March 16, 2013
THE MODERATOR: We're joined by UNLV. Coach, your remarks on today's game.
COACH RICE: Well, first, congratulations to New Mexico and their program. They've got a terrific team. They played extremely well today.
Our program, our team, is bitterly disappointed with the result. We felt like we put ourselves in a great position. Certainly last night was a terrific win for us.
We just didn't play as well as we've played in the tournament thus far. It wasn't for a lack of trying on the part of these two student athletes plus the other guys.
New Mexico is a tough, physical team, and they deserve a lot of credit.
Proud of the progress we've made. One thing about our team this year is we've had our share of setbacks without question. We've always bounced back and practiced and played extremely well in the next game after a loss. The great thing for us is that we have an opportunity to do that on Thursday or Friday, to bounce back and be part of something that's extremely special.
Disappointed for our whole program, for our three seniors. Fans were terrific. It was a great college environment. Lobo fans, Runnin' Rebel fans. We just didn't perform as well as we've been playing.
Again, many things that I'm proud of was on a day that we didn't play our best, even when we got down 9 with three plus to go, we cut it to 3 and got ourselves back in the mix. So we never quit playing. We'll never quit playing until the final buzzer sounds, whenever that is.
That's one thing about this team. As we grow, as we get better, that's a huge part for us. But, again, very disappointed. We look forward to the fact that we have an opportunity to keep playing.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for the student athletes.
Q. What is it that makes New Mexico so good defensively?
BRYCE DEJEAN JONES: We were just missing a lot of shots we usually make. Did a good job on defense. Like I say, shots we usually make just weren't falling tonight.
Q. Anthony, can you talk about your emotions as a senior getting to the championship, not getting it done tonight.
Anthony Marshall: Mixed emotions. Very disappointing in a loss, me knowing that this is the last time I'll have an opportunity like this.
At the same time you got to just kind of let it go and look forward to next week. We got another tournament we got to try to get wins in. Like I said, mixed emotions right now.
Q. Back to back physical games for you, how gassed were you at the end?
Anthony Marshall: In championships, you can't use being tired as an excuse. No matter how tired you are, you got to go out there and battle. Kind of seen that tonight, so...
Q. Anthony, Bennett got you going with the first 11 points, then they kind of shut him down a little bit from that. Was it just a struggle trying to find who was going to take over those reins?
Anthony Marshall: To beat a team like this, it's going to take a collective effort. Not one man is going to beat a team like that. Might be spurts where somebody has a high hand. Just try to figure out who has the high hand. It was Anthony first, then Katin, then Bryce. It takes a collective effort.
Shots we normally make just weren't going down. Katin had some open looks towards the end and they just didn't go down. We have a lot of faith in him, we know he can make those shots. Same with Bryce and the rest of the team.
Q. After what happened in the NCAA tournament last year, how important is it going to be for you to get that win and get out of the first round?
Anthony Marshall: Very important. That's the main goal, just to win games in the tournaments. These last three years haven't been too kind for us. For me and my fellow seniors, this is the last go around for us. After this, there's nothing else. We are going to go out and give our all.
THE MODERATOR: We'll continue with questions for Coach Rice.
Q. Can you talk about how difficult it is to chase those guys.
COACH RICE: They're good at it. The thing is they're probably the best screening team in our league. They're very, very good at that. It's a group that's been doing it for a number of years now. It's a group that came in together, Snell and Kendall Williams and Kirk was a freshman that year, Bairstow. It's a group of core guys that have won a lot of games.
It's a credit to Coach Alford, a credit to how well they do things, how well they screen.
I think the first thing that stands out when you look at New Mexico, just their toughness. I mean, it's just a tough minded group.
Q. Anthony Bennett got off to such a great start. Did they do something, made an adjustment to slow him down? Did you feel like you were really struggling offensively to get some rhythm in the second half?
COACH RICE: We were. The thing that was most disappointing was that our ball movement was not nearly as good as it's been during the period that we won eight out of nine games and won the first two games in this tournament.
Anthony did get us off to a terrific start. New Mexico did a good job of shading to him and gave other guys opportunities. We just for whatever reason were not able to take advantage of those opportunities.
But they're a good defensive team. We just didn't perform well on the offensive end. As much as Snell got away from us a little bit, it's hard to win a game against a team like New Mexico when we score 56 points. That's not a good formula of success for us. We're a higher scoring team than that obviously.
Q. What seeding you get in the tournament is out of your control. How important is it now to get out of that first round after what happened last year?
COACH RICE: I think that's important anytime you play in any tournament. We're excited about the progress we've made. The only game that matters is our next game, that's the biggest game of the season. That is one that will be on Thursday or Friday. So certainly that's a goal for us.
