March 15, 2008
Head Coach Emmett Davis
"I am so proud of these guys here for what they have accomplished this year. It was a great college basketball game with a great atmosphere. Even if you didn't know anything about Patriot League basketball, you would be impressed with the style of play and the level of athleticism today."
"I tip my hat to Jeff Jones and his team. He has been in this thing three times and he finally gets the win tonight."
"These three guys right here (Chones, Roemer, Woodhouse) have been the heart and soul of this team all year. The games they played to get us to this point, and the way that we closed out the season has a lot to do with these three and they way they played."
"I thought that there were a couple of key offensive rebounds that they got in the second half. Specifically, the one that Jordan Nichols got and the one that they saved from going out of bounds; they got a hustle play there and I thought they made some plays down the stretch. We made some plays too. We had a little trouble with the physicality and we lost the ball and didn't take care of the ball in a few situations."
"It was a physical game, but you just need to play through that. The officials did an excellent job the entire game, and were very consistent. As a coach, I prefer the physicality of the game to tell you the truth."
"Our guys were feeling pretty good at the point that we were up four in the second half, because it was the first time all game that there was a moment like that. After that, though, we lost track of Carr and he's done that all year. He has been a phenomenal player for them, we left him open and he made the shot. It's been his mantra all year."
"Thought we did a good job on Carr for the most part. I watched film of him from the entire year all year, and thought that we did as good if not the best job of anyone in defending him. We let him loose for a couple, and he missed a couple and made a couple. I thought we did a great job as a team on Mercer. He's terrific, a catalyst for their team. He did not have a great shooting night, but made the two foul shots at the end to give them a four-point lead. We held them to 52 points, and defended them probably as well as they have been defended all year."
Senior forward Kendall Chones
"It's pretty tough to lose a game like this, because we work towards this the whole season, set our goals and establish what we want to do. The only thing you can do after this is train in the off-season, have this in the back of head, the motivation to get better, and then try and step into next season with a more intense and better approach."
Junior forward Alex Woodhouse
"I would agree that the game was extremely physical. We came in with a mindset that we need to win this game, matched their intensity until the last minute of the game, and it was head to head the entire time. It was tough, but I wish it would have turned out different."
Junior guard and Tournament MVP Garrison Carr
"When [Roemer] knocked that three down to put them up four, we just ran back down the court like it was the first bucket of the game."
"I had this dream like six times before the moment actually happened, so when it actually happened, I was extremely excited for the program and our team. You have to give Colgate credit, because they wouldn't go away. I had these dreams every night since the Army game on Sunday. I just kept having them over and over again, and as much as I would try and think about random stuff to take my mind off of the game, I would still wake up in the middle of the night sweating. I didn't tell anyone about the dreams, because I don't like to let anyone know what I am thinking internally. I knew it would be a tough battle. When [Colgate] went up with however many minutes left, it didn't bother me at all because we have been there before."
"Basically it felt normal for what I have been facing for a majority of the season. I knew that since this was a one and done game that they would be tough. The coaches told me to expect it, but we were very prepared to counter against their tough defense. I got a good number of shots up, even though it was difficult to get shots up, but the team comes in, and stepped up around me. We proved that we were the better team tonight."
"Despite how much I was telling everyone that I wasn't thinking about [the NCAA Tournament], I was thinking about it a lot just because people were always talking about it this week. Sometimes I would think about how I wouldn't want a loss in this game to happen to my team. It was mostly just for us, but also to get that history out of the way."
"When the season was over last year, I went to work the very next day. I worked hard on my game, and I knew that my defense had to improve. I worked just as hard as I always have, but I knew that this year was a unique opportunity to step up."
Junior guard Derrick Mercer
"My teammates told me I would make the shot when it counts. I told myself at the line that I practice these shots all the time, and just went through my normal routine."
Mercer referring to his final two shots at the free-throw line
"My shot seemed to be short all night, and it was like someone was on the rim smacking my ball out of the rim. It's a team effort, thought, and I knew I still had to be the leaders of this team. I knew I couldn't put my head down, and I had to continue to lead this team."
"It was a lot of pressure because we heard all week that American had been here three times before, but came up a little bit short. This team had a chance to come out here tonight and pull it out, and all we are going to do is enjoy the win that we got here today. We took advantage of the opportunity."
Mercer on the pressure of trying to be the first AU team to make the NCAA Tournament
"We are going to celebrate this one, and for right now we aren't worried about next year. We still have the NCAA tourney ahead of us."
"We have seen him cry before; he's an emotional person. He wants the best for this team and this program. He has meant so much to us that it is hard to put into words. I think that this time it was a different type of tear, definitely tears of joy."
Mercer on Coach Jeff Jones' post game display of emotion
"It brings a lot of emotion, gives you energy. It was exciting around campus for the last week or so. Just coming out there on the court and hearing them cheering your name, it gives you energy. But you don't want to get too excited, so you need to channel that energy. It was great to look up and see thousands of people."
"We know the next time we step on the court for practice we are going to have to put on our hard hats, and prepare ourselves for whomever we play. We are definitely going to watch the show, and it will be interesting to see where we're at."
