March 18, 2008
Box Score |
UMass Head Coach Travis Ford's Opening Statement
I thought we could score 80 points in this game. We were more concerned about our offense than our defense in the last few days and that is something new for us. But offensively, when you look at Stephen F. Austin they are the second ranked defense in America. They aren't giving up a lot of points. But I felt good about scoring some points because we were at home. I thought that would help us a little bit and I was hoping that our defense would create some offense tonight and that is exactly what happened. We got out on the break just enough times that it was in our favor, the pace of the game tonight was definitely more in our favor than it was in theirs and that is hard to do. When a slow-down team and a fast-breaking up-tempo team get together it is usually in the slow-down team's favor. Our defense tonight was incredible and allowed us to score 80 points.
Coach Ford on the difference between the first and second half
In the first half I loved our intensity and I thought we came out very business-like which is good because I didn't know exactly where we were at mentally. But I thought we let a lot of opportunities get by because we lost some loose balls, we crashed the glass but it would go right over our head and they would catch it and lay it in. A lot of things didn't go our way in the first half and I was upset with our rebounding. To come back in the second half all of that changed. We got the loose balls, they only had two offensive rebounds, and we made some three-pointers. That's what we needed to see, our guys needed to focus because there has been a lot going through their minds lately and it was good to see that.
Coach Ford on not making the NCAA tournament
We have had a lot of talks off the court about our team. ESPN pulled up brackets about why we should have been in the tournament even after this game, but I am not upset at all, I am not bitter. Do I think we are one of the top 65 teams in the country? That is a fact. The NCAA tournament is not about having the top-65 teams. This tournament is a great tournament because there are great teams in it because everybody cant make it to the NCAA tournament. They do a terrific job with this tournament and it would be selfish of us not to come out and do our best. I think we did everything we could to get into the tournament. It wasn't about the games we lost; we won the games we should have won. It was more about what our opponents did, than about us. We are excited to be a part of this tournament.
Coach Ford on getting the ball inside and being physical
We worked a lot yesterday on getting the ball inside because that is not what we usually do. You look at Dante Milligan and what he did and it is obvious that he did a terrific game. But our guards also did a wonderful job getting him the ball because that isn't usually their mindset and for them to get him the ball says a lot about them and that will get lost in those 24 points. One thing I talked about yesterday is we have some advantages on Stephen F. Austin and that is that we are athletic, bigger and stronger. All of those advantages can be negated if you don't play hard. I think we played hard enough that the physicality of our team paid off for us.
Stephen F. Austin Coach Danny Kaspar Opening Statement
First of all I want to congratulate Massachusetts; I think that they have a fine team. Basically, we didn't play up to our potential; we have a better defensive team than that. The referees let us play and we didn't adapt to some of the pushing and shoving going on inside. I am not going to say that they called a bad game, whatever game they call, we have to adapt. Our big men in particular, we had [Dante] Milligan with 24 points when he is averaging eight points a game. We didn't talk about him very much in our scouting report, we talked more about Forbes, Brower, Lowe and Harris. We didn't speak much about Milligan and he ended up with nine rebounds and 24 points. We didn't do a very good job in the middle, playing a little dead.
I don't know if you know this but we had to take two different planes here one took about two-thirds of the team and the other took the rest and we got in about 9 o'clock last night. Held practice from 10- 11:30. It has been a rough trip and UMass made it even rougher on us. Chris Lowe is the key to that team even though he only had seven points he did so many great things as far as setting other people up that we were unable to stop him from causing havoc. And obviously Gary Forbes is a very fine player. I think UMass has a great team and that says something about the Atlantic 10 Conference. If I had to compare Oklahoma and Massachusetts, I would have to say that Massachusetts' top five is at least as good as Oklahoma's top five.
Gary Forbes on overcoming the frustrations about not making the NCAA tournament
I was definitely proud of the way that they guys mental focus was totally immersed in trying to win this game. Everyone was disappointed, but we still have a chance to do something special in this program and we are still fighting to prove that we are one of the best teams in this country.
Forbes on coming back strong in the second half after SFA closed in the first three minutes
Coach Ford was irate that they came back and our intensity wasn't there in the first three or four minutes in the second half and he just said `We don't want a repeat of what happened last time,' and we were trying to get the bad taste out of our mouth from that Charlotte game. We just played with something to prove. Dante played with an edge and came out focused and confident every time he touched the ball.
Dante Milligan on scoring his career-high 24 points and getting the ball inside
Usually when I get involved early in the game I continue to play hard throughout the course of the game and am pretty persistent. Coach Ford kept going to me and calling plays for me to keep me involved. The guards and everybody else found me in the right place and I just jumped up and shot it.
He has been making an emphasis on getting the ball inside more towards the end of the season and sometimes the guys go to me, sometimes they don't. But I think as a whole we have to do whatever we can to win games.