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UNLV vs. New Mexico Post-Game Quotes

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March 9, 2006

Coach Lon Kruger: Well, really happy for those guys, proud of these guys. I thought New Mexico for the majority of the ball game really controlled the pace and controlled and did the things they wanted to do, and yet our guys kept hanging there and were kind of fluster and frustrated for the first 30 minutes. When we got turned a little bit late, the guys really dug down deep, and I couldn't be happier for them. They've battled all year, and not made any excuses. I thought they really battled down the stretch tonight.

Question: Louis, can you talk a little bit, coach mentioned being frustrated as a team. How do you go about getting out of that and getting things started in the right direction?

Louis Amundson: We talked about at half time. Just had to come together as a team and focus to pick up the intensity on defense especially. And, you know, we created some turnovers. And I think we changed the tempo of the game in the second half.

Question: Louis, how much did it help you in changing that tempo when they started airing it out a little bit and trying to work on the clock? Did that allow you guys a little more momentum?

Louis Amundson: Yes, I think so. It kind of slowed them down a little bit and it allowed us to focus on what we needed to get stops. I think that helped us late in the game.

Question: And, Ricky, when they started missing free throws, is that the kind of thing not only hurts them on the scoreboard but gives you guys some extra inspiration?

Ricky Morgan: Yes, first and foremost I'd like to thank God because we needed him this game because we were scrambling everywhere. Like you said, those missed free throws gave us a little more inspiration to go down and make plays on them. Our coaches believe in us, and they didn't look down one minute. They just kept telling us, Keep digging down and keep fighting. They're the role models, and we follow them. When we do that, we come out with good victories.



Question: Louis, can you talk about your career at UNLV, all the ups and downs you've had, some coaches changes, some injuries, and what it would mean to finish out in your hometown?

Louis Amundson: It would be great. This is something I've been trying to do my whole career, get to the tournament. We have to focus every game. But it's good to get this first one. We got a tougher challenge tomorrow. We have to focus in on that. But, you know, my career at UNLV has been, like you said, just been some coaching changes, but it's been a positive experience for me for sure.

Question: Ricky, just your thoughts when you're stepping up to the line there with the 16 seconds left?

Ricky Morgan: Shooting over the front. With coach, we work on free throws every day in practice. Every time we get a little break, we're down there splitting it up, red team and black team, shooting free throws. They do a great job of making sure we get the reps in every day. Fortunately I was able to get it over the front and knock them home.

Question: Ricky, talk a little bit about what you guys expected of New Mexico coming out when they had the possession at the very end of the game? Did you think it would be to Hart, did you think it would be Walters who might be taking the shot?

Ricky Morgan: You never know. Coach McKay is a great coach. He does a great job of throwing different wrinkles out there. Our whole mindset is guard and stay poised and solid. Coach always talks to us about staying solid. And, you know, we didn't know what he was going to draw up. I was kind of surprised when Hart did take the shot, and fortunately he missed it and we were able to scramble around and come up with that victory.

Question: Louis, you have said in the past that you enjoyed playing San Diego State, you' very much like playing them. Can you talk about tomorrow night?

Louis Amundson: It's a big challenge for us. They are a good ball club, they have a lot of good players, lot of talent. We're going to play our hardest, and I think we match up well with them. It's going to be a good game for sure.

Question: Ricky, how long did that time seem to be lasting at the end of the game after Hart missed the three pointer?

Ricky Morgan: I was a nervous wreck. I think Chiotti might have got a rebound and might have gotten a good look up at getting the basket. They are a great team. They hustle so hard. Danridge made some big shots down the stretch. I wasn't happy or satisfied until I seen all zeros on that clock.

Question: Coach, did you expect to go with Ricky as much as you did tonight or was it because you had the hot hand early?

Coach Lon Kruger: Well, that combined with the fact we don't have any other point guards. When Ricky is down, Curtis, who has never played point, he played a few minutes behind him, but with Jason out, Ricky is a gamer. Really proud of Ricky's fight. And he got a little fatigued a couple times. And we still got a TV timeout or two when he was really tired, and a short break a time or two otherwise. Just there was no one behind him, so Rick's out there.

Question: Coach, can you talk a little bit about fortitude, where players find that when they're down in the tough situation that allows them to come back and have the strong run that the Rebels had today?

Coach Lon Kruger: Well, it's hard to explain. I think it's a combination of certainly the players have to dig down, then they need to get a missed free throw, to get an offense board, to get an easy bucket off the penetration. They need something to kind of reinforce that desire to reach down a little deeper. And we seemed to be getting just enough of that reinforcement, click down through that last three and a half, fours minutes especially. But, nevertheless, it has to start with the players. They have to reach down there individually. And they had good expression, they had good focus. You know, their comments to each other were very positive and reinforcing when we were down 10 or 11. We just needed something to kind of kindle it and get it going. And fortunately we got a couple easy put backs and a couple of breaks in the line on the other end.

