the Fieldhouse. So that's the most important story that I heard, and he was a great free-throw shooter at the university and one of the guys that paved the way for myself to being a point guard and leave my legacy here at Pitt.
Q. Dante, Tray said something interesting about Wichita State looking like a Big East team. Isn't it cool to get out of the whole Big East thing when you come to the NCAA Tournament and here you are drawing a team that has a lot of the same characteristics, a lot of the same styles of basketball?
Dante Taylor: It's definitely exciting. We are definitely looking forward to it. We are a team; we like to bang, rebound, and they're the same way, play hard just like us. So it's going to be an interesting game. We just got to focus on blocking them out and rebounding, because their big guys are relentless on the offensive glass. We have to contain that and everything should go smooth for us.
Q. I'm sure you have been asked this before, but were you guys surprised at the seed? Do you think that you might get a better seed than this? Were you surprised at where you were seeded?
Tray Woodall: I think everyone was shocked, honestly. By the reaction when our seeding came, I felt like everybody reacted the same. We just didn't think it would be us. But I think everybody is happy that we're back here in the NCAA Tournament, so we have a program that's not going to put on and complain about the seed. We're happy to be here and being able to compete with the rest of the teams in the tournament. So we just gotta go out here and play. A seeding is just a -- that's NCAA Tournament's choice to give us the 8-seed, so we're going to take it and run with it.
Q. Given your NCAA Tournament history the last couple of years, how much does the pain of some of the losses linger and how much do you guys anticipate because your last three exit games were all within 3 points, how much do you anticipate close games and knowing that it could come down to that?
Lamar Patterson: We anticipated it a lot. Coach always tells us it comes down to the last ossession, so that's what we have been focusing on in practice and make sure we give 110% on the court. The last possession you have to grab the last rebound, get the last defensive stop, I think we will be mentally prepared for it.
Quoting Pitt Head Coach Jamie Dixon
Q. Coach, I know you don't concern yourself with such things, but it's an interesting barometer. The lowest over/under on the board in Vegas is this game, 119 points. Is that the type of game that you expect, a game purely played on the defensive and the rebounding end and what points come out of this game maybe will be created more from defense to offense?
COACH DIXON: Well, I mean, we're both, I think, teams that take great pride in defending and rebounding, and I think you're going to generally see most games are going to be pretty low scoring comparatively speaking in this tournament. I think you've got teams if they're still alive and playing they're teams that are good defensively and have to take care of the ball at the same time. But I know we're going to be -- we take great pride in our offense. We led the Big East in field goal percentage offense. I think their conference, the way they play, is at times low scoring. I think the Big East at times because of the defense being played is going to be low scoring, so I think it's more a combination of those things.
Q. Last year you guys would not make the tournament. What do you think these guys learned from that? Pitt is a program synonymous with making the tournament.
COACH DIXON: Well, it was a long time ago. We haven't focused too much on that. We have been there 11, 12 times over the years and they missed one year, but we -- we had a lot of injuries, fought through it. Got better as the year went on, but couldn't recover and just carried on with how we finished the year with what we did this year. This is a team that has gotten better, especially improved defensively. But with that said, we've got to do it every game, every minute. So it's a team that, I think, knows that they can get better and that's what we have tried to do all year long.
Q. Based on your experience, is there a common quality or characteristic a team needs to have success in this tournament?
COACH DIXON: You know, we've won a number of games here. We haven't won as many as we wanted to. We have gotten to Sweet 16s, Elite 8s, and there are no easy ones. There is no bias to get that far. We've won a lot, but you always feel like you come up short if you don't win the whole thing. I think you have to win close games, that's evident, teams end up winning a national championship that maybe won a game that they shouldn't have or needed a break to win it and that offense comes into play. You've got to defend. You've got to make shots, and you've got to make shots to end the clock, whether it be in the shot clock, the end of the halves, and end of game situations, because, like I said earlier, you're going to face good defensive teams and making a play at the end is going to be key.
Q. Coach, Carl Hall from Wichita State said the winner of the boards is going to win the game. Do you share that same sentiment?
