Coach Kevin Willard, Seton Hall – Opening Statement: “I’m just proud of the way the guys fought. Coming in here 2-3, it was important that we played well. This group showed me a lot of toughness and that’s a very good Miami team so that’s a good win.”
On winning the Wooden Legacy: “I think it’s important for these guys to realize the way they are capable of playing and to play the way we practice. We didn’t play the way we practiced against Saint Louis and it showed. This week we brought it. It’s a good building block but we still got a long, long way to go. We have to continue to get better, that’s the biggest thing.”
Guard Myles Powell, Seton Hall (Wooden Legacy Most Outstanding Player) – On winning a back-and-forth game: “Coach just told us to keep our heads up, keep fighting. We just needed to get a couple stops and that’s what we did. We stayed together.
On being the focal point that defenses key on: “Everybody is pretty much denying me the ball. Coach does a good job of putting us in the right spots in practice and telling us what we have to do. We just listen to coach, follow his gameplan and it works.”
On progress team made: “We took big steps (forward). Coach never lost confidence in us, we got right back to practice after the Saint Louis loss. We came in as a team, watched film, learned from it and came out here to handle what we had to handle.”
Coach Jim Larranaga, Miami – (On Miami’s ball control): “I felt like the game came down to assists vs. turnovers. We only had 11 assists and 16 turnovers. A lot of bad decisions during the body of the game but, with that being said, it was still just one made shot away from winning. The shot we got at the end was a beauty. Zach [Johnson] did exactly what needed him to do, he got into the paint and kicked it out, Anthony Lawrence had a wide open three and he’s a 40% 3-pt shooter, so we couldn’t ask for anything better than that. For us to be the kind of team I know we’re capable of becoming, we’re going to have to reduce our turnovers to the last three games. We just turned the ball over way too much.”
(On his team’s defensive performance and ball control): “I didn’t think that we moved the ball that great in the first two days. I thought we turned the ball over a lot through the first two days. Turnovers are the worst thing you can do on offense. You can’t defend that. The other team steals it and goes down, you throw it to them and they go down and score before you get your defense set. We’re 30-55 for the game, you should win. We didn’t shoot great from three but if we had made just one more. If it was 8-20, which the last shot was, then that is 40% and that wins too. The game is a matter of inches, a possession here, and possession there.”
Guard Zach Johnson, Miami – (On fighting back in the game): “Being solid, not turning the ball over, not making the right plays, passing the ball. Like Coach said, down the stretch we kind of got sped up and made some hasty decisions and that put us in a tough position at the end of the game.”
(On whether the team is encouraged on how they played in the game): “I think definitely, along the line that is something you tend to look back at every little play that you wish you had back. Like Coach said, our turnovers and our lack of assists and attention to detail put us in that position.”
(On what the players got out of the weekend): “I think we will have a better answer to that once we get back to Miami and watch film. Obviously, we made it to the championship game. We didn’t meet our expectations in winning the championship games. When we get back to Miami, and see where we messed up, and start watching film, that’s when we’ll know.”
- The two-point margin made this the closest in Wooden Legacy championship history, edging the previous best of three points in 2014 (Washington 68, UTEP 65)… Seton Hall had previously lost five of its last six games decided by two points or less before tonight.
- Tonight’s championship game was the second-highest scoring championship game (in terms of combined points – 164) in Wooden Legacy history, trailing only the 179 from last year.
- Both teams shot over 50% FG, a first in Wooden Legacy championship history… In fact, prior to tonight just four teams had made at least half their shots in a championship game, and none had done so since 2012.
- Seton Hall made its last FG of the game with 4:48 remaining, then the next score was Miami’s final FGM at 3:23… From that point, each team made just one free throw the rest of the game.
- Seton Hall has now won the last four in the series and leads 16-8 in head-to-head matchups.
Seton Hall (4-2)
- Seton Hall is playing in its fifth ESPN event (10-5 record in those, now with one title).
- Michael Nzei led the team in scoring with a career-high 21 points on a perfect 8-8 FG night… Seton Hall is now 11-2 when he reaches double figures in points.
- Myles Powell scored 17 points today, and has now scored at least 10 points in 22 of his last 23 games.
- Quincy McKnight entered the game shooting 9-24 FG this season, but tonight made 7-9 FG in scoring 16 points, his most as a Pirate.
- Miami is playing in its ninth ESPN event (20-7 record in those, with a record-most four titles).
- Miami was involved in the second-biggest margin of a Wooden Legacy game (36 points), then its next two games were both two-point affairs.
- Miami has scored at least 78 points in all six games this season… the Hurricanes have now won 66 of their last 70 games when putting up at least 78 points, with two of the losses coming in overtime.
- Zach Johnson made his first start at a Hurricane and responded with 18 points.
- Chris Lykes also scored 18 points today and was a model of consistency, scoring 18, 17, and 18 points in his three games in the Wooden Legacy.
- Zach Lawrence had 17 points, including 12 in the second half (the most any player scored in either half).