Here’s the postgame press conference with Ed Cooley following the Friars’ 66-57 loss to (4) Villanova:
Here are some of Cooley’s thoughts:
- Cooley’s opening statement: “Frustrating loss. You give credit to a very, very tough basketball team. I though [Villanova] showed great team resiliency and great team toughness. Half of their points were either off turnovers or second shots which we definitely addressed in our preparation to play them. We had a tough time scoring the ball. But what I talked to my team about, I think this is the third or fourth we’ve had an opportunity to win and it talks about either our youth right now, our lack of detail work — whether coming to free throws, being in the moment, having a gang mentality with respect to rebounding second shots. This is the second game where we’ve lost a game coming down the stretch on that. Proud of our players. Really, really proud of our players for how hard we fought. You’re playing against a great, great team. Our crowd, what can you say? Our crowd was unbelievable. I think they willed us a lot today. They would not let us give up. But at the same time, as I told my team in [the locker room] there are no moral victories. There are zero moral victories. They give you 18 opportunities in this league to try make your run and we’re getting to a critical point, a make or break, on the type of season we want to have. The teams are jumbled up in our league. I hurt for our fans, I hurt for our players when a loss like this [happens]. That game was right where we needed it to be, right where we needed it to be with a young team against a veteran team and we squandered an opportunity on detail work. Hopefully we do a better job. We’ll give them tomorrow off, come back Friday. This is our first bye of which we need [it] right now. But at the same time you can’t beat your guys up, you gotta love them up, you’ve got to encourage them to be the best they can be in our next game in which we go to Seton Hall and try to get a win. This one’s tough. This one’s really, really tough.
- Cooley on what he told the team after getting down 13: “Just keep trusting each other. They’re going to make a run, we’re going to make a run. Normally we shoot the ball a little bit better when we’re at home. I think the one thing that Villanova is totally, totally underestimated about is how tough defensively they are. Everybody talks about their 3-point shooting, they talk about how well Jay [Wright] dresses, nah, they guard ya. They guard ya. And I think they are totally, totally underestimated on the defensive end and I think a lot of teams aren’t recognizing it at all.
- Cooley on Alpha Diallo’s progression: “He’s coming along. He’s a freshman who’s getting his legs underneath him, getting a little more comfortable on the floor. He’s a big, physical multi-purpose guard. I’m excited about him but at the same time, I like what he did but you’ve got to make your free throws. You’re on that stage, there’s a reason you’re recruited to this level. You live for those moments, guys. You live for those moments, you dream about those moments, being on the free throw line, sold out house, national championship team in your building. You’ve got to deliver on that one. It’s tough.”
- Cooley on Emmitt Holt’s status after injuring his ankle: “He’s hobbling a little bit. He’s a tough kid. He’s a warrior. He’s a warrior. I’m really proud of him. We could have used him a little bit more healthy down the stretch but he tried. Give him a lot of credit. He went out there and fought his tail off. Great game though. Great college basketball game. Again, I want to commend our crowd. Our crowd was unreal today, sensational.”
- Cooley on what they were trying to do on their possession that resulted in a Brunson steal and dagger at the other end: “We wanted an iso for Rodney [Bullock] on the right side of the floor to drive the ball and I think we bobbled the ball there. Again, you can survive some mistakes but I thought we had critical, critical turnovers at really important times, either a turnover or missed free throw.”
- Cooley on needing the upcoming bye week: “I think we’re the last team to have a bye in the Big East so it is [needed]. Our players can take a refresher moment, get a chance to reflect a little bit. I think we’ve got seven games left, four of which in this building. We’ve got one more plane flight which good, I think we’ve got to go out to Creighton. The thing is, when you’re in a situation like this here when you have a young team and you’re growing as a coach and as a leader you’ve got to make sure you stay incredibly positive even though you may be frustrated as a leader. Your players will take on that personality. Hopefully we can do a better job of the detail work and focus. It is our job as the leaders of the program to make sure that we will our players, give them the best possible scenario for the next game. Back to back home games where it’s coming right to the wire and we’ve basically given it away. Now, the other teams have earned it but at the same time we can’t let our frustration as the leaders seep into the players mindset or their ability. You’ve got to continue to be confident with them. We may be frustrated a little bit but we’ll love our babies up and we’ll get them prepared for the next game. It’s not the end of the world. Hopefully everybody stays in the country.”
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