How do we know James Madison isn’t feeling any pressure heading into the Indiana game? When a press conference gets on the topic of Hot Pockets, things can’t be too serious.
That’s the best part about being a 16 seed in the NCAA Tournament. You have no reason to be nervous.
Today’s group interview was with JMU players AJ Davis, Devon Moore, Rayshawn Goins and Andre Nation.
Here’s the full thing, and here are some of the highlights:
Do you think Indiana knows anything about you and how that can maybe play to your advantage if they don’t?
Goins: “I hope not. We can use that to our advantage. We want them to come out and try to take us lightly. That way, we can put our foot on the pedal and keep it down to the whole game.”
Nation: “I hope they do, actually. I hope they do. I hope they know all about us, man, so that way they know they’ve got to play their best.
We wouldn’t want to play an Indiana team that’s going to come out and think they can run all over us. We want them at their best. Like I said yesterday, in order to be the best, you’ve got to beat the best.”
Rayshawn Goins on game planning for Cody Zeller:
Goins: “We just execute our game plan, man. I’m going to try to do my work earlier, to limit those touches. If he [doesn't] have the ball, he can’t score.”
Devon Moore on Indiana freshman point guard Yogi Ferrell:
“Yogi’s a great guard. He’s young, but at the same time, he’s playing in a great league, and he’s played against some great guards. He’s definitely been at this stage before because he’s playing at Indiana, but me, I’m just trying to do the best I can against him [to] try to contain him and see where I can go from there.”
Devon Moore on his initial impressions of Andre Nation:
“You don’t get a freshman that wants to play defense. Usually you’ve got a freshman that just wants to come in and score. He actually wants to stick the best player, and he actually wants to dive on the floor for loose balls or take a charge or get a block. It’s just amazing to see his will at a young age.”
On the journey of the season, beginning with the UCLA game to playing another historic program (Indiana):
Nation: “We battled through adversity the whole year. I don’t think we really were in sync at the beginning of the year…Now, we spend a lot of time off the court with each other.
Now our chemistry is unbelievable, man. We consider everybody on our team as brothers. We’re like one big family…This is a great opportunity for us. I wouldn’t want to do it with anybody else.”
Goins: “For me, man, as a senior, it’s amazing. Words can’t explain the journey, man. Like I said, we had our bumps, at the beginning of our season. We started off, and everybody counts us off.
That’s the great thing about March. It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish. So we’re peaking at the right time.”
Moore: “Like Andre said, we consider each other brothers, and just to see one another grow and see one another have each other’s back, that’s amazing to me, man. Everything that we’ve been through is finally starting to come to a peak, and it’s a great feeling because we’re going out definitely with a bang.”
Davis: “We continue to fight and push each other day in and day out on and off the court. It’s just humbling to be here.”
Do you remember what you guys were doing on the first day of the NCAA Tournament last year?
Davis: I mean, after losing the CAA last year, I really didn’t watch anything that had to do with basketball because my season was over. But at the end, it humbled me and got me back to work this year.”
Moore: “I probably was in Columbus. I definitely wasn’t watching basketball though. I was probably either working out or enjoying my time with my family. But I definitely wasn’t watching basketball.”
Goins: “Me myself, I had a torn labrum. So I was probably somewhere in the training room, getting some treatment, doing some rehab. I’m sure I wasn’t watch basketball because it was like a sickening feeling knowing I was hurt and I wasn’t able to help my team last year. I was probably getting some treatment.”
Nation: “I was probably laying on the couch watching basketball. I was probably laying on the couch, eating a Hot Pocket or something. I always watch March Madness, man. It’s just a good time for basketball. I’m pretty sure I was watching basketball at that time.”
What kind of Hot Pocket?
Nation: “The pepperoni one, man. Pepperoni and cheese, all day, every day.”
On five years as a collegiate basketball player:
Goins: ”For me, it’s a blessing to be a Division I basketball player because I went the hard route. I went to junior college, and a lot of people don’t make it out of junior college. A lot of people come out of high school, and you see friends that you played against and friends that you played against go Division I right away. And when you go to junior college, a lot of people count you out.
So I just kind of had to grind it out. It’s a blessing to be at James Madison University, experiencing it with our seniors and young group of guys, man. Words can’t describe it. It’s unbelievable.”
On Devon’s consistent support for Brady, and why he’s always been in his coach’s corner:
“First and foremost, he gave me an opportunity to play here. So I’m definitely thankful for that. And on top of that, just he’s a great coach, great guy. I would never want anything bad to happen to somebody like that.
You’re going to have hard years, and you’re going to have a bad season, but at the same time, just showing everything he’s doing, how he always has faith in me is unbelievable. So I don’t have [any] choice [but] to be in his corner.”
And Coach Brady’s interview:
What’s the confidence level of this team heading into the matchup against a top seed?
“Strangely, it’s probably pretty high. I think it’s not unrealistic. We recognize, the kids recognize that we’re playing a great basketball team. We met for a while this morning and showed some tape, and I can honestly tell you, it’s the first time that every guy in the room was locked on the tape and not distracted for any length of time.
So it’s a focused team. It is a confident team, but as I’ve said to this team, we’re going to have to play great, and we’re going to have to hope that they don’t play great. That’s the nature of the game at this level when it’s a 16 playing a one. Indiana is a great basketball team.
