Villanova/Temple Post-Game Quotes
Dec. 29, 2008
Villanova head coach Jay Wright...
Opening statement: This was a much tougher game than what the score indicated. Temple is tough. They have great presence defensively and that really gave us troubles in the first half. They were almost like a UConn team with their length and athleticism. They keep in front of you and contest every shot and in the first half we struggled to score. Their defense was great and our defense kept us in it in the first half until we could figure it out at least a little bit in the second half. Thank goodness Corey Fisher got it going. That broke the ice for us. Temple is good and this was a good win. For them to come in here and play like that in this environment is a credit to them having a really good team this year.
On winning a Big Five championship: It is an honor for us and we take great pride in it. What the Big Five games really do is prepare us for the Big East. At the end of the season we can talk more about winning a Big Five championship but right now those four games - on the road at La Salle and Penn, a tough Saint Joseph's team here when they had us and we found a way to win, and a long, athletic Temple team - that gets us ready for the Big East. Marquette is a very different team from these guys. They were more like Connecticut or Syracuse just in their length but these Big Five games really prepare us. It is a great value to our program.
On the team being prepared to start Big East play: I do think this team is better prepared. We were such a young team last year and we had a lot of fool's gold early in the season. We won some games just outscoring people and you are not going to do that in the Big East. Game like tonight and like the Saint Joseph's game where we couldn't score but found a way to gut it out in the second half are more like a Big East game. We are better prepared than last year but the Big East is better than last year to so we'll see. Marquette on the road is a great way to start Big East play. We'll know where we are. A road game against a team like that is going to tell you where you are.
On encouraging Corey Fisher to take shots: I tell him that all the time. I didn't tell him this time but I always tell him. He has had some good practices. He's a great kid and very coachable. I may be a little biased with that but he has had some great practices and what he did tonight is what we need him to do. We need him to be aggressive offensively. Sometimes he defers too much to the older guys and has too much respect. That's not a bad thing. We really needed him tonight. What he was able to do was create his own shots by getting in the lane. He got open threes in the second half because he was getting in the lane before that. Nobody else on our team really could break them down but Corey sparked us big time.
On the team being able to create shots by getting into the lane: That is very important for us. That's one thing that this group lacks compared to some of the other guards we have had. It isn't that they lack the ability to create shots but they are better jump shooters. We take some jumpers like we did in the first half and get into relying on jump shots. We had good looks but when you aren't making those shots you have to be able to create good shots for your teammates. Corey Fisher is great at that but Reggie Redding can do that and Scottie can do it. We did a better job of doing that as a team in the second half.
On Temple and Dionte Christmas: I think they are really close to being really good. We went through our schedule and theirs and if we had played their schedule we could have maybe been 6-4 or something like that. They have had an incredible schedule on the road. They are real close to having those other guys be able to score. Tonight having Sergio Olmos get in foul trouble was big. He was starting to hurt us and we didn't really have an answer. I think he is going to get a little bit better. They are using Dionte Christmas but those other guys are getting more confidence and are getting better playing off him.
On the style of Big Five games: You guys all know this about the Big Five games. We go into every one of these games thinking that anything can happen. Our friends in the Big East can look at scores and see us being down two, three points at halftime to teams like Saint Joseph's and Temple but we expect that. We are going to talk to our team a lot after the season about what this senior class has accomplished. This class went 15-1 in Big Five games and I think no other team has done that since Penn did it a while back. We are going talk about that a lot when the season is over because that it is big time. We know that these games are. They aren't pretty. We got some Big Five wins this year that weren't pretty. It takes a lot of guts to win games like that and we are very proud of that.
Senior forward Dante Cunningham...
On Villanova and starting Big East play: Like coach said we are a lot more mature this season. All of the seniors returning, myself included, have a whole year of leadership behind us. We have to be ready to do in Big East games what we do in practice every day which is to grind it out day in and day out.
On the number of Big East teams ranked in the top 25: It excites me to see that number of teams in the top 25. That shows the type of conference we are up against and that we have to work hard every day and grind out games the way we grind out every practice.
On winning the Big Five title: We go into every game taking it one game at a time regardless of who is next. At the end of the year we can sit down and say that we won a Big Five championship here and whatever else we did for all four years but day-to-day we have to keep our focus and worry about the next game.
On being more of a scorer this year: Honestly that has come from just working consistently to shoot jump shots and understand the offense a lot more. I have more confidence in myself with the ball and my teammates have given me the confidence to keep shooting the ball no matter what happens.
Sophomore guard Corey Fisher...
On his comfort level shooting the ball in tonight's game: I am comfortable every game. Sometimes you don't make shots and sometimes you are going to make them but that isn't what wins ballgames. You have to play defense to win. Tonight I got into it and this game gave me more confidence to go out and keep playing hard.
On having a high-scoring game entering Big East play: It was really good to be scoring a lot tonight. My teammates kept giving me more confidence to be aggressive and shoot but the most important thing is that we got the win. You have to give Temple credit. They are a tough team and the Big Five teams were all tough. We just have to be prepared now to play Marquette.
On being a scoring option: We know that every team we play against is going to try to shut Scottie Reynolds down and target Dante Cunningham. Those guys are our captains but if that happens the other guys have to be able to make shots. Scottie kept talking to me tonight and telling me to be aggressive. I have learned a lot from him and look up to him so that gives me confidence and then being able to score in tonight's game gives my teammates confidence in me.
