March 13, 2008
Box Score |
THE MODERATOR: We'll ask Coach for some overall thoughts on the game, then we'll go to the student athletes for question and answers. Then they'll return to the locker room and we'll finish up with Coach.
COACH Kevin Stallings: Well, it's always an interesting game when you play Auburn because there are challenges, and obviously there are challenges for them, too, and we were able to utilize our advantages I thought today, namely these two guys here, and especially A.J.
I thought our team did a great job of moving the ball and being patient with it and getting it inside. We really kind of made an emphasis on not taking, at least with some guys, not taking quick threes early in the clock and being more patient and trying to get the ball to A.J. as much as we could. I thought our guys really bought into the game plan and executed it very well. So that was really kind of the difference in the game.
We were able to get Prowell in foul trouble and he's a very good player, obviously having to play out of position, and when we were able to get him in foul trouble, even though it caused us problems defensively because now they had five -- really had five guards in the game, still, we had enough advantages on the offensive end that we were able to kind of hold our own.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Shan and A.J.?
Q. Shan, you always seem ready to shoot the ball when you get it, but when you were getting ready to shoot you were just open more than somebody would have expected in a game like this. You had some pretty good looks there. Were you surprised by that?
Shan Foster: Definitely. I haven't gotten many open shots this year, but we knew that they were going to come out and play a lot of different zones, so if we got the ball moving and moved ourselves a little bit, then we would get open shots as a team. My teammates did a great job of finding me when I was open and I was able to knock down a few shots.
Q. Talk about the rematch with Arkansas. Obviously a real tight game in Fayetteville. Talk about losing to Arkansas four in a row. I know you guys have won a lot of games the past couple years, and I would think you would want to make up for that?
Shan Foster: Well, they're a great team and they're definitely well-coached. I think they have one of the biggest big men in this league, and they do a good job of pressuring and doing a lot of different things. Unfortunately we haven't had great success against them, but we look forward to a great game tomorrow. We know they're going to be amped up and ready to play, and we will, too.
Andrew Ogilvy: Really looking forward to coming out and having a good game tomorrow. Obviously the game didn't end the way we wanted it to in Fayetteville, but they're a good team and it'll be a great contest.
Q. How much of an advantage did you sense you had today inside against a team that's probably the smallest in the league? Did you sense you were going to be able to have your way in there today?
Andrew Ogilvy: I don't know if I had my way. As soon as we came out I had a couple good looks and I was in pretty good position. Prowell got into foul trouble, they had some issues trying to get good players in there, and my teammates did a good job of getting the ball to me in easy scoring position, so that was the biggest asset.
Q. What part of your game has improved the most this year? What was the most difficult transition you had to make to American College basketball?
Andrew Ogilvy: I think definitely my defense I think has improved the most. Obviously coming over here and playing against more agile and more athletic players, I had to learn to move my feet better and to play in the college system I obviously have to be a pretty good defender, so I obviously had to improve that a lot.
Q. For both of you guys, did you feel like Auburn would wear down or that they did wear down? Obviously you knew their numbers situation. It looked like you guys went on like a 10-0 run there midway through the second half. Did you kind of feel like maybe fatigue started to set in for them right then?
Andrew Ogilvy: Down the stretch they were still making a lot of plays, and it was a game that came down to the last few minutes. We knew if we were able to get them into a close game, we're pretty good at finishing out games, that hopefully we would come out so tried to wear them down, and I don't know if they got fatigued or not but, went on a couple of good runs and we were able to come away with a win.
Shan Foster: Just to piggy back on what A.J. said, I'm not sure if they wore down. They came out the second half, especially late, and made a lot of shots, made a lot of contested shots, made big plays. Just felt like we had a few advantages and we were able to execute.
Q. This question is for A.J. I think Jeff Lebo compared -- he said watching them go against you reminded him of watching him take his six-year-old kid to the hole. Liken or compare that to what you'll be seeing, Arkansas has got five guys 6'8" or taller?
Andrew Ogilvy: It's obviously a very different game playing against guys a little bit shorter, but they were obviously really athletic and able to get around the post really well. There was a lot more swiveling and stuff like that involved. Obviously Arkansas is going to be a bit of a different game, a lot more physical, and hopefully we just come out and play well against them.
