March 19, 2010
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THE MODERATOR: From Clemson Tigers, we have on the far end Andre Young, Demontez Stitt and closest to me Head Coach Oliver Purnell. Coach will make an opening statement and then we’ll take questions for the student athletes that have joined us.
Oliver Purnell: First of all, my hat goes off to Missouri. Congratulations on winning a tough ballgame. I thought both teams played extremely hard. You know, I was quite frankly disappointed that we didn’t get Trevor on the line a little bit more because maybe we weren’t aggressive enough in there. But Missouri made their runs in the second half by knocking down some three point shots, some big shots. And our issues were some turnovers that you can’t defend, points off turnovers that you can’t defend, and I thought we did a really good job on the back boards, evidence that our guys played extremely hard. I thought we got the ball where we wanted to get it, particularly in the second half down in the paint. We just didn’t finish like we needed to, as Missouri heated up from the perimeter.
Obviously, our guys in the locker room are pretty sad right now. I thought our guys were prepared and ready to win here today. I thought they gave a great effort, but Missouri obviously stood in our way, and we’ll give them credit.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach. We’ll take questions at this time for Demontez and Andre only.
Q. Can you two guys talk about the three point shooting in the first half, and how it didn’t really seem to open up inside like it often does?
Demontez Stitt: Well, I mean, first half we seemed like we attacked it a little bit more. We sort of got in the lane a little bit more and got the ball to Book (Trevor Booker) more and he was able to kick it out for open shots. I guess with our style of play, you know, you drive the ball, you kick it, hit guys with open shots. Second half some shots didn’t fall for us. Book got the ball inside. We just didn’t execute like we wanted to.
THE MODERATOR: Andre, anything to add to that?
Andre Young: I think the main focus coming to the game was to slow down Trevor. They doubled and triple teamed him all night. And then I mean in the beginning we had our legs and we were able to knock down shots. Coming into the second half, some of the shots didn’t go down. And they were still doubling on Book. I mean they were pretty much making him earn everything. We just knocked them down in the first half. We hit some in the second but not as much.
Q. Guys, just talk about their press and obviously they forced 20 turnovers and get a lot of points off those turnovers, uncontested baskets. Is it something you weren’t expecting or did you not handle it well?
Andre Young: We were definitely expecting it. From watching film, that’s just the kind of team they are. They press 40 minutes. We were expecting it. We just didn’t do a very good job in the first half. I think like we had like 14 turnovers in the first half. And so we just weren’t strong enough with the ball. They converted those turnovers into points, easy points that we couldn’t defend. I think we did a little bit better job in the second half of protecting the ball. But we just didn’t make the big stops that we needed towards the end.
Q. You guys shot I think 72% from the three in the first half. That’s not really a sustainable number. Did you talk about what you’re going to have to do in the second half to mix it up offensively and find some different ways to create points?
Demontez Stitt: I mean, we knew we wanted to, you know, not depend on the two point shot. We were shooting it well the first half. We still wanted to get the ball inside to Book. The reason why we were getting why we shot a high percentage was because we got the ball inside. Book was doing a great job of finding guys. Even though they were doubling and triple teeming him all night, he did a great job of finding guys for open shots and we were able to knock shots down. Second half, I mean, like Andre said earlier, shots weren’t falling. I think as a team we had to find other ways to be more effective when our offensive shots aren’t falling.
Q. For both guys, what were they doing to break your press? Seemed like you guys I think had nine turnovers and two steals and they got a lot of easy runout baskets and were able to do a lot on the fast break.
Andre Young: They just did a good job of kicking it in. They leaked out a lot. A guy would contest a three point shot and he would just keep going and they would get the rebound and throw it over our defense. I mean, they really just tried to spread us out also and try and get fast break points. And easy points off of that.
Demontez Stitt: Basically the same thing. They did a good job of getting the ball in quick. I think there were certain points in the game where we weren’t alert. And they got some easy run outs. I mean but I think for the most part our turnovers in the first half led to a lot of lay ups for them. Against a team like Missouri who thrives on that, I think you have to cut that out.
THE MODERATOR: Any other questions for Clemson?
Q. Can you guys talk about how frustrated Trevor might have been there? Even Keith from Missouri said that he thought he might have been fouling him and they just he wasn’t getting the calls. Was he frustrated out there?
Andre Young: I feel like he was frustrated. I think mostly all of us were. We knew that he was getting fouled. This whole past week we’ve been talking about different ways to deal with frustration, because that’s been a big downfall for us this year, cost us some games. That was our main focus. So I mean we really can’t use that as an excuse. We’ve been talking about it the whole past week.
We definitely felt like Book wasn’t getting enough calls down there. They were banging on him. But we had to play through it.
Q. Were you guys loose out there? Missouri’s Coach said he felt his guys were having fun, played with that great intensity. Were you guys tight? Loose enough? What was the mindset?
Demontez Stitt: I believe we were loose enough. Like Andre said earlier, we knew what to expect. We knew they were going to come out and there was going to be a high intensity game. I mean some things didn’t go our way. But the frustration sort of crept in and we sort of let it get to us. The refs weren’t making calls. Guys got frustrated, including myself.
