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March 7, 2009Junior Quincy Pondexter:
Regarding winning the Pac-10 championship - "It's quite an amazing feeling. It's a culmination of a lot of hard work our team's put in. For a lot of guys, it's having a big monkey off their back. It feels so great. It's been like a movie script the last couple of weeks. It's a great story that we're living out right now. It's one of our goals we wanted to accomplish at the beginning of the season. To have it accomplished is a big feat, but we can't relax right now, we still have a ways to go to be the team we want to be."
Regarding being able to achieve a Pac-10 championship after all of the criticism he's received - "I was one of those players that people expected a lot out of early on, but I didn't live up to a lot of expectations early. But I kept working towards a team goal. To accomplish that goal means more than any award I could have gotten by myself. It's a team game, and I love being a part of this team."
Regarding having to get into the frame of mind to win the Pac-10 tournament championship - "It's going to be easy. We really feel our backs are against the wall, because people still don't respect us as much as they should. Coming into next week, we're going to be really focused. Our next goal is to win the Pac-10 tournament championship."
Regarding how even when star players aren't playing at their best, others seem to step it up - "It's a team game. I remember the beginning of the year, coach [Romar] asked us who was the star of the team, and people were thinking about the question. His answer was it's the team. All of us are the stars of this team and we've got to play like a team to win a championship."
Regarding his rib injury he suffered against Seattle University - "I'm not quite 100 percent right now, but you can't think about those things when one of the biggest games of your life is about to be played. I came out and played the best I could. It bothered me a little bit, but it's basketball, so I just tried not to think about it."
Sophomore Venoy Overton:
Regarding guarding Washington State point guard Taylor Rochestie - "I was trying to get up and pressure him as much as I can. He's been playing good the last few games. I basically did what what I do with everybody, [which is to] make him feel uncomfortable and slow him down."
Regarding frustrating Rochestie in the first half - "He was a little frustrated, but he's a tough player, so I knew he was going to bounce back and help his team out the best he could. I knew if we limited a lot of his touches, then they were going to be in trouble."
Regarding his role on the team - "Basically energy off the bench. I try to bring something off the bench that's going to jump start us if the starters aren't playing well. [I bring] defense - picking up full court and pressuring the main ball handler. I help out the team with whatever I can do - rebound, assist or trying to put some points up."
Regarding picking up his game offensively - "Isaiah [Thomas] had a rough night - they packed it in trying to limit his shots, so I knew I had to stay aggressive. They weren't sinking in as much when I was driving to the hoop, so I just stayed aggressive and I was getting to the free throw line."
Senior Jon Brockman:
Regarding winning the Pac-10 championship - "It's an unbelievable feeling. You see it on t.v. every year, and you want to be in that position. It was about 100 times better than it was on t.v."
Regarding having it be Senior Night - "It was a special moment walking out there. It was something that I'd seen happen every year, seeing all my buddies go up there and take off for their last home game. You don't really imagine yourself in those shoes though. You think you're going to be here awhile and it's going to last a lot longer, but it sneaks up on you and suddenly we're standing out there."
When asked if he thought about it being Senior Night - "As soon as I stopped to think [about it being Senior Night], I got pretty choked up. So I tried to just focus on the championship. I tried to take it as another game and not get too caught up in the emotion of everything."
Regarding what was the turning point in the season - "It was the Florida game that we lost. We came back under 24 hours from getting our butts kicked by Kansas, and were able to put things together, bounce back and play as a team. I realized with the talent we have and with the different pieces we have, if we can put them all together and play as a team, then we're going to be real dangerous and real hard to mess with. We keep getting better at playing as a team, as a group."
Regarding Pondexter's play - "He's huge. He brought energy, was able to score and he played great defense. He would have been a piece that we would have desperately missed if he couldn't have played. He fought tonight."
When asked what he's most proud of about this team - "Just how close we've grown together. I'm so proud of every single one of our players. Winning the Pac-10 championship is a testament to how hard we've worked. Each person has put it on their own shoulders to work harder than they've ever worked before. It's great to see people grow, take on leadership roles and put things on their shoulders."
Regarding containing Rochestie late in the game after he sunk a three-pointer with 4:24 left to cut the Huskies' lead to two points - "We knew exactly what we did wrong. Before the coaches even got to us, we said we can't let that happen again. We've got to know where he is at all times, we've got to guard him as a team. We lost focus for a second on that play and a few plays before that, but because of the maturity level of this team, we was able to snap out of it, get focused and put everything away. We were able to forget about the last possession, forget about the possession before and attack each possession like it's the most important one of the game."
Regarding team playing defense - "That's been our theme and it'll be our theme until we're done playing. Defensive stops are what get us into our offense, defensive stops are what gets the crowd into it, gets us excited. When we're locking up on defense and real active and all over the place, we're playing with energy and that's when we're at our best.
Regarding playing against Washington State center Aron Baynes - "I'm sore, that's for sure. It's a battle every single time I play against him. He's so big, arms are so long, he's so strong. He's a load, and for the most part, one person can't guard him. He's going to have his way if one person is on him. We pestered him and we guarded him pretty well as a team. But he's a load and I'm definitely going to need an ice bath."
Regarding what Pondexter said about Romar preaching that the star of the team is the team - "I remember people had it in their minds that the team is the star. We have a lot of great players, who if we worked at getting them the ball every single time down the court, they could put up some huge numbers and impress a lot of people. But from the very beginning of the season, we put it on ourselves that we were going to get this thing done as a group. Experiencing what we just experienced as a group is far more exciting than putting up numbers and losing the game. That was a monumental time where he put his foot down and said that if we're going to be the best that we can be, everyone's got to do their job and everyone's got to attack it as a team."
