NCAA Southwest Regional: Richmond Spiders Presser

COACH MOONEY:

Thank you. We're thrilled to be here in San Antonio and looking forward to our game tomorrow night versus Kansas. Our guys seem loose and ready to play. Had a good 50 minute practice session before our next kind of real practice. So we're excited to play.

Q. Can you talk about Princeton, how that shaped you? The school in general, the atmosphere, how that molded you as a coach?

COACH MOONEY: Sure. Playing for Coach Carm at Princeton was the most important thing that happened to me. He's such a tremendous coach, very demanding person. Didn't exactly fit in with the rest of how Princeton was.
Obviously I was very, very fortunate to be able to go to school there and to meet some of the people that I met, the professors, the other students. And it was a very unique experience for me. It was a completely foreign experience to me at the time. I'm really proud that I went there and have a lot of memories from there and have made some great lifetime friends there. But at the time it was a very different experience for me.

Q. Coach, Kansas is Kansas, this is your school's second trip to the Sweet 16. Have you talked to your players about playing the guys in the uniforms and not playing the uniforms and the history of Kansas?

COACH MOONEY: We have. Kansas is a storied program, an incredible program with great tradition. I think we're all aware of that. There's no sense in hiding from that or pretending it doesn't exist. It's just more important for us to go out and play. We feel like we have a good team who's achieved a lot and the most important thing is for us to go out and play, pay attention to the scouting report, and try as much as possible do the things that we've done throughout the last season, last four years, and try to keep it as much of a -- try to keep our program as much the same as possible.

Q. You've played as good defensively and rebounded as well in these last four or five games as you have in your whole tenure at Richmond. Is it reasonable to assume you can maintain that against a high-scoring, highly-ranked team such as Kansas?

COACH MOONEY: The thing that jumps out at you watching them and looking at their stats is just how easily they score and how potent they are offensively. Their shooting percentages, their assists, the way they handle the ball, it's an impressive team in that regard. I don't know how well we can guard them. That's something that we're working very hard on and trying to figure out and during the course of the game we're going to have to see if we need to make any adjustments.

This is a team I'm sure that has seen everything that's come their way. The most impressive part about them, in my opinion, is for all these star players and highly-recruited guys -- they share the ball extremely well. And that's something that's hard to shut down. When you don't know where the ball is going to be all the time, it makes it that much harder to defend.

We're going to work hard on it, we pride ourself on our defense, but at the same time we recognize how big a challenge it's going to be.

Q. You guys played this kind of school, basketball-stature wise, Princeton and Richmond have both accomplished about the same stuff. Would you say your guys, especially your seniors, are looking at this gameas the biggest moment of their lives to this point?

COACH MOONEY: Well, I would have to say they are. Their experiences are fairly limited and so to be able to play Kansas in the Sweet 16 in the Alamodome is probably big stuff for them, and for all of us. And I think it's not just that it's Kansas. I think that makes it that much more special, that we've advanced this far and that we're, you know, very much on a run in the NCAA tournament. So I think that's very special to them. And I think they're really embracing it.

Q. Is all the pressure on Kansas because of their seeding, tradition, and all the things that go with it, or when you step on to a stage like this for the first time is there pressure that's inherent in just being in this building, being on the stage, et cetera?

COACH MOONEY: Right, exactly. I think there is on both sides. I think Kansas probably plays with pressure, you know, probably almost every non-conference game, most of their conference games. So I think they're probably -- even though there is pressure, it's probably something they're very familiar with. They lose so infrequently, that's why I think people make such a big deal about some of the losses that they have. They're 34-2 again. But for us there's pressure because this is something new. We're trying to make sure we play as well as we can to justify that we're here.

I think it's a little bit different. I think they're probably used to the pressure that they're playing with and it's probably pretty significant, while there might be less pressure on us. It's pretty new.

Q. Coach Self and other coaches say at this time in the tournament it's not about seeds, it's about match-ups. How do you see your guys matching up, and what are some of the key match-ups that you think are going to come out in the game tomorrow?

COACH MOONEY: Well, the twins are obviously -- you probably start right there for Kansas. They present a problem to everybody they play because of their strength, their versatility. Kansas is very committed to getting the ball inside to them, which is another strength of their team. You very rarely see them go back-to-back possessions without the big guys touching the ball.

As far as the other match-ups, in the other way, I'm not sure. I know they're a very good defensive team. But I'm not sure if they've seen someone like Kevin Anderson or get the ball out of his hands. And Justin Harper is a difficult match-up for some teams.

I think there are difficult match-ups on both ends. For Kansas again what's so impressive about them, their game plan is to throw the ball inside and they rarely go too often without doing that.

Q. Going with the Morris twins, have you talked to him about trying to be less aggressive and keep him from getting in foul trouble?

COACH MOONEY: No, we need Darrius to provide what he's been providing off the bench for us, his defense and rebounding. They really change the makeup of our team. I think his aggressiveness is a very big part of that. His athleticism and aggressiveness is a big part of that. He's played a lot of games where he has not been in foul trouble. And hopefully we're playing the game and subbing from a standpoint of strength and not put players in to protect other players from foul trouble. If that happens, we're going to see what we have, and do some things that don't let us get too many fouls. But I think Darrius needs to be as aggressive as he can.

Q. It's not only tournament season, but it's coaching vacancy season and speculation season, your name is often mentioned. First of all, what's kind of a general reaction when your name is mentioned for other jobs, and how do you manage it?