COACH DIXON: Well, it's something that we say every game. We take great pride in rebounding. We think if we win that battle, we have a good chance to win the game. And that's pretty much how it's been. If your program is built that way, if that's what you're built around you have to do what you do well to win games. So I think they take -- they have that same mentality, and I do too. So we're preach that to our players, no question. We do that every game and we're certainly not going to change now.
Q. Jamie, this region is full of international players; you guys have several. Why is that something that has worked for you guys?
COACH DIXON: Yeah, it's funny, because if they've been over in the states for a while you almost don't think of them as international players anymore. But a lot of guys in the east, there are a lot of prep schools. Kids come over from Europe and Africa. We have Talib from Nigeria. It's size. Generally the international kids are going to be bigger kids and everybody is looking for size. If they're big in other country, they're looking to come over. If they end up at a prep school or junior college, it's just the way things are going. I do -- it is amazing that the size continues to be where the international players come from. You're going to have occasionally good guards but the big guys stand out and I guess when the prep schools are looking for guys they're certainly more open -- and junior colleges are open to taking 6-10 guys rather than 6-foot guys.
Q. Why do you think it's difficult to find those big guys here?
COACH DIXON: I think it's more the game becoming global and when you're in a country like -- or in Africa or Nigeria, they're pushing the big kids to play basketball where they weren't pushing them earlier. So I think that's part of it. There's probably other reasons as well but I think that's important. The biggest guys in the world play basketball now, they didn't play it before, they know the opportunity that comes with that. They can come to the states and get a college degree and get an education paid for. So I think that's pushing them toward basketball and the opportunity to play in college and get that education paid for.
Q. Now that you have had a chance to scout Wichita State, can you give us some impressions on their team and their ability to go ten deep with you and match up with you well defensively rebounding-wise and depth?
COACH DIXON: As soon as we saw that we play them, I knew how they played. We played them three years ago in Kansas City in that tournament there. I know Coach Marshall and how he's played over the years. So you can probably get a good idea without seeing them play what they're going to do, play physical, hard, a lot of plays, a lot of sets, we remember that from when we played them a couple of years ago. Again, seeing them more and more playing a lot of guys, a lot of junior college transfers as we anticipated, and, again, very well coached, focused on running their stuff offensively. They're patient and defensively they're man-to-man is their defense. But they can throw a number of different things at you. Nothing has changed too much from when we played them a couple of years ago as far as style of play and defenses that they're using. It was kind of a -- obviously personnel is different, but a number of big guys that they use, a lot of depth in the interior. I think that's why they have always had success, especially the last four years or so in Missouri Valley because of their big guys, watching them play other conference teams they seem to be bigger, stronger and have more of them than the other teams.
Q. Coach, Carl Hall, wondering when you see out of him? He's been arguably one of the most physical guys in the last couple of years?
COACH DIXON: Obviously our league is known for physicality, but he throws it up and goes and gets it, that's the phrase we use. He's always looking for an angle and likes to play through contact, draw contact, offensively and defensively. So, again, a relentless rebounder and that's what we have on the scouting report. Offensive glass is where he seems to get his points, his put-backs and get to the free-throw line. Again, very physical, likes contact, offensively and defensively and, again, plays hard and obviously looks like an older kid and say a senior and a guy that got better.
Q. Coach, you're a veteran of the tournament. If you had to pinpoint one or two of your favorite things about getting to this point, is there anything in particular that stands out to you? Is it just entering -- getting to that point that you set out to at the beginning of the season?
COACH DIXON: It's a goal, obviously, I think you've reached that goal. I like seeing the new guys getting their first opportunity to play in the NCAA Tournament. Going back to the previous questions about international kids, we have some international kids that didn't know what the NCAA Tournament was. Steven Adams had no idea. Talib now knows, and I think what stands out is the freshmen and trying to let them know and prepare them for today and practicing in the morning, having the media and talk and go then having a shoot around afterwards so I think that's something that stands out. You try to get that across to the new guys and what we're going for and still recognize that we have a game to play tomorrow.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach.