Thursday, September 18, 2014
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Fran Dunphy admits he's happy

We all know that Fran Dunphy is one of the most selfless people in college basketball. It is always about his players, even on a day like today when he won a game in the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 17 years.

Fran Dunphy admits he's happy

We all know that Fran Dunphy is one of the most selfless people in college basketball. It is always about his players, even on a day like today when he won a game in the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 17 years.

It took some prodding, but Dunphy did admit that the win was pretty special. Here's the transcript from Temple's postgame press conference, courtesy of ASAP Sports. Dunphy, Juan Fernandez, Ramone Moore and Khalif Wyatt were on the dais.

THE MODERATOR: Coach, if you can give us some opening remarks.

FRAN DUNPHY: Well, we're certainly excited and thrilled to have survived and moved on. And it's great win for our program. A great win for these guys. That is who you think about first. And, again, exciting to continue to play in the NCAA tournament.

I thought we were in decent shape before the last Penn State possession. Then Talor Battle made a 41-footer that it was almost like as soon as it left his hands you knew it was going in. Then when we called time-out we were discussing what to run, and Khalif Wyatt, who I listen to all the time, he's got sage advice for me often, said, I think we need to just put it in Juan's hands. Then if he is not ready to do it, then give it -- Juan will give it to Ramone and that's how we'll win the game.

So nice to see Juan make that shot. I had a good feeling when it left his hands that I thought it was going to go in. Might have been our time. That's all, just our time.

Q. Juan, can you just kind of take me through that whole last sequence there.

JUAN FERNANDEZ: Well, the play, coach just said it was a pick-and-roll up top with Lavoy, then take what they gave us. I was thinking about shooting a jump shot, but I killed my dribble and Frazier was right there. And I think for some reason he jumped over to my right and that gave me the space to go left and I made that jumper.

Q. On the same theme, you made a lot of one shots off your wrong foot, fading to the left from 18 feet like that.

JUAN FERNANDEZ: Not really. Usually you don't practice those kind of shots. (Laughter.) You know, it was, like coach said, it was our time. And we enjoy it. But we want to get that second win, too. It's not over here.

Q. Ramone, can you just talk about the roll that you were on down the stretch and kind of just put the team on your back for awhile.

RAMONE MOORE: I think in the stretch, you know, Penn State were making a lot of baskets, and I kind of got on a roll. And I think my teammates noticed that. During the time-out coach said, Let's get the ball in Ramone's hand and running plays for me. And I think I capitalized, which is something I need to do for this team. Being one of the leaders in this type of situation, I think it's something I had to do and come through for the team.

Q. Ramone, what's it like to get that win for Coach Dunphy?

RAMONE MOORE: It was great. I mean, everybody in the locker room was excited, you know, just getting the win for Coach Dunphy. You know, all week we've been hearing questions about how important is this win for you guys? I think it's just something we wanted to get off our back and just get the win for Coach Dunphy because he is a great coach who deserves it.

Q. Khalif, what did you see and what did you know to tell coach to give the ball to Juan?

KHALIF WYATT: Juan's our leader. I mean, the ball's in his hands most of the game. So we trust Juan to make smart decisions down the stretch.

And when the time came we were in the huddle I just told coach that I think our best bet was to put the ball in Juan's hands and let him make a play. And I mean, Juan made a great play and rewarded us with a win.

Q. Juan, your last, previous game was not your best shooting game. Is it easy for you to put that kind of game out of your head and just came in with a fresh feeling in a game like this, or does that stick with you for awhile?

JUAN FERNANDEZ: Yeah, it's not the easiest thing to do, because you want to win every game, and you want to help your team as much as possible every game. You never want to have a bad game.

But, you know, there's nothing else you can do. You can't go back and play it again. So I've learned that, especially throughout this year and, you know, in those moments I try to stick with my teammates and everyone around us to get the confidence back. And, you know, luckily it worked today.

Q. Ramone, the blocked shot on the drive that Jefferson got, I think you got a piece of it. Can you talk about the defense down the stretch and that play in particular.

RAMONE MOORE: I think overall we did, you know, the best we could on Battle. I think he is one of those players, you know, that's just going to get his regardless of what you do. I think me, Khalif, Juan, Rahlir, Aaron Brown, when he was in, we all did a good job of switching out and trying to make him take tough shots.

