Here is the transcript of Washington’s postgame press conference after its win over Washington State in the quarterfinals of the Pacific-10 Conference men’s basketball tournament:
THE MODERATOR: We’ll start with an opening statement from the Coach and then questions.
COACH ROMAR: Well, obviously, that was a heck of a college basketball game. Just very proud of our team having gone down 8 in the first half and coming back in the second half and laying it all out there on the floor. Our guys scrapped and gave every ounce of what they had for us to come back and get that victory.
Our seniors stepped up. Justin Holiday didn’t even know he was going to play until he was okay and cleared today. He sat out all week and came out and got a double double on the boards, rebounded.
Isaiah, I would like to sit down with all of you and show you the film and point out some of the things he did without scoring that helped us win that game. He came out and just willed his team to win. Special players can do that.
Our two freshmen in the starting lineup really stepped up, C.J. Wilcox and Terrence Jones, knocking shots down. Oh, shoot. That’s the second time I’ve done that. They came out and knocked shots down. C.J.’s two that he hit in the second half were crucial. Got us over the hump. But I just couldn’t be prouder of our guys. And Klay Thompson is really good.
Q. Coach, what prompted you to put the two freshmen in the starting lineup?
COACH ROMAR: We didn’t see it as two freshmen in the starting lineup. C.J. was already in the starting lineup, and we were going to play defense a little differently in terms of switching everything. We wanted more like-sized players in there so there wouldn’t be any mismatches.
We could have gone with Scott Suggs, but we felt without Aziz in there, Terrence Ross is probably a better rebounder, so we went with those guys. It was really Terrence in place of Aziz.
Q. Coach, you said you were down by 8 going into the break. You guys came out of the break on like a 10-0 run and maintained your poise pretty much through the entire rest of the game. What was the halftime speech? What were you telling the players? What were you going through with them and how did you get them motivated to come out in the second half and fire on all cylinders pretty much?
COACH ROMAR: We just talked about doing a better job and not wanting to go home yet. The beginning of that second half early, I think Isaiah got us going. He just pressured the ball and we got a five second count really early and we began to press them. Everyone kind of followed his lead on the defensive end.
The game got up and down a little more and we maintained our focus.
Q. C.J., can you just talk about the confidence you must be feeling now? It seems like that UCLA game last week and then this game, it’s just dropping for you?
C.J. WILCOX: Yeah, you know, after you hit a couple shots Coach starts drawing up plays for you, and you feel you have a responsibility to step up and knock down shots. Early in the game I wasn’t hitting them, but they just tell you to keep shooting and they started falling.
Q. How much did you at halftime did anybody talk about hey, we were down this way even more with Oregon State in the first game in the Pac 10’s last year?
ISAIAH THOMAS: Coach, that was one of the first things he said. We were down 12 or 14 to Oregon State, and we actually played better this time than we did last year at this point of the season. I yelled at guys telling them we don’t want this to be our last game. We don’t want our season to end right now.
Everybody kept faith and played hard. When you do that, a lot of things can happen. We just fought hard and won the game.
Q. How did you get inside? What was the difference offensively?
ISAIAH THOMAS: We just spread our offense. We’ve got tremendous shooters in C.J., Terrence, Holiday, and Matt was set in sprint screens. When do you that that offsets the defense, and you’ve got to respect the shooters. If they’re not going to guard the shooters, then I’m going to pass it out.
But if not, I’ve got an open lane. That’s all I did. We just played hard.
Q. Can you talk a little about Klay Thompson?
ISAIAH THOMAS: Great player. Some shots he hit I was like, ‘Man, is that Kobe?’ It felt like we had a hand up and he was hitting them from everywhere. When a player can hit shots like that and get on a roll, it feels like the basket’s like the ocean. Everything’s going to go in.
He played a great game and fought hard. This season he played three games that they were real good for himself, because the games the previous two years he didn’t play too well. I know these games he marked the calendar, and he had a great game.
Q. Just your thoughts about playing with C.J. and Terrence in the starting lineup. I know C.J.’s been around a year, but two freshmen in the starting lineup, how did that affect you and also the minutes you had to play handling the ball?
ISAIAH THOMAS: When they’re hitting shots, it’s hard to guard us. You have to respect them. They’re great shooters. Terrence is a little more aggressive to get to the hoop, and C.J.’s been working on that. They’re just two great players. This is their first Pac 10 Tournament playing in it, and they’re just out there having fun and playing basketball.
They’re not thinking too much and just going out there. 40 minutes, whatever Coach needs me to do, whatever I can do to help this team win.
COACH ROMAR: He’s been waiting to do that since he’s been here, play 40 minutes.
ISAIAH THOMAS: That was my first 40 minute game. I was kind of happy. As long as we won, that’s what made it that much better.
Q. Was there any concern at all that you needed to win this game to get an NCAA bid? Did you think about that at all?
ISAIAH THOMAS: Yeah, we always said it’s win or go home. This could be the last game of the season if we had lost it. But we just fought hard. We didn’t want to lose. Everybody had that mindset. Even the guys that weren’t playing and they were on the bench yelling, just having a lot of energy. We fought back and I’m proud of my teammates.
Q. The opening didn’t go as you’d hoped and you were down so much, but you were playing the right way. Did you see that or did you just flip the switch?
COACH ROMAR: We played better in the second half. We were playing better than we had been in our last three home games early on. If we had played the way we played in our early home games, we would have been down by more than eight. We were playing okay, but not great. In the second half, I thought the press really got us going. It just loosened up everything. Guys began to put shots and make shots. Whenever you’re making shots, the game always becomes a little easier.
Q. Can you talk about facing Oregon again tomorrow? The team that upset UCLA and you split with this season?
COACH ROMAR: They’re a tough team to play against. That is a true team in every sense of the word. They play well together. They play hard. They play with a lot of intensity. It’s going to be a tough ballgame for us.
We need to come ready to play, because I know they will.