But our kids, as I think you just noticed, they’re having fun, which really what this is all about, the kids having fun, and hopefully we’ll play our best basketball.”
Chances to become the first 16 seed to beat a one seed?
“Here’s what I just said to our team: We have to be in the game with ten minutes to play, and we’re not going to win the game in the first four minutes no matter how well we play our shoot.
You’re not going to win — you’re not going to beat Indiana or any other one seed in the first five or ten minutes. You’re not going to win it in the first 20 minutes, but you’ve got put yourself in position to be in the game late.
So we’re going to have to play really well. We’re going to have to play really smart, and we’re going to have to do some things we haven’t done all season long to answer their strengths. And I think they’ve got remarkable strengths.”
Cody Zeller is seven-foot tall. That might present a problem (with playing with five guards). What do you foresee with that?
“I don’t think we’ll play five guards. The fact of the matter is we do some of that in our own league because we’ll play against teams with a 4-man that’s 6’6″, 6’7″. That’s not the case tomorrow.
We have younger guys that we play at 4 and 5, and they will play. I don’t know how much they’ll play. It’s important that we’re able to keep Ray in the game, either at 4 or 5, but we will not be five guards. If we do, that’s not a good sign for our team.”
On Moore’s courageous fight this season, on and off the court:
“You know, in coaching, when you’re in this business long enough where you have players, whether as an assistant coach like I was for years, or a head coach, you’re going to have kids lose people who are close to them. You really hope it’s not going to happen while they’re in college.
It’s one of the most difficult things for a young kid to lose a parent or a sibling. He’s lost a lot of people close to him. I feel great that his mother is still here and doing really well, but really this is a testament to his fortitude and really the love that’s in his family.
He’s got a remarkable family, and they support each other. They’re with him all the time. They talk on a daily basis. That’s the reason why he’s become such a terrific young person.”
On what it means to have Devon be a part of this success:
“For Devon to go through the ups and downs and to persevere, I say to our team all the time there’s a lot of life lessons in college athletics, and it’s not always on the court. You have to go through adversity to achieve some things. This team has found it out.
Even this year we’ve had a lot of guys injured. We just lost Gene Swindle to a knee injury. Devon has gone through as much as any player I’ve ever been [around] that’s been able to still play at the end of his career.
I’ve lost — I’ve been around players that have been lost for their career, and Devon has had a lot of injuries. But it’s been great for Devon and I probably feel happiest for him that he’s been able to have such a significant impact on our program and to teach the young guys what it means to compete every day.”
I know that was a lot, but I thought each quote was worthwhile.
The best moments from the Indiana presser, brought to you by Mark Selig (in more ways than one).
It’s apparent that whenever George Mason needs a clutch shot, the Patriots have two pretty good late-game options. At this point, we know Sherrod Wright is going to take most of the Patriots’ big shots — and that didn’t change on Tuesday.
If Wright isn’t open, or proves to be unreliable, sophomore forward Erik Copes has proven to be a good second option for the late-game heroics.
For the second time in less than a month, Copes hit to go-ahead bucket (tipping in Wright’s missed jumper) to give the Patriots the lead in the final second of the game. Copes was uber-efficient, shooting 7-of-8 from the field, and was one of five Patriots in double figures in the 78-77 CBI win over College of Charleston.
George Mason went down to Charleston, South Carolina, and threw the first punch at their future rivals, the College of Charleston Cougars.
The Patriots’ hot shooting from the CAA semifinal carried over into the first half, as they made 18 of their 27 shots in the first half, and scored 44 points. Wright and Copes combined to shoot 11-of-11 from the field in the first half.
Inevitably, their shooting trailed off in the second half. Nonetheless, their 29-8 advantage in points off turnovers, a result of the successfully pressing the Cougars, was too much for C of C to overcome. The Cougars managed to stay close because they got to the foul line more than twice as often as George Mason.
Wright scored a team-high 20 points for Mason. C of C’s Anthony Stitt scored a game-high 21 points.
George Mason will host the Houston Cougars, who defeated the Texas Longhorns 73-72, on Monday.
It’s crazy to think that College of Charleston’s next game will be as a member of the CAA.
Joel Smith missed that game with an injury. It’s believed that he played the CAA Tournament with a severe injury (information courtesy of Mr. Ron Bertovich), which makes his CAA Tournament performances even more impressive.
But without their best player, it was to be expected that the Huskies would struggle in their NIT game against Alabama. The Crimson Tide raced to a 24-7 lead, and thwarted a Northeastern rally en route to a 62-43 win.
We know basketball is a game of runs. After falling behind by 17 in the first few minutes of the game, Northeastern managed to pull within five before halftime. Jon Lee scored the first two buckets of the second half. Northeastern’s 20-4 run made it a one-point game.
At that point, Northeastern was sloppy, and frigidly cold. The Huskies next 15 possessions ended in missed shots and turnovers. During that period, Alabama made a 22-0 run to open a commanding 50-27 lead.
Jon Lee tied for the game-high with 13 points, and Tuscaloosa native Reggie Spencer scored 10 points in his homecoming. Unfortunately, that was not enough to save the Huskies from their 33.3% shooting on the night.