Virginia vs. Florida Postgame Quotes
March 19, 2017
Virginia Post-game Quotes
No. 4 Florida 65, No. 5 Virginia 39
Saturday, March 18, 2017
THE MODERATOR: We’ll have Coach Bennett make an opening statement.
Tony Bennett: First, Florida played a terrific game. You saw a really good defensive team play against a team that was really struggling offensively. But you can see why they’re good — their quickness, their athleticism. The thing that was frustrating is we really accomplished a lot this year. To end that way is obviously what really stings. It really does.
London’s had such an amazing career. It’s just part of life. I could hear the Xavier guys. They were right next to our locker room. The way they were celebrating after their big win. The thrill of victory, and then you get the agony of defeat. You feel that.
But that’s life. We’ll grow from it. Our returners have got some valuable experiences, and we’ve got work to do, that’s obvious.
But, again, I want to tell you Florida played a heck of a defensive game, and we were very poor offensively. They got some length behind. London and I talked about it. That quickness up front and that length behind protecting the rim was very challenging for us, and we didn’t shoot it well when we got some looks. That’s what happens.
Q. London, I mean, obviously, you had a terrific game the other night, struggled more tonight. Could you just talk a little bit about Florida’s defense and how much what they did impacted your inability to get the kind of production you wanted.
London Perrantes: Obviously, the guards were quick. They got into the ball. But I think it helps when they have, obviously, like Coach said, length in the frontcourt. So, if you get by that first guy, you’re meeting some athletic, tall guys in the paint. Obviously, when we got some open looks, we didn’t hit those
either. So, they kind of just packed that paint and basically dared us to make a three. I think we made one tonight. I don’t think you’re going to win a game like that.
Q. Jack, today you and Mamadi start together for the first time, opened up the game pretty well between you two and getting some production. You guys combined for 6 of the first 8 points, 8 of the first 13. What do you think you guys were doing well then? And then as the game kind of progressed, did their size start to negate things in the post for you?
Jack Salt: I thought the team had a pretty solid start, playing them well, and then just their length and their quickness got to us a little bit. They were just getting looks, and we weren’t converting on ours.
Tony Bennett: Just to add to that, I think it was 19- 17. Then at the 3:00 mark or 3:03, I was looking at that, they went up 21-17. We weren’t playing the way we needed to, and then it just separated.
Certainly, Jack and Mamadi did some good things. I thought we kind of had the game going the way we wanted early, and then it separated.
Q. London, obviously, not the way you expect to end your career, sitting on the bench and kind of watching it transpire. What’s going through your mind in the last few minutes? Any reflections? London Perrantes: I don’t even know what was going through my mind. It’s a bunch of emotions, obviously, just it was over. It was over for me. I couldn’t do anything else. To help extend that, help extend my season, my career. I was just feeling like I couldn’t do anything anymore. It was kind of frustrating for me.
Yeah, obviously, I’ve got to step back from it and look at the past four years. I did some things that I could be proud of, but right now, obviously, it’s tough.
Q. London, when you know your career is ending like this, how much do you try to get those other guys involved? It seems like you’re still trying to get those other guys involved. What does the future look like?
London Perrantes: I knew my shot wasn’t falling, but I was still going to try to be aggressive obviously. My game is not to go out and play one-on-one. Even though we were down 20, 25, I’m not the person to just try and go get mine to go out on a high note. I was just trying to keep playing ball. Maybe some shots would fall. Maybe we’ll get some stops.
I came in with the team. I’m going out with the team. It’s not a one-man thing.
Q. London, I’m curious, with Kyle and Ty being younger guys, it seemed like last year that loss, Malcolm’s last game was very impactful for you. They had a similar reaction to this being your last game. What do you hope that they learn or take away specifically from kind of tonight, how tonight feels?