Question: Coach, can you just comment on the contributions of Wendell? I believe it's two games he has given you a big spark.

Coach Lon Kruger: Wendell has. He's grounding into shape a bit. He was off 7or 8 months with an injury spring, summer, fall. And now he's starting to play more like he's capable of playing. And he's giving us a big lift, especially rebounding the basketball, and then finishing some opportunities offensively. He got a big bucket there late. A little dribble in the lane. Fake finish at three or four feet. I think he's starting to round in pretty good basketball shape.

Question: Can you address the matchup tomorrow?

Coach Lon Kruger: San Diego State, they just got a lot of weapons. Obviously, they are the league champion, and the very deserving league champions. We have to play better. We have to challenge them harder. We have to make them earn their buckets. We have to work a little harder for their buckets. That being said, they still have a lot of guys that can still score. Obviously very sound and solid defensively under Coach Fisher. They beat us twice, so we have to do some things differently. They don't have to. They have to do what they've done all year, so we have to make some adjustments.

Question: What did you anticipate New Mexico was going to try to do in that final possession?

Coach Lon Kruger: Well, they've got, you know, two or three guys that are very capable. And, you know, Hart with the hot hand, no surprise at all to see him run a little dribble, get him a pretty good look. And Walter in that situation is always a very good option. We talked about being solid, switching ball screens. Most importantly, we talked about rebounding the missed shot. And he had a loose ball right there in the front of the net. It could have been picked up by anyone. Fortunately it stayed loose. But we were most concerned about the second shot, which is obviously where most games are won in that type of situation.

New Mexico
Coach Ritchie McKay: I thought our guys fought hard and I thought we played well enough to win. Unfortunately, we weren't the victor tonight. THE MODERATOR: For the next few minutes let's direct questions to the student athletes.

Question: Mark and Jeff both, how similar was this game when you lost these guys two years ago, and they didn't get their first lead until late in the game?

Mark Walters: I don't even remember that game two years ago, to tell you the truth, so I couldn't help you there.

Question: Jeff, do you remember?

Jeff Hart: It was similar. I knew we had a lead and they came back little by little, kind of similar to what happened tonight, I guess.

Question: Both guys, Mark and Jeff, how frustrating is it to go back and look at the stats from the free throw line?

Jeff Hart: I mean, that's something that's I think hurt us in a few games late this year. It would have been nice to knock a few down the stretch. Give them credit. They were hitting their free throws. So it would have been nice to have those points.

Question: Mark, could you talk about the disappointment? It looked like you were off and running, you had a 13 point lead and it slipped away?

Mark Walters: It's hard. A few defensive possessions, we just weren't in the right spots. They got to easy buckets. Offensive end we were getting some good luck. Most of the time we weren't knocking them down. UNLV did a good job defensively. On me, they were making it hard for me to get the ball let alone get some shots up. But I tip my hat to them. It's hard when Chiotti is not in there. He was in foul trouble most of the game. So when he's not there, the inside, all that attention that he usually draws, we're missing that. You know, you can't go back and play that game, so.

Question: Jeff, talk about the last play. It seemed like it was a design play. I don't know if it was or not. You had a good look and you certainly had a hot hand.

Jeff Hart: Yeah, I think they were up one. We drew it there , a bunch of options coming out of it: getting to the basket, shooting a the 3, looking for Mark. Had a few options. I ended up with it. Had a pretty good look. Missed it.

Question: Do you guys kind of wish you held on longer?

Jeff Hart: Yeah, I mean, we could have waited a little longer. I'm glad I took the shot. And I wouldn't want it any other way.

Question: Possession before that I think is what he's saying?

Jeff Hart: I don't remember the possession before that.

Question: Mark, do you remember that?

Mark Walters: I don't remember that play, man.

Question: Coach, could you answer that one I just asked? Do you wish they had hung on just a little longer?

Coach Ritchie McKay: UNLV had a possession left on the clock anyway, so whether they got it with 36 seconds or whatever, our team always wants to be the aggressor. We put a little spread offense to try and take advantage of our dribble penetration. But even that wasn't to stall; it was to try and give guys a rest in the possession and try and attack towards the end of it. And we've talked all week about being the aggressor, so I didn't mind that shot at all. You can't play with the sense of passivity and win at this level.

Question: That being said, do you think you guys got a little too passive in parts of the second half when the lead was double digits?

Coach Ritchie McKay: No, we were completely taken out of our offense because of UNLV's pressure and the way they sped us up. Even when we did break it, and we had good things behind it, we got in the bonus. We had six fouls early and never got to the seventh or at least if a four minute stretch. But we were on the attack. We didn't I don't remember any possessions going down to the end of the shot clock where we were too passive. I mean, there could be but I haven't reviewed the tape.

Question: Could you just talk about how Jeff Hart played today?

Coach Ritchie McKay: Jeff's been great the last three games. He's really done a great job of helping our offense.

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