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Nov. 28, 2017

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Virginia Coach Tony Bennett

On how the defense played against Wisconsin’s Ethan Happ:
“I thought it was terrific. I have so much respect for him as a player, watching him on film and the things that he does. I thought, individually, guys did a good job on him and then collectively, Jack [Salt] was really aggressive, but you just need to make him earn everything. I thought it was a good sign that on that first time we trapped him. Ty [Jerome] came across the middle and got a jump ball, but with a player like that you just try to make him earn it all game long, and I thought the guys did a great job.”

On the rebounding performance:
“It was a very similar score to the last time we played. You know it is going to be a battle; it is going to be a possession game, so anytime you can get extra possessions is a good thing. I thought the job that Mamadi [Diakite], Jack [Salt] and Isaiah [Wilkins] did on the glass was terrific just to keep points together. That can break your back when you are guarding and you have to guard again and again. We took some good shots and we struggled to put them in, but those offensive rebounds were significant for us.”

On Jack’s improvement in rebounding this season:
“He is just getting better. He is trying to go with two hands. He is active. Offensively, he has been more active. He is not just settling on the back. He is really trying to work on getting around and do the job that way. You could see that both teams were tired. It was a very physical game with a lot of screens set and working. Obviously, that showed up in some of the missed shots. I looked at the box score, and I can’t remember the last time we did not have at least one free throw, but I think Jack is improving. Collectively, we did as well as we could tonight defensively.”

Wisconsin Head Coach Greg Gard

Opening Statement:
“As I just told the team, I can’t fault the effort and the energy that they played with. I thought they battled. We were able to close the gap there at halftime, but you have to make shots against Virginia with how they load the ball and how they make it hard on the block with the double teams and how they rotate out of that. I thought we had some looks early that we needed to have go down. That [would have been] able to change the scheme a little bit defensively, it makes them guard the whole floor instead of the half they commit to. If you’re not making shots, you have to make sure you’re not giving up second ones. There were times when we had a chance to end a possession but missed a blockout or didn’t complete a blockout, and they were able to get another possession. Not necessarily score off of it, because they only had six points I think off the glass. It was that time that ran off the clock and then obviously, turnovers. Knowing it’s going to be a lower possession game, you have to maximize your opportunities. You can’t have that many turnovers. We just have to continue to get better at the offensive execution. It was a great experience for our young guys, our freshman, the four that played here tonight. That’s the most physical and defensive sound team we played. You can tell them, and teach and look at film all you want, but for them to live through it, I think that will help them grow a little bit faster.”

On Kyle Guy:
“Well, he’s constantly on the move. If you watch great shooters, they’re constantly [moving]. As I told the team, he’ll try to hypnotize you with his play, lull you to sleep a little bit, but then bust off a screen. I thought we did a pretty good job for him to get 17 points but take 17 shots. We made him work. He made some tough ones. We helped too far on one of his threes in the first half. We came too far off to plug a gap. By and large I thought we did a pretty decent job on him. Kyle is a good player. I watched him in AAU and high school. They do a good job getting him shots at the right time.”

On coaching against Tony Bennett:
“Well, once the ball goes up, I never really worry about who’s on the other sideline or pay attention. He’s a tremendous friend. His family has been great to me. His dad has been terrific to me during my time as head coach here. I have great respect for Tony. We had a great two years together when we were on staff. He was a fun guy to [have] be a part of our staff. He’s obviously done a terrific job here. Obviously, it was torturous for his dad to watch this wherever he was tonight, probably back home. I don’t think he was here tonight from what Tony told me.”

Virginia Guard Devon Hall

On offensive scoring droughts:
“I mean, it was 37-49 so you can tell it was going to be the type of game where you just have to grind it. Coach Bennett told us in the locker room before we went out that it’s going to be the kind of game where we just have to grind it out. So just getting stops and even if you miss shots, you keep taking them if you’re wide open.”

On endurance over the last week of games:
“I think it has been three games in five days. So, we played back to back. I mean, it’s tough. We played three good teams in a row, so just being able to sustain the effort level and the energy level and all that is tough, but you have to find a way to battle it out.”

On team’s comfort-level together:
“We are still in the midst of trying to forge our identity as a team this early in the season, so we are trying to make sure everybody is on the same page in terms of knowing what type of team we are.”

On Jack [Salt] and Mamadi’s [Diakite] contribution to the team:
“I think that those two, and even Isaiah [Wilkins] and the bigs that played, were a heavy piece of the game. Being able to hold (Ethan Happ) to 14 points, lock them down and go post-trap and keep them away from scoring, I think that those guys did a heck of a job. Even on the offensive end too, we throw it down there and tell those guys to go ahead and make a play.”

Virginia Sophomore Guard Kyle Guy

On his offensive diversity:
“I’ve always tried to be that way, especially in high school and my younger years. Definitely last year it was a little more one-dimensional and that was just something that, as I’ve said a thousand times, I just tried to work on this summer and I think it’s starting to show.”

On where the team stands offensively:
“I think we all need to be a little more consistent, and that goes for probably every team in America. We’ve seen a lot of guys shine on different nights, so I really think that says a lot. If I’m having an off-shooting night, someone else can go get a bucket, [Devon Hall] has been very consistent. I think we have a lot of people who can score and when we find our identity we’ll be a little smoother.”

On the ability to adjust playing teams with different styles of play (Vanderbilt, Rhode Island, and Wisconsin):
“It is a testament to the coaching staff and getting us ready for all three very different opponents. Then a testament to our guys being disciplined enough to execute the game plan. So, I think that is a sign of maturity. With us trying to find our identity, we still have the ability to execute, and that’s pretty phenomenal.”

On Jack [Salt] and Mamadi’s contribution to the team: “They have definitely earned the right to make plays in the post when they get it. And again, they did a tremendous job on Happ. A lot of Devon and my points came from them giving us a second chance, and getting offensive rebounds and tip-bounds, so they played a hell of a game.”

Virginia Center Jack Salt

On if he is surprised when Head Coach Tony Bennett is frustrated about the team’s defense:

“Honestly, no. We made a lot of errors on the on-ball defense. [Ethan] Happ got a few slips that were wide-open layups, so we know there is stuff we can work on, which is good for the future.”

On if his confidence is growing offensively:
“It is always good to get a few buckets. I do not usually score too much, but I am just trying to be confident and ready if a pass does come my way.”

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