London Perrantes: Coach Bennett talked about it. They’re going to have to come back, and if they want to get to that next level, it’s going to — you’ve got to take this feeling and put the fuels to the fire and get back to work during the summer, during the off-season, so we don’t — so they don’t have this feeling again. Obviously, I don’t want to have this feeling again. It’s going to add some fuel to my fire, too, moving forward.
I know they’ll be back. We’ve got some good young talent, and Coach Bennett is a genius behind it. So, they’ll get back to work, and they’ll be back for sure.
THE MODERATOR: London and Jack, thank you very much. You can go back to the locker room.
Q. Tony, after their flurry at the end of the first half and the dunk, you kind of just looked like you had a bemused face. I don’t know what the expression to call it. Kind of a weird smile on your face like you just didn’t have an answer on the way off the court. Do you remember what you were thinking at that point?
Tony Bennett: I don’t think I was happy. I’m not sure what I was thinking. It was 19-17 with about 3:15 or whatever. We had missed some shots, but we were battling, and then we struggled to score and then we had a few breakdowns. If we’re not shooting well, it’s hard for us because we don’t score a whole lot in the post. They’re potent. They get down the floor.
I just said, all right, I was just trying to figure out at the half, is there anything we can do? We started out going four guards, but I was just frustrated because I thought we had played well enough to be at least attached. I didn’t think the game was over, but I just didn’t like that feeling of how we finished the last — didn’t score, I think, the last five minutes, and then the last three minutes they went on that 10-0 run, and we gave up too much and were fighting to hang in there.
Q. Tony, I think after one of the early season wins, you were asked about the team, and you said you didn’t know how good the team could be, but you just wanted to play to its potential, whatever that would be. Do you think, maybe tonight aside, this team got everything out of itself that it maybe could have? Particularly with Isaiah out tonight. Tony Bennett: Yeah, that affected us, of course. I told this team a few nights ago they’re one of my favorite teams. I might have to rethink — no, I’m just kidding. I still feel that way about them because we lost a lot. There was a lot of expectations, but they did a lot. Take this game away — and you can’t take it away completely, but to finish 11-7, to win 23 games, to make the Tournament, to advance with the inexperience and to stay together. We went through some of the losses. I admired that about them, and I’ll always admire that.
Isaiah gave us everything he could and tried to play, but this team got a lot from itself, and it’s a credit to them. It’s a credit to the coaching staff. But then yet to end it this way, to just get overwhelmed like that the last whatever minutes, just feeling a little bit outmatched was frustrating.
But like I said, I challenged the guys that are returning. You’ve got to grow from this.
Q. I’m going to cheat with a two-part one: At 13-13, is that game unfolding kind of exactly the way — Tony Bennett: Yeah, I liked — Jack battled, and Mamadi was good early. Yeah, we were defending pretty well. We were hitting them with some screens, got a couple easy ones at the rim, pocket passes, wraps. It was right. But there is a reason why Florida in defensive efficiency is in the top five in the country. They really defend. You’ve got to make some shots. I liked what we were doing early, but they adjusted and did a good job. Then we had too many breakdowns, then it was separated. Yeah, it was going the way we needed to go to play against them.
Q. You talked about not having a post presence for scoring and other offensive limitations. Given that — and I know you haven’t done it yet — evaluate what you and the staff were able to do. It seemed like almost game to game you had to find other ways to do it. Was that fun? Challenging?
Tony Bennett: Against UNC-Wilmington, we went five guards and tried to attack and made some plays. We tried it again, and it didn’t work. We were desperate, trying to find ways to get points on the board. At times, we had to play four guards. We had to use Devin at times. In the game against UNC-Wilmington, it was five different guys playing.
It was challenging. Fun? It was rewarding when it went well. It was always such a fine line. You saw when things aren’t going well against a team of this caliber in this setting to get smacked like that is tough.
But I told you guys on whatever day I hold this with open hands, and I have to. I have to learn from it. I’m very fortunate. I look at this opportunity as a blessing. To coach, to be in these settings. And I say, if you’re going to take the good, you have to take the hard and grow from it, and that’s what I will try to do.