Junior forward Brian Gilmore
"I can't really remember what happened with that exact play. I knew that I wanted to come up with any loose ball that I was around, so I got the loose ball, but I'm not sure what happened after that."
Gilmore on his steal at the end of the game
"We were pretty confident coming in. Coach has said all week that we needed to play forty minutes. It was a tight game, very similar to the quarterfinal game here against Holy Cross. We knew that we needed to make big defensive stops, and capitalize on the other end."
"Standing on the free throw line at the end of the game is when it really hit me, and I think it affected me on my missed free throw. It was neat to look up at the scoreboard, and to see how all of the fans felt. It was a surreal experience, exciting for all of us."
Gilmore on his free throws with just over two seconds remaining in the game
"Do we have practice on Sunday?"
Gilmore asking Coach Jones after a reporter's question
"I'm just glad that we aren't going to watch it from home this year on spring break. The last couple of years or so, you would see all of the teams waiting for their name to be called. It's nice knowing that this year we have the opportunity to hear our name called and to play in the tournament is really exciting."
Gilmore on Sunday's Selection Show on CBS
Head Coach Jeff Jones
"First off, there is no practice on Sunday."
"I think that we just gutted it out today. I can remember one instance where [Brian] Gilmore took a shot that missed everything, but Jordan [Nichols] found a way to get to the rebound and get us two points. On defense we really geared up in the second half. [Derrick] Mercer did a great job pressuring their guards, and it took them seven or eight seconds to get into their sets. They didn't have a lot of time. We played great defense in the first half, but they would have time at the end of the shot clock to just throw it into Chones, and it is tough to stop him because he is so strong in there. But Mercer's pressure negated that in the second half. Gilmore had some big hustle plays down the stretch. It was just a case of our guys being alert and trying to find ways to win when neither team was an offensive juggernaut."
"Its great, I'm happy for so many people; the students have been such great supporters, so I'm glad to be able to win for them. The AU grads, especially the ones that have suffered through 25 or 30 years. It was nice to see so many faces down there tonight, like Wilbur Thomas and Billy Stone; guys that have wanted it so much. David Aldridge is probably floating around here somewhere too. We have suffered so many disappointments, but they can watch on Sunday and feel a great sense of pride when AU is included."
"This is a great group of young men. We were picked fifth in preseason, and really had no idea what to expect, but the guys worked hard, and were just excited about having the chance to play basketball. Along the way they really gelled into a team."
"To be honest with you I didn't know that rule, so I am glad that the officials did."
Jones referring to the alternate possession situation during the final minute of the game
"I thought [Colgate] did a great job of mixing and changing defenses. One of the things we like to do is call special plays coming out of timeouts, but we knew after the first few minutes that we needed to have a zone play and a man play coming out of timeouts because of the change ups. [Nick] Hendra had some great looks, but they just didn't fall. We were trying to create some isolation situations, and go to the basket. We were settling for jump shots, so we were trying to get something other than jumpers. Derrick wasn't having his best shooting game, but when you shoot that poorly and struggle to find a rhythm as a team, you need those extra opportunities. That's why those garbage and put-back baskets were so big for us."
"[Derrick] struggled shooting the ball against Army as well after he had shot fairly well against Holy Cross. As a player you just have to find other ways to contribute and not let it bother you. I was watching and ACC Tournament game earlier in the day to distract myself, and one of the announcers was talking about how shooters have to have amnesia when it comes to the missed shots. This applied to Derrick, and I can't remember a bad shot that he took. You come this far with these guys, so I was glad to see we could grind it out and get to the free throw line and pull it out."
"It's about making the most of opportunities and this team did. I can't necessarily say that this was the best of all of our teams, but this group really did come together. I hadn't really thought about the point made that new guys were coming into new roles, but it took us awhile to develop chemistry. I think it might have been around the point where we were 3-3 in the Patriot League that we were developing consistency and realized that this team had ability to accomplish something."
"I think that the key for us heading into the NCAA Tournament is our attitude, and I won't really know what that is until we step onto the practice court for the first time on Monday. The guys are going to have to ask themselves, is this it? Have we accomplished our goal and now we're happy with that? Or are they going to be a little bit greedy and not just go out and compete, but try to win? We better have the right attitude and compare if we want to go our and try to win. We had a similar type of conversation following a close loss at Dayton earlier in the year. We led at the half, but then we let them back in it and they stretched it out at the end. I asked them after the game if they were content with that. Dayton was a great team, and this was before they had all of those injuries and lost the bulk of their games. I asked them what they thought about maybe playing a full forty-minute game at some point. Their answer was the next game when we went out and won against Maryland. Their attitude in practice on Monday will tell me a lot about where their minds are."
"I wouldn't think they'd be intimidated, no, I can't imagine that they would be."
"Bucknell in particular, and Holy Cross had a few near misses, but Bucknell in particular gives some hope that if you do certain things, you can find yourself in a position to win. Bucknell is so well coached and played hard and smart when they upset those big names, I think that can show an example of what can happen."
"Maybe bigger guards will be a concern. The tough thing, honestly, is that our lack of size hurts us more if we play zone rather than man. People just have the ability to look right over top of us, and are able to see the court. I could probably try and convince you we are willing to play zone, but we haven't played maybe five possessions all year in League, so we will do the best that we can."