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Feb. 21, 2017

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Virginia Head Coach Tony Bennett

On the team’s recent struggle with free throws:
“It’s cost us more than one game for sure, the ability to finish a free throw. Those were three front ends, I think, of the bonus. They obviously were 20 of 22. A few things showed up that cost us. Hands were low and they shot some threes, things that have cost us in the past. It was there for the taking, and we didn’t, and they did. They made some tough plays. It’s too bad, it was a special night, but it doesn’t take away from Malcolm [Brogdon’s] night, that was awesome. He’s one of the special ones. But it would’ve been nice to have a good feeling and to celebrate what was a wonderful career for him on a special night.

On whether the team is struggling to play to its usual standard:
“For sure. We struggled to score. We’re not shooting well. London [Perrantes] obviously didn’t have a strong game. There are a lot of things we’re trying to overcome, and we need everyone playing at a fairly solid level for us to be able to be successful in this conference. There were better stretches of defense, harder offense, quality shots, and we got a few pocket passes with some dunks. Mamadi [Diakite] had a couple dunks that I thought he had and he slipped the pass off to Isaiah [Wilkins]. But Mamadi did a couple of good things for us. But it’s where we are. Our inexperience is showing and we are obviously sliding right now. We have to fight like crazy to play as hard as we can and see if we can get one.”

On if London is getting fatigued:
“Yeah, I thought we were a bit tighter tonight, but that’s just what it is. It’s our fourth game, we had to just fight, and the crowd was wonderful. Fatigue is going to be part of it at this time of year. You know, you’re so close and it messes a little bit with our guys’ minds. I thought we had it, and then we dropped those free throws and they make the big shot. London, he just didn’t play well. It was just one of those games. He wasn’t sharp for us. He is getting matched pretty hard, they’re guarding him, and he’s not getting a lot of clean looks. But you just keep plugging, that’s all you can do.”

On the team’s 12-0 run and their performance there:
“We were defending well and running our offense well. There was good movement. We don’t throw it in the post to score but that’s why I mentioned we got a couple off the curls where we dropped it down. Devon [Hall] hit a three. We just got good looks, good action and the ball was going in, combined with stingy defense, that’s our formula. Then there were a couple turnovers, a couple of plays on their part and a couple of turnovers. You add in the missed free throws, that hurt. I thought that was a big swing when we could have pushed it out to maybe ten points at that point.”

Virginia Junior Forward Isaiah Wilkins

On emotions after making two free throws to go into overtime:
“I felt like we gave ourselves a little momentum and another shot at it, and we had our chances. We just couldn’t knock down our free throws and shots. We’ll get back to work. We’re definitely not down and out. We’ll get ready to play Saturday.”

On the 12-0 run and what happened later in the game:
“I think right after that we went into a little bit of a slump. That’s just basketball. It is a game of runs, and we need to find a way to get stops.”

Virginia Senior Guard London Perrantes

On fatigue at this point in the season:
“I wish I knew what was getting me out of rhythm so I could fix it. I’m in a pretty deep slump right now and I need to figure it out and find a way to get over it.”

On the effect of Malcolm’s presence tonight:
“It was good to see him. I haven’t seen him since summer. I think it gave us a little bit of energy, but obviously, we needed a little bit more.”

On Malcolm’s advice on being the key player:
“He just said it’s not easy. Nothing good is ever going to come easy. He told me you’re going to have your ups and your downs and you just have to find your way out of them, try to stay as level-headed as you can, and lead your team. I’m trying to do that as best as I can. I know the slump is messing with me mentally, but I’m trying to stay as up as I can for the team. Coach Bennett always says the sun is going to come up in the morning, so hopefully my shots come up in the morning too.”

Virginia Redshirt Junior Guard Devon Hall

On emotions going into overtime:
“We were confident. It was a new start to the game. It’s just frustrating to take four in a row like that. Free throws are a part of the game. I know I missed two. And there were some in regulation that we missed, but it’s the stuff that leads up to that point too.”

On mindset after four games in nine days:
“To be completely honest, I’m ready to get back to another game. That’s four in a row. That’s frustrating. I think a lot of us are just ready to get back and compete again.”

Redshirt Freshman Forward Mamadi Diakite

On recent extended playing time:
“I’m learning a lot, I’m getting better. I am learning some things about teams that run up and down the court. It’s not easy. I’m learning to be consistent.”

On Coach Bennett’s message after the game:
“We just played a good game, but we needed to make the free throws. Things happen. Things never go right for everyone. Things happen.”

Miami Head Coach Jim Larrañaga

On overall game plan:
“While the game was going on and neither team could really score with any kind of consistency, I turned to my staff and told them this reminds me of a 2001 game against Wilmington in the CAA Championship where final score was 35-33. We won and moved onto the NCAA tournament. We played Maryland, a Final Four team and we scored 81. The way teams match up and the way you play offense and defense, it is very challenging against Virginia to get any kind of fast break baskets, you have to be good at the half court level. And quite frankly, their half-court defense is tremendous so we knew we weren’t going to score a lot of points. We felt like we’re pretty good defensively, we’re not ranked No. 1 in the country like they are, but we’ve been pretty darn good. We felt like this was going to be a low scoring game, and maybe the first team to 50 would win. So, as the game was going on, it was not a surprise at all to us to all and our players were very comfortable understanding that we’re not going to score 35 or 40 at the half, so that was kind of what we expected. And in the second half I thought it would pick up some, and it did for them until there was about seven minutes left and I think our defense tightened up. We played a little smaller group and that worked pretty effectively.”

On London Perrantes and defense
“I think at this time of year you will probably see signs of fatigue in all players. The grind is very serious. We played Saturday, now it’s Monday, and we had a travel day on Sunday. You have to be very careful about your practice time and how well rested your players are. You’d have to ask Tony Bennett about London and if he is fatigued or not, but I know our guys are going to get Tuesday and Wednesday off because we haven’t had two days off since January. To start the game we went zone, then we switched to a match up, and then we switched to our man to man. Eventually we just played man to man and put Davon Reed on Perrantes.”

On team morale
“We were very calm throughout the game when we fell behind. As a coach, you can often tell when you look at the players at a time out. If they are looking back at you and listening intently, it’s very good. There is a mental challenge at staying focused throughout a contest and I could tell at every timeout, and even in overtime, as soon as my staff and I sat down with my team, they listened intently and went out and did it. Now, sometimes it didn’t produce any of the points that we were looking for, but in the end the only thing that matters is the final score.”

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