I probably made some mistakes in this game. I’ve got to go back to the drawing board and figure out where we can tighten things up and be better.
Q. Mamadi and Jack combined for 17 points and 16 rebounds.
Tony Bennett: I would have liked that on the front end, if you’d have told me that.
Q. If you’d have taken that going in?
Tony Bennett: Yeah, I would have said it’s not going to be a 65-39 game.
Q. What did you think about Mamadi, makes the start?
Tony Bennett: Yeah, a couple times he had breakdowns, but it’s a sophomore and a freshman. They battled. You saw Jack’s heart. He’s a warrior. You saw Mamadi’s athleticism. Mamadi has to keep getting used to it. Darius at times did some good things. I liked, at least for the most part, what I saw in them. It wasn’t a lack of effort on their part for sure.
Q. When you are having an offensive game like this or lack of an offensive game, what can you do in game? Is there anything you can do to get a spark? What do you do this off-season knowing that you need that?
Tony Bennett: Yeah, for sure. We tried. We went four guards at times. Tried to spread the floor, ball screen a little more. They’re pretty good. We tried our whole package really, basically different things, different lineups. Got some decent shots, but, again, you go 1-of-15, and then their defense, it got a little shook.
You know, there’s a gap. We’ve got to improve our program. They accomplished some stuff this year, but we’ve got to get better, and we’ve got to continue to recruit well, continue to develop players well.
We have two guys that redshirted that I think in the future can help for sure, but we’ve just got to keep
growing for sure. Those young guys, Ty and Kyle and Mamadi, as first years, invaluable experiences to play in the ACC and get the amount of minutes they did and the opportunities to get in the NCAA Tournament, ACC Tournament, that’s important. Even though — and probably it should sting, and that will push those guys to work. But they had some great moments, too, for being freshmen.
That’s part of using that and figuring out ways to try to get a little more scoring, a little more shooting, all those things come into play.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you for being with us, Coach.
Mike White, Devin Robinson, Justin Leon
Q. Devin, Coach White was saying yesterday that over the season you made the biggest improvement of anyone defensively on the team. What’s changed this year and how do you think that helped you this weekend?
DEVIN ROBINSON: My defense changed. I just wanted to play it now. My early years, I didn’t really believe in playing defense effectively. But I know if you want to win games and try to win a championship, you have to play defense. If I want to have playing time, I had to play defense.
So, I knew I had to step up my intensity, change my technique a little bit, and just work on staying lower and just the little things and just wanting to play.
THE MODERATOR: Coach White, if you would make a statement now and we’ll return to questions.
MIKE WHITE: Obviously very happy. Great win for our program, for this team, especially having defeated such a high-level program, a program that we have so much respect for. We have as much respect for as a staff Virginia’s program as any program in the country for what they’ve accomplished since Tony’s been there.
It was a terrific win. I’m really proud of these guys. It wasn’t one guy individually. It was a collective effort to hold a 23-win ACC team to under 30 percent. These guys really, really guarded to give us a chance. We made some shots, of course. It’s a big win for us.
Q. To both Devin and Justin: Of course, Virginia, like Coach White said, one of the best defensive teams in the country. You guys got going early and aggressive. What did you guys see that you wanted to pinpoint and attack them while you guys were on offense?
JUSTIN LEON: That’s a good question. Really just us moving the ball, not being stagnant, and like I was told to set my screens in space, and I think with us doing
that, it helped us on offense a little bit.
DEVIN ROBINSON: I think we just had to get them uncomfortable and play our tempo. We knew if we played at their methodical tempo, it would have been a tough game for us. We just tried to stay aggressive on defense and get in transition as best we can, and that turned to great offense.