I think in the beginning of the game we kind of got confused on what we were trying to do, which got him started off to a good start. But I think later in the game we did a pretty good job. And I think Khalif's block was a pretty big play in the game.

Q. Khalif, just playing off what Ramone said, what did you try individually to try to stop Talor when he was on you?

KHALIF WYATT: I mean, he runs around a lot. I'm just thinking to myself just try to stay on his hip and just make it as hard as possible for him to score. I mean, he is a great scorer and a very talented basketball player. I was just trying to make it as hard as I possibly could for him to score.

I mean, I think we did a pretty good job on him. I think we let him up for air that one play down the stretch and he made a real big shot. But, I mean, I think we did a pretty good job on him tonight.

Q. All three of you, where did that back court match-up rate in your mind, the ones you've faced this year?

RAMONE MOORE: I got to say, one of the top. You know, coming into this game we knew what to expect from Talor Battle. Scrimmaging those guys and seeing a lot of film on a lot of the games on TV of those guys, we know what he is capable of doing. I would say he is up there probably in the top three.

THE MODERATOR: Okay, gentlemen, thank you very much. Good luck tomorrow -- excuse me, it will be Saturday.

Q. Fran, you've had a long and glorious career, one of the most respected coaches in the country. I just wonder what percentage of that did you think about, you know, your record in the tournament and what's it feel like get your second?

FRAN DUNPHY: You know, I probably think about it less than others do. But you think about it. I would be lying if I told you I didn't.

But I'm so thrilled for these kids and so thrilled to be in the tournament. We've had a nice run. And this particular group, four straight years going to the NCAA tournament is pretty special.

And I'm happy for them, obviously. And I'm happy that maybe I won't get that question quite as often. (Laughter.) But that's the life we lead. There is nothing much you can do about it. People will recognize what the record is. But I got to tell you, that's not what drives me.

Q. I know the game still hasn't been played yet, but you've watched SDSU on tape, what do you think of them and how you match up with them?

FRAN DUNPHY: I haven't seen one ounce of tape on San Diego State. And I will -- I am going to hope whenever you release me here I'm going to go out and watch the game. One of our assistants saw eight tapes on San Diego State. So we'll talk about it now.

There's another team that is playing though, Northern Colorado, they'd like to have a little say in this. So we'll respect whoever it is that comes out of this game and we'll be ready to go hopefully.

Q. Along the same theme of you just kind of been doing this for a long time and I would like to know where that ranked in moments.

FRAN DUNPHY: Well, it's right up there. I will tell you this, that I've been so proud of just about every team that we brought to the NCAA tournament. There's been just some great games and as I said before, it just wasn't our time. Today it was.

We did obviously in 1994 we had an opportunity to beat Nebraska before we played Florida who went on to the Final Four. So that was a great win as well. The next year we played Alabama to an overtime game. It was just a fantastic game.

So we've been in a lot of really good games. But this, whenever you can win and win at the buzzer is always a tremendous feeling. You feel so good for Juan because he was coming off a difficult game against Richmond.

Q. Coach, the second half of that game, can you just characterize that as a college basketball game and how that kind of epitomizes it?

FRAN DUNPHY: Yeah. I think in all honesty, the coaching that is going on in the game in the second half is minimal. I think the play is terrific. I think you're hoping that kids are going to do really good things out there. Ramone Moore on one end, Talor Battle on another, I mean, they're making just great, great shots. Juan Fernandez comes up with that.

I'd like to tell you during the time-out you were giving this great advice to all these guys and we were really solid in what we were doing. Really, you're leaving it up to the kids at some point.

Thrilled for our guys. I hope that people enjoyed the game and enjoyed big plays made by some really good athletes who care very much for their school and for their team.

Q. Coach, can you just talk about how Juan has progressed and how you thought he was ready to take that shot.

FRAN DUNPHY: Well, I said it the last time we played when somebody said what are you going to do about Juan and he had a very difficult game, and, you know, the word was always we're going to trust in Juan because he's a good player and he is a tough guy. And that's why it's so satisfying to watch him at the end of the game.

