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Feb. 6, 2007

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Virginia Head Coach Dave Leitao

Opening Statement:
“A little role reversal for us today, in terms of us having to come back in the last few games. I thought defensively we were solid enough but we started to spring a leak somewhere midway through the second half. When we did that and we combined it with turning the ball over consecutively, which was what I was really trying to avoid against a team that can go on a lot of runs like Maryland.”

On the team’s performance:
“It was a terrific effort all the way around. Sean Singletary didn’t have an ‘A’ game today, but you need team wins sometimes if you’re going to keep winning games. I’m just extremely, extremely proud of our guys.”

On their defense against Maryland:
“In the four games that we’ve played Maryland, their post people have really done a good job against us. Those front-line guys that we have in particular really did a good job defensively and kept James Gist and Ekene Ibekwe a little off-balance and caught them a little out of their comfort zone. I give a lot of credit to the preparation they’ve put in to do that.”

On the team’s success so far this season:
“Top to bottom we have good leadership. Our older guys have bought into it. There’s no squabbling that a guy doesn’t play as much, there’s none of that. We have a clear locker room, a clear practice court and that way we can go about or business. From a coach’s standpoint, that’s all you can ask for.”

Virginia Center Tunji Soroye

On his performance tonight:
“I enjoyed this. I felt real good today. I’ve been working on my game. [In the past,] I wasn’t quite ready but I kept working, got in shape, and that was basically it.”

On the pivotal free throws at the end of the game:
“I was pressured a little bit but at the same time I was calm.”

Virginia Guard Sean Singletary

On stopping Maryland after the comeback near the end:
“It was a group effort, J.R. [Reynolds] led the way in scoring, Tunji was a beast on the rebounds, and together we played defense. We were able to get some steals, some treys, and some buckets that were key.”

On their position in the ACC, specifically with North Carolina and Duke:
“With two powerhouses like that, we can be mentioned in the same breath with them. We just found our identity, and we just defended the heck out of the ball every night, and that’s what is getting us wins.”

On how the team has matured as the season has progressed:
“We definitely have matured in every aspect. People say we don’t have a down low presence, but [Jason] Cain has been doing a great job on offense, and Tunji [Soroye] is doing a great job on defense. They are just always there for us, and they are the reason we’re winning right now.”

Maryland Head Coach Gary Williams

Opening Statement:
“In close games like that, when you get outrebounded by 13 and all the other stats are close, rebounding hurt us. There was a series where they got two or three rebounds before a score, and that really hurt us. In the first half Virginia played harder than us. They played hard the first 10 minutes of the second half, and we played hard the last 10 minutes.”

On Maryland’s weaknesses:
“I was disappointed because I thought we could rebound with them. I thought we played harder towards the end of the game, but there were 30 minutes that went by before we played at that level. That’s not what it takes to win a game like this.”

On Maryland’s slow start:
“You can look at the last 10 minutes and think ‘we can play’ if we play like that. You have to be able to step on the court and do that, especially if you are a starter. With the territory of being a starter comes certain responsibilities.”

On Maryland’s home court advantage:
“You’re never out of it. Going into tonight’s game, we had played the fewest home games of any team in the ACC. We could have used a win tonight, obviously, but we still have a lot of home games left. We have to take advantage of it and be tough enough to win on the road.”

On D.J. Strawberry:
“D.J. made some great plays, there is no doubt about it. We need that right from the start of the game, and not just from D.J. but from the whole team. There weren’t any of those plays in the first half.”

On Maryland’s upcoming game against Duke:
“In this league, if you win the ACC tournament, you’re in the NCAA tournament. What we want to do is play well and win against Duke, and we will go from there.”

Maryland Guard D.J. Strawberry

On the comeback:
“We just turned it up the last ten minutes. But we can’t wait until the end to do that. We have to come out like that the entire game. It’s the same thing that happened at Virginia. We got down by a lot and battled back, but it just wasn’t enough.”

On the slow start:
“We aren’t practicing like this. I don’t know what made us come out like that. We knew that it was one of the biggest games of the year and we came out missing shots and we waited too long to try to make our run.”

Maryland Forward James Gist

On the season from here:
“Right now, we have to focus on Duke. We have to be ready to play, because right now we have ourselves in a situation where we have to win these games. We know that we can win them, too. We’re getting there. We’re not there yet, but we’re getting close to that. We have to put together a few wins, and once we do that, we know that we’re a good team.”

On rebounding:
“It was frustrating to give up that many offensive rebounds. We were working as hard as we could, and then we still were giving up the rebound. It takes a lot out of you.”

On Virginia:
“They play hard. They are a good team, and they play well in situations near the end of the game. You have to give credit to them for getting this win.”

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