Q. Justin, you kind of came alive there in the last three minutes of the first half, and it just sort of picked the entire tempo of the team up. Would you talk about that. Devin, would you follow that up. JUSTIN LEON: I’m, like, known to give my teammates energy. That’s kind of one of my roles. I guess for me to — it’s really something that I’m known to do, and I guess this wasn’t really nothing new, like finding something to give my teammates energy. I guess today it was just knocking down a couple of the shots, but most of the time it’s just me playing hard, and today it just happened to be me, I guess, getting some threes.
DEVIN ROBINSON: We always give Justin confidence to shoot the ball whenever he’s open. We call him “Fifty”. It stands for 50 percent, if you know what I’m saying, three-point percentage.
Just kept his confidence up and we kept feeding him the hot hand. He brought the energy on defense, so he deserved to knock down all the shots he did. He got us going, and we kept going and fed off his energy, his passion.
Q. Justin, you had a rough three or four games before this, even the other night, especially offense. I know you’re probably doing all the other little things and everything. Did you ever have any lack of confidence in the last couple of weeks? JUSTIN LEON: I don’t necessarily know. I think my shot was just kind of off, like I think I was going back — I didn’t think I had my technique. And Coach White, he watched me shoot in practice, and he told me little things that I could do to fix my form back.
On a side note, I was trying to find something different. I was like maybe if I took off my undershirt, I would probably start making more shots. So, I did it and hey.
Q. For either one of the players, the UNC- Wilmington tape, Perrantes totally, totally took over that game in the second half. What did you guys do differently to make things uncomfortable for him the whole night?
JUSTIN LEON: We just had to stay alert where he was at, do a lot of communicating because we know he’s bound to take over games. We just had to stay locked in where he was at and just stick the course, stick the game plan.
Q. Devin, second straight game with a hot start, seven points early. Does it feel like your energy brings out the best in your teammates when you start off with a hot hand starting the game?
DEVIN ROBINSON: I think so. It definitely helps everybody get comfortable and things like that. They gain confidence for getting assists, things like that. So, I think me getting an early start, it gets everybody going, and I’m not a selfish guy. So, I’m fired up, and I’m giving my teammates the ball. When we’re all sharing the ball, it’s going to be a positive outcome.
Q. Justin, two nights ago you weren’t introduced when they were doing the introductions.
JUSTIN LEON: Yeah.
Q. I’m just wondering if that inspired you in any way. And secondly, your T-shirt, do you take it off for this game?
JUSTIN LEON: I took it off for this game. But I mean, yeah, I realize I wasn’t introduced. I just went to the scorer’s tables and told them a joke, and I was like, “Where am I at?” I was just joking. It didn’t really matter to me but —
Q. This one’s for Devin and Justin: Just a couple hours before the game, Villanova lost. Did that hype you up knowing that you didn’t have to face the Number 1 seed if you won this one?
MIKE WHITE: Be very careful with that.
DEVIN ROBINSON: I watched the game, but I wasn’t worrying about any other team but trying to come out here and win the game. So, I mean, it doesn’t matter who we play. Just going to play our basketball, Florida basketball basically.
JUSTIN LEON: Just kind of like what Devin said. I watched the game as well, but really, I think we were all just focused on tonight’s game, our own game, and just trying to get a win for us and not really concerned about other games.
THE MODERATOR: Justin and Devin, thank you very much. We’ll take questions for Coach White.
Q. Mike, your level of pride in this team right now and the way they played these last two games, especially as you documented before the other game, “We got to have a win.” At the end of the regular season and the SEC tournament didn’t end so well. Is there one or two things that caused this turnaround real quick? Just talk about how proud you are of these guys right now.
MIKE WHITE: I’m really proud. I guess I’ll get that out of the way. It’s a group I’ve been proud of all year. I mean, this group, we might miss some shots. We might mess up some execution. We might have a lack of communication or an error in following the scouting report from time to time or what have you, but this group plays really hard. They play for each other. They play the right way.
