March 12, 2009 - 4:38 pm
Transcript of UNLV’s news conference, following the Rebels’ 71-57 loss to San Diego State in Thursday’s quarterfinals of the Mountain West Conference Tournament at the Thomas & Mack Center:
THE MODERATOR: Student-athletes for UNLV, Wink Adams, René Rougeau, Coach Lon Kruger. Coach, if we can start with some general remarks about the game for you.
COACH KRUGER: The ballgame, I thought San Diego State played great. I thought they had a lot of control of what was going on on both ends of the floor really from start. Made a little bit of a run there in the second half. San Diego State made plays they needed to at critical times to keep the margin where it was.
Again, thought they played awfully well. Wish them luck as they go forward.
THE MODERATOR: At this time we’ll open it up for questions for the student-athletes.
Q. Wink, can you talk about the game you had today. You carried the team offensively in the first half. Did you feel like you were going to have to do that the way things were going?
WINK ADAMS: Definitely. You know, my teammates told me to be aggressive today, do things in offense. Today, you know, I felt like the shot was dropping and I was getting to the free throw. Tonight was basically defense was going to win this game. Tonight San Diego State did a great job kind of attacking our defense and getting to the free-throw line.
Q. What made it click for you tonight as opposed to the previous three or four games?
WINK ADAMS: Just wanting to come out. Just like I say, teammates kind of pumping me up in the locker room before the game, telling me they really needed me to come out and hit shots. Today I was focused. I felt good at practice yesterday. Today it just kind of carried over into the game.
Q. René, you picked up two quick fouls. How much of that took you guys out of your game? How disappointing was it for you to pick up the two quick fouls?
RENÉ ROUGEAU: Very crucial, you know, just kicking myself sitting on the sideline. It definitely was killing me inside just watching our team play. Just got to play smarter. You can’t really worry about what’s going on with the rest or nothing like that. Just got to play through and play a lot smarter.
That’s been my Achilles all year. It was definitely very frustrating and disappointing to watch from the sidelines.
Q. How disappointing as seniors will it be to have to sit through the selection show, not knowing what may happen, knowing in reality it could be bad?
WINK ADAMS: It’s really tough. Everybody wants to make the NCAA tournament. But, you know, you just got to wait to see what happens on Sunday.
I think our team fought, but we had some breakdowns. Proud of our team for what they did. We could have did better. We just got to wait till Sunday and see what happen.
RENÉ ROUGEAU: Just like Wink said, us being seniors, it’s definitely frustrating. You work so hard up to this point in your senior season. All credit goes to San Diego State. Seemed like they were hitting everything tonight, whether we had a hand up or not. All we can do is just hope for a miracle right now.
Q. René, talk about how tough they are to defend. They seem to get to the rim pretty much whenever they wanted to, dribble-penetration.
RENÉ ROUGEAU: Yeah, we just had a lack of focus tonight on defense. Them being long in range, we got to do a better job of getting down, moving our feet. Richie Williams does such a good job of penetrating for them. They definitely had a great game plan coming in. We definitely wanted to take away their post-up. They definitely countered that good tonight.
Q. René, what would you say to a selection committee after losing to them three times about why you need to be in?
RENÉ ROUGEAU: Basically us being seniors, we definitely worked real hard all season. We definitely have had some quality wins. Without a doubt we for sure have had some tough losses. All we can do is just pray that we can get in.
Q. Are you in a certain sense kind of astonished right now that you’re sitting here with all the pre-season expectations looking at NIT? Has that registered yet? If so, what are you thinking right now?
WINK ADAMS: You know, I think at the end of the season we all say — at the end of the season you never want to say, I wish I could have did this at the beginning of the season. That’s what we doing now. We think we could have played harder in a lot of games that we lost. I mean, just been up and down and shaky. We still in season, so we just got to stay positive and see what happens.
RENÉ ROUGEAU: Just like Wink said, whatever happens, whether we do make it to the NCAA tournament or the NIT, all we can do is just make the most of that basically. It doesn’t matter where we go. We still can make a lot of noise, regardless.
So we definitely plan on working hard, definitely pushing our teammates harder than ever before.
THE MODERATOR: At this time we’ll dismiss the student-athletes and thank them for their time. We’ll continue with questions for Coach Kruger.
Q. Lon, as much as you prepared for them and watched film and everything, especially when Wade shoots like that, is it going to come down — it seemed like you couldn’t guard them well enough to beat them. Is it true or no?
COACH KRUGER: We didn’t guard them very well. I thought the last two ball games we did much better on the defensive end than we did on the offensive end against them. Today I didn’t think we covered them well at all. I thought they made shots, of course.
I thought they just did things in a rhythm and pace they wanted to. We didn’t disrupt anything. We didn’t keep them from doing what they do every day in practice. When you do that, teams get in a good rhythm and you expect them to shoot it well. That’s how much control San Diego State had of the ballgame.
Q. You know what an NCAA tournament résumé should look like. Could you make a case for your team based on the wins and the win total?
COACH KRUGER: I think it would be realistically, you know, I’m not going to give any committee the reason to not select us, but I don’t know that we’ve done things at this point that you’d sit there on Sunday expecting to be in.
If that answer your question…
Q. You had a couple opportunities to cut it to under 10 points with under 10 minutes to go. How big was it for you not to get it under 10 points? Do you feel you could have made a run to get back into it?
COACH KRUGER: What can we have, 11 or 9, never get under 10? 11 with three or four possessions, it seemed like we had opportunities. We just couldn’t get a bucket at that point.
I thought during that stretch, we had gotten into a pretty good rhythm defensively. We didn’t do that very often during the day. So I thought defensively we were giving ourselves a chance during that short stretch. Then we couldn’t make shots on the offensive end.
Again, that’s what you have to do to come back from a big deficit like that. It’s tough to dig a hole like that and get all the way back.
Q. I say this with all respect, but typically most basketball teams that are good teams get better as the year goes on. Obviously a case could be made that this team peaked out at Louisville with that win. They certainly didn’t seem to be getting better in the stretch run. Can you address that?
COACH KRUGER: Yeah, I thought we were just up and down all year. I don’t know that we ever had a stretch where we say week after week after week we consistently did things better. That’s obviously what you’re looking for every year. We didn’t.
We were inconsistent in every aspect of the game, whether it be shooting, rebounding, defensively, offensively. We just never did find a niche where we felt like we were consistent in our improvement.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, coach.
COACH KRUGER: Thank you