THE MODERATOR: We're being joined by head coach Randy Bennett as well as student‑athletes Matthew Dellavedova, Stephen Holt, and Beau Levesque.
We'll start with an opening statement by Coach Bennett.
COACH BENNETT: We played a good team, Middle Tennessee. We expected them to be a good team, and they were.
So we're happy to get out of this first round with a win and looking forward to moving on.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for our student‑athletes.
Q. Matthew, directly, and Beau and Stephen, you can chime in, if you will. When you hit those first two threes, on a scale of 1 to 10, how deep was your sigh of relief?
MATTHEW DELLAVEDOVA: There was no sigh of relief. I didn't know ‑‑ somebody had told me that I was 1 for 18 on my last 3s. That didn't even enter my head. I've always got confidence the next one's going down.
Yeah, just get too many shots up for them not to go in.
BEAU LEVESQUE: I know it felt good for us just to get a good start, jumping onto an early lead, just having Dell on was definitely big for us.
Q. Matthew, your top seven minute‑getters have all played in the tournament before. They have nobody that's played in the tournament. What sort of role do you think the experience played?
MATTHEW DELLAVEDOVA: I think the main thing that sort of helped our guys out there was just like the travel and all the other stuff that kind of goes with it. Get a shorter warm‑up, all those kinds of things.
So it definitely helps, I think, that we've got a little bit of experience in the tournament.
Q. Can you guys talk about their physicality on defense, particularly their guards. They've got some strong, stocky guys. Was that a challenge for you, or are you used to it by now?
MATTHEW DELLAVEDOVA: Well, we knew they're a physical team with strong guards that are all kind of like junior and seniors, and we knew they'd get after us. It was a physical game, but it seems in the West Coast Conference players are pretty physical as well. So I think that helped us be ready for it.
Q. Matthew, just talk about all the different defensive looks they gave you. They put three or four different guys on you, tried some different defensive sets. They seem to throw just about everything they had at you.
MATTHEW DELLAVEDOVA: Yeah, we knew they'd switch out their defenses a bit. They've got the 1‑3‑1 half‑court. They went to the quick trap at the end, and then saw different looks on the on low post there, switching, hard show a trap.
We've seen, I guess, most of the defenses ‑‑ or pretty much all of the defenses that teams could throw at us throughout the year. So I think we've got ourselves in place for each way they're going to guard us. So I think that helps.
Q. Beau, your kind of the team's bracketologist. You kind of know what's going on across the country. What do you know about Memphis?
BEAU LEVESQUE: I've seen them play a couple of times. I know they're fast in transition. We really have to get back. But we know if we play our game we'll be able to make a good game.
When it comes to the tournament, it doesn't matter what your seed is, 6 or 11. We feel we can compete with anybody.
THE MODERATOR: Steve, Matthew, and Beau, thank you for your time. Good luck in the second round.
We'll open the floor for questions from Coach Bennett.
Q. How are you going to deal with the athleticism and speed of Memphis? A lot of people say that they're super athletic. How are you going to deal with that?
COACH BENNETT: You know what, I really haven't had much time to think about it. I think teams like that ‑‑ I saw Memphis play the other day when they won their conference championship. But the number one thing is you have to take the transition away from them, see if you can do that, which is what I thought we had to do tonight on Middle Tennessee.
The keys on Middle Tennessee were taking away transition, don't give them second shots, they're very good going to the boards, and then taking care of the ball.
We did a good job in all three of those areas except for about ten minutes in the beginning of the second half. They were able to get transition, and the game got tight again.
So I think it's the same. I think it's ‑‑ they're just ‑‑ I don't know if they're going to be any quicker or faster than Middle Tennessee. Those guys have a nice team. Kermit does a great job with them, and a lot of guys keep coming.
So with Memphis, it's pretty much same game plan.
Q. Randy, it was brief, but two things we saw in the second half we don't normally see from you. One, Matthew sitting for two minutes in a tight game, and one possession of the zone. What was behind those two things?
COACH BENNETT: Matt had cramps, so we had to take him out. Otherwise, we wouldn't take him out.
The zone, we had longer possessions and wanted to burn the clock. So I think, when you go zone, it takes longer to get a shot, and that's it. I thought, if they went man, kept going man, they're just driving it, and it's either going to be a foul or ‑‑ it was going to end up a situation where the clock was not going to run very long.
So those are the reasons we did those two things.
Q. We asked the guys and Delle how it felt when he hit those first two 3s. What was going through your mind when he hit those shots?
COACH BENNETT: It felt good because he had been struggling for a while. We're not going to win games like this if Matt doesn't shoot it well ‑‑ or shoot it decent.
The thing I never question on Matt is how ‑‑ his desire to win or whether he's going to do the right things leadership‑wise and all that. He's going to play whether he makes shots or not, but if he makes shots, it gives us a chance to separate. If he didn't make shots, the game would have gone to the wire, but he made them. It gives us a chance to separate.
I thought he and Holt really played well.
Q. Coach, they make the run there. You call like a 30‑second time‑out. What did you tell them there? From there you guys extended up by 12, and from there, it's pretty much game over.
COACH BENNETT: I know exactly what I told them. I told them to get back on defense. That's when they made the run. They (MTSU) came back and kicked out three, penetrate, and one layup.
So I really think they need that to score. They held them to 20 in the first half, and then they got 18 in the first eight minutes of the second half. And that's why. They got in transition. Some of it's ‑‑ we might have turned it over ‑‑ we didn't turn it over much, though.
I think most of it was our two guards weren't getting back deep enough, and they were able to get isolations. If they get that, they're very good.
Q. Best‑case scenario for you guys, you're playing three games in basically five days. Does that change your rotation at all? You've got Jorden Page out. You're a little short already. How do you deal with that the next two days, maybe four days?
COACH BENNETT: We're going to have to play Eividas at the 3 spot some, and Paul is going to have to play a little more. You can get away with it the first game not playing your bench much. This next game, and hopefully there's one after that, same deal, we're going to have to use our depth more.
Those guys can play, they just haven't had a lot of experience this year, and you're throwing them into a pretty big game, and there's a lot of pressure on it. So they'll do it. We had to do the same thing when Beau Levesque was a freshman. So he'll have to step up. They'll get it done.
Q. Speaking of Page, what's the diagnosis on him? Is he going to be able to rejoin you guys at some point? I know that was a possibility.
COACH BENNETT: I don't know. He was supposed to see the doctor today, and they were going to look at the MRI and figure out what they thought the injury was and how long. So I have not heard yet. I doubt he will be playing with us Thursday.
I'll know more as soon as I call back and find out.
THE MODERATOR: Coach Bennett, thank you for your time. Good luck in the second round.
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