I think anyone that would have watched us play tonight would recognize how hard my guys play defensively. They’re bought into it. They’re about the right stuff, whether they get 2 points or 12 points. They’re going to continue to guard.
Yeah, it was very tough. Going into the postseason, we were in a tough place, and we played really hard in those two Vandy losses, and obviously, they’re an NCAA Tournament team, and we had chances at the end of both of them.
You take a hit a little bit, obviously, with your momentum, despite what Kasey said, and your confidence to a certain extent. I thought we gained a little bit of confidence there the way we started the other night. We played just as hard tonight. We defended probably a little bit better, made just a couple less mistakes defensively as we did those last couple games, those last couple losses we had, but we made shots. Sometimes that’s what it comes down to in this game.
If Devin and Justin don’t step up and hit the shots that they hit, this would have been a war until the end.
Q. Mike, same question as earlier that I asked the players about Perrantes: What did you feel like you had to do to keep him from really going off?
MIKE WHITE: They didn’t give a couple guys credit that deserve all of the credit, and that’s Kasey Hill and Chris Chiozza. Those two guys have been a terrific job all year utilizing their speed and quickness and toughness. Again, those guys, you’ve heard me say it a lot here recently, those guys have become tough- nosed defenders. They take pride in it now, and at times we can even alternate them on really good players that are anywhere from, heck, 5’8″ to 6’3″, 6’4″, depending on the matchup.
Despite their size, with their speed and quickness and toughness, it allows them some versatility in guarding guys off of the ball. Virginia does a terrific job with ball screens for London, but also setting a ton of screens off of the ball for him as well. They have played that role for us all year defending high-level guards coming off a million screens in SEC play, and they’ve always stepped up to the challenge.
Q. 17 points in the first half, 39 overall, 29 percent shooting, is that as close to perfection, defensive perfection, as you can actually hope for?
MIKE WHITE: Yeah, in Virginia’s defense, they missed a few open ones. They did. We got a couple bounces our way. That’s part of it. They didn’t make us pay for a few mistakes that we made, but we reduced the amount of mistakes, in my opinion, as well.
Yeah, that’s about as well as we’ve played defensively. We put a lot of it together tonight. I’m really proud of the defensive effort, the focus, the lock-in. Especially when we got up, I don’t know, say, 16, we didn’t have a drop-off, and we’ve had that four or five times this year. We didn’t have it tonight.
Q. Mike, can you just talk about Justin. I mean, obviously, he’s been kind of a roller coaster scoring-wise all year, but defensively, the effort’s always been there. Just what he’s meant to this team and then to have a big night like that.
MIKE WHITE: One of my assistants — he made a mistake during the game, Justin did. I said, “What is he doing?” I think it was Darius said, “Coach, two years ago he was trying to get to the Junior College National Championship. He’s trying to get to Hutch. Give him a break.” Obviously, we were playing with a lead there, and it was lighthearted.
It’s amazing how far the guy’s come. It’s amazing. He gets the double-double and goes 3-of-6 from three. But this was his best defensive effort as well. I can’t remember one glaring mistake that he made. I can’t remember him getting straight line driven. I can’t remember him missing a block out. He was really sound. And midseason he was being yanked in and out a little bit for — he was rebounding and making shots, actually, at a higher clip, but he wasn’t defending like he is right now. So tonight, was his best game as a Gator.
Q. Did you anticipate the length differential being substantial? Because I think a lot of that had to do with maybe that 21-0 run when you guys got out.
MIKE WHITE: Yeah, I thought we were longer at some positions, but they’re really, really long as well. I mean, Diakite, if that’s how you pronounce it, Mamadi, he’s a terrific talent. He’s so long. And Jack Salt, they started
both those guys who are both longer, at the four, five. And they’ve got some length too at the wings.
I think people can kind of get it confused. Devin makes us all look a little bit longer. He’s incredibly long, and he got his hands on a lot of basketballs. He was terrific again tonight as he was in the first round.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach.