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Feb. 7, 2015

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Virginia Head Coach Tony Bennett

On Virginia’s defense:
“We had to win it with our defense. Those were two solid defense teams going at it, and I know we didn’t shoot it well, and didn’t do great offensively, but they make it hard for you. We only had two turnovers and that was significant. I know we took some bad shots, but they made us earn it. I told our guys beforehand they would have to put their hard hats on and work defensively. They have some guys that can make some plays. I thought Darion [Atkins] did a good job against Montrezl [Harrell] and it was one of those games. The home crowd was terrific. We needed every ounce of emotion and energy that the crowd gave us. Then our guys dug deep and came up with a big one.”

On Justin Anderson’s injury:
“We will find out about Justin. I don’t even know exactly how he did it, but we’ve got one of the finest hand surgeons in the country in Dr. [Bobby] Chhabra and he will look at him, diagnose him, and then we will get a feel for what is going on. I’m concerned that he couldn’t come back in.”

On choosing Evan Nolte off the bench:
“I went with Evan [Nolte] first off the bench. I’ve been going with Marial [Shayok] as the first guard, but there was a good matchup with [Wayne] Blackshear for Evan. I thought that in this setting and in this game, experience and his smarts could come in big. Then the fact that he knocks down a 3-pointer when we were 2-of-14 for threes was big for us. He did a good job defensively and his smarts were there. Louisville is hard because sometimes they’re man and sometimes they’re match-up. They make it hard. You have to figure stuff out, get to spots, and get to the ball. I like what Evan gave us, but depending on what happens with Justin, we’ve got Marial [Shayok] and Devon [Hall] and you’ve always got to be ready.

On defense in the second half:
“We were really good defensively in the first half. We were swarming and contesting. In the second half, they broke us down a few times on the dribble and rejected a ball screen. They beat us outside and those two guards are so hard to contain. When we got up, they got a little more `we’ve got to put our head down and go mentality’ and they compromised our pack defense. First half it was really challenging and in the second half we made some plays, but we were good enough defensively to come out with that one.”

On Malcolm Brogdon’s 3-pointer:
“We looked at it, it’s a set that we have, and if he doesn’t have the shot we have an action out of it. Sometimes it’s a bit of a guessing match because we looked at it earlier, but they had slipped into a zone and we couldn’t quite get what we wanted. It was a big shot he got there. We didn’t shoot it particularly well the whole game, but that was a big one.”

On Virginia’s defense:
“It was close to the best half of defense I’ve seen. You could hear the noise from the crowd as the shot clock went down. I’m usually so locked in, but I noticed that. We took them to late in the shot clock, we contested, and we bothered. In the second half, it wasn’t all there. If we could have played the same defense in the second half that would have been something, but the first half was a pretty special defensive half. We need to go back and look at the tape, of course, but it looked like we were covering for each other and bothering stuff. I was very happy with that.”

Virginia Guard Malcolm Brogdon

On the crowd’s love for defense:
“Of course we notice that. That’s one of the great things about being at home at JPJ. Our crowd loves defense as opposed to dunks and highlight plays.”

On Virginia’s defense:
“Yeah, it was pretty good. I think we have had other good halves, but that was definitely one of our team’s best performances.”

On losing Justin:
“I think it shows how mature and well rounded our team is, and it shows that we are really a team. Its not just one person, its not just two guys; everybody contributes and everybody plays their role to the fullest so that we can be successful.”

On the low scoring game:
“We definitely expected it, for us and for them. I thought we made them take tough shots and they struggled. I thought we struggled a little bit because they are an excellent defensive team, too. I was a bit surprised at the shape Chris Jones and Terry Rozier are in, because they pressed for 40 minutes and it was tough to handle the ball and bring it up the court.”

On Louisville’s defense:
“We knew they were going to be excellent on the defensive end and we knew that they are talented on the offensive end. We knew that we were playing peers, and as a competitor you always look forward to that.”

On the late 3-pointer:
“It’s a play that Coach Bennett draws up in the timeout sometimes. We took our time and tried not to give the play away right away. We played it off well, my big set a good screen and London Perrantes made a good pass, I just tried to make the shot.”

On deja-vu to last week against Duke:
“Of course that pops into your mind when you’re up by double digits coming down the stretch in the second half. I started thinking that we will not beat ourselves. I think that against Duke we beat ourselves and at one point London Perrantes and I got the guys together and said we are not going to beat ourselves.”

Virginia Forward Darion Atkins

On his late jump shot:
“Some people say that I wouldn’t take that shot a few years ago or last year, but I knew that it was a shot that I am capable of shooting. I didn’t realize the shot clock was winding down. I am a guy that has experience on this team, so I took my time because I have confidence this year.”

On guarding Montrezl Harrell:
“I just tried to prevent him from getting on the offensive glass. He is a great player, like Kenneth Faried, the guy is a beast. It was a great task to go against him and I tried my best.”

On the crowd’s atmosphere:
“The atmosphere was electric and we had a lot of fun. I wish every game could be like that for my last year here. When we play like that, people respond.”

On losing Justin:
“It says a lot about us. It says that we have depth and it says that we can all come together and stick with it and not worry about if one man goes down. We can play collectively.”

On the thought of last week’s game:
“To a degree, yes we thought about that. But at the same time no, because we can’t worry about that. Guys make shots and guys make plays, and we just have to get back and work on what we have to do.”

