Quote Center: Providence Friars Postgame vs. Butler
Big East Conference Men's Basketball Tournament presented by Jeep
Wednesday, March 13, 2019
Providence - 80, Butler - 57
THE MODERATOR: We have Providence head coach Ed Cooley, Alpha Diallo, Maliek White, and David Duke.
ED COOLEY: Back in this room in a really good space. I've said it from day one. There's something about this building that's spectacular for the Friars. We didn't come out the way we wanted to, a little jittery, a little nervous. I was really proud of our guys on how we responded. I thought defensively we were good, but I thought this was one of our more complete offensive games. After that time-out, I think they went on a 10-0 run and called time-out, and I thought we settled down and played really A-plus basketball -- offensively, defensively, our rotations were good. We shared the ball.
I saw our guys playing with just a ton of joy, a ton of happiness. I thought our zone was really good when we went zone. I thought our length was pretty impressive in front of the rim, and it was just good to be out there with them. It was fun. It was fun. Any time you have an opportunity to win in this building and play in this tournament is something special about it, and couldn't be more happy for our young men.
Q. Coach, they were up by ten and you called a time-out. Was it strictly jitters that the guys needed to settle down, or was there something that you did?
ED COOLEY: I thought we had some open looks in front of the rim early. Guys were probably a little nervous. You may have to ask them, in particular, David and A.J., this being their first Big East Tournament. The other guys have played in it before. I just thought we were a little nervous, a little tight, a little antsy. This is our third time playing these guys in the last 16, 17, 18 days, so we were very familiar with one another what we were all trying to do.
We tried to see what adjustments they made and what adjustments we had to since the last two times we played them.
Q. Ed, do you think it was their defensive pressure up on the ball early on that gave you the most trouble?
ED COOLEY: We made an adjustment with that, with a little bit of the ball screen action that we wanted. And, again, when you beat a team twice and you're coming off of just beating them at home, they're going to have a certain amount of energy coming out of the gate as well. But I was just proud of our guys on how we were persistent, and we kind of imposed our will regardless of the ball pressure.
Q. Maliek kind of popped there at the end of the first half.
ED COOLEY: Maliek looked like Superman out there today. I was really happy for Maliek. It's been a -- honestly, I'm really, really proud of Maliek and playing with that level of energy and enthusiasm, making shots, leading the team. That was pretty fun to watch on this stage. We're going to need him to do that again in about 15 hours.
Q. The Friars had a slow start, but the three-point shooting was really huge tonight. What was the key? Were they playing off you guys? Got a lot of open looks.
ALPHA DIALLO: Our point guards did a good job of driving and kicking. We played inside-out basketball. We threw the ball inside to Nate and Kalif, they made the right plays and found open shooters, and we were knocking it down.
Q. Coach, how tough is it to beat a team three times inside in a season, but inside of 15?
ED COOLEY: It's very tough. It's tough to beat anybody once in a row, let alone three times in a row. But it's a game of matchups. We match up well to Butler. Sometimes it's about matchups more so than being luck. I'm not a believer, and it's hard to beat somebody three times. You win the game, you win the game, you know what I mean? They play with a certain set of urgency and a certain set of pride, but sometimes the matchup just don't dictate victories for some people.
Q. And which is the matchup that proves to be decisive for you guys?
ED COOLEY: Our guards are pretty big. Alpha is one of the tougher matchups this our league. Nate Watson's physicality and Kalif's physicality. If we're able to make perimeter shots, we're going to be a tough out if we can make perimeter shots. It's been an Achilles heel of ours. In that time-out, I told the guys, take the open shots. If you miss two, three, take the fourth one. I think, when you instill that level of confidence in your men, it's something that goes with it. There's great energy and synergy that's in that conversation.
Q. Coach, so what could we expect from the Friars tomorrow against Villanova?
ED COOLEY: Unless you're God, I can't answer that. We're going to play together. We're going to play excited. We're happy to advance. These tournaments, it's about advancing and moving on. Everybody has said, well, are you tired? We have 18 to 22-year-old kids. Nobody has time to be tired. We came here to try to compete for a championship, and you can only do it one game at a time.
Villanova is a very tough out. We've played them a ton. We know exactly what they are. They know exactly who we are. We're making some perimeter shots and not giving up threes, we'll give ourselves an opportunity.
Q. Maliek, you had something like 17 points in the last four games. Was it something with the water, the cape, or what?
MALIEK WHITE: I don't know about all that. I think my teammates just gave me confidence. They tell me keep shooting the ball. I know I started off and missed three open threes. In that time-out, Coach told us we have to take those open shots, and I kept shooting it, and I was fortunate for it to keep going in.
Q. Is that as hot as you've been this year?
MALIEK WHITE: Definitely, yeah.
Q. A-plus from your guys tonight. How much beforehand, as far as the week was concerned, did you focus -- you just had Butler three times in 16 days. Did you focus on Villanova rather than Butler? Since you've beaten them twice already.
ED COOLEY: No, we would never do that. That's poor preparation, and I don't think you give your kids an opportunity to win the game that we just played. We'll deal with the team we deal with when we get to them. We'll be up all night with our staff. We'll shut the players down.
A coach wouldn't do that, and I don't want our players thinking past anyone. We're in this game for a reason - we've been inconsistent. So I'm happy to see some consistency over the last five games. I think we had a little bit more offensive rhythm, a little bit more of identity. So I wouldn't do that.
Q. Going into tomorrow, do you think the extra game, played a game before and gotten a good win, that that could be an advantage tomorrow?
DAVID DUKE: Yeah, I think it's definitely going to be in our advantage coming off a win, keeping that same confidence going into tomorrow's game. Hopefully, we're fortunate enough to win that game as well.
Q. Coach, in the second half, when you opened up the scoring, it seemed like your interior defense was that much better. They couldn't get the ball inside, and your guys were, on the other hand, scoring. Your interior defense has to be very good.
ED COOLEY: I thought our length played a major part in today's game and at the last home game at the Dunkin' Donuts Center. Again, Alpha's long. Isaiah's long. Kalif and Nate are long. David is a big, physical guard. Maliek's -- Maliek, are you the shortest one on the team? I think you are. I think he is. But Maliek is tough. He guards the ball. So I thought our length played a major, major role against Butler this whole year.
Q. Did you do anything special on Kamar Baldwin, or do you think he had a rough night out there?
ED COOLEY: No, Kamar's a great player. He's a high-alert guy. He was hurting us early, but he got in foul trouble. He was trying to balance how to guard. I thought our staff did a really good job trying to run isos in particular when Alpha was on him, when Isaiah was on him, to try to get him around the basket a little bit. But he's one of the best players in our league, and he's going to be -- we're going to have to deal with him another year.