March 12, 2005
An Interview With: UTAH RUNNIN' UTES
JIM MILLER: Joining us is University of Utah. We'll get started with Coach Giacoletti.
COACH GIACOLETTI: I thought the first half, New Mexico was definitely the aggressor. They game out right from the very start and got us back on our heels. We are at our best when we are the aggressor. We were not that in the first half.
Second half I think Tim did a great job of getting us aggressive defensively. I think that was the difference why we were able to get back in the game and go up a point. Down the stretch we couldn't get a stop. If you can't get stops late in games it will be really hard to win basketball games.
A credit goes to New Mexico. They got the ball in the right guys' hands at the right time. We tried to take a charge one time, didn't go. Offensive rebound where they got a stick back dunk. The last four possessions we just could not come up with the stop. If you can't do that, you are not going to win games at the end. It doesn't matter if they are regular season games or tournament championship games.
Question: Tim, Coach mentioned not being the aggressor in the first half. Was there any degree of knowing that you guys didn't have to necessarily win this game to get in the NCAA tournament?
Tim Drisdom: That had nothing do to with it. We were taught never to be satisfied. It is second nature to be never satisfied.
Question: Any explanation for the first half?
Tim Drisdom: They got off to a good start. Like Coach said, we weren't the more aggressive team. When they jumped ahead, they gave off that energy in the first half. We got it going better the second half. Down the stretch we couldn't get stops.
Question: Tim, did New Mexico defense do anything to make it more difficult than in prior games to get the ball to Andrew?
Question: Could you talk about the defensive approach to Granger tonight? It looked at times you were getting lost on switches in the second half.
Tim Drisdom: We were supposed to switch in the start of game. Lack of communication on a couple of occasions. On some other occasions, he hit some tough shots.
He is a tough player. A credit to him. He is a good player. We did our best, like I said, in the second half. He got off to a good first half start. He had eighteen first half points. He was confident going into the second half. He is a really good player.
JIM MILLER: Anything else for Tim? Okay, Tim, we'll let you go. Thanks very much.
Questions for Coach?
Question: Ray, what happens now? Where is your club and how do you feel going into the tournament that we're all pretty certain you're going to get an invitation to?
COACH GIACOLETTI: Nothing happens. Find out tomorrow if we are one of sixty?five. See if our name comes up. And hopefully we got a bad taste in our mouth. This team is 27 and 5. I mean, I don't think in my expectations or the staffs' expectations, or the team's expectations, we would have imagined we would be at the point, especially on a bus ride back from Utah State in December. One loss along the way here in the great basketball game that is life. If our name comes up, it will be a great honor to be in the NCAA tournament. We'll start preparing get ourselves ready.
Question: You mentioned the stops down the stretch and inability to get one. How big was the no call on the Chiotti bucket late?
COACH GIACOLETTI: Critical call that Randy said he didn't get hit hard enough. I take Randy's word. Randy is a good official. The call didn't go our way.
Question: In the larger sense, how much did it hurt seemingly not to be able to get outside shots or very many of them to go in tonight?
COACH GIACOLETTI: Again, you got to knock down shots to stretch the defense. I mean, there were times tonight where they had three people around Andrew and basically daring us to shoot the basketball and not necessarily from the three point line. They were daring us to shoot it. There is nothing our staff or myself can draw up to get ourselves a better look or find another way to get the ball until we knock down shots. Last night with Jonas hitting big threes, it stretched the defense.
Question: With that in mind, did you feel like you wanted some of your guys to take shots they passed up?
COACH GIACOLETTI: They know if they are open. We want to spend at least 20, 25 seconds to try to skip the ball, punch a gap, kick out opposite, and try to make the defense adjust. It seemed like to me without watching the tape, the ball would get stuck in guys' hands for too long a period of time. They were looking for things. If it ain't open in the first count, you have got to swing it. The ball was dying at times in our hands. It was, I am going to make the play instead of reading the situation and reading the defense or skipping it or getting the ball to the first open man.
JIM MILLER: Anything else for coach? Okay. Good luck tomorrow, Coach.
An Interview With: NEW MEXICO LOBOS
JIM MILLER: Okay. We're joined by University of New Mexico head coach Ritchie McKay; Alfred Neale, Danny Granger, and David Chiotti.
Coach, we'll begin with you if you want to make some opening remarks.
COACH MCKAY: This is a great win for us because of the quality of the opponent. I think Utah is the best team in the country, so for us to do this third game in three nights with that obviously great player Andrew Bogut, I am really proud of our young men.
Those of you who left Danny Granger off your All?American Team, you need to get another vote. He's one of the best players in America. He won't say that, and we try to do it with humility. He has a supporting cast. I can't say enough about that young man and his contribution to the University of New Mexico and our basketball program.
JIM MILLER: Questions for the student athletes?
Question: Danny, first off, what do you have to say to the NCAA tournament committee?
DANNY GRANGER: We got an automatic bid but we were worthy of a higher seed than what they were willing to give us. We are a good team. We are on a really hot streak right now.