Senior Justin Dentmon:
Regarding winning the Pac-10 championship - "The beginning was a little emotional, because I saw my mom crying. At the end of the game, it was a happy emotional. It was like 'man, this is my last game'. But we won and we made history tonight. It's just a good feeling."
Regarding what Pondexter said about Romar preaching that the star of the team is the team, and the players' reactions - "People were quiet and didn't want to say anything. After that Florida game, everybody really realized that you can't do it as an individual, you've got to do it as a team. You've got to trust each other on defense and trust each other on offense, knowing that if you're doubled, kicking it out to the open man and trusting that he's going to make that shot. I think everybody's comfortable with their roles and I think coach found all of the pieces to his puzzle."
Head Coach Lorenzo Romar:
Regarding winning the Pac-10 championship - "It's special, but hopefully it doesn't take another 50 years. Obviously it's special. When you win a championship it is very good for a lot of reasons, but there is no better reason for me then to watch our guys win, and have that experience for the rest of their lives.? Our returning guys will know what it takes to win a championship, they know what it feels like.? There have been many many collegiate basketball players that have gone on without winning a championship and our guys can say that they have done that. This was a dream come true and just as good as you could imagine."
Regarding thoughts on the game in general - "Tony Bennett and his staff do a heck of a job.? Washington State is a very good basketball team, and we had to play a really good game in order to come out on top and be champions. We turned the ball over too much in the first half, but aside from that, I think our guys put forth the type of effort that will allow you to win a big game."
Regarding the play of Brockman - "Jon [only] scored seven points, but grabbed 18 physical, hard, tough rebounds, and battled Aron Baynes.? It can be unfortunate with the make-up of our team being a true team, that you can sometimes take somebody like Jon for granted, because his numbers aren't real high.? But there is no way we win this conference without Jon doing what he's done for us.? The numbers may not reflect the best numbers in the league, but the proof is in the pudding with the victories."
Regarding Brockman being Pac-10 Player of the Year - "I don't know what he is going to get in terms of Player of the Year.? Herb Sendek said if there was a most valuable player and a most outstanding player, it could be two different awards. John Wooden used to always say that Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was his most outstanding player, but Bill Walton was his most valuable player.? If we are talking most valuable, then to me, Jon is the most valuable player [in the Pac-10]."
Regarding the play of Overton - "Venoy is becoming a pest defensively.? He's like a shot blocker that may only block three shots, but he changes four or five.? He may get three steals, but he throws the rhythm off for others because they don't know where he's at. When he began to pick his spots and not be out of control, he became a much more controlled player.? Offensively, he maintained his push but picked his spots better. Defensively, he got into good enough condition where he could maintain intense pressure consistently.? He's had several outstanding games for us."
Regarding Pondexter - "Quincy has emerged to be a winner.? It's so good to see that, and it really speaks to perseverance and hanging in there."
Regarding showing the team scissors at halftime to illustrate cutting down the nets at the end of the game - "We all have different learning methods, and some are more visionary learners.? So, to all of a sudden have a mental image of cutting down the nets, hopefully would give them a little more incentive to go out and tighten down the chin straps a little harder.? Fortunately for whatever reason, no matter what happened, we won it and did a good job."
Regarding celebrating in general - "You rush the floor, you cut the nets down, you celebrate - that's when you do it.? I'm not one to have our fans yell overrated to a team that we beat, because what does that say about us?? [I feel the same way about] rushing the floor.? We may have some work to do, but that is when I feel you have a reason to celebrate."
Regarding unseating UCLA as the best team in the Pac-10 - "It's more that we're the champs as opposed to someone else is not.? It's hard to keep winning the league [title] in the Pac-10 every year.? Maybe in some other leagues, but this league is too strong year in and year out. Sooner or later someone else will get a chance, and it just happened to be us this year.? Again, I'm more proud about the fact that we won it as opposed that someone else didn't."
Regarding playing as a team - "That's been our team's m.o.? We were in first place coming in, we have not been beaten in consecutive games since leaving Kansas City. We're 21-of-25, 6-of-3 on the road - all of that spoke to consistency.? There was no reason now, with the championship on the line, to change anything.? Continue to be a team, continue to work hard with focus, play with intensity and look out for your teammates - all of the things we've talked about, and that's what we did today."
When asked if this is the most special game he's coached - "As a head coach, no question about it. This is better for a couple of reasons. With the Pac-10 tournament, we were almost expected to come close to it. But I don't think many would have predicted we would have been outright Pac-10 champions this year - that makes it special. It was over an 18-game period, where we'd have to look back and not feel like it was something we fell into. I felt we did a pretty good job all season. That's what makes it really gratifying, along with the fact that these are good kids on our team. You want to see them be rewarded for trying to do the right thing. For them to be able to learn a lesson in a group setting, that's going to go on beyond their basketball careers."
Regarding the attitude of the team heading into the Pac-10 Tournament - "We've got to enjoy this, but get right back down to business and attack the Pac-10 Tournament one game at a time. We've got to bring it. We're not content with what just happened. We're excited but we're not content."
Regarding not being excited to play in the Pac-10 Tournament - "Some coaches have said the Pac-10 Tournament is not as big of a deal, because you put so much energy into winning [the regular season championship]. It's big game after big game - we've been doing that for the last three or four weeks, but now you've got to start over. But that's not the case with us. We feel that this is another prize that we can try to obtain."
Regarding the differences between this team and the Sweet-16 teams - "This team innately was easier to grab the team concept. Those other teams were more talented, and that maybe is why it was a little more difficult with them. [But both teams] have a lot of the same traits. I think both teams were resilient, both possess a lot of quickness and both competed. This team is a better rebounding team and better defensively, while the other teams were better offensively."