I think it will certainly show tremendous progress. We can talk about tremendous progress we've made in this program, taking over a program that was in great shape from Coach Kruger. We're moving in the right direction. I feel very, very good about the future of our program.
Q. All season long Steve Alford has talked about his team being difficult to prepare for for other teams. Can you talk about how hard it is to game plan against a UNM team that can have five starters on any given night?
COACH RICE: It's another reason they've won 29 basketball games and they have an opportunity to get a great seed in the NCAA tournament and win a number of games in the NCAA tournament.
The guy who really got away from us today is an NBA player. There's no doubt that Tony Snell is going to play in that league for a long time with the things he's able to do.
I think the thing is we prepare and we watch New Mexico. It's a group that's been together, the chemistry they have on their team, a core of guys that have played together their freshmen year, went to the NIT, got to the NCAA last year. I think they're a team that will win a number of games or more. They've grown, matured and developed.
So they don't care who gets the shot. They don't care who gets the basket. That's just part of growing up and maturing as a program.
Q. We know that Mike Moser missed that time with the elbow injury. Is he back all the way 100%?
COACH RICE: No, his leadership has been good for us throughout the process. But I've said many times that he's still not 100%. There's still plays that he can't make, finishing around the basket, some rebounds that he typically gets that are out of his area that he can't quite get to.
But he's still a big part of our program and what we're able to do. He adds another dimension to get a defensive rebound and push the ball in transition and play.
It's remarkable how hard he's worked, when you think about the injury on December 9th, wasn't sure he was going to play again this year. To come back and contribute and help us win 25 games, help us get to the NCAA tournament, it's a big deal and he's been a big part of that.
Q. Looked like Snell had a rough first half, then got going in the second half. Did anything change on defense?
COACH RICE: Bottom line is that New Mexico's very good offensively. They have very, very good players. They're well coached. But the other side of the coin is that we made way too many defensive mistakes that we didn't make the first two times we played New Mexico. We had a game plan going in. It's short prep. But some of the mistakes we made led to their baskets.
Again, they still had to be able to make the baskets. They're terrific on the offensive end. The thing you know about New Mexico is that they're so good, if you make a mistake, if you go under a screen, try to go over the top of one of their down screens, if you make a mistake, they're going to make you pay. That's what good teams do.
Every time we made a mistake in the second half, they made us pay. That, quite frankly, was the difference in the game.
Q. Quintrell's effort off the bench was substantial. Could you talk about him and Khem Birch, maybe why he wasn't used as much?
COACH RICE: Quintrell has been terrific the last two nights, certainly with the size and strength of Colton Iverson last night, size and strength of Alex Kirk and Cameron Bairstow. We got to get Khem going again. He's been an important part of what we've done this season. Defensive Player of the Year in the league.
There's no doubt he'll bounce back, have some great practice days, be ready for the games on either Thursday or Friday, whatever day we play. He's important to what we do.
Q. Seems like they buy in defensively. You probably didn't share the ball as well. Talk about how they seem to buy in. Even when they didn't win, they only gave up in the 50s. What makes them so good defensively?
COACH RICE: You're talking about New Mexico?
COACH RICE: I think, again, they're well coached. They've got mature players. They've got good players. They've been together as a core group for three years.
I think the scary thing for everyone in our league is most of them are back next year. They've added good recruits. They'll continue to be one of the best teams in our league.
It's part of developing a program, leadership and all those things. It's very, very impressive.
Q. You won rebounding by 12, have 14 offensive rebounds, but five second chance points. Is that tied into the ball movement thing?
COACH RICE: Again, our ball movement was not as good as it's been during this course of games when we've won eight out of nine and played our best basketball of the year. That will be something we'll watch a lot of film on Monday, meet tomorrow, figure out what the schedule is for this week, then come back and watch film on Monday and get back to playing more efficient, better offense.
Again, I'm extremely proud of the progress we've made. I'm extremely proud of the fact that on a day that we didn't play our best, even at the end, we got a stop and had a chance to tie the game late in the game. We kept playing till the end.
Q. The overall thoughts on the NCAA tournament, for New Mexico and this whole league, what are your thoughts on the seeding and how many teams get in?
COACH RICE: I think the first thing is there's no doubt that Boise State deserves to be in the NCAA tournament. We should have five teams in the NCAA tournament.
You take a look at a league that's been number 1, number 2 all season long in conference RPI, the success a number of our programs have had in out of conference games. Great coaches in this league, tremendous talent, seniors that are important to what all the teams do.
As a league, coaches, we understand we need to have post season success. We should have good seeds and have an opportunity to go on and have good success in the tournament. It's a wide open NCAA tournament this year. You look at conference tournaments the last few years, so many teams as 1, 2, 3 seeds going down. This is a tournament more than ever that's wide open for success.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much, coach.
COACH RICE: Thanks.
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