March 18, 2006
Murray State Head Coach Mick Cronin
"That was a tough thing to do. Just go in the locker room, dead silence, say goodbye to five seniors. The key to life is giving your best effort and true achievement is giving your best effort on and off the floor. Obviously, tonight we gave our best effort. I don't think anybody in the arena would question that. As a coach, you have to say it's a win, but we're not into moral victories. Before any one asks that question, I'm not happy that we played Carolina tough. I'm proud of our effort. I'm proud of our team. I'm certainly proud of individual performances. But in no way shape or form are we satisfied. That being said, I think you have to give Carolina credit. They stepped up in the second half. Before we ask too, Shawn Witherspoon, not being with us, obviously it didn't help us not having him, but we make no excuses. We gave our best effort. We've got good players. Other guys stepped up. Issian [Redding] played tremendous in Shawn's absence. We did what we had to do, but we just came up a little short."
On losing Shawn Witherspoon, but still having a shot to win without him
"Right now, I have a pit in my stomach. Unfortunately, I have experience with injuries late in the season. The good thing for Shawn is, I told him at half time, he didn't blow out his knee. He has a broken bone in his foot. It's a common injury for basketball players. I'm not in to feeling sorry for ourselves. I get to coach on. The problem is the other five kids that don't. That makes it double tough. Obviously, I wish we could have had him. Things happen. What are you going to do? I was really proud. Our team did not flinch at any moment. I was proud of Issian Redding. He is from Ohio. He's a wonderful kid. He stepped up and made some big plays. I was really happy for him."
Does a game like this still drive you to do what's necessary to put together a run?
"I'll be honest. I've kept my mouth shut all week. I thought we were going to win all year when we got into the NCAA tournament because we had depth, we had seniors, we had quickness. The problem is, we got a terrible seed, and we played a three seed that's better than a lot of two seeds. We got a terrible seed. There's no other way to put it. If we had could have gotten a better seed, a little more respect from the committee. Our non-conference strength of schedule, depending on what you look at, was anywhere from 27 to 34. If we would have gotten a better seed, we would have gotten a better shot. It's a tough pill to swallow because I thought this was the year we could advance in the tournament. I felt all year, if we could get in because this team could legitimately have come in 29-1, 28-2 with some of the tough losses that we had. Obviously, that was not taken too much into effect. I think the commissioner of our conference as well as I would both agree it was an extremely tough seed. I say that with all respect to Carolina. Not only did we have to play a three, we had to play North Carolina, who is one of the hottest teams in the country."
On the play of Trey Pearson
"We felt we had some advantages in the pick and roll situation. They [North Carolina] are young at the guard spot. Trey's a streaky player when he gets going on offense. We are the kind of team that goes to the hot hand. Going into the game, we knew that their team likes to deny you and disallow you to run your organized stuff and we thought we had a quickness advantage. If our guards would be able to make some plays, we would be able to get some things off the dribble. And when we had good spacing, we were able to do that. Obviously, Trey was awesome tonight, but we had a lot of guys with tremendous performances in more ways than one."
On the play Issian Redding
"Our main chart is deflections. That's our hustle chart, any time we get a piece of the ball. He had eight, which is an extremely high number individually. He had over 25 percent of our deflections on his own. That tells you what kind of effort he brought to the table tonight. He hasn't had a great last couple of weeks. I was hoping he would play well in Ohio for him. He has a lot of family here. He was able to give us some offense. He gave us some rebounds. He had a lot of deflections, and he played well in a lot of areas. He's not used to playing that many minutes. Usually, he plays a small forward for us. He subs now and then sparingly at the power forward. For him to go play the four spot under the circumstances and come up with that effort says a lot about the way he played."
On change scheduling for better seeding
"Maybe I should have played the non-conference schedule some other people played that had twelve seeds. You know who I'm talking about. That's the way it is. It's a coin flip all the time. This is my tenth year, and I've never been right [regarding where I thought we would be]. We played a very tough non-conference schedule by the rankings and everything you look at. You have to understand at our level, we have bills too. We have to have home games, but nobody wants to come to Murray, Kentucky. Nobody wants to play Murray State. It makes it extremely tough to put your schedule together. We have bills. We have fans. We have to have home games. I thought playing the schedule we played helped to prepare us for tonight."
Murray State Student-athletes
Junior guard Trey Pearson
The three point shot at the end of the game
"I pretty much can't say that is what we were looking for, but I thought I was open and they were running at me. I thought I could shoot it in and get a foul and one. I just thought I took a good shot."
Did you feel like the shot was good?
"It felt good went it left my hand but when it goes up it's a 50/50 chance that it will go in. I guess it wasn't time for it to go in. Just tough luck you know. You have to give respect to them, they played hard."
Sophomore forward Justin Orr
On the mood when Shawn Witherspoon went out
"It was a big blow to the team. We just had to pull it together and play hard like we did. We hope he gets well soon."
Responding to a comment from UNC forward David Noel saying that Murray State out-hustled UNC
"That's our thing. We give 100 percent effort out there. That's how we play. That's our style. Thanks for giving us that credit. I just wish we could have got the win."