On what the team has learned:
“We have learned that we have to step it up every single game. Everyone is coming for us because we have a target on our backs. We are ranked third in the country and everyone wants to beat us. We are a team that plays collectively and we can’t take anyone lightly. We have to bring it every single night.”

Virginia Forward Anthony Gill

On rebounding from the Duke loss:
“We can bounce back when we hit adversity. We play a great team such as Duke, then we go and play a great North Carolina and now a great Louisville team, and we get wins after we did lose like that. I think we showed ourselves we can do it. We are mentally strong, and we are able to get tough wins like this.”

On the crowd’s energy following a stop:
“It is awesome to see us when we get a stop like that and then fans are screaming. I don’t think you see that any other place. I think defense is such a culture here that we’ve established, and fans appreciate that. We appreciate that they appreciate that. All we can do is just go out there and give them what they want.”

On limiting Louisville to 13 first half points:
“We wanted to go out there and get stops. We were in the gaps and we stopped them in transition. In the second half they got a lot of transition points we don’t allow that often except for during the Duke game. So, I think that once we get back and establish our defense we are a really good team.”

Virginia Center Mike Tobey

On the defensive performance:
“I think we did a really good job. I felt bad for Malcolm [Brogdon] and London [Perrantes] because they must have been exhausted after trying to bring the ball up and then having to defend those guards. I think they did a really good job, and as a team we did a really good job. Their actions are tough to guard, but I think we did well.”

On his acrobatic first half bucket:
“I don’t know how it went in to be honest. I got fouled and just threw it up and it went in, so of course I had to make it look like I meant to do that. I was trying to do a lefty hook shot and I guess it went in.”

On absorbing contact in practice:
“I think in practice we really try to push physicality. Jack Salt, who doesn’t get a lot of attention because he is redshirting, has done a lot to help, especially the big men on this team. He does a really good job of getting us ready in practice. He and I go at it in the one-on-one drills and the coaches tell him to just beat me up. It’s gotten me a lot better. He is going to be really good for us when he is off his redshirt.”

Louisville Head Coach Rick Pitino

Opening statement:
“Well this is a great venue to play college basketball, I think its one of the best I’ve seen. It’s my first time here. I think the crowd’s great. I think they’re on top of you. I think the environment is awesome and I think their team is awesome. They can make it very difficult. I was very disappointed in our team because we worked very hard for three days on how to beat their defense and we ignored it in the first half, by-and-large. The one thing you cannot do is break the offense and go one-on-one with high pick and rolls against this team. And we did that. Finally, in the second half, we ran our offenses and got good looks, good plays, good post plays, and we almost came back. But. its very difficult to come back against this team. We learned a very important lesson losing to North Carolina at the buzzer about pick-and-roll defense and how it can hurt us. And we learned a valuable lesson tonight about being able to execute a gameplan.”

On Virginia’s defense:
“Their defense is awesome. I won’t take anything away from them, but our offense was ridiculous. We just didn’t run our sets. We didn’t move the ball. If you don’t do that you’re going to make Virginia look like the best defensive team in the history of the game. They’re terrific. I love their team, I love what they do, but we fed right into the monster and the crowd.”

On not executing the offense in the first half:
“I think [our guys] were anxious to score. They broke the play down and tried to get into the lane. I think that they didn’t understand how Virginia is good defensively and that the first or second option will not be there. The pick and roll high does not work too well against these guys unless you’re going downhill. If you’re going east and west it’s not going to work.”

On being able to create turnovers:
“I think that the weakest thing we’ve had this year, and the last four years, is our press. Our press hasn’t been good this year. From denying the ball inbounds to trapping, not getting enough of it. It could be the lack of a bench because guys are extending so much energy. The press has probably been the weakest part of our defense this year. We didn’t even get five traps tonight.”

On under-the-radar Virginia players [Evan Nolte and Darion Atkins]:
“I think they’re good mid-range shooters. I think they execute well. They’ve been down to Virginia Tech, they’ve been down to Georgia Tech but then they make the right plays down the stretch and make big shots. We did a good job of limiting their threes, we did a good job of making sure we switch correctly, but we did a very poor job of executing offensively in the first half. They’re an excellent team. Every coach talks about a fist, having all the guys playing together, and they’ve got a great fist. They have a lot more talent than people recognize, they have tremendous experience, and they have a fabulous coach.”

On why Virginia is so much better defensively than other teams:
“Basically what they’re doing, and what separates them, is that they have five guys who are alert to the ball. Some programs teach `play your man, see the ball.’ They play the ball. It’s truly unique because they’ll give up some threes sometimes and if you make it you’ll stay in the game, like against Duke. They’re just well drilled and schooled at what they do. It’s brilliant. I love what they do and I was trying to teach my freshman six weeks ago to look at how this team plays as one. They’re on a string moving with the ball. If they give up anything its going to be a late three or, if you create so much movement, you’ll do what Chris Jones did in the second half and get to the rim. Unfortunately, we waited until the second half to do that.”

Louisville Forward Montrezl Harrell

On what the offense learned against Virginia:
“Our offense learned that when we get to the end of our offense we get high percentage shots. In the first half we were doing a lot of one-on-one plays and that’s why we weren’t shooting the ball well. Once we started running our offense, we were able to shoot more high percentage shots.”

On Virginia’s defense:
“It is difficult defense to go against because they have post traps coming out of nowhere for no rhyme or reason. Their post traps can come at any given time and they try to make you turn the ball over. But once we started running to the end of our offensive plays, we created more high percentage shots and didn’t turn the ball over.”

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