Sports Radio Interviews has searched high and wide the last few days to give you analysis from the coaches still left in the Sweet 16.We’ve done seven so far in individual postings and here are the first seven in one large posting.
This year’s Sweet Sixteen is full of huge college programs in the top conferences and the three other schools from smaller conferences are all tourney staples in Memphis, Xavier, and Gonzaga. The rest of the 16 has a record five teams from the Big East, three from the Big 12, two from the Big Ten and ACC, and one from the Pac-10. Some people may miss the Cinderella stories of George Mason or Davidson, but the truth is these are some legendary programs.
Think of all the success these sixteen teams have had. Seven coaches have won a title, nine programs have won a title since 1985, and all but Pitt, Xavier, Missouri, Purdue and Gonzaga have been to a Final Four. And it’s not like those five programs have been shabby.
Here’s our first batch of coaches interviews:
Responding to a comment that he sounded noticeably excited and optimistic about his team heading into the second week of the Dance:
“Well we got a chance. That’s what I feel right now. I never lose confidence in my team but they certainly have made me – you know you have to as a coach make them believe. Now they’ve made me believe why the way they’ve reacted. And we certainly have a chance to do some special things over the course of the next couple weeks.”
Coach K talking about adjustments that needed to be made in season to better his team:
“We needed to make a change a few weeks ago because we just could not defend the point (guard) of another team well. We were turning the ball over a little too much and not getting into our offense. Moving (Jon) Scheyer to the being the ball handler and Elliot Williams as the guy pressuring the ball, its like a double change to really alleviate a problem at the point of our attack.”
On stopping Blake Griffin:
“We try to play good team defense and be active and obviously you have to know where their best players are and you have to make it as difficult as you can for their best players. You can’t let anybody have shots in college because anybody in college at this level at the Sweet 16 can make shots and hurt you. So you just have to play good team defense and rebound the ball.”
On how proud he was of his team, particularly for being so unselfish:
“Give our guys credit. You know, our assists to baskets [ratio] was 20 out of 22, and as you know, that’s what you hope for in coaching – that they’re sharing the ball.”
Do you see Duke as a similar team to you guys?
“Yeah, I do. I think they spread the floor and really space well like we do. They’ve got a lot of very skilled players like we do. Defensively, they try to be very aggressive, more in the half-court kind of like we do. They are, they’re very similar teams.”
On the outstanding play of Johnson thus far in the tournament, particularly scoring the basketball:
“Yeah, he’s a confident player. And if you can get him the ball in position to score, whether that’s in transition or the half court. He’s really gotten aggressive and taken his shot. Before, I think he was a little bit hesitant. I think he would defer to others at times. And now we’ve just tried to encourage him to be agressive and take his shot.”
To open, Pennell just emphasized how happy his guys fought through all the doubters and negativity to respond on the biggest of stages:
“We’re having a great time and these guys have been through so much. It’s just so good to see them have this success late in the season. We’ve kind of been the underdogs all year, which is weird for the University of Arizona.”
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