Providence Coach Ed Cooley – “I was proud of our group. It’s no secret we’ve struggled our last three games prior to tonight. Trying to get us some confidence. I was really proud of our play. I thought the last two games we played against the two best guards we have faced up to this point, and there’s going to be many more; so that’s going to be great practice and preparation. I was really proud of our execution coming out of time outs. We had a chance to stretch the lead; missed a couple lay-ups, missed some free throws. Credit to [Pepperdine Head Coach] Lorenzo’s team. Their guard and the bigs just kept them in the game. Again, just proud of our group. We needed a win anyway, anyhow, and we were able to come away with a great team win. We got some good contributions from a lot of guys.” (The mental challenge getting over the latest losses) “It’s just confidence. You know when you lose a couple in a row; we lost a home game, lose a game basically at the buzzer, then you kind of feel down and get punched in the mouth by a great [College of] Charleston team; your confidence can be shaken. I was just proud of the fact that we were able to get a day off, …, be around love one’s without basketball. We didn’t practice yesterday; very little practice. Sometimes less is more when you are dealing with young minds that are fragile and not feeling confident about themselves. I was really proud of that.” (On how big this win is) “Honestly it’s the biggest win of the year for us based on where we were coming from emotionally. This morning, I felt like a psychologist, … an ‘list’ of everything. Even on my card I have here, and I’ll share this with you. So, I have a game card right here, and on it says, ‘stay positive, stay connected, infuse team with spirit, enthusiasm, and energy, use the word love, and stay aggressive.’ Those are the things I wrote on the card to make sure I stay in the moment with them. This is unfamiliar territory for us. I think we’ve gone 6 or 7 consecutive years where we’ve played in the championship this time of year. We can’t get rattled or shaken.” (On Pepperdine Guard Colbey Ross performance) “He’s a hell of a player. I think the last two guards we’ve played against combined for close to 60 points against us. Normally I like to think we’re ok defensive team; those kids are next-level players. Those coaches have a lot to be grateful and thankful having those players on their rosters, because they’re going to have a lot of fun with them dudes. Glad we don’t play against them again.
Pepperdine Coach Lorenzo Romar – “Providence is a very physical team, an experienced team. They did a good job of staying in the game running their sets. I thought our guys competed and we were able to get to the foul line. We were just not able to finish the game.”
Providence’s physicalness – “Well offensively they set a lot of screens and they can be physical all they want with the big bodies they have. They used those bodies to screen, to bump you, you feel those guys. Right away you can feel they were going out of their way to hit you.”
Thoughts on Overall Weekend – “What I’ve learned over the years in coaching is when coaches say, “Oh we lost five games in overtime, we were doing really well and one of our guys went down. We turned the ball over at the end that would have changed our record,” you weren’t good enough, that’s what that means. So far, we have not been good enough, we have been competitive but not good enough. We have not been good enough to make the right plays at the right time. It means boxing out, making the proper rotation, ball screen coverage, getting back in transition and we did not do that. We had breakdowns at crucial points in the game that have prevented us from doing much better.”
On Jan Zidek – “His dad had sent a video. I knew his dad from when he played at UCLA. I was an assistant and he asked what I thought. We saw him on film, and you couldn’t tell a whole lot except that he can shoot the basketball. Finally, he came out on a visit and we saw him up close, how tall he was. We had stayed in touch and fortunately for us we were able to get him. He’s going to be a really good basketball player for us. Right now, he is learning the game over here in the U.S. It is pretty remarkable for a teenage kid to come from another country this far from the Czech Republic on his own by himself with no family. Small little things like that where the longer he is here he is going to get more comfortable. Learning our system and learning the game in the U.S. there are some different nuances in the game, and I just think he is going to be a really good basketball player for us.”
On Colbey Ross – “When we first saw Colbey (Ross) is when we felt we had a chance to get the job at Pepperdine. I started to watch them play, I had heard of him, people had mentioned him, but I hadn’t really watched. When we watched him, he was a freshman, we thought wow that is pretty good if you can come to a program and inherit the point guard position. I was very impressed with him then and last year working with him you can just see he is like a coach on the floor. He has the ability to make shots, penetrate, and feed his teammates. I continue to say he is probably the most underrated guard in the country. His numbers speak for themselves.”
Pepperdine Guard Colbey Ross – “Tonight we came out, had a good run at the end but too many mistakes. The course of the game hurt us. In this tournament we played some really good teams. Arizona, UCF, and Providence are legit teams that will make the tournament, so we just have to get better day by day. We are still learning to win and compete at this level.”
Cameron Edwards unavailability – Pepperdine Guard Colbey Ross – “We knew this morning, early this morning. He had gone to the doctor and found out. “It definitely hurt us. You can’t replace him, he is a force down low, a man out there who can really score the ball. He does a lot for us, but it is good for our younger guys because Jan (Zidek), Vic (Victor Ohia Obioha), and Jackson Stormo got to step up and get minutes.”
Takeaways from tournament – We are just going to take it game by game. We know the next five games we have to win, point black. We have to win once we get into conference play, but the next five games are very important. We are not playing bad teams we are playing teams that are good, so we just have to continue to get better.”
• With the final margin being three points, this was the fourth game in the 2019 Wooden Legacy that a game was decided by three or fewer points… that is the most of any year in this tournament, with 2009, 2011, and 2014 having the next most close games (all with three games decided by one shot or less).
• This was the first meeting between these two teams.
• Since 1/1/15, Providence has compiled a 19-8 record in games decided by one shot (three points or less).
• The Providence bench outscored the starters 41-39… the bench combined to shoot 14-27 (.519) while the starters shot 13-30 (.433).
• Nate Watson tied for the team lead in points, scoring 15… he had scored a total of 16 combined in his previous three games… this was the 30th career game in double digits and 14th with 15 or more points.
• A.J. Reeves came off the bench to tally 15 points to garner a share for the team lead in that category… this was his 11th career game with 10+ points.
• Alpha Diallo just missed getting a double-double, notching 13 points and nine rebounds… this was the 73rd time in his career that he has had 10+ points.
• David Duke followed up on his career high last game with a 10-point effort… this marked the 15th career game he has scored at least 10 points.
• Pepperdine lost its third straight game when scoring 77+ points… before that stretch, the Waves had won 11 of 13 when scoring 77 or more.
• Kessler Edwards logged his sixth career double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds… Edwards did not have a foul in the game, the third time this season he has had a foul-free game (has had four such games in his career).
• Pepperdine has now lost the last five games when a Wave scores 20+ points.
• Colbey Ross, who last game had his streak of 21 straight games with 10+ points ended, started a new streak with 29 points… this was the 30th career game for Ross scoring 20+ points (Pepperdine 10-20 in those games).
• Ross had 25 points in the second half alone, which was just one point shy of the Wooden Legacy record for most points in a half (26 by Arizona State’s James Harden against Baylor in 2008)… in the second half Ross was 7-9 FG while the rest of the team was 7-21 FG.
• Ross had three assists today, but in his three Wooden Legacy games he had 24 assists while the rest of the team had 25.
• Freshman Jan Zidek scored a career-best 16 points… had a total of 19 points combined in his first seven games before today.
• Darryl Polk Jr. set a career high with six assists in a career-most 33 minutes.