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UNLV vs. Colorado State (MW Semifinals): Postgame Quotes

March 16, 2013

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UNLV Player & Coach Quotes:

THE MODERATOR: We're joined by UNLV. Coach, some comments on tonight's game.

COACH RICE: Absolutely. Great bringing these three guys. But as I walked down the tunnel, it would be more appropriate if we brought the whole team because that's what this whole thing was about today.

From day one this season, we've talked about two things, there's a lot of adjustments, improvement we've had to make this whole year. But two words we talked about in the locker room, wrote on the board: Tough and together. To beat a team that's as good and as experienced as Colorado State is we have to be tough and we have to be together.

We had significant foul trouble to manage. I told guys all season long we need everybody. Tonight was the epitome of needing everybody. Certainly these three guys were terrific in terms of what they were able to accomplish in terms of stats.

We had the foul trouble to manage, they made a run on us, which they do. That's a terrific team. Five senior starters. I was asked before the game, Do you want Dorian Green to play? I said, Absolutely, we want that team to be at full strength. Because that's a terrific team at full strength.

The energy in the building was fantastic. It was a March-type game. I could not be prouder of these three guys, plus the other guys in our team.

We know it's a quick turnaround for tomorrow. Great respect for New Mexico, for Steve Alford, what that program has accomplished. But we're excited for the opportunity and understand the challenge it will be.

Our assist numbers were not what they normally are, but that's a credit to Colorado State and how aggressive they were. We hung in there and on a night when, for instance, Bryce Dejean-Jones didn't play quite as well as he had been playing, Savon Goodman steps in and does a great job. Khem Birch is in foul trouble, Anthony Bennett is in a little bit of foul trouble, Quintrell Thomas and Carlos Lopez-Sosa come off the bench and give us significant great minutes. Justin Hawkins always provides a great spark.

We talked about that afterwards. It's just a collaborative effort, a team effort. That gives us an opportunity to keep playing. I couldn't be prouder of these three guys and the rest of our team.

THE MODERATOR: We'll take questions for the student-athletes.

Q. Bennett, for a player as highly recruited as you, can you talk about your decision to play in this conference?

Anthony Bennett: Mountain West is a tough conference, as you can see. Every game's a battle. Coming from Finley, just being down the street, I came here every now and then. So I got a chance to meet the players. I thought everybody was cool.

I thought this was a great decision for me.

Q. Katin, can you talk about your up-and-down year, talk about getting a career high.

Katin Reinhardt:<.b> This is a credit to my teammates and the coaching staff. I struggled last game, but they just said, Pick your head up, you're going to play great next game. Just having the faith in everybody on this team, encouraging me every game, every practice, to go out there and make shots. It's just a credit to the coaches and the players.

Q. Anthony Marshall, talk about the environment tonight, the environment tomorrow. New Mexico fans will be here. UNLV fans will be here.

Anthony Marshall: It's going to be a hostile environment. As a basketball player, these are the type of basketball games you dream about playing in. It's for the championship. It's going to be loud, crazy.

They're pretty much mature, freshmen, they come from a winning program. I think they're going to handle theirselves pretty well.

Q. You like this kind of physical banging, grinding game?

Anthony Marshall: I think so. For us to be the team we want to be, you got to go through games like this. These are the type of games that pay dividends deep in March, early April.

Q. Bennett, you obviously had some success in the first half. Then they put Hornung on you. What did he do differently in the second half?

Anthony Bennett: I think he was just being tough, trying to get me off my game.

But, you know, I didn't really need the ball because my teammates were on fire. Every time I got the ball, I tried to look out for them. I didn't try to force anything.

Q. You got on a hot streak hitting the threes. The three-point shot propelled you to a 16-3 run.

Katin Reinhardt:<.b> I think the three-point shot fell for us tonight. We were just making open shots. Anytime I had an open look, I shot it. The coaches and the players continued to have faith in me with that. Anthony had a lot of open shots, too.

Coach Rice talks about when your feet are set, shoot the ball. We made those shots and it was good.

THE MODERATOR: We'll continue with questions for Coach Rice.

Q. What was going through your mind when your bigs were getting into foul trouble early on?

COACH RICE: First thing is I'm glad that Quintrell and Carlos stayed when I got the job and I'm glad that Khem and Anthony Bennett decided to come here. We needed our depth.

It was a difficult situation to manage that foul trouble. It's a hard deal. I had three or four guys in the first half with two fouls.

But our depth won out in the end. I couldn't be prouder of the effort that our guys came in off the bench and did.

Q. It looked like you were doing almost like a double boxing out Hornung to keep him from affecting you. Is that part of the reason Colton Iverson did so much?

COACH RICE: We had a very hard time with their ball screens. We were having a difficult time getting over the ball screen. So our big was having to help. When our big helped and the shot went up, we couldn't get Colton blocked out.

That's as good a post player as there is in the country, as we play tomorrow. Certainly we play against two more terrific low-post players tomorrow in Bairstow and Kirk. Be careful what you wish for because those two guys are terrific as well.

That's such a tough-minded, hard-nosed team. A credit to Tim Miles for recruiting those guys and to Larry Eustachy for the job he's done this year. That's a hard team to play against.

Q. The second half, Iverson only had four shots. In the first half he seemed to be hurting you guys. What were you doing differently in the second half?

COACH RICE: Some of the other guys got away from us a little bit. It's such an unselfish team that they have, other guys got opportunities. Again, a lot of that credit goes to Khem Birch, who we started.

He gave us great minutes to start the half. Then Quintrell Thomas went in and battled, played 20 minutes. Even the three minutes that Carlos Lopez-Sosa gave us. Quintrell was begging for a break. I didn't want to put Khem back in at that point with four fouls. It was certainly big man by committee. They did a great job on Colton Iverson.

Having said that, if 24 and 16 is a good job, that's probably debatable. He's a fantastic player.

Q. Going down the line on your roster, five stars, four stars, kids that could be playing in bigger programs. They're here in the Mountain West. Talk about the talent and athleticism on your team.

COACH RICE: Well, I think the first thing, from day one, despite what the expectations may have been, I know people were excited about our team, I tried to remind people we only have five players on our roster that played minutes for us last year. Talented guys who came in, but it was going to take some time.

The thing I've been proudest of is a lot of our guys that are new have come off the bench for us, yet they've been patient, they understand their time is coming. When the opportunity presents itself today, Savon Goodman steps up, Daquan has been good when we put him in the game. It's a team effort.

I think it's epitomized by Anthony Bennett's comment. He's as good a player as there is in the country. You ask him a question. You might think that was rehearsed. That's Anthony Bennett. Before Anthony sits down when he comes out of the game, he makes sure he gives a high five to everybody on the bench, the support staff, the coaching staff. You have a chance to be good because of his team orientation.

Q. Can you talk about the significance, what this means for the program to make tomorrow's game.

COACH RICE: Well, it's one of our goals every year, among many, is to compete for a conference tournament title. To get to a Saturday, you have to win Thursday and Friday. We talked today about this being step two, we're not going to talk about step three. It's a monumental challenge to play against a team with the quality of Colorado State.

For us to manage the foul trouble, for our bench to be as good as it was, it's a huge deal. Having said that, we know how good that team is we're playing.

As hard as Air Force was, as hard as yesterday was, we know it just gets harder every game.

Q. A few days ago Larry said playing in front of a home crowd can almost be a disadvantage in the tournament because of the pressure. Do you feel that way?

COACH RICE: Coach Eustachy and I talked about that briefly before the game. Just that it's absolutely without question the best city in America to have the tournament, certainly the PAC-12, the WCC, the WAC have all recognized it's trendy to have a tournament in Las Vegas. At the same time there's a lot of pressure for our guys to perform on this floor.

I think the crowd was terrific. Tomorrow there's access for both teams. Lobos have traveled, and the Runnin' Rebel fans will be excited as well. Exciting for us to be part of a great tournament in Las Vegas.

Q. You have about a little over 12 hours to try and get this team prepared for probably the biggest game of the season up to this point. What do you tell the team?

COACH RICE: Well, I would agree with you. One of the things we talk about with our team, the biggest game of the season is our next game. In this particular case, our next game is New Mexico in the Mountain West Conference tournament final. We understand the magnitude of the game.

Just the fact that we're now 33 games into this, tomorrow will be our 34th game. A lot of what happens tomorrow will be instinct. So often we've seen conference tournament finals, both teams are tired, having trouble making shots. Let's hope it's not a 32-31 game, not halftime but final.

Again, we know their team. It will be the sixth time we played New Mexico in the last two seasons. We know what they do, they know what we do. It's a matter of executing.

Again, it's those two words, I'm sure Coach Alford will tell his kids the same thing, it's tough and together. If we stay tough and together, we got a chance, but we know how good they are.

Q. You talked about the big men for New Mexico. Your thoughts on how your guards match up with our guards.

COACH RICE: You have the conference Player of the Year in Kendall Williams. He's fantastic. Tony Snell is as good a shooting guard as there is in our league. Greenwood stabilizes everything. I think it's two pretty even teams.

It went right down to the wire in the Pit and we couldn't get a defensive rebound, and New Mexico made every play down the stretch to their credit. Here, similar situation where they had an opportunity to win and we made a few more plays than they did.

Probably appropriate that the two of our teams are playing. I just think it's as even a game. Then you throw in three games in four days, fatigue and all those things. It comes down to being tough and being together. Probably come down to a last-second shot or who gets a stop.

I have all the respect in the world for the Lobos, their fans and the program that Steve has built.

Q. Anthony Bennett, Alex Kirk is going to be a matchup? Khem Birch will be the matchup? What do you anticipate?

COACH RICE: I think we're going to put everybody on Alex Kirk. He's fantastic. We're going to go up and meet, figure that whole deal out. But I don't think just one guy can guard Alex Kirk. What makes him so good is he's so good scoring in the low post, yet if you leave him, he'll make three-point shots. He made a couple huge threes against us in the Pit. It's going to be a team deal. That's what we are, is team defense.

Some great individual matchups in this game. Certainly you guys have got something to write about. Getting them stopped is going to be a hard deal.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you, coach.

COACH RICE: Thank you.

Colorado State Player & Coach Quotes:

THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Colorado State. Coach, some remarks on tonight's game.

COACH EUSTACHY: I think there were times when we were out-determined and we reverted back to some old ways.

Give UNLV a ton of credit. That's as well as I've seen them play. They had players step up and make plays when it counted. Got to digest it and move on.

THE MODERATOR: Questions for the student-athletes.

Q. Colton, you were so dominant in the first few minutes of the game. Were they doing anything different in the second half to close you out?

COLTON IVERSON: No. I don't think they changed their game plan at all. We knew what they were going to do, what they were capable of. Like Coach said, we just got out-worked today, plain and simple.

Q. Wes, they didn't hit any three-pointers in the second half, seven in the first. Did you do anything to change that defensively?

WES EIKMEIER: Not really schematically. I don't know, we just got to them because of how they hurt us in the first half. I mean, I don't know, we were just a little more conscious.

Like Colton said, we got out-determined. They got more loose balls than we did. That was it.

Q. Wes, they started hitting all the threes. A 16-3 run. How difficult was that out on the floor? It seemed like they were in a good rhythm, crowd gets going.

WES EIKMEIER: Yeah, I mean, part of that was we just weren't aggressive enough, dictating the pace more, setting the tone defensively.

Coach said give them credit, they played well. I think at times we beat ourselves, reverted back to some habits that aren't characteristic of our team. When you do that, you end up in a situation where you're fighting for your life at the end instead of being up.

Q. Wes, what did you think of having Dorian back? Obviously he wasn't 100%. What did you think of his play?

WES EIKMEIER: I mean, showed a lot of guts. Obviously he's not even close to 100%. But he's been the heart and soul of our team ever since he stepped on campus. I think he wishes more than anybody that he would be 100%. It probably kills him more than the rest of us that he's not out there. But, you know, it is what it is, so...

Q. What are your thoughts going into Sunday? Have you thought about what type of seed you might deserve at all?

WES EIKMEIER: No. I mean, we don't really look a whole lot into that. Obviously a lot of people talk to us about it.

Whoever they give us, probably going to be a really good team, we're going to have to put out a better foot than we did today. I think Coach is going to get us ready, get us playing Colorado State basketball, be at our best. I think we can be very dangerous down the stretch here.

Q. Colton, you and Coach both talked about you being out-determined a little bit. Any particular reason that might happen in this game.

COLTON IVERSON: I mean, they just came out and out-worked us. They were grabbing all the loose balls, especially in the first half. I don't know, we didn't come out with a lot of energy, I felt. We let the crowd get into it. They made a little run. That's unfortunate 'cause we fell short of our goals definitely this weekend.

THE MODERATOR: We'll continue with questions for Coach Eustachy.

Q. I know you fell short of your goals this weekend. At the same time on Sunday you are going to get your name called for the NCAA tournament. The second time for you as a coach, which is an accomplishment. Can you reflect on what this means for you as a coach.

COACH EUSTACHY: Well, this is the toughest coaching situation I've stepped into. First year. It's extremely satisfying. I think expectations were false, a little bit too high. I think we even exceeded those.

We've got a lot of basketball left. Our guys were a little bit out of gas tonight. Again, UNLV is a special team when they're playing like that. But we're excited about Sunday obviously. Like Wes said, we're not worried about who we're playing. It's always about us, not the opponent.

Q. It looked like they were pretty determined to keep Pierce off the boards, boxing him from both sides at times. Is that why maybe he wasn't quite as effective on the boards?

COACH EUSTACHY: I didn't see that. I saw, like Wes said, we did change at halftime. We decided to stay on Bennett on the pick'n rolls and not let him roll. That's what we were supposed to do.

We were very uncharacteristic tonight as far as taking it from the timeouts to the game. Pierce was very uncharacteristic. One offensive rebound.

Give UNLV all the credit, absolutely. But like one of the players said, we reverted back to what we've been reaching as opposed to taking the charge. Our rotations were not great. Again, it's who you play and where you play 'em. It was a very tough, difficult situation.

Q. Could you talk about what you got from Dorian tonight. How close do you think he can get to 100% by the time the NCAA tournament starts?

COACH EUSTACHY: Two things. I don't know when I've had an effort, let alone a performance, like Colton Iverson. For his size, his effort - I'd have to think long and hard when I've had somebody do that. That was the bright side tonight. I thought Dorian was fine. It started to bother him at the end and we took him out.

But, you know, he exploded on that one cut and laid it up. He has no choice but to be fine. He's out of time. I thought he showed a lot of guts wanting to play tonight. So I think we'll have no excuses like that. I thought that was very, very encouraging what I saw from Dorian tonight.

THE MODERATOR: Coach, thank you for your time.




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