COACH MOONEY: Well, I would say obviously it's flattering, obviously it's one of the unfortunate parts of college basketball, while we're in the midst of our most exciting time for players and coaches that there's this other facet because jobs are becoming available. As far as managing it, you know, if there are a hundred blog posts about Shaka, to put all the pressure on him (laughter), if there are a hundred blog posts about Shaka taking this job or that job and somebody is interested, if he doesn't turn on his computer. I would talk to my guys right up front about it if there was anything to talk about. But we kind of push it out and get it away from us and really concentrate on the business at hand.

Q. Any Hoosier-like moments where you said to your guys, Don't think of this as the Alamodome, think of this as another place we're playing? And have you measured the rims or anything?

COACH MOONEY: No, not really. To be honest with you, I think we recognize this is Kansas and this is a huge national stage. But at the same time, you know, we're drawing on our experiences, on our feelings, and we feel like we've beaten some really good teams over the past few years. We haven't played a perfect game once in any of those games. That's what I talk to our guys about, is we're not going to play a perfect game tomorrow night and not to worry about that. And also that we don't need to play a perfect game.
In our big wins we have not played perfectly. We have been out-rebounded by a lot or shot poorly. We need to go out and play and have the game started so we can focus in on each possession.

Q. You described Kansas as a team that rarely loses. When you're looking to formulate a game plan against a team that doesn't lose very much, do you try to find their weaknesses or do you try to cater to your strengths and how it applies to them?

COACH MOONEY: That's a great question. We were actually trying to figure out which tapes to watch besides the most recent, and we're going down and looking at any game that was close that they played, just to see if we could gauge what they ran down the stretch, how they kind of played. Did they switch their defenses or anything like that. So, yeah, I think we need to try to figure out what gives them problems, not that we're going to change how we play, but you do have to have an understanding of what gives them problems, whether it's zone defense or a particular pattern on offense. I think you really need to do that because they are so strong and so deep and so talented.
But we want to make sure, like I said, we only have our experiences to draw on, and we need to kind of go with what got us here, and really try to accentuate our positives.

Q. You talked about your own experiences, you only lost twice since the end of January, but both of those losses were 20-point losses. What did you take from those games, what were the tendencies when you go against a Kansas team that really can score quickly?

COACH MOONEY: They were different games. Xavier game was close and got close with foul shots, whereas Temple kind of really controlled us throughout the game. So what I think is important for us is we seem to gain a great deal of energy when we're defending well, and when we lose energy when teams are scoring too easily against us. So it's interesting that it doesn't have as much to do for us on offense. I think that we gain confidence when we're defending well, we're doing what we set out to do and we're following our plan. And in those rare games that we haven't defended well, we just haven't been as poised and we haven't been as efficient on the offensive end to follow that.

So I think that's going to be important because Kansas is going to go on runs and they're going to have success against us and we're going to need to maintain kind of our composure as we come back down with the ball.


Q. Dan and Justin, both the Morris twins have the combination of playing inside and outside, and that's the same for you two. How advantageous is it for you to have that similar skill set to them?

DAN GERIOT: It's similar. It's advantageous for us because we know how they play, we do the same thing. We're able to shoot, we're able to also play inside a little bit. And so I think in scouting them we're able to draw comparisons. So when we're scouting them it's more like we know what their tendencies are and everything. So one obviously plays more inside and one plays more outside, so that's going to help us a little bit.

JUSTIN HARPER: Just us being able to spread the floor. I don't think they're going to be as comfortable playing guys that have the same skill sets and great shooters outside and taking them out of their comfort zone and staying in the paint all day.

Q. Kevin, I was watching you out there in your little practice session and you seemed particularly pumped. Lots of dunks, lots of reverse dunks. Are you excited about this? Was this typical practice for you or was that because you're here in the Sweet 16?

KEVIN SMITH: That's typical. You can ask everybody down the line. That's how I get going. That's kind of my job is to get practice flowing, and get everybody ready to play and that's how I get myself ready to play.

Q. Justin, just wondering if six or seven years ago you had any idea, kind of forecasting what your college experience was going to be like, and if you thought it was going to be anything like it is right now?

JUSTIN HARPER: No, not at all. I'm fortunate and blessed to be part of a program that's allowed me to grow, and be with this group of guys right here. And just fortunate to, you know, be able to have a senior year that we're having and just making history. I couldn't have forecasted it like this, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Q. Kevin, what makes the heart tick faster, being at the Sweet 16 or facing Kansas at the Sweet 16?

KEVIN SMITH: Can you repeat the question, please?

Q. What makes the heart tick faster, being at the Sweet 16 or facing KU at the Sweet 16?

KEVIN SMITH: Well, I think they kind of coexist. This is an opportunity for us to advance in this tournament, you know, and it's something that we look forward to doing. And another opponent that is highly looked upon as a traditionally high-powered team. It's another opportunity for us to be on the stage where we are playing a great opponent and it's the opportunity to get to the next round. And that's the only thing that's on our mind is the next game. And that's what kind of drives us right now.

Q. Kevin and Dan, Kansas is Kansas. They've got a storied program. This is the second time in history your school has been in the Sweet 16. How do you make sure that you play the guys in the uniforms and you don't play the uniforms and the history of their program?

KEVIN ANDERSON: Well, we don't want our season to be over, so we're just going to go out there and play hard. Kansas is a great team. We don't want this to end. It's been an unbelievable year for us. We don't want this to end. Our focus is to get to a National Championship and Kansas is in the way right now, so we have to go out there and handle our business.

DAN GERIOT: We're more interested in the scouting report than the guys we're playing. Same with Kansas, same with Vanderbilt and Morehead State. You're more interested in the actual guys, that's how you've got to focus on that.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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