PWL CHAMPIONSHIP QUOTES – Washington vs. Saint Mary’s

Washington Coach Mike Hopkins – “Really proud of these guys. It took a lot of grit, a lot of toughness and a lot of togetherness and these guys showed up. Saint Mary’s is a championship program. They have one of the best defenses so far in the country, they’re great from the 3-point line and I thought we had one of our better defensive nights. We got back in the game, tied it up, and then the guys just fought through. I’m really proud of our guys and it was a tough fought win.”

(On the balanced production) – “We had four people in double figures, and that’s just the scoring part. The thing that I loved was some of the multiple efforts and loose balls and the plays that you have to make to win the game. [C] Braxton [Meah] got a big block late. They were making all their layups and it just took one and he got it. Usually when you close out games you have a closer, and this guy to my right [F] Keion Brooks Jr. made a couple of big time shots, which big time players make in big time moments and he’s a big time player and he performs in big time moments.”

(On if it was surprising to win given only having seven assists and 23 turnovers) – “Usually you would say no, but not when you play with a group of guys like this. Our defense is pretty darn good, too and we turned over a team that doesn’t turn it over. It wasn’t pretty but I think that’s the thing that makes this so special is the potential of what our team can be. I think we’re just scratching the surface of where we are right now and the team that we can become. We grew this week.”

(On what winning the Paycom Wooden Legacy does for the team moving forward) – “Every game is about growing and learning about ourselves. We showed that we can make mistakes and still grow and get better and as we grow as a team we’re going to grow tougher together. I know it’s cliche, but it’s real. Our team showed a lot of toughness  this weekend, and you can always rely on toughness, togetherness and defense. You can’t control made and missed shots. But that’s the key. How do we get better when we go back and have practice? Can we keep getting better on certain things? Can we limit our turnovers? I’m just really proud of these guys. These guys really came together. Different guys stepped up, the staff did an unbelievable job all around the board. I couldn’t be happier.”

Washington Forward Keion Brooks Jr. 

(On the spectacular shot he made in the second half) – “God was with me on that one. I knew that we were in the bonus and I was trying to just be aggressive going to the rim. I got to the middle lane and kind of slipped and I just wanted to get it up towards the rim and give [C] Franck [Kepnang] or [C] Braxton [Meah] a chance to rebound and God laid it in for me.”

(On his made bucket in overtime) – “I knew we were in the bonus and I wasn’t trying to bail him [the defender] out and I just wanted to put pressure on the defense. My teammates did a great job of getting me the ball in the spot where I feel comfortable. I work on those shots all the time, working with coach ‘Q’ [assistant coach Quincy Pondexter] and [associate head] coach [Will] Conroy. I knew that one of them was going to fall eventually so I just kept believing in it. Coach ‘Q’ shared something with me before the game that really helped me. I was thinking about that during the game and it made me stay confident in that moment and I was able to make the shot.”

Washington Center Franck Kepnang

(On his intensity level throughout the game) – “Every single game I try to come up with the same intensity, the same grit that’s inside me. Today it was a little more outspoken because this game was really big for us. It was big for our team just to get this win and go back to Seattle with the trophy. That’s what we said coming into the game is that we’re coming back home tomorrow with the trophy.”

Saint Mary’s Coach Randy Bennett

“We played in a competitive game. It was good for our guys to play in that, play in overtime, the whole ordeal. We gained a lot just playing in that situation and against a team that played well.”

(On the lane violation in overtime) – “It wasn’t the only thing but it was significant. Just not a very alert play. But we made so many plays that hurt our chances to win the game. Which happens in a game but just down the stretch we had a foul and gave them an and-1 and that was just a dumb play. We just have to get better. I wasn’t really pleased with how we played.”

(On the team continuing to fight in the second half) – “Our players kept fighting. We got up five and should have won the game, but we didn’t. Down the stretch we didn’t make enough smart plays and then they hit some shots. We just have to get better and they took advantage of it. They [Washington] had 23 turnovers and won but we made plenty of mistakes as well.

(On what is frustrating about attacking a zone) – “Not being able to shoot the ball. We didn’t have one guy shoot above 33 percent. Against any zone you need shooters, especially against Washington because they’re big around the rim. But we did a good job in the second half getting the ball through the middle and making good plays. In the first half we were brutal against it. In the second half we attacked it better, but we just never shot the ball well for the whole tournament. You’re going to have to make some shots to beat them in that zone.”

(On not having a lot of time to prepare for playing against a zone) – “I don’t think it was a factor. We were going to attack that zone the way we attack the zone every day in practice. Usually, we don’t get zone but usually we’re really good against zone but you’re not going to be really good against zone against them [Washington] unless you make some shots because they’re not going to give you a second shot. They’re big around the rim and their fives, [Braxton] Mesh and [Franck] Kepnang, they’re going to control the rebounds. They beat us on the boards by eight, they held us to a low field goal percentage and three point percentage. You can’t score 22 In the first half and think you’re playing well. In the second half we were better. We attack the zone better. Our four, [Kyle] Bowen, started playing more aggressive. You know what the best thing about this tournament was for us – besides that we’re playing a tournament that has John Wooden’s name on which is just an honor – is we got exposed on some things that we’re not good at. I think we are good at attacking zone but we’re not good at attacking zone and making shots. You have to make the shot, otherwise it doesn’t matter what play you’re running or what offensive you’re running. You have to make a decent percentage of shots, and we didn’t last night either [against Vanderbilt]. Washington’s too good to shoot the ball that way, turn over the ball that way and get beat on the boards that way. But they did a good job. They’re good. They have good personnel and they’re good in that zone. Congrats to them.”