LAS VEGAS—The second-seeded Arizona Wildcats took down the tenth-seeded Stanford Cardinal 95-84 at the Pac-12 Tournament Thursday evening. Our recap of the game can be found here, along with our story on Kerr Kriisa’s shoulder injury.
After the game, coach Tommy Lloyd, guard Courtney Ramey and big man Oumar Ballo spoke to the media. Here’s what they said:
Lloyd on his overall thoughts of the game: “Hey, a gritty win by our guys. Stanford, we knew it was a tough matchup and it’s not often in a conference tournament you have a, you take second out of 12 teams and it’s not often your first game’s a team that you play that you haven’t beaten.
So, yeah, we knew it was going to be a challenge. Their size matches up with us pretty well. They just, they have a tendency to make real timely shots against us and they just kept doing that over and over and over again. And then our guys hung with it. We ended up with a lineup out there that was able to switch some things and just give it a different look. And luckily our offense kept clicking all night. And they missed a few shots and we were able to kind of get out to that 8-, 10-point lead, which we had in the first half, but this time we did a better job of not letting them cut back into that.”
Lloyd on Kriisa’s shoulder: “Yeah, he got some sort of shoulder contusion-type injury. I just talked to our trainer and he felt he’ll be better tomorrow than he was today. Who knows, maybe he’s being a little dramatic and just wanted to prove he could shoot left-handed free throws. That was a little crazy. But he’s that kind of kid. It was a pretty cool moment. I don’t know if — I couldn’t stop it as it was happening, but the kid’s got courage, I guess is a way I can say here right now. So happy for him.”
Lloyd on whether he’s hesitant to play Kriisa with the NCAA Tournament around the corner: “I mean, yeah, I mean, I don’t really think like that. I’m going to follow our trainer’s advice. When I walked out back on to the court, I was under the assumption that wasn’t going to play, and I was okay with that. That’s kind of how I addressed the team at halftime, like, we’re going to be fine, we’ve been here before, and I feel like we would have found a way to pull it out one way or another.”
Ballo on what motivated the team’s performance: “We just played for each other. Guards found me and Zu pretty well and Zu also found me well too to get me the ball and I took some quick shots and they just fall in.”
Lloyd on controlling the paint: “We did a better job finishing and I think we, as that Stanford game played out offensively we made a lot of threes and, I think we made 16 threes, which is a lot for us. I think maybe we missed some layups in there and maybe lost our conviction to get the ball inside.
Today we did an incredible job hanging with the conviction, and I don’t know, I have to put my glasses on to see how many threes we took. We took 19 threes. I told our guys probably up to 25 and I would be okay. So they did a great job adhering to a plan. I’ll give these two guys credit up here. These two guys, we don’t talk about ‘em much, but I was on these two this week, these two in particular, and they’re incredible high-character guys and the reason I was on ‘em is because I knew they would respond. I thought they were both clutch and big time tonight in a big-time game in a big-time environment.”
Lloyd on what second half defensive adjustments the team made: “The first thing is we just pressured the ball. We pressured the ball the whole game, and listen, Stanford still scored. But I just think that overall ball pressure, they weren’t quite as comfortable as they were last time when we played ‘em. And then when we pressure, I think it activates us and then hopefully that ball pressure and activity spills over into other areas of the game.
So Courtney is a special defender and when he climbs into the ball he’s hard to play against. So that’s one of the first things I really noticed about him when we got him. He was incredible there tonight. And Oumar, he’s one of the best paint rim protectors in the game and when he’s moving his feet in there and active he’s tough to play against. I think today for the most part we had more possessions where we did that.”
Ramey on whether Arizona is hungry to play ASU game if the Sun Devils advance: “I don’t think we are looking at it like that. They’re two great teams, so whoever we play we know we’re going to get their best shot and we just want to play our best game tomorrow and rest up after today.”
Ramey on what he did to shake off the poor outing at UCLA: “It wasn’t my best game, but like Tommy said in practice, he was coming at me. I was kind of getting frustrated a little bit, but that’s his job to come at me and make me respond in a big way. And then me and O talked a lot too off the court, just like we can’t perform like that in big-time games and expect our team to win.
I’m proud of him today the way he bounced back and it kind of inspired me in the second half just to pick up how I was playing.”
Lloyd on the motivation of avenging the loss at Stanford and what adjustments Arizona made: “I mean, I don’t know, these guys can tell you that. For me, there’s no extra motivation. It’s you’re in a tournament. You win, you play tomorrow; you lose, you’re done. I don’t know what more motivation you need than that.
I think defensively today we picked up our ball pressure. They run a bunch of different sets and screening action. We just got through it. We just were a lot tougher. And at Stanford, I’ll own a good portion of that loss and I told these guys that. We got a little tricky with our scout and tried switching a bunch of things off the ball and maybe created too many decisions for our guys and today we kept it simple and let them get loose a little bit.”
Lloyd on passing Bill Guthridge for most wins by a coach in their first two seasons: “Well, it’s an honor. I told these guys, honestly, I just want to play tomorrow. I’m so proud of these players for putting me in this position. And maybe to pass Bill Guthridge, it is even a little extra special honor for me because I remember, I had settled in. I thought I was never leaving Gonzaga, and I was totally okay with that. And I would tell people jokingly, Hey, I mean, I’ll just be the next Bill Guthridge. I’ll be, he was Dean Smith’s right-hand man. I’ll be Mark Few’s right-hand man and maybe get a few years to be the head coach at the end of my career, and I would have been happy with it.
I think it says something. I think it says something about Coach Guthridge and the loyalty he had and staying with that program and for me to kind of follow that path and have that loyalty to Gonzaga and to my mentor and stay with him all those years, I mean, I think it’s a great formula to follow for a young coach. You come out of there seasoned. You come out of there maybe more ready than you expect to be because you’re just learning by osmosis from a great coach every day. It’s something that can’t be simulated. So I’m thankful for that. I’m thankful for Mark Few. I’m thankful for Gonzaga. But most of all, I’m thankful for these dudes that wear the Arizona uniform and that I get to coach every day.”