Temple head coach Fran Dunphy...
On the second half: I thought we had some decent looks and I'll give you one example. We were down three points and ran an out of bounds play where Dionte Christmas had a wide open look at the top of the key that he normally buries. They ran it back down real quick and it was one of the three-pointers that Scottie Reynolds made. We had a series of decent looks at the basket. Their defense picked up in the second half but we had a series of good looks that normally if Dionte is shooting the ball and Ryan Brooks is shooting the ball, that's a good offense for us. We didn't make shots and a lot of that was because Villanova's defense was very good.
On Villanova: They are a good basketball team. Jay Wright does a great job coaching them. Tonight I though our defense was pretty good with the exception of letting Corey Fisher go in the second half like he did. He was terrific in the second half. Every time he was open he buried it and he had a couple of great drives to the basket, one of them getting a three-point play for them. That is the sign of a good team. Maybe Scottie Reynolds isn't knocking it out and Dante Cunningham wasn't doing much in the second half but someone like Fisher steps up. That's a credit to a great team and to Jay for the way they play. They did what they needed to do to find a way to win the game.
On Corey Fisher in the second half: I thought he had a couple of really difficult shots that are hard to make and he made them. He just decided he was going to do something during the course of the game and he did it, with much of that coming in the second half. We didn't lose guys very much. We paid attention to detail and a had a decent game plan but Corey disrupted that in the second half.
On guarding Villanova: What makes them difficult to play is that Reynolds and Fisher are kind of a two-headed monster. You have to pick your poison with them a little bit. Fisher went off in that second half and he deserves a lot of credit. He is a talented guy and knows how to play. We did a very good job in the first half on both of them and on Reynolds throughout but we just let Fisher hurt is a little bit but he did that because he is such a talented player.
On Temple: I think we had a chance to play well in the Tennessee game but you don't know what is going to happen a little bit down the line. Things are still going to be determined about our team, beginning with how Juan Fernandez will affect us and what our rotations will be with him. There are still unknowns about our group. They are a work in progress that we will have to figure out over the next week before we have two very difficult Mid-American Conference games to play and that get into our league at the end of that week.
On the addition of Juan Fernandez: We have seen him in a couple practices now and he has the ability to pick a lot up and understand our game. He is very good. He's a good player and I just wanted to make sure we give him enough time to get into the flow of what we are trying to do. I really like what we have seen so far and I think he can help us be a good basketball team. My mindset going into the game tonight was that there might be a time to throw him into the game and see what would happen. At some point I said to myself that we wouldn't do that to him. I wanted to wait and give him a full week of practice so he knows everything we are trying to. He's going to be a good player for us.
On Michael Eric: I thought Michael did a great job. He made one poor pass in the second half but otherwise was right where he needed to be. He scored a couple of baskets and one of them was a jump shot that is one of those `oh-no' jobs that gets in the basket. If we get that kind of effort from him we can go to him off the bench. He definitely helps us.
On Sergio Olmos getting into foul trouble: I don't think the game had anything to do with that. He has to play better and get into a rhythm of deciding how good a player he is going to be. That's something he has battled all along and we have talked about it a lot. Hopefully he comes into his own. There was a play in the second half where Semaj Inge made a really nice play in the lane and made a bounce pass and he didn't come up with the ball. That is the kind of play where if he is alert and ready to go he catches it and goes and scores. He got into foul trouble as well and that hurt us.
On Semaj Inge: One of the plays that he made you just can't make. He got himself into foul trouble and I want him to do well as much as he wants it for himself but he made a couple of mistakes that he can't make if we are going to be a good team. He got the second foul and that was foolish because he had to sit and that disrupted the rhythm we were trying to build and ruined his own rhythm. It was the same thing with Lavoy Allen because of foul trouble. We will have to figure that out. We want to see Semaj consistently play every time out like the player he was at Penn State. He has to understand what he can and can't do.
On the defense on him in the second half: It was very tough. Their defense picked up in the second half. They paid more attention to detail in the second half on the defensive end with their matchups on me and on everybody. I think Jay Wright did a great job preparing them for our team and this game. Villanova is a great program and they are a great team. Those guys did a great job in the second half. Corey Fisher came out blazing in the second half and put the team on his back. He had a great second half.
On his scoring in the first half: In the first half those guys did a good job on me but I did a good job too. I am proud of how my teammates played. Those guys did a good job getting me the ball in the right spots. In the second half I had open shots and was getting good looks that weren't falling. You are going to have nights like that and tonight it was a credit to Villanova. They did a great job on the defensive end and made it tough for me. There were some shots that I did hit but the open ones didn't fall.
On his shooting: That was tough, especially now looking at the numbers and seeing I was 4-of-19. I know I can shoot better than that and to lose the game is kind of tough. I just have to get back in the gym and prepare for the next game. We can't keep our heads down. We have to get ready for our next opponent and do a great job on them.
On holding leads against teams: As a team we have to know that we can't relax. If we get up 10 points we have to try to get up 20, if we get up 20 we have to try to get up 30. We sometimes tend to slow down teams and as a result end up losing the lead like we have sometimes in the past. Those guys did a great job in the second half but today we were up in the first half and let up a little bit. Villanova did a great job staying together and plugging away and they got the win because of that.