I mean, like Andre said, we talked about it the whole week. We were expecting it we were loose. I think during points in the game we were having more fun than other points of the game. For the most part, I think we were loose and playing hard.
THE MODERATOR: Andre, Demontez, thanks for your time. We’ll open up for questions, questions for Coach Purnell at this time.
Q. It was a four point game there in the final minutes, and I’m sorry in the final minute and they got the lay up. Did you want a foul in that situation or did you want to play straight up?
Oliver Purnell: Yeah, we were going to give ourselves a half court to get a steal and then we were going to foul right there. I think that Demontez was on the kid and it just kind of separated and he came back to try to take the foul but it was too late. He wanted to take a foul there.
Q. Just about the first half, second half difference, for all the turnovers and all that stuff that happened in the first half, you were still dead even with them and you were shooting over 50%. Then you end up shooting, you know, much less than that in the second half. What were you trying to do in the second half and what didn’t happen that you were looking to happen?
Oliver Purnell: First of all, in the first half, I thought we played well offensively. The turnovers kept us from having a lead. In fact, we had I don’t know eight, nine, maybe ten point lead there at one time. And the turnovers led to their run to get it even. We went back and forth going into the half. I didn’t really feel good at the half that we were tied, because we shot the ball so well and we struggled a little bit of late offensively and our guys really were knocking it out and Trevor was making great passes. So, I thought we were exploiting them offensively. But the turnovers at the top that you can’t defend were the problem in the first half.
In the second half, we just wanted to do more of the same offensively. And what we wanted to do was take care of the basketball. And well, we took care of the basketball much better. And we got the ball where we wanted, and we just didn’t we didn’t finish inside.
As I mentioned, I would have liked to have seen our bigs on the line a lot more in the second half, because we were getting the ball where we wanted to get it. I didn’t and I didn’t think they were coming as much and as quickly, which has a tendency to happen as you get into the game.
Q. Anderson said he felt his team was playing pretty loose and having fun out there. He felt that was the difference along with intensity. What did you think the mindset was for your guys?
Oliver Purnell: I thought our guys were fine. I thought they were loose, I thought that as they spoke, I felt they dealt with frustration in a positive way. It’s a game of runs. We turned it over a few times in the first half, but they hung in there.
Second half we didn’t finish some inside, and I just thought they hung in there. I would not say we didn’t get frustrated. I wouldn’t say they didn’t. But I thought we dealt with it well, to the point we were putting ourselves in a position coming down the stretch we were right there.
Q. Coach Anderson said that his guys, they tasted a lot of success in the tournament last year and he felt that that is helping them. Is the tournament all about matchups or is there something to teams that have had success feeding off of that in future years?
Oliver Purnell: Well, yes and no. You watch the games yesterday, yes and no. I’m sure there’s something, some teams having success in the tournament. And then you turn around and look at some teams yesterday that win in upset manner that either weren’t in the tournament and didn’t have success a year ago. You can’t kind of put it in a box like that.
As I watched the tournament over the years, it’s a great tournament because you have upsets and you have all kinds of things happening. Sometimes matchups make for an exciting game. I didn’t watch the game on television that we just played, but I would imagine it was probably a pretty exciting game, runs, here and there, up and down, that kind of thing. So, it’s just hard to say that premise is true, because all you have to do is watch two or three day’s of games and they’re all over the place.
Q. Three straight losses in tournament games. Do you feel like there will be a perception in your program you can’t win in March? Do you feel there’s a mental block in your team when it comes to these first round games?
Oliver Purnell: Yeah, I think there will probably be a perception among some people. I certainly don’t subscribe to that. Next year we’ll have a different team. This team was different from last year’s team. And that’s the approach I think that we have to take. I thought our guys were determined to win today. I thought they prepared well, they played hard. I wouldn’t say we played extremely well because we turned the ball over too much in the first half. We kind of fixed that in the second half and we couldn’t finish at the rim which is where we want to get it. I wouldn’t say we played extremely well, but we competed, we were ready, they wanted it and it just didn’t happen for us. Hopefully we can get back next year. It’s extremely difficult to get here out of the ACC, and have a different outcome.
Q. How many minutes did you want to play Young and Stitt together tonight?
Oliver Purnell: How many minutes? I didn’t have a set amount of minutes. I knew I wanted to play them a bunch together because of the pressure and that kind of thing. So I didn’t have a set amount of minutes. Demontez, of course, got into foul trouble in the first half. Probably would have liked to have played him a little more in the first half.
Q. Did that take any aggressiveness out of Stitt when he picked up that third at the end of the first half?
Oliver Purnell: Yes, because he’s over there with me. It has a tendency to take it out of you. Again, once we had that run and had that lead, you would like to have had him available and not in foul trouble more, obviously. But you have to make those adjustments. You have to make those adjustments when you get a guy in foul trouble.
We were hoping to nurse him into the half with two and he picks up a third. And then we had he and Potter with three going into the second half, which is not ideal.
THE MODERATOR: Coach, thanks.
Oliver Purnell: Hope to see you next year.
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