MBI Quotes – Vermont 78, Saint Louis 68

Vermont Coach John Becker – “Another really good team win today against a good Atlantic 10 team in Saint Louis. I thought offensively we were much, much better today than we were yesterday where it was a little bit of a slug in the first half. TJ Long all year has been incredible since transferring from Fairfield. He’s been shooting the lights out and just scoring and doing a little bit of everything. I thought there were great efforts by just about everyone that played today. We knew we were going to have to get on the glass against an athletic, tough team, even though they’re undersized. We continued to shoot the ball well, so the three point line has been good to us. I’m just really proud of this group and really excited for an opportunity to play in a championship game. It’s been interesting the last two days, we’ve played really good teams. Yesterday, we were down 15 In the first half and found a way to come back and win. Today, we were up 15 In the first half and Saint Louis, like we knew, made their run, and it was a different challenge. I thought our guys got punched in the mouth a little bit in the second half, but responded, and we were able to push the lead back to 15 and kind of coast to victory.” (On the team not allowing Saint Louis back into it) “It’s just a tough, tough group. We don’t panic, we’re calm. They made their run but we didn’t panic and start to do things out of character. We just knew that they’re a good team with a rich tradition and they have a lot pride and you know they’re going to keep battling. We just had to stick with it, stick with the game plan, and with this group I don’t worry about scoring. We have some guys… We have a lot of guys that have the courage, toughness, skill and love the moment. As a coach, I’m pretty lucky. I had a lot of different options when it comes to that…. We got a lot of options on that side and that’s what we’ve been trying to emphasize. If we can be tough-minded and really be a solid, disciplined defensive team, we’re going to continue to have success.” (On playing for championship Sunday) “We’re really excited. That’s what we came down here to do. This is obviously a really, really talented field. We’ll have our hands full on Sunday… We’ve been in a lot of championships and this stuff is great. As a coach, it’s great to not only play this level of competition, but now to work towards a championship. In our conference tournament you got to win three games to win a championship. There are some similarities and these experiences are invaluable as you try to build a team…We came down here to win a championship. The hard part is the first game I always say in these events, then we took care of business today, and we’ll see what we got on Sunday.”

Vermont Guard TJ Long – (On the response after Saint Louis cut it to nine) “I think it might have been Brenton [Mills], he drove, he made a great pass, drew two and then kicked out. I saw I had an advantage and a clear lane to the basket so I just took the layup. Then we went down on defense, had a great team possession on defense, got a good block. Then ‘AD’ [Aaron Deloney] had the ball, saw that no one was really covering me in transition, had a great pass ahead and I was just able to knock down an open shot. Whenever a team goes on a quick 5-0 run like that in 30 seconds, it’s great for us. The energy is back in it. Guys on the bench were fired up, guys on the court were fired up. That’s one great thing about this team is that no one really cares who gets the credit, the one goal is to win and to win a championship here. Really selfless stuff and it feels like that little run there kind of got us over the edge.” (On playing for a championship) “It feels great. This is what you come down to these events for. To play against good competition and have a chance to go to a championship. It gets us ready for the big championship that we got to win in March. It just gets everyone ready, and gives everyone a feel of what that’s going to be like.”

Saint Louis Coach Travis Ford – “We played against a very good team today and got beat by a very good team. That’s as well connected a team as I’ve seen in awhile. They play really, really well together. Very connected, have a lot of weapons. We weren’t a very good team today and I don’t know many areas where we succeeded today. Give them all the credit. Vermont causes a lot of problems on the defensive end…I looked down at the stat sheet, I don’t know how we scored 68. It sure didn’t feel like it. They’re [Vermont] a good team every game I see. We weren’t very good today and they had a lot to do with it.” (On the defense) “I thought we came out very flat with not the energy we needed and we couldn’t score. We were hoping to be able to score and press a little bit. We were weary that we had played less than 24 hours ago. How they got their threes is no different than how we thought they were going to try and get them…. They’re a difficult team to guard. The way they move the ball, the way they pass it, the way they shoot it…. You got to be able to score a few points with some consistency to play with Vermont. I don’t care who they play, because they’re going to score a few points. They’re gonna get hot at some point, we just let them stay hot for pretty much the whole game.”