Q. You've talked all season about how tough you feel like you guys are to beat when both you guys have kind of got it going from the inside and outside. How encouraging was it for you today to come out and do that and just kind of have that inside-outside combination? You've got to feel pretty encouraged about getting the postseason started that way?
Shan Foster: Definitely. Definitely feel like we have an advantage inside with A.J. and the things that he's able to do and bring to our team. Whenever he's playing the way he did today the way he's capable of playing, then it makes it easy for a lot of other guys on this team to jump up and make shots. That was just a case of what happened today, and hopefully it'll be the case every time we play.
THE MODERATOR: We'll excuse you. You can return to the locker room. Thank you very much. We will continue on with Coach Kevin Stallings.
Q. How much grief do you anticipate giving A.J. for missing -- getting his only shot that he missed today blocked on a dunk?
COACH Kevin Stallings: Well, there's no anticipation necessary. I already jumped him in the locker room and said I can't believe that you couldn't make all your shots. All you had to do was make one more dunk and you would have been 13 for 13 (laughter). He got a good laugh out of it, actually. It was kind of nice, nice to see him laugh.
Q. Someone mentioned already, seemed like they were making shots, you were making shots until a point with about maybe ten minutes to go in the second half. You maybe turned up the defensive pressure a little bit and forced them into some sloppy play. What do you remember about that stretch?
COACH Kevin Stallings: I think that we were able to get some stops and some rebounds, and our offense flowed pretty much the whole game. So when we were able to get stops, we were able to extend our lead, and then -- so we'd get them for a them and then they'd make shots for a them and we'd get them for a while and they'd make shots for a while.
I thought offensively except for right at the start of the second half, I thought we had a pretty good flow the entire game. We're capable of being a good offensive team, and when our defense and our rebounding are good enough, then we usually have a chance to win.
Q. What has A.J. improved the most?
COACH Kevin Stallings: Actually when I leaned over to him, I think the question was what was the biggest transition. When we were walking from the locker room here, he said I can't believe how much media coverage there is for this. So I leaned over to him, and I said, don't say media," because he was talking as we were walking from the locker room to here about how this was really like the biggest difference to him he thought was just how much media exposure and things that there were.
But anyway, what has he improved the most on? I think he's improved -- I was really surprised to hear him say defensively (laughter). I hope it's defense. I hope that's it. That's all I'll say.
Q. Just wondering if you could talk about the rematch with Arkansas, getting them here on neutral floor as opposed to Fayetteville.
COACH Kevin Stallings: The venue hasn't made that much difference. They've pretty much had their way with us. It doesn't matter, neutral floor or -- they beat us on our court last year, came here and beat us, they beat us on their court this year. They seem to play well against us and we seem to struggled with them. We'll see what happens tomorrow. We had a chance to win the game over in Fayetteville, and they just made a couple more plays at the end than we did. But took a pretty good shot from them over there because they shot the ball extremely well, so maybe we can induce them to miss a few shots tomorrow and give us a little better chance. But they were awfully good that day at their place.
Q. When you say they've had their way with you, is there any particular reason that you would care to share in a public forum?
COACH Kevin Stallings: They have good players. They have long, athletic, good players, and -- last year they were really a horrible match-up for us, and this year I don't feel like that the match-up is as bad. Last year I thought it was. They were one of the most difficult teams in the league for us to match up with last year.
Anyway, we'll see what happens tomorrow. I wasn't -- we had a chance to win over there, and we know that. Knew that -- know we had a chance to win. We were in that game -- it was a one-point game with ten seconds to play or something, and we were there the whole day. We'll just see how it goes tomorrow.
Q. When you get 27 out of A.J. and 26 out of Shan and just look at the way the offense operated today, is that as close to what you would have envisioned with the inside-outside tandem?