Question: You looked like you were on a mission the first half doing everything you could offensively. They seemed to adjust, then you went to look for your teammates more in the second half. Talk about that.
DANNY GRANGER: Coach told me when I was driving and penetrating and catching the ball in the post, I was starting to draw a lot of attention. I use that to get opportunities to get my teammates open. I tried to do that more in the second half.
Question: Congratulations, guys. David, talk about the defensive game plan against Bogut. It seemed like there was no way they could get the ball into him.
DAVID CHIOTTI: Basically, it was like a team effort. My whole job is to get him off the block and limit his catches but without tremendous help from Alfred and Danny and other people down low ?? he is a great player. We basically just surrounded him the best we could, make it harder for him to catch it, and when he did catch it, he would be seven to ten feet off the block so he wouldn't be as effective when he turns to score.
Question: Danny, I wonder if you could go through what is going through your minds as you were stepping up for free throws late in the game?
DANNY GRANGER: You think about your mental capacity. You can't just let your nerves affect your shots. I was trying to get my elbow straight and follow through.
Question: Were you thinking about this Memphis game? Did you see that today?
DANNY GRANGER: I know that I was in the camp with them in the summer. I wasn't thinking about that at that time. I was concentrating on making those free throws. Luckily I made them.
Question: Describe the big dunk. Utah had the lead. Describe that play and what it meant for a boost for you guys?
ALFRED NEALE: I believe that was Danny that actually shot the shot. I think that was Marcus on Danny at the time. Kind of doubled down and left me open to try to get the offensive rebound. It was one of those things to throw off Danny and it gave me the opportunity to get the put back.
DANNY GRANGER: I told Al after that shot that basket was huge. I missed the shot; he came on. That gave us the momentum we needed to finish the game. That was one of the biggest shots of the night.
Question: Danny, if you could tell us a little bit what it feels like ?? you've got the conference championship, the tournament MVP, and the automatic bid. How does that feel together?
DANNY GRANGER: We have come such a long way. We have been through injuries with this ?? our program has been through a lot. It is good to get us back on track with Coach leading us. This is great stuff for the program.
JIM MILLER: More questions for the student athletes? Okay guys, we'll let you out.
Questions for Coach McKay?
Question: Ritchie, when Marc got in foul trouble, you went without a point guard. Are you able to do that just because Danny handles the ball so well?
COACH MCKAY: We knew they weren't going to put a guard on Danny, so to have them bring it up against one of their guards was going to be okay. I wasn't too happy they were trying to do the Alan Iverson crossover. That is about all he didn't do tonight.
Question: Ritchie, it's a long, long road for you. I watched as the clock ran down. You were just like we won any old game. Could you talk about your feelings, reactions and the crowd you had here?
COACH MCKAY: Honestly, Natalie, I was thankful that God provided me this opportunity. People have said this and that about our moves. But the University of New Mexico is where my dad played, and I followed it so long. It is a privilege to lead this program. I have had great support by this administration and it finally came to fruition by us getting to the tournament.
Question: You had your backs to the wall for six weeks basically here. How did you keep the momentum going and just trying to be able to play every game as if it was a must?win game to get to this tournament.
COACH MCKAY: That credit goes to our players. We made the decision after BYU that we would do individual work to prevent injuries. They did a tremendous job in developing, especially Tony Dandridge and Ryan Wall. It happened because it was infectious. Danny and Troy started it. David and the other fourteen guys worked tremendously hard individually to improve. I think we got confidence from repetition. Those guys have great character, so we were able to achieve this step.
Question: What is your reaction to getting the mystery out of this thing and not knowing if you guys were going to the tournament? Were you still thinking today that you guys might have to win this thing?
COACH MCKAY: I watched some scores. My plan was to go home tonight and watch Pacific and Utah State. I don't have to watch that game anymore.
I am pleased with our program. The contingency of the Lobos fans here is so phenomenal. To have them celebrate both Lobos championships. Hopefully we'll continue the streak.
Question: Coach, first of all, you guys have great fan support. I've never been down to the Pit, but just the noise in here tonight, congratulations. Also, you and your staff deserve a lot of credit. You guys run a great offense. I just want to know who was your mentor as far as coming up with your plays and stuff that you run?
COACH MCKAY: I am little bit of a copy cat. I have copied some stuff from Kelvin Sampson. I have had great plays from Bob Bender, Jack Malaney, John Beline from West Virginia. I just try to pick and choose. We try to recruit a certain type of player and personality. We still think we can get better and keep improving on this season.
Question: This is definitely getting ahead of it. Last night you said you thought you deserved the bid. Now that you have got it, given your hot streak, any doubt about what seed you think you ought to get?
COACH MCKAY: I think Lunardi had us as an 11 seed. I guess a win like this would make us ten or hopefully nine. I don't know if I want to play in the eight?nine game. They are a difficult opponent.
I know we were criticized for our schedule. We played Utah three times now. I don't think we will be afraid. I think we will try to get better, keep improving. We walk in any arena we get placed in with confidence.
JIM MILLER: Anything else for Coach McKay?
COACH MCKAY: Thank you.
JIM MILLER: Thanks, Coach.