2007 NCAA Men's Basketball Post Game Quotes
March 23, 2007
MODERATOR: UNLV of the Mountain West conference is with us. I'll ask Coach Lon Kruger to start off with a statement of the game and then we'll go to questions with the student athletes.
COACH KRUGER: Congratulations to Oregon. I thought they obviously controlled and dictated for much of the 40 minutes. I thought the quickness out front got us on our heels early and didn't play like we felt like we've been playing. But, again, credit Oregon for that. Obviously got it going a little bit there late, but a little bit too little too late. But Oregon is a really good basketball team and we're really proud of our guys, very proud of our guys. Disappointed for it to come to an end, but it happens for all but one and they have every reason to hold their heads up and feel good about all they accomplished.
Q. Can you guys talk about the little run you made there towards the end? You never quit. Never backed down. It's kind of been the mantra of this team the entire season. Can you talk about that?
Kevin Kruger: Yes, we're not going to quit. This is Sweet 16, with a chance to go to the Elite 8. Even when we were down 18 we didn't feel we were out of it. We were in the hole. Marcus came off the bench. Corey Brewer came off the bench and Joe just gave us a spark. They got the whole thing started. And that put confidence back into everybody and allowed us to even make a run. We just fell about a minute short.
Michael Umeh: Yes, we just like he said, Marcus and Corey and Curtis, they came in, made a run at the end. Gave us some confidence going back into the game. And Coach Kruger and the coaching staff they just had a great strategy at the end. All we had to do was come down and knock down shots.
Q. Kevin, Porter, their little guard who just went off tonight, what tricks or techniques or style does he have that allows him to get open for that brief moment for those shots?
Kevin Kruger: You probably have to ask him, but from just being out there, there's his quickness. He can stop on a dime. Not many people can do that. And it allows him to get about a second, couple feet of space, which is what he needs to get off the shot and he's perfected it.
Q. Michael, on a night where the Ducks had it working you didn't have all your shots going in, you still put the Rebels staple on that game. You never gave up.
Michael Umeh: Definitely all year we found ways to win a lot of ball games. We always work together doing a good job. We still feel like we had a chance at the end there. And we just had to keep fighting.
Q. Did you feel like tonight maybe not quite like you guys had been playing the last nine, ten, eleven games, that kind of stretch, feel like a little more out of synch maybe than you have been the last few? Either one of you two.
Michael Umeh: We definitely feel like we didn't dictate and establish the identity that we have had all year. That he just came out, made some runs, knocked down some shots, got us on our heels a little bit. We definitely feel like we didn't play Runnin' Rebels basketball.
Q. Of all the memories you'll take from this year, will you look back and be proud of the fact that you put this program back on a national scene where people actually know the program now and what you were able to do, and I guess what your hope is that it continues on in this realm?
Kevin Kruger: Well, I'll look back after this year and just remember going to practices at the beginning of the year when nobody thought we could do anything. We were picked sixth in the conference. I think preseason poll ranked everybody had us in the high 100s, and I remember going to practice and seeing everybody with that determination to prove people wrong. And in the locker room every day of every game and of every practice and seeing that fire and that drive through everybody. And I think that allowed our practices to be extremely competitive. Everyone had to worry about their spot being taken. That drives everybody to do better. And I'll remember looking back after the wins and seeing everybody with their hands in the middle just kind of accomplishing it as a team. And I don't think I mean, I feel like I helped but no more than anyone else. It was just a great team. That's really all I can say about it.
Q. Michael, can you put in perspective the four seasons you spent at UNLV and the changes that took place this year?
Michael Umeh: You know, it's been a ride. When I first got here, a lot of things were we didn't have as much confidence going in with the new guys and everything. I was a freshman. I really didn't understand too much. But I've just seen the program grow as a whole, from academic standpoint to how guys get along off the court. And how we practice. It's just been great. It hurts a lot right now but when I think about things like that, you know, it's wonderful to see how from beginning to end how the program has changed since I've got here.
Q. Kevin, can you reflect being coached by your dad?
Kevin Kruger: It's been great. I guess I can use this opportunity to thank the NCAA for passing that rule and allowing me to use it. Spent the last year of my college career with my family and a great group of guys.
Q. Earlier in the year Texas Tech, you went out of your way in the game to say how difficult that year was for you. They weren't your guys. Now you have your guys and you've put the program back on the map, can you reflect on that and where you think this program is compared to where it was when you first got there?
COACH KRUGER: I like the guys we had in our first year. We had a long way to go in terms of doing some things off the court, in the classroom. They're good guys. They were good guys. We just needed to establish a foundation and build from there. And that first year's group made progress. It didn't get to the point where we qualified for the NCAA tournament or anything like that. We did make progress. The big step was the second year. I thought that group really learned a lot from the guys in the first year. They really came a lot closer together. They worked a lot harder. Played a lot better basketball. And I thought that gave us a little bit of an opportunity to maybe do what this group did this year. And again I think every year the starting point has been better. Certainly this group's going to challenge that next year. And I think that's one of the things that this group will leave on the program is the young guys really benefited from the experience of being in the tournament. They know how badly it feels to hurt at this point in time and that's healthy. It's very healthy, as much as it hurts it's a necessary part of it. And I know they'll get back to work this spring with a different attitude, having gone through all the good times as well as this disappointing final loss. But again that's how you make progress. And this group's left an awfully good mark on the program.
Q. Can you just reflect on how you revived the program and really in a way Las Vegas with the way the community has come together for the Rebels?
COACH KRUGER: I've said many times the greatest satisfaction, bar none, is seeing so many people share in the program and share in the success and share in the progress and embrace it. And again these guys have done such a good job in terms of handling themselves academically, off the court, around town. They're involved in a ton of things with young kids. And people appreciate that. And then they lay it out there every night on the court. And won a bunch of them. Yes, that feels great. And again a lot of people, you know, caused that to happen. It wasn't just me by any means. I've said many times the five seniors had the biggest impact but administratively on the campus the crowds at the Thomas and Mack, this wouldn't have happened if all those things didn't take place. And that makes it a lot of fun.
Q. Coach, was it especially difficult to get Wendell White going tonight and also can you reflect on his career, his two years and what you see next for him?
COACH KRUGER: Wendell had a terrific career. Again, obviously, as a junior coming off an injury, didn't quite have the year he wanted to. But this year just did a terrific job. Tonight credit Oregon, because seemed like we had several that just didn't quite get into synch and play with the confidence and finish opportunities that we might have finished earlier. But that's the nature of this point in time. Gotta play much better than we did tonight to advance. And, again, credit Oregon for that in part but Wendell had just a great senior year.
Q. Talk about how tough it was to contain Porter tonight. Seemed like anything you did defensively didn't work against him?
COACH KRUGER: Porter had a great night, obviously. When a guy is that quick and makes 3s at that rate, it's a tough combination. You get up and he's I thought his quickness and then Brooks' quickness got us on our heels and defensively we never did have the type of defensive possessions that we kind of hung our hat on for a while. And quickness will do that to you sometimes.
Quickness and making shots like they did. But they took control of it I thought pretty early in terms of setting the tone with regard to doing what they wanted to do.