COACH Kevin Stallings: Well, I thought that certainly when you look and A.J. is 12 for 13 and Shan is 9 for 14, the proficiency is awfully good. But I thought the key to that today was we really made an emphasis with our team not to take quick threes and make a few extra passes and see if could put the ball in A.J.'s hands. And I think as a result not only did A.J. touch it more but Shan touched it more. Our team bought into that, they did it, they executed it, and the best news was they did it with a smile on their face. I don't think we had guys out there resisting and thinking things that selfish players thing. I think that they embraced it and they got the ball where it needed to be, and as a result we had a very good offensive performance.
Q. Just following up on that, has that been a problem here of late?
COACH Kevin Stallings: Not a problem with the players, it's been a problem with the coaching. I have tolerated too many quick bad threes early in the clock from guys that don't make a high enough percentage to warrant that. You know, it will probably come as a great shock, I didn't put any restrictions on Shan (laughter). I told Shan if it feels round, you can shoot it (laughter).
But other guys, need to make a couple extra passes. Now, did that, and we still had some guys step up and make shots later in the clock, which is exactly what I want. But as a result, A.J. gets a bunch of touches. And those touches are good for our team. The more touches he gets, the better off we play usually, or the better we play.
Q. I've heard some coaches say in the quarterfinal game the team that won the day before and kind of got used to playing here has an advantage. Other coaches say, well, the team didn't have to play and is well-rested or better-rested has an advantage. Do you have any thoughts on that?
COACH Kevin Stallings: Not particularly. I generally think that the team that plays the best has the advantage. That's kind of the way I look at it. That's -- I'm not trying to be evasive on the question, but I have no opinion on whether it's an advantage to play the day before or have the rest or whatever because you can go back through the history of the tournament and figure out the percentages, and probably the team that didn't play has won more games because they were the better seed and the better team, probably. Now, I don't have any statistical data to back that up, but I think what will happen tomorrow is if Arkansas plays better they'll win and if we play better we'll win. I think that's what will happen.
THE MODERATOR: We'll begin and ask Coach for some overall thoughts on the game and then we'll take your questions just for the three student athletes and then we'll excuse them back to the locker room.
COACH LEBO: Well, I thought Vanderbilt's game plan was fairly simple and something we struggled with because of our size. They went inside on us pretty consistently, and Ogilvy scored a ton in there, and Quan Prowell got in foul trouble and really had to play the majority of the game with a 6'6", 190 guy at the center position. The kids battled hard. They shot the ball extremely well. Offensively it wasn't an issue for us, it was just having a hard time stopping them on the other end. Their two big guns really hurt us in this game.
Q. Talk about battling Ogilvy inside.
FRANK TOLBERT: I mean, it's tough. He's, what, 6'11", 260, 280, and it was just tough because I'm just so small, and it's just as much as I can do to keep him from getting the ball. It's just a tough job down there.
QUAN PROWELL: It was a tough match-up being the way that Vanderbilt moves the ball. The position we needed it to be in by the time we got the ball, it was already rotated to a different spot. So he got his angles on us, and he's a big body so he's tough to get around.
Q. Quan, could you just kind of talk about your foul trouble and also that last foul where I know you were coming into the game with four fouls and probably trying to stay in a little bit longer than you ended up staying in?
QUAN PROWELL: Yeah, that's been something that I tried to stay away from all season is foul trouble. I just got a few calls that changed the game a little bit, and on the last foul I came in -- I don't know what I was thinking, I should have just let him go. But just got caught up in the game and forgot about the fouls I had.
Q. The first half you all shot the ball well. They could not hit their first ten shots. Were you kind of thinking, are they ever going to miss because we're shooting the ball pretty well?
FRANK TOLBERT: I mean, Vanderbilt, that's one of their strengths. They're a very good shooting team. We were making shots, they were making shots, it was just a matter of continuing to play. We felt that they wasn't going to be hitting them like that the whole game, but it seems like they were. But you've just got to keep faith and continue to play the game, and hopefully the ball will bounce your way.
Q. Rasheem, it looked like you played one of your better games today, I guess coming back to your hometown. Is there any satisfaction in that?
RASHEEM BARRETT: There's never satisfaction in losing. There's always something you can do better. I mean, I played pretty way around the game, but obviously I didn't do good enough. We didn't do good enough as a team.
