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Coach Grant McCasland Quotes From Semifinal Post Game

MGN is still in Frisco, and still planning to watch a little basketball. We soothed our pains with a little whiskey from City Works yesterday (and a nice sirloin that wasn’t the greatest every, but did the job) and now am going through the post-game interviews.

I was also reading about the failure of Silicon Valley Bank and for no real reason I will tell you that I was recruited to work there. I considered it, but ultimately decided to stay at my current day job for a few reasons that had to do with the greater well-being and comfort of my family. This week I have gotten a few texts from friends that read “Oh man, aren’t you glad you stayed?” Yes. I feel like I dodged a bullet. That is not really related to basketball per se, but it is related to maybe leaving a situation and how it all could change quickly.

Here are quotes:

Mac “They came out and were super aggressive early in the game, they were physical, offensive rebounding. The keys to the game were just trying to keep them off the glass. We struggled to score, dug our selves too deep of a hole and man — just played catch up the whole time against a team that has a lot of weapons offensively and really ultimately just ended up fighting. I was prod of our guys, man. The competitiveness we showed was tremendous. Just felt like we were always playing from behind. We made a few mental errors in panic to try to come back. But its a good team and honestly, Jelly did a fantastic job of scoring when they needed it. We felt like we just couldn’t get right back — felt like we were close but could never get it done”

Just a case of falling down to big too early?

“Yeah it wasn’t a question of the fight I mean our guys were competitive. Just kept putting ourselves in position, steals turnovers and making plays at the rim. You look back on it there are a hundred things that could have been the difference but really I think it came down to rebounding early in the game. They kept getting second attempts at difficult times when we were trying to you know, hang on offensively. Their physicality really bothered us.”

Jelly came out with a purpose — did you sense that?

“Yeah he had juice and he was moving. Couldn’t get the ball out of his hands enough. Couldn’t make it difficult enough on him and when he made his first threes and he got a couple of offensive rebounds — its like you know maybe he makes those but its those ones off offensive rebounds that really makes it feel like that those are the harder ones to deal with. You make that first shot difficult and just end up giving a couple that didnt. Those two that didn’t ended up being the difference in the game.”

What did they do to take the ball out of Tylor Perry’s hands?

“Yeah well its what good defenses do — they trapped him every time he was in a ball screen and thought we made some good reads after the first ten minutes of the game — made some great reads. Tylor was effective at moving the basketball. But really just their ball screen defense and trapping really caused us some problems.”

It looked like Tylor was attacking Jelly later, not waiting for the trap — was that an adjustment or just one of those reads you mentioned?

“yeah just making sure trying to give him some space and depending on how they were going to guard him and who they were going to guard him with. Part of it is how do you take advantage of the rotations of who is playing on who and trying to recognize that quicker but in the second half we did try to get him more space without the ball screen.”

Did you need someone else to give you more scoring?

“yeah when we’ve had success we’ve kind of scored inside-out against them. When we’ve beat them we’ve had some inside presence. Today we had some roll baskets from Moulaye [Sissoko] in the first half, but just didn’t get a lot at the rim. Give them credit — they blocked a few of our shots and we haven’t had that happen to us quite a bit. I mean, I don’t know how many they ended [looks at stat sheet] um. five. So, I mean ultimately we just didn’t do a good enough job of being physical around the rim with the ball to help anchor us so that we could get more perimeter offense. “

Was UAB physical to the point where they put the game in the refs hands?

“Yeah well they got to the free throw line 32 times and we honestly know that the more aggressive usually actually gets to the foul line more and their physicality really caused us problems.”

What does the comeback say about the character of the team?

“yeah that’s what I told them in the locker room, and I didn’t try to sugar coat it. We’ve been in this situation a couple of years ago. Or last year, where we didn’t want to play in-in-in — we wanted to play in the championship game. You know you’re in the locker room and you just love the competitiveness and I’m glad our season is not over. I told them I don’t want this to be the last game that we play together and hopefully we get the opportunity — and there’s some positive signs that we’ll get to keep playing — I didn’t have a postseason speech planned for afterwards. I thought we’d be playing in the championship game that’s the truth and I told them that. But their competitiveness down the stretch says a lot about our group and who they are. Unbelievable teammates. They are tough and I’m just thankful that we’ll get to keep playing.”

Do you expect to be in the NIT?

“I would anticipate it. I don’t really know the specifics. I haven’ looked into it, honestly. But I know that we put ourselves in position. I told these guys you know we won 26 games the most in this school’s history. I felt like they’d earned an opportunity to keep playing.”

Your name has come up for other jobs — Texas Tech?

“There’s no relevance to that with this team. Ultimately its — I told these guys in the locker room, I mean I love this team and I love what we’ve been able to do as a program and our attention is 100% on winning. Last year we won a game in the NIT. I’m turning the page obviously, not everyone likes to turn the page in these scenarios but I am turning the page and my focus is on how do we keep this group together? How dow we learn from this? This is life. Unfortunately in life you don’t always start well but you can be there for each other and that’s what I encourage these guys to do is be there for each other and put ourselves in position to go win. Get a chance to win a championship there is nothing like it and this group as earned the right to keep doing that and that is where our focus is”

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