DAVID PADGETT: Well, we were hoping third time was a charm against these guys, but it obviously wasn’t the case. There’s a reason why they’re No. 1 in the country, and it was evident tonight. I said it all year long, I think their offense is very underrated. As good as their defense is, I think their offense is very underrated, and they shot the ball well tonight. They exploited us in a couple mismatch opportunities, and it seems like every time we got a little momentum, we just ball would drop out of our hands, they’d get it laid in, or they just would hit a tough shot at the end of the shot clock, those kinds of things. But that’s just the way the game goes sometimes. Really proud of our effort, and we’re looking forward to next week.
Q. Over that seven, eight minute stretch to close the game, Dave, how did that keep you guys off the scoring board?
DAVID PADGETT: Well, we missed some. You know, we didn’t turn the ball over today. We took pretty good care of the ball. We missed some looks, and we did a decent job of getting to the foul line there for a little bit, but it really was just our defense tonight. They shot 53 percent for the game. We did a decent job scoring and attacking, shot the ball fairly well, but just got to give them credit. They made a lot of big plays down the stretch.
Q. For Ray, you were the team’s leading rebounder tonight but Virginia out-rebounded the team. Do you notice the way that they sort of tip it out to their guards a lot of the time? Does that cause problems for you and your teammates down low at all?
RAY SPALDING: Yes, sir, definitely. I think we prepared for that as a team. Coach let us know what we needed to do to box those guys out, but I mean, it is pretty difficult boxing out a guy like that. Kind of frustrating, as well, when you’re trying to get position and then the guy reaches over and tips it out. It’s pretty good technique.
Q. Coach Padgett, do you think the resume for the season is good enough to get into the NCAA Tournament?
DAVID PADGETT: Without a doubt. Unfortunately that’s not my decision, but if you look at our overall body of work, we haven’t done anything wrong. I think that’s getting lost a lot in the shuffle this year is people used to put a lot of emphasis and a lot of weight on these, quote-unquote, bad losses. Well, we don’t have any of those. We’ve played a top-20 schedule, we finished .500 in the toughest league in the country which, without a doubt, it’s the toughest league in the country, and we got 20 wins. We haven’t done anything wrong.
And people will say, well, maybe you guys haven’t done as much right as other people and all that, but not having done something wrong is doing something right. We’ve played a very, very difficult schedule, under very difficult circumstances this year, and my guys have 120 percent earned an opportunity to have their name called on Sunday.
Like I said, it’s not up to us, but they without a doubt earned it. And you can’t possibly sit here and tell me that we’re not one of the best 68 teams in the country. Anybody who’s seen us play, anybody who watched our game against the No. 1 team in the country a week ago today knows that we are one of the best 68 teams in the country.
Q. Ray, can you talk about the preparation this tournament might have given you, assuming you do get into the NCAA Tournament next week?
RAY SPALDING: I mean, it prepared us mentally and physically, being able to spend time with my teammates and really sitting down and talking about how we prepare for different teams. Kind of some of our younger guys, they’re not used to playing games back to back, coming from AAU and different stuff like that, but this has definitely prepared us for that and also prepared this team so we can get more close together.
Q. David, did you say anything or did Tony say anything to you after the game? Did you exchange any conversation?
DAVID PADGETT: No, there was just a little — no, it was no big deal. Tony is — no, it was something that was probably blown out of proportion. Just wanted to make sure there wasn’t an issue after the game. But give them credit, they made big plays, and Tony did a great job of having them prepared today.
Q. I’m curious, one, are you planning on watching Selection Sunday as a team, and then two, kind of all season, David, you’ve preached this staying present; is that the same message you delivered to your team after today’s loss?
DAVID PADGETT: Yeah, we have no choice but to stay in the present. I mean, we’ve played 33 very difficult games, and we’ve won 20 of them, and so we feel like, like I said, that that’s more than enough to get us in. But we’ve got to wait. Today is Thursday. We’ve got to wait about 72 hours before we find out, just like quite a few other teams in the country.
You know, what we’re going to do on Sunday will stay between us. We haven’t officially decided anything yet, but more than anything, these 14 players, with everything that they’ve been through this year, you can’t tell me that they don’t deserve an opportunity to play in the NCAA Tournament.
But like I said, it’s been a year of ups and downs, so unfortunately that decision is out of our control, but I hope it goes in the right way for their sake and their sake alone.
Q. When you say everything they’ve been through, you mean?
DAVID PADGETT: Well, I mean, I think it’s pretty obvious. Their head coach that they came here to play for got relieved of his duties three days before practice starts. We have to deal — I’m coaching the team by myself for three weeks. I’m not able to hire assistant coaches for the first month of the season. We have to deal with the distractions of a scandal that happened before most of them were even here. It just kind of goes on and on.
But hey, the way these guys, for being 18 to 22 years old, have handled it is absolutely remarkable. Whatever happens on Sunday, they deserve a ton of credit for that publicly, because so many times this year they could have just folded up and said, this is not why we came here. They could have felt sorry for themselves. And not one single time throughout the last four or five months did they do that. And I mean that with all sincerity. It’s been the most remarkable thing I’ve ever seen. Just getting the opportunity to coach these guys day in and day out has been the best experience of my basketball career, both as a player and a coach.
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