Q. Can you talk about your two seniors? You've had some snake bit-teams over the past couple of years, but can you talk about your two seniors and what they've been able to provide?
THE MODERATOR: This is the time period just for the players right now.
Q. Then this is for the seniors, too, and just their time at Auburn.
FRANK TOLBERT: My time here was great. Even though it didn't end like I wanted it to, I mean, I enjoyed the times I had here. The coaching staff was great, I made a lot of great guys in my teammates, from past to present. So I mean, my time here was great.
QUAN PROWELL: I enjoyed my time here, too. Just being around the fellows and coaches, you know, I love them like they were my true family, and I hope we continue to have this tie that we have these couple years I've been here. I loved it.
THE MODERATOR: We'll excuse the players. You can return to the locker room. Thank you for coming. We will continue on with Coach.
Q. Talk about your two seniors, Coach.
COACH LEBO: They meant a lot. It was an emotional locker room after the game. Those two guys I don't think have missed a practice. I think Frank might have missed one and we might have kept Quan out because we made him stay out of a practice, but they set the tone for us. Frank is one that's been here for four years, a guy I didn't recruit. When I took over the job, guys were flying out the door, and he was one that stayed. I've got a lot of respect for frank, I've got a lot of respect for what he's meant to this basketball program, and I just love him as a kid. I mean, he's just a terrific kid.
Those two guys, you go to war with those. Those two guys really have sacrificed probably more than anybody this year with our injuries. They had to play out of position. Frank Tolbert and Quan, I planned on playing Frank at the two and Quan at the three and some even Quan at the two guard, and now all of a sudden they're thrust into a situation where they're playing power forward and center the whole game. I don't know if people quite understand the sacrifice -- when you're a senior, to have to do that. I would think about my own career, if I had to do that, it would be very, very difficult. Very difficult. They never complained, they never wanted it any differently. They said they'd do anything to help this team, and they ran out of gas. The team ran out of gas at the end. Those two gave so much night in and night out, and they battled every single night, never complained, and they never came to see me. I've just got a lot of respect for both those kids.
Q. Right after Quan fouled out, I think you guys hit a three-pointer to cut it to five and then Vanderbilt scored ten straight. Was that a depth fatigue thing right there do you think?
COACH LEBO: Well, everything you see -- we played six guys, of which five of them -- one of them only played 11 minutes and probably our most important. When Quan goes out our whole front line is gone. We were playing 6-6 and no subs at that point. We were fatigued, and the way we have to play -- we did what we needed to do offensively, but the fatigue and not being able to manufacture anything easy. They can get an easy one and throw inside to Ogilvy and he can throw an easy bucket. We can't manufacture anything easy. We can't get those. Whether it's an offensive stick-back, whether it's a post-up move, we have to rely so much on our spread and being off the bounce. Most of the time we were good enough. We scored a lot of points. They had to go small when we were scoring a lot of points and they would put some of their bigger guys on the bench and we didn't have to worry about them as much. It was hard for our kids against Ogilvy in there. He's got savvy, he's got great hands and his body is so big. It kind of reminds me of playing in my backyard against my six-year-old son. I can score on him whenever I want (laughter).
Q. Having played Arkansas and Vanderbilt back to back, I was wondering how you see that match-up on a neutral floor tomorrow?
COACH LEBO: It should be a good one. The one thing that it will be depending on really how Vanderbilt shoots that ball from their key spots. Gordon I think is one guy that has been -- from the three-point line has struggled a little bit. He's got to shoot the ball well for them. Arkansas's side and strength inside, I think they'll be obviously able to handle Ogilvy much better. With their depth and shot blockers and size inside. So it'll be an interesting game tomorrow.
Q. When do you start thinking about next year and the potential for success that you have with all the guys coming back and only losing two?
COACH LEBO: Well, probably in about two days is when you start thinking about it. But we'll take some time to reflect on the season, a very tough, difficult, trying season with a lot of curve balls in it. We've got to get back healthy, we've got to get our best players back on the floor. We've got some areas where guys coming back have to get better. Our depth has to improve obviously, and that will start here pretty soon.