Jan. 6, 2008
Villanova head coach Jay Wright...
Opening statement: Everybody saw a great college basketball game. We feel lucky just to be in these games and our guys are awesome. Pitt is great too. I want to give them a lot of credit for coming into this environment and playing with such great heart. This is a tough place to play. I wasn't sure our team was ready for a game like this. I knew they would at some point. I know we are going to be good. But you have to do it. You have to prove it. I think the guys learned a lot from the DePaul game and they will learn a lot from this game, too. It doesn't mean that everything is solved and we are a great team. We are young and we have to learn how to handle this. But I am really proud. This was great for our team.
On Villanova being ready for a game of this magnitude: You have to play every possession and keep playing when you get down by a few points. I thought we lost a little bit of our poise at DePaul. In a game like this everybody has to step up, especially guys you don't expect. Today it wasn't just Malcolm but also Dwayne Anderson was big and Dante makes the two winning free throws even though for the game he was 1-of-4 from the field. All those things you need in a game like this. That is what veterans do for you. Let's remember that Pitt has two veterans not in there because this is a game where Levance Fields would step up big time. As many times as Malcolm hit those shots, that was a big jump ball that Dante got us at the end to keep possession and then make the free throws. Scottie Reynolds struggled all day but he made big plays at the end. That what your veterans do. I wasn't sure if our veterans were ready and I wasn't sure if our young guys were ready. They all proved that they were.
On winning despite having some of its starters struggle during the game: You never know what is going to happen with this team. All teams go through things like that and you have to recover from that. We did that today with Malcolm coming up big and Reggie giving us great minutes, plus Antonio Pena off the bench.
On the keys to the game: First of all Pitt doesn't have Levance Fields and that's big for them. Second is that we are getting better defensively. I really think that. Part of the problem at DePaul was our fault as a staff because we were trying to fix weaknesses instead of giving our guys the confidence to just go out and play. Today we just played our game and the guys really responded to that.
On the team's depth: If you get a lead then you can get into your depth a little more but at the same time if you get behind you need that depth to pick the team up and score. We can go both ways with the depth on our team.
On Pitt: We have always said that about Pitt, that they are the kind of team that comes out and plays and doesn't make excuses about the guys that are hurt or anything else. That's true of Jaime Dixon's teams and it was true of Ben Howland's teams before that. That is why we have a lot of respect for them and why we have these great battles against them. They don't play pretty but they are in every game no matter the score, up or down. They play solid and they play tough and they are a true Big East team. We really respect them.
On Malcolm Grant: He is incredible. As a freshman he is already the heart and soul of our team. I have tried to diminish that a little bit but you have to just let him go. He has a heart the size of the world and a personality and energy that make him special. He has energized the team since he got here and he has done it in two big games now. We will need to use him a lot more.
On winning the game: This is a great win but now we go to Cincinnati and that is exactly like this. Every game is like this in the Big East and we as a team understand that. At the end of the year we will look back at this game and say it was a great win. It was, but this could have been anybody in the Big East and that would be great too.
Junior forward Dante Cunningham...
On the game: As a team we need to believe we are ready to out and play hard and play together for 40 minutes. We have a lot to work on but in a game like this we came together a lot more. We need to keep learning and keep going harder every game until the end of the season. We have to be able to come out and be ready at the beginning. We can't come out flat and let a team jump on us. We have to go hard right at the start.
On making the game-winning free throws: We do that in practice every day. We have a drill called "Win the Game" so today I just went out there and knocked them down. At practice we shoot free throws and talk about game situations. From that preparation it felt normal to shoot those free throws at the end of the game. It's our home court and it didn't seem like a big thing because I had made the same two free throws yesterday in practice.
On DeJuan Blair of Pittsburgh: He is a big, physical kid. He moved well and he is also very strong.
Pitt head coach Jaime Dixon...
Obviously this was a game that could have gone either way. We are disappointed at how it finished out. We had opportunities and we were right there. Dante Cunningham knocked down those free throws. He's a good player and a good kid and he made the play at the end. We played hard. We outrebounded them and we did the things we wanted to do on the defensive end. They beat us at the free throw line and our turnovers stick out. We weren't strong enough with the ball. There were a lot of tips and deflections out of that and those were keys. We had to get possessions and get shots up and too many times did not get the opportunities to take a shot. That and the free throw disparity were the difference. We talked about keeping them off the line but that wasn't the case.