March 19, 2015
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Q. Aaron and Josh, I’m sure this week perimeter defense has been discussed at length. What exactly have you seen of Davidson on film and what kind of challenges do they present in their three-point shooting?
Aaron White: Obviously Davidson, their strength is their three-point shooting, basically from all five spots on the floor. It will be a big thing for us to run them off the line, use our length to our advantage, and contain them that way. They might be a little bit quicker than us, but I think our length will help us. If we run them off the line, force them to our help, I think we’ll be okay.
Josh Oglesby: Obviously, their strength is their three-point shooting. I think like Whitey said, running them off the three-point line and making them put it on ground, and obviously having our teammates help us and letting them shoot contested twos is a big key for us.
Q. Aaron, how do you use that length and can you use that length in both man and zone?
Aaron White: Yeah, obviously for the guys here that follow our team regularly, you know we switch our defenses up. So, yeah, I think that will be an advantage for us, both in our man and our zone. We got great size on our front line, also in the back court. So that’s something that I think we can use to our advantage. Like J.O. said, contested twos. If they do shoot threes, we got to be there with a hand up and shoot over us. The percentage-wise, they shoot really well. Open threes, catch and shoot open threes when they swing the ball, extra passes. So it’s our job to use our length anticipation and switch up the defense is what will help that.
Q. Aaron, can you talk about playing for Coach McKillop in the World University Games and anything you picked up from the way he coaches or his philosophy that you might be able to use against him?
Aaron White: Yeah, an extremely competitive guy, which I found out early on with the tryouts, eventually making the team as well. It was a good experience with him. Obviously, in a short time, about a month, we didn’t put in too many intricate plays or sets, but we did run the basic secondary options that they run on offense, kind of four out around one with a trailing post. He likes to spread the floor with shooters. He likes to attack the elbows with his guards and pitch back, stuff like that. Nothing huge that we wouldn’t have found out on film anyway, but it is good to have a little bit of experience playing for Coach McKillop, knowing him a little bit. So it’s fun in that way. But I didn’t learn too much that I think our coaches didn’t teach us already and what we learned studying them on film that way.
Q. For Gabe and Aaron. Talk about the importance of rebounding in this game, especially if they’re going to be shooting from the perimeter and you guys have a size advantage on them. How important will that rebounding be to get your transition game going?
Gabriel Olaseni: I think it’s very important. Especially when a team like this — they shoot so many threes. There are going to be long rebounds around the free throw area. I don’t really think it’s the front line, it’s also the rebounds that may go to the guards. But we’re still going to do a good job of boxing out. And we definitely need to get those rebounds to get the fast break going.
Q. How has your guys’ experience been this year? Last year it was rushed, you got to Dayton really quick and a real quick turnaround. This year it’s longer, you’re in Seattle. What’s this week been like for you since you found out you were coming to Seattle?
Josh Oglesby: It’s obviously been a lot smoother, especially with everything Coach was going through last year. But to be able to come in with a six-game winning streak is a lot better than last year. But the week has just been — we have got a couple off days and got out here early, which was nice, get used to the time change and just to enjoy the time with the team and our coaches.
Gabriel Olaseni: It’s been a lot of fun since we found out. The coaching staff do a great job in preparing us against any team we face, but especially this time of year we have been watching a lot of film trying to figure out the intricacies of their players. So it’s been a lot of fun, but at the same time we understand that it is a business trip. I think everyone is locked in. So we’re just looking forward to playing.
Q. For Aaron and Josh, there’s been some upsets this morning. I don’t know if you have paid attention to it, but when you see those results, how much is that a reminder of how prepared you have to be going into this tournament, going into your matchup tomorrow?
Aaron White: You see it every year. Once you get in this tournament, anybody can win, no matter what the seed. You saw that this morning. You’ve seen it in years past. So we’re aware of it as a team. Just because you got a higher seed next to you or a lower seed doesn’t mean you’re expected to win or expected to lose, either way. So I think it’s important for us to be locked into the game plan, as Gabe just said. Our coaches have done a great job of doing that for us. I think we’ll be ready to go. I think we’re all excited to play tomorrow. It’s been a good prep time for us leading up to this game. But obviously this morning kind of just reiterates the importance of how locked in you got to be each possession and each game, because you might not be here for long, like some of the teams found out this morning.
COACH McCAFFERY: Obviously, we’re thrilled at this opportunity to be here. Things have gone well so far. We had a great practice yesterday. We’re going to go hard here today. We’re not going to come and just shoot around. Some teams go two places, we’re going to go hard here and try to get after it a little bit. Looking forward to the opportunity to play a great Davidson team.
Q. How will your length be a benefit not only offensively but defensively as you try to get out to the three-point line?
COACH McCAFFERY: Well, I hope it’s a tremendous strength. It’s one of the best three-point shooting teams I’ve ever really studied on film. The way they move the ball I think has been very impressive. Obviously, I’ve coached against Bob McKillop before. They move the ball down the floor quickly. They share the ball. They got a bunch of willing passers. Tremendous three-point shooters, not only the guards but their front court guards guys as well. So we have to really be out and up in that space and contesting. So hopefully our length will help.
Q. Offensively, where is your team right now? You struggled in your last game. And obviously you’re going to have to — this is a high-scoring team you’re going to have to try to beat?
COACH McCAFFERY: I think we’re fine. We’ll be fine. We have been pretty good all year. We have had some games where our offense wasn’t quite what we wanted it to be, probably true for everybody. But I think we have good offensive players and we’re going to play up-tempo basketball like we always do and we’re going to move it around as well. I feel good about where we are there.