And it's satisfying to have Khalif Wyatt say, Hey -- I'm not making this up, he said it. He said, I think we ought to put it in his hands. I was probably going to think of it anyway, but I'm glad his teammate said, This is what we should do.

Because I think that tells you how much they trust him. And they want him to succeed. So it was -- he's a terrific player and a good guy. And you can't be thrilled enough for him.

Q. Fran, seemed like at the beginning of the second half you were intent on getting Lavoy more involved at the offensive end. You went to him and you went to him. It never quite happened despite the eventual absence of Brooks as well. It's a little bit mystifying. He obviously rebounded very well, he was active. Just didn't happen for him on the offensive end.

FRAN DUNPHY: Well, I appreciate the question. We were trying to utilize him. There were some times when we did post feed him and probably didn't cut well enough off him. There was one time where he did feed Rahlir who didn't catch and finish which is typically what you hope happens.

I looked at the stat sheet. He had one field goal attempted in the second half. It was probably as big a field goal as we had in the game where it was an offensive rebound stick back. But there are moments in Lavoy's career where that has happened to him.

He didn't shoot the jumper well in the first half which meant he became a little reluctant to do that. He gets an offensive foul call in the second half, so he gets a little more reluctant. But I think there's nobody out there that trusts his teammates more than that. He doesn't need do all that. He is a deferring kind of guy.

But seemed to me he was blocking and changing a lot of shots. He gets 11 rebounds and he is such a significant part of our team and I think a significant part of the game if you don't look closely at the box score. Which I say ad nauseam, I know that. As a coach that's what you feel.

I watched the film and we'll get into situations where we'll say: How about where he was and what he did? But it just wasn't happening on the offensive end.

Then you get Ramone doing his thing and Khalif Wyatt makes a big three and Juan doing his thing. So not a lot of shots necessarily to go around after that.

Q. Fran, this was Scootie's first game in a month. He played six minutes, not a whole lot. Where is he and what does it say about the team you were essentially able to win without him. I know you are used to that now.

FRAN DUNPHY: I was thrilled to get him in the game tonight because he really deserved that. We'll try to do the same thing on Saturday. He was rusty. I mean, he made a couple of mistakes. One of them which you don't expect -- he's never done, but there was a jumper in front of our bench and he contested it, then watched, I think it was Brooks maybe, can't remember if it was Brooks or Jackson, but they got the rebound and they scored on that possession. It was a big play.

And he threw it away one time. But, you know, he is a great guy and he is an inspirational and emotional leader for us. He'll be back out there again. As we play, who knows, he'll get more time and more comfortable. And will be more comfortable with having a decent practice in him tomorrow.

Q. Fran, it was 20-11 I think eight minutes in and you called time-out. Up until that point, the team was showing maybe some, I don't know if it's confusion or whether they were trying to figure things out. Seemed like after that time-out things were settled a lot more. What kind of went on there in the first eight minutes and what adjustments did you make?

FRAN DUNPHY: I think figuring it out is probably a good phrase to use. That's what we were doing as a team. I think it's hard for teams to make great separation. We were pretty evenly matched with Penn State. They were having their run then obviously we got ourselves back together again and we get a two-point lead at half-time.

It's hard to play great for long stretches of the time because these kids are so familiar with one another. They watch tons of film and there's a toughness factor in both teams. So they're not going to let you get too far away.

And we had a huge four-point lead in the second half, we couldn't hold it. But that's a tribute to the players. And, you know, that's when that last shot goes in, these kids are working their butt off all game long, and it's not like Penn State deserves to lose that game. We just happened to win it. That's what's so difficult about college athletics and then this tournament as well. You've got to step up and get it done. And today Juan Fernandez was great. But I thought Penn State played great, too.

THE MODERATOR: Coach, thank you. See you Saturday.

Jonathan Tannenwald Philly.com
About this blog
Soft Pretzel Logic is Philly.com's college sports blog, with a primary focus on the University of Pennsylvania. You'll also see coverage of the Big 5, other major college sports events in the region, and the annual Penn Relays track and field meet.

Reach Jonathan at jtannenwald@phillynews.com or 215-854-2330.

Jonathan Tannenwald Philly.com
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