Q. How about the — with your size and the rebounding and getting your transition game going, is that — if they do shoot threes, it has to be pretty much a one-shot possession, right, to get it going the other way?
COACH McCAFFERY: You would hope. They do a really good job of getting the long rebounds on shots that they miss. They shoot a really high number. But they obviously know that, when they miss, typically where they’re going to come off, so they’re quick to the ball and really good at making second-shot opportunities for three as well. So you want to try to avoid them as much as you can.
Q. I know you’ve been asked this a lot this week, but can you just talk about your relationship with Bob McKillop, how far back you’ve gone and some of the on-court confrontations y’all have had?
COACH McCAFFERY: Well, I knew Bob when he was a high school coach at Long Island Lutheran. That’s how long I’ve known him. I got to UNC Greensboro in ’99. We played them twice that year. We played them eight times in my first three years because we were in the same division of the Southern Conference. Pretty much at that time we kind of had to go through them, they had to go through us to win a championship. So we had some really intense games. They subsequently went to the — we were in the North. They went to the South. We didn’t play them as much. But they were still really good. We still had a good team. So we played once a year and then sometimes play in the tournament. So, we have had some games that were sort of epic battles in terms of you go back and say how did we win that game and how did we lose that game, things happened in the last minute. But there’s a tremendous respect there in terms of the success that he’s had. Very few coaches in our profession today can stay at one place for that long and have that much success. So, obviously, I know what we’re in for tomorrow. I’m trying to convey that our players.
Q. Do you think last year’s experience will help this year’s team, since a lot of these guys played in this tournament last year?
COACH McCAFFERY: I hope so. The beautiful thing about this event is every college basketball player hopes that one day they will play in it. There’s a lot of attention paid to it all year long. You want to see your name come up on Selection Sunday. And then once you’re in, as impressive as the Big Ten is and as exciting and much fun as it is, this is different. To go through that experience last year and just get a feel for how it’s different I think is good. Hopefully, that will manifest itself into intelligent play and better play tomorrow.
Q. Based on your background, were you surprised to see how well they did in the A-10 in their first season?
COACH McCAFFERY: Not at all. But I do recognize that it’s very difficult to do what they did. I think the important thing was they were dominating in the Southern Conference. If you’re going to change leagues and you’re going to essentially step up in class, which is what they did, you better be dominating the league you’re in. And they have done that. That’s pretty noticeable. Now they go in and win the Atlantic 10, which is a very difficult league to win in. So I think it’s impressive in that it doesn’t happen very much, when you change leagues and turn around and win it the very first year. But somebody that knows them and knows their style of play and knows the team the way I do, I’m not surprised at all.
Q. A lot of upsets obviously already this morning. How much of that is a reminder for your team that anything can happen once you get into this NCAA Tournament?
COACH McCAFFERY: Well, you know, obviously they’re watching the games all day long. So they see it. But what’s different? I mean, every year I don’t think anybody should be surprised. I talked to them right away about anybody that’s in this tournament somehow won their way here, either won their conference tournament, won their regular season championship, or they won enough games in a difficult league to be here. Everybody has great players. We’re playing a team that has the Atlantic 10 Player of the Year. They have other All-Conference players. So I think you’re right. It is a constant reminder when you turn the TV on, but it shouldn’t be a surprise to anybody and it’s not like you’re going to look at any team in this league and any way feel confident. What you’re going to do is you’re going to be ready to compete, follow the game plan that we have put in front of our guys, be respectful of our opponent and understand their capabilities and do everything we can to win the game. Once you get here, it’s so evident to me every year that anything can happen. Anybody can make the Sweet 16. Anybody can get to the Elite Eight. Because everybody that’s here knows and understands how to win.
Q. You mentioned the A-10 Player of the Year. What does he do that jumps out to you on tape and is a hard matchup for your team?
COACH McCAFFERY: Well, he’s versatile. He can put it on the deck. He’s a phenomenal three-point shooter. So obviously you got to get up into him as best you can and take that away, but he’s really good off the dribble. He’s good off the dribble at finishing. He’s good off the dribble making a play for somebody else. He’s also an active player on the glass, which he needs to be because they’re essentially starting three guards, so he’s got to typically be guarding somebody bigger than him and somebody maybe bigger than him guarding him. But he can bring it down as a point guard. He can run the wing. He can score in a variety of ways with a lot of different locations.
Q. Obviously a number of coaches in those upset situations taking some difficult losses today. Is there a post-season loss in your career that stands out that still maybe years later is difficult to stomach?
COACH McCAFFERY: I don’t think so. You remember them all. I could think back and we played Louisville, so it was a — they were the No. 1 seed and we were not, obviously. We were up four with seven or eight minutes to go. That’s the one I remember. So it wouldn’t have been a gut-wrenching loss, because everybody was telling us how great we played, but I think back that if we could have done this and we could have scored on that possession, we would have won the game. That would have been pretty amazing. But I don’t remember a game where I felt like either I blew it or my players blew it. I felt we competed. We were ready. We won some; lost some. I think the finality of it is never good. Last year we lost in overtime to Tennessee. Obviously a game we wanted to win. In light of the circumstances of what I was going through at the time, it would have been an unbelievable feeling for us as a program, for our family, to have won that game. But, again, we played a team that played really well. They outplayed us that night. So, I think that’s what this tournament is. You have a chance to play against another great team, win the game and advance and keep playing